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Monthly Archives: December 2020

December 2020 Updates to Paid Media Platforms

December 31, 2020 No Comments

In this monthly post, we bring you the latest news and changes from all of the major ad platforms. This month is focused on Google and Microsoft.

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Five strategies to promote your business using LinkedIn Stories

December 31, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • LinkedIn Stories feature allows you to create a video that runs no longer than 20 seconds and host it on your profile.
  • The format will help kickstart conversations and nurture the relationships that are core to everything that happens on LinkedIn.
  • These are a good way for brands to share a behind-the-scenes peek into their business’ professional moments.
  • The feature is expected to promote business content in an area whose netizens are purely composed of professionals, thus helping users build relationships with followers.
  • The feature has been rolled out in select countries, with plans to introduce it to a new country every week or so.

Did you know that more than 500 million people watch an Instagram Story every day, and over one-third of those videos are business-related? In a fresh respite for professionals and businesses who would until now take recourse to Instagram to publicize their business, LinkedIn stories have arrived to help professionals share their on-the-fly moments. Much like Instagram Stories, the LinkedIn Stories feature allows you to create a video that runs no longer than 20 seconds and host it on your profile. Once the “story” has been uploaded, it will be accessible by people for an entire day before it goes away.

According to LinkedIn, the feature was a long time coming. Pete Davies, the head of Consumer Products at LinkedIn, was quoted remarking about the usefulness of the feature as “…stories spread for a good reason: they offer a lightweight, fun way to share an update without it having to be perfect or attached to your profile forever.”

But, first things first. Should you even use Instagram stories? More importantly, what are they, and are they any different than the mainstream story feature from other popular social networking platforms?

In a word, yes. Through LinkedIn Stories, you will have a great opportunity to demonstrate your brand from a different angle and interact with your audience in a way they’re familiar with. 

What are LinkedIn Stories?

The LinkedIn Stories feature is a format that allows you to display and share specific content with your audience through an image slideshow or 20-second that is available for 24 hours before it is automatically gone. The video or the image slideshow disappears after a full day since it was posted.

This feature is, in essence, the same as the ones that exist on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, and has more or less the same functions. Users can add stickers, ask questions (AMA), place text overlays, use @mention to credit, or introduce other LinkedIn accounts.

Thus far, the LinkedIn Stories feature has been rolled out in select members and pages in the countries of the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, and Australia. Although, if you are itching to have a go at LinkedIn Stories, sit tight. According to LinkedIn, the feature will be rolled out to one new country every few weeks.

LinkedIn Stories example

However, the talking point here really is LinkedIn’s shift stories and how emblematic it is of social media’s evolution since the inception of a certain Facebook called centralized news feed in 2006. Today, stories have become the norm, and profile users opt to share their “in the moment” experience rather than devoting themselves to a binding feed post.

stat on Instagram stories

Source: Later.com

This aligns with the fad observed with Instagram over the course of the last few years, with an increasing number of people posting more stories and fewer feeds. This was confirmed by a recent study by Later, where influencers were found to now post 33% fewer feeds than they used to in 2016.

So, what meaning does this hold for businesses?

Put simply, this feature will offer a novel, temporary way to share information with your professionally-associated followers (LinkedIn connects). And while it might feel challenging to carve a name for your brand in a bustling online space, there are a host of elements you can peruse to morph a seemingly daunting prospect into a creative new opportunity to further your business objectives.

Benefits of LinkedIn Stories

We already know that, while belonging to different channels, the stories feature is essentially the same as the last one’s. What distinguishes LinkedIn stories the primary difference (and draw) of LinkedIn Stories is the business context.

Now, rather than using the feature to share lifestyle tips with relatives and friends, brands and marketers may share their stories with peers and future prospects. This material may be highly promotional.

Studies show that stories are gradually turning into the new favorite and preferred way to access material on social media channels. However, that is not to suggest that stories will fully replace the LinkedIn feed post. But, providing the stories features offers users the ability to broaden the scope of their LinkedIn content and reach a wider target audience.

This highly offbeat style of material promotion also enables LinkedIn users to provide a deeper insight into the people behind the business. This is especially helpful for company owners, entrepreneurs, and businessmen who want to capitalize on that trust factor with prospective customers and future clients.

LinkedIn Stories offer the most powerful opportunity for interaction. In a recent study, it was revealed that as many as 25% of Instagrammers swipe up when they come across a branded post. With LinkedIn Stories, the same feature and thought process will be replicated on a channel that is completely dedicated to business networking.

However, it’s important to note that while your stories might not directly result in a sale, you are promoting your brand and creating an air of awareness about it. What’s infinitely more exciting is that this promotion will make you come across people that you can talk to directly to open the doors to better opportunities.

Take Instagram, for instance. As many as 50% of businesses over the world make at least one story every month that promotes their brand or product. And this is where the low hanging fruit becomes apparent. Armed with the right strategy, you can make use of a fantastic opportunity in the form of LinkedIn Stories to generate a buzz around your brand.

Five strategies to promote your business through LinkedIn Stories

At first sight, the stories feature, regardless of the channel it belongs to, seems like something that is entirely dedicated to the consumer: they are informal and sate the hankering for instant gratification. But, if you were to look at it a little closer, you would see how this feature can help B2B companies connect with each other on a deeper level to build engaging relationships.

If you are already familiar with the inner workings of the stories feature on other networking platforms, you won’t find it difficult to shift base to LinkedIn Stories for business-related purposes after it has been made available to everyone. Listed below are five ways you can use it for your business when the time comes.

1. Share real-time activities

LinkedIn Stories have a limited life span, making them ideal for communicating less refined, off-the-cuff material right in real-time.

Sharing real-time event updates is also a great strategy, mostly because events are a significant source of leads for many businesses, and 85% of them consider interpersonal meetings central to their marketing plan. LinkedIn Stories let your followers view excerpts of events from a first-person perspective.

From enterprise-wide announcements to award ceremonies, sharing snippets of events in the form of live stories is a tremendously useful way to showcase the goings-on at your company.

This is also an incredible way to generate an extra buzz around your brand. Consider requesting event coordinators and speakers to share short sounds of information about a new product or feature or possibly even feature a BTS look of any extra details in store!

2. Share customer testimonial stories

Irrespective of the generation you are from, the odds are that you trust people’s advice more than any other form of content marketing. This is what makes testimonials and user reviews such a powerful tool for marketing.

With the millennial generation soon climbing up the organizational ladder and becoming decision-makers, they will be searching for goods and services that have demonstrated that they can make professional work easier. They will look for vendors that have the products with the features that they desire, so filming your satisfied customers and posting a short clip on LinkedIn in the form of a story might just be the perfect way to catch their attention.

3. Share business tips and updates

Stories are the perfect way to generate demand. Your most loyal supporters are going to see your story. If you post something about your brand, tease the new features of a product, or make something exclusively available on LinkedIn, they will share it with others. Talk about word of mouth!

4. Share trending news or announcements

If you are among the privileged few brands who have gotten to use the LinkedIn Stories feature first, the chances are that you will get a massive amount of additional airtime with your LinkedIn followers.

Keeping that in mind, it may be a sensible move to use this new forum to post all your essential brand news.

5. Host corporate Q&As

Much like Instagram Stories, the stories feature on LinkedIn is the perfect way to show what goes on behind the scenes and gives you the chance to share the more humane side of your business.

By hosting a pep talk or a Q&A session on LinkedIn stories, you can show the people that make up your brand. Not only is it another great way to share your brand story, but it is also helpful when it comes to creating brand loyalty.

In order to gain more questions for your Q&A session, you can request your followers to submit questions to you in advance. This can be done either through direct messaging or via a conventional LinkedIn feed post.

The do(s) and don’t(s) of LinkedIn Stories

Begin your story strategy with a positive growth mindset. LinkedIn Stories are not simply a means of communicating; they present a powerful tool for promoting interaction, learning about your audience, and improving the business.

Do spend time building a strategy

Consider how short bits of information better suit the brand’s wider content marketing strategy.

Which kind of subjects and press do your followers enjoy? Do you produce new content only for stories or reuse them from other platforms?

Don’t spend time behind perfecting every story

Note that stories are only available for 24 hours after you publish them. Moreover, stories that appear too organized and designed sort of miss the mark. Stories are supposed to feel random, so try to have the same mentality as you do when you post Instagram or Facebook stories.

Do relate to followers

People desire real connections from businesses. Let your brand persona shine a little and share more about yourself. It’s the perfect way to strengthen your brand’s mission, vision, and values.

Don’t be too casual

It’s really easy to let go and get caught up in the moment, which could prompt you to post something regretful when you know it’s going to disappear in 24 hours. Consider creating some boundaries for your stories dedicated to your brand.

Conclusion

If you’re communicating job openings or are releasing a commodity, capitalizing on this latest platform to reach out to a wider audience is certainly a smart move. If Instagram Stories are anything to go by, the first adopters of this feature will put themselves ahead in the race to improved brand awareness.

Aayush Gupta is Sr. Manager, Brand & Marketing at Uplers. He likes to stay on his toes when it comes to marketing and doing things worth risk-taking. He loves traveling and exploring local cuisines. In his free time reading books with coffee is all he wants.

The post Five strategies to promote your business using LinkedIn Stories appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Amazon acquires podcast network Wondery

December 31, 2020 No Comments

Amazon just announced that it’s acquiring Wondery, the network behind podcasts including “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death.”

Wondery will become part of Amazon Music, which added support for podcasts (including its own original shows) in September. At the same time, the announcement claims that “nothing will change for listeners” and that the network’s podcasts will continue to be available from “a variety of providers.”

Media companies and streaming audio platforms are all making big bets on podcasting, with Spotify making a series of acquisitions including podcast network Gimlet, SiriusXM acquiring Stitcher and The New York Times acquiring Serial Productions. Amazon is coming relatively late to this market, but it will now have the support of a popular podcast maker as it works to catch up.

“With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen,” Amazon wrote.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that acquisition talks were in the works, and that those talks valued Wondery at around $ 300 million.

The startup was founded in 2016 by former Fox executive Hernan Lopez (who’s currently fighting federal corruption charges tied to his time at Fox). Numbers from Podtrac rank it as the fourth largest podcast publisher in November, with an audience in the U.S. of more than 9 million unique listeners.

Wondery has raised a total of $ 15 million in funding from Advancit Capital, BDMI, Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau and others, according to Crunchbase.

 


Startups – TechCrunch


What to expect from SEO in 2021?

December 30, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The pace of technological advances and progress in the SEO sector isn’t slowing down, and you should expect major changes and updates in 2021.
  • Google has already announced two algorithm updates slated for March and May 2021.
  • There are various trends for SEO in 2020 like UX SEO and feature snippets which appear to become more prominent in the upcoming year.

From the humble beginnings of the Internet and online advertising, we’ve reached an era where the Internet is an essential communication tool, and online advertising is valued at more than 400 billion dollars a year, more prominent than even the TV ad industry. The global pandemic only accelerated this trend and pushed more companies online. So, what can we expect out of SEO in 2021? Which trends should we be looking forward to? Which changes will impact the industry? In this article, we’ll discuss the main trends we expect to have an impact and change the direction of SEO in the coming year.

Direct changes to search engines

SEO is entirely dependent on the major search engines, primarily Google. Any changes to Google’s modus operandi, algorithm, and priorities will have direct, wide-ranging impacts on SEO in 2021. These changes lead to losses in billions of dollars for some businesses while leading to gains of billions of dollars for others. It is important to be aware of the upcoming changes and how to best prepare for them.

#1 Page experience as a ranking factor on Google [May 2021]

As of May 2021, you should expect what Google dubs as “page experience signals” to be a ranking factor. The page experience refers to the way the visitors feel as they interact with the web page. It is determined by a multitude of attributes from mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the others. These were already ranking factors previously, but they’ve been more institutionalized and work within the “page experience” framework. Furthermore, Google is introducing Core Web Vitals as part of ‘page experience’. They’re considered to be user-centric metrics that try to determine the quality of the user experience. These user-centric metrics will measure the loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay), and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). The first two items that go into Core Web Vitals seem quite self-evident, so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to spend more time explaining them in this article.

Although, the third item might confuse some people. Visual stability refers to how much the layout shifts and jumps around. For example, imagine if a button tracks your mouse and jumps around whenever you get close to it, this is quite a self-evidently bad user experience, and this variable aims to capture this. The self-advertised purpose of adding an explicit page experience ranking factor is so that Google can provide higher-quality, more engaging content to its users. Considering the variables that it takes account of, a website with a high page experience score will load faster, be more interactive, more stable, more secure, more mobile-friendly, and much more. These all combined, admittedly, will lead to a superior experience.

Get featured in top stories without AMP

Another purpose of the introduction of the new page experience ranking framework is to make non-AMP content eligible to appear in the Top Stories feature for mobile phones. It is one of the main ways websites drive traffic to their content from mobile, so this could be a significant change that would disrupt the rankings of many websites on mobile. This change will also roll out in May of 2021, which makes May a hell of a busy month for SEO specialists.

We need to be ready for all the drastic changes this change in the algorithm can bring. We can’t possibly ascertain its impact at this stage.

#2 Mobile-first indexing for all websites on Google [March 2021]

Mobile-first indexing is certainly not new, Google has been using it for more than several years. It was first introduced as an answer to a widespread problem: more and more people are using their phones to look up stuff and browse the net. The problem is that the mobile and desktop versions of websites don’t always match up in content, and Google usually only indexes one version, which traditionally was the PC version. This creates a mismatch between the rankings on mobile and the content on these pages. To alleviate this mismatch as it was becoming a growing problem due to the increasing popularity of mobile, Google decided to implement mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing refers to the practice of indexing the mobile version of the website first in Google’s databases instead of the desktop version. This would accurately gauge the amount of content on mobile sites and their relevance before displaying the results.

Going from an entirely desktop-first indexing scheme to an entirely mobile-first one would’ve been a massive step, however, and this is why Google has been taking years implementing this change. It started by allowing the option to webmasters to change their website indexing to mobile-first. It was followed by making mobile-first the default option for crawling new websites. The final and latest update is going to come in March 2021 when Google will start making mobile-first indexing the default option for all websites. This means that the way your website is indexed and the content that’s considered might change in March. It is hard to determine how big of an impact this will make beforehand, but you should expect some instability.

Thankfully, Google has published a basic guideline to ensuring the transition to mobile-first indexing goes smoothly on your website:

  • Make sure the content of your website is visible to Google crawlers and bots.
  • Ensure you fill out all the relevant meta tags on both the mobile and the desktop

versions of your landing pages.

  • Ensure that your mobile website loads quickly by enabling lazy loading.
  • Ensure that you are not blocking any relevant mobile-specific URLs in your robots.txt file.
  • Although it is hard to ensure identical content, you should try to have at least identical primary content on both versions.
  • Check the alt tags of both image and video embeds.

Wider SEO trends

Aside from specific updates to algorithms, we have prior information about, some wider trends in the sector that are going to change how we engage with SEO. Some of these trends have been going on for years and only just accelerating and others are new. Below, we’ll cover the most prominent ones.

#1 Voice search is becoming more and more prominent

Voice search was virtually non-existent just five years ago. Still, the development and proliferation of Alexa, Google Assistant, and a multitude of other voice assistants over the last few years have popularized voice search beyond our wildest dreams. According to data, voice search revenue will more than quadruple from 2017 to 2022 from just 2 billion to 40 billion dollars. This explosion in popularity presents opportunities and challenges to traditional SEO approaches. Just as an example, in voice searches, getting the first position is much more important than it is in traditional text searches. That’s why you need different approaches to capitalize on this new, emerging SEO arena fully.

#2 Feature snippets and microdata

Google is trying to introduce more and more types of featured snippets to its home page. These range from recipes to news and tutorials. These snippets aim to make searching faster for users and keep traffic on Google’s website. It is nevertheless beneficial for websites to implement it because you have a chance to be featured, which would drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Of course, getting featured doesn’t always mean you’ll see exponential growth in traffic, but data from Ahrefs shows it matters a lot! On average, getting featured means you’ll get, on average, around 8,6% CTR while the top ‘natural result’ will get 19,6% of the traffic. This is extremely impressive and shows that the featured snippet steals a substantial amount of clicks from the top position, which would get around 26% CTR in SERPs without a featured snippet. Although, you have to be careful about how Google features you. You should monitor your ranking and readjust your snippet and optimize it for more clicks.

#3 Non-textual content

As we move into the next year, we’re seeing an Internet saturated with blogs and landing pages. and it is becoming increasingly difficult to rank for noteworthy keywords with decent traffic. That’s why many SEO agencies are trying to expand their reach by diversifying the type of content they produce and publish. Infographics are one of the easier ways to create engagement and rank higher. Although, even they’ve been overused in recent years. A much more promising frontier for 2021 seems to be videos. These could be uploaded to Youtube as standalone content or embedded in your website too. It’ll help you gain more traffic from Youtube views, which seems way less saturated than Google’s traditional search engine currently. This doesn’t mean it is any less important. YouTube generates 15 billion dollars for Google each year. It is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.

It is also worth mentioning that there are specific video snippets on SERPs that you can only rank for through video content, and these video snippets are really prominent on search queries beginning with “how-to”, asking for tutorials, and other forms of educational content. They are prime real estate that you can potentially rank for with a reasonably produced video.

#4 UX SEO

The days where SEO was just about meta-tags and titles have long gone. Nowadays, SEO is an intricate subject that combines expertise from many different fields from marketing to software engineering and creative writing to achieve the best result. A recent trend in SEO that is gaining more and more stream is the UX SEO framework.

UX SEO refers to the practice of optimizing the user experience of a website to achieve better conversion rates and engagement. It isn’t only important that your site gets regular visitors, but it is also equally important to ensure that these visitors engage with your website. UX redesign success stories are almost limitless, for example, ESPN found out that just a homepage redesign increased their revenues by 35%. There is no reason why UX optimization could not be an integral part of your SEO strategy, and UX SEO gives you a framework to achieve this.

Conclusion

Each year, Google introduces more than 3600 small changes to their algorithms, and each year, trends emerge in this volatile sector that nobody has been able to predict. You need to continually keep up with the news to be on top of your SEO game, reading an article on the trends in the upcoming year isn’t enough. Nevertheless, I tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, and you should be moderately prepared for the challenges ahead if you pay attention to all the trends that I’ve featured here.

Adrian Kempiak is CTO at Neadoo Digital – SEO agency. Adrian is a tech enthusiast, in the SEO industry for over 9 years. Consultations and audits for businesses from various markets. Responsible for running both worldwide SEO campaigns for ecommerce stores and local SEO for businesses worldwide (UK, USA, Australia, Spain, and much more).

The post What to expect from SEO in 2021? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How To Calculate Effective Click-Thru Rate

December 30, 2020 No Comments

Effective click-through rate (CTR) takes into account both paid search and organic traffic. Learn how to calculate effective CTR and why it’s useful.

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How Niantic evolved Pokémon GO for the year no one could go anywhere

December 29, 2020 No Comments

Pokémon GO was created to encourage players to explore the world while coordinating impromptu large group gatherings — activities we’ve all been encouraged to avoid since the pandemic began.

And yet, analysts estimate that 2020 was Pokémon GO’s highest-earning year yet.

By twisting some knobs and tweaking variables, Pokémon GO became much easier to play without leaving the house.

Niantic’s approach to 2020 was full of carefully considered changes, and I’ve highlighted many of their key decisions below.

Consider this something of an addendum to the Niantic EC-1 I wrote last year, where I outlined things like the company’s beginnings as a side project within Google, how Pokémon Go began as an April Fools’ joke and the company’s aim to build the platform that powers the AR headsets of the future.

Hit the brakes

On a press call outlining an update Niantic shipped in November, the company put it on no uncertain terms: the roadmap they’d followed over the last ten-or-so months was not the one they started the year with. Their original roadmap included a handful of new features that have yet to see the light of day. They declined to say what those features were of course (presumably because they still hope to launch them once the world is less broken) — but they just didn’t make sense to release right now.

Instead, as any potential end date for the pandemic slipped further into the horizon, the team refocused in Q1 2020 on figuring out ways to adapt what already worked and adjust existing gameplay to let players do more while going out less.

Turning the dials

As its name indicates, GO was never meant to be played while sitting at home. John Hanke’s initial vision for Niantic was focused around finding ways to get people outside and playing together; from its very first prototype, Niantic had players running around a city to take over its virtual equivalent block by block. They’d spent nearly a decade building up a database of real-world locations that would act as in-game points meant to encourage exploration and wandering. Years of development effort went into turning Pokémon GO into more and more of a social game, requiring teamwork and sometimes even flash mob-like meetups for its biggest challenges.

Now it all needed to work from the player’s couch.

The earliest changes were those that were easiest for Niantic to make on-the-fly, but they had dramatic impacts on the way the game actually works.

Some of the changes:

  • Doubling the players “radius” for interacting with in-game gyms, landmarks that players can temporarily take over for their in-game team, earning occupants a bit of in-game currency based on how long they maintain control. This change let more gym battles happen from the couch.
  • Increasing spawn points, generally upping the number of Pokémon you could find at home dramatically.
  • Increasing “incense” effectiveness, which allowed players to use a premium item to encourage even more Pokémon to pop up at home. Niantic phased this change out in October, then quietly reintroduced it in late November. Incense would also last twice as long, making it cheaper for players to use.
  • Allowing steps taken indoors (read: on treadmills) to count toward in-game distance challenges.
  • Players would no longer need to walk long distances to earn entry into the online player-versus-player battle system.
  • Your “buddy” Pokémon (a specially designated Pokémon that you can level up Tamagotchi-style for bonus perks) would now bring you more gifts of items you’d need to play. Pre-pandemic, getting these items meant wandering to the nearby “Pokéstop” landmarks.

By twisting some knobs and tweaking variables, Pokémon GO became much easier to play without leaving the house — but, importantly, these changes avoided anything that might break the game while being just as easy to reverse once it became safe to do so.

GO Fest goes virtual

Like this, just … online. Image Credits: Greg Kumparak

Thrown by Niantic every year since 2017, GO Fest is meant to be an ultra-concentrated version of the Pokémon GO experience. Thousands of players cram into one park, coming together to tackle challenges and capture previously unreleased Pokémon.


Social – TechCrunch


The PS5 and Xbox Series X Are Closing the PC-Console Gap

December 29, 2020 No Comments

Last generation, PCs outpowered consoles by a significant margin. This time around, the game is much closer, and the software is catching up too.
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How NLP and AI are revolutionizing SEO-friendly content [Five tools to help you]

December 29, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Natural language processing (NLP) is one factor you’ll need to account for as you do SEO on your website.
  • If your content is optimized for NLP, you can expect it to rise to the top of the search rankings and stay there for some time.
  • As AI and NLP keep evolving, we may also eventually see machines doing a lot of other SEO-related work, like inserting H1 and image alt tags into HTML code, building backlinks via guest posts, and doing email outreach to other AI-powered content editors.
  • While it seems far-fetched right now, it’s exciting to see how SEO, NLP and AI will evolve together.
  • Writer.com’s Co-founder and CEO, May Habib discusses in-depth about SEO content and shares top tools to help you through the content creation process.

Modern websites are at the mercy of algorithms, which dictate the content they show in the search results for specific keywords. These algorithms are getting smarter by the day, thanks to a technology called machine learning, also known as artificial intelligence (AI).

If you want your site to rank in search results, you need to know how these algorithms work. They change frequently, so if you continually re-work your SEO to account for these changes, you’ll be in a good position to dominate the rankings. 

Natural language processing (NLP) is one factor you’ll need to account for as you do SEO on your website. If your content is optimized for NLP, you can expect it to rise to the top of the search rankings and stay there for some time.

The evolving role of NLP and AI in content creation & SEO

Before we trace how NLP and AI have increased in influence over content creation and SEO processes, we need to understand what NLP is and how it works. NLP has three main tasks: recognizing text, understanding text, and generating text.

  • Recognition: Computers think only in terms of numbers, not text. This means that any NLP solution needs to convert text into numbers so computers can understand them.
  • Understanding: Once the text has been converted into numbers, algorithms can then perform statistical analysis to discover the words or topics that appear together most frequently. 
  • Generation: The NLP machine can use its findings to ask questions or suggest topics around which a writer can create content. Some of the more advanced machines are already starting to put together content briefs. 

With the help of NLP and artificial intelligence (AI), writers should soon be able to generate content in less time as they will only need to put together keywords and central ideas, then let the machine take care of the rest. However, while an AI is a lot smarter than the proverbial thousand monkeys banging away on a thousand typewriters, it will take some time before we’ll see AI- and NLP-generated content that’s actually readable.

As AI and NLP keep evolving, we may also eventually see machines doing a lot of other SEO-related work, like inserting H1 and image alt tags into HTML code, building backlinks via guest posts, and doing email outreach to other AI-powered content editors. While it seems far-fetched right now, it’s exciting to see how SEO, NLP, and AI will evolve together.

Major impact from Google BERT update

In late 2019, Google announced the launch of its Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm.  BERT helps computers understand human language using a method that mimics human language processing. 

According to Google, the BERT algorithm understands contexts and nuances of words in search strings and matches those searches with results closer to the user’s intent. Google uses BERT to generate the featured snippets for practically all relevant searches. 

One example Google gave was the search query “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa”. The old algorithm would return search results for U.S. citizens who are planning to go to Brazil. BERT, on the other hand, churns out results for Brazilian citizens who are going to the U.S. The key difference between the two algorithms is that BERT recognizes the nuance that the word “to” adds to the search term, which the old algorithm failed to capture. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Google search query example

Source: Google

Instead of looking at individual keywords, BERT looks at the search string as a whole, which gives it a better sense of user intent than ever before. Users are becoming more specific with the questions they ask and are asking more new questions, and BERT breaks down these questions and generates search results that are more relevant to users.

This is great news for search engine users, but what does it mean for SEO practitioners? While it doesn’t exactly throw long-standing SEO principles out the window, you might have to adjust to accommodate the new algorithm’s intricacies and create more content containing long-tail (longer and more specific) keywords. Let’s move on to the next section to learn more about creating BERT-optimized content.

Developing SEO-friendly content for improved Google

When we perform SEO on our content, we need to consider Google’s intentions in introducing BERT and giving NLP a larger role in determining search rankings. Google uses previous search results for the same keywords to improve its results, but according to the company, 15% of all search queries are used for the first time. The implication here is that Google needs to decipher these new questions by reconstructing them in a way it understands. 

With this in mind, your SEO should factor in the criteria below: 

Core understanding of search intent

While keywords still play an important role in Google searches, BERT also pays close attention to user intent, which just means a user’s desired end goal for performing a search. We may classify user intent into four categories:

  • Navigational: The user goes to Google to get to a specific website. Instead of using the address bar, they run a Google search then click on the website link that appears in the search results. It’s possible that these users know where they want to go but have forgotten the exact URL for the page.
  • Informational: The user has a specific question or just wants to know more about a topic. The intention here is to become more knowledgeable or to get the correct answer for their question. 
  • Commercial: The user might not know what they want at the moment, so they’re just looking around for options. They may or may not make a purchase right away.
  • Transactional: The user is ready and willing to make a purchase and is using Google to find the exact product they want.

Unlike old search algorithms, the new Google algorithm captures user intent better because it considers the whole context of the search terms, which may include prepositions such as “of”, “in”, “for”, and “to”, or interrogative words such as “when”, “where”, “what”, “why”, and “how”. Your SEO strategy should produce content that:

  • Answers a user’s question or addresses a need right away
  • Provides value to the reader
  • Is comprehensive and focused 

You might need to conduct more research about ranking sites for your keyword and check out what kind of content gets into the top results. It’s also a good idea to look at the related searches that Google suggests at the bottom of the results page. These will give you a better idea of user intent and help you draw an SEO strategy that addresses these needs.

Term frequency-inverse document frequency

You might not have heard of the term “Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency” (TF-IDF) before, but you’ll be hearing more about it now that Google is starting to use it to determine relevant search results. TF-IDF rises according to the frequency of a search term in a document but decreases by the number of documents that also have it. This means that very common words, such as articles and interrogative words, rank very low. 

TF-IDF is calculated by multiplying the following metrics:

  • Term frequency: This may either be a raw count of instances of a keyword, the raw count adjusted for document length, or the raw frequency of the most common word. 
  • Inverse document frequency: This may be calculated by taking the total number of documents, dividing it by the number of documents that have the keyword, then getting its algorithm. If the word is very common across different documents, the TF-IDF gets closer to 0. Otherwise, it moves closer to 1. 

When we multiply the metrics above, we get the TF-IDF score of a keyword in a document. The higher the TF-IDF score, the more relevant the keyword is for that specific page. As an end-user, you may use TF-IDF to extract the most relevant keywords for a piece of content. 

Google also uses TF-IDF scores in its NLP engine. Since the metric gauges the relevance of a keyword to the rest of the document, it’s more reliable than simple word counts and helps the search engine avoid showing irrelevant or spammy results.

Sentiment importance

Consumer opinions about brands are everywhere on the internet. If you can find a way to aggregate and analyze these sentiments for your brand, you’ll have some powerful data about overall feelings about your business at your fingertips. 

This process is called sentiment analysis, and it uses AI to help you understand the overall emotional tone of the things your customers say about you. It involves three key activities:

  • Knowing where your customers express their opinions about your brand, which might include social media, review sites such as Yelp or the Better Business Bureau, forums, feedback left on your site, and reviews on ecommerce sites such as Amazon.
  • Utilizing AI and NLP to pull data from these sites in massive quantities, instead of gathering a random sample consisting of just a few comments from each platform. This gives you a clearer overall picture of customer sentiment.
  • Analyzing data and assigning positive or negative values to customer sentiments, based on tone and choice of words.

Crafting an SEO strategy that places importance on customer sentiment addresses common complaints and pain points. We’ve found that dealing with issues head-on, instead of skirting them or denying them, increases a brand’s credibility and improves its image among consumers.

Salience and category

If you want to better understand how natural language processing works, you may start by getting familiar with the concept of salience. 

In a nutshell, salience is concerned with measuring how much of a piece of content is concerned with a specific topic or entity. Entities are things, people, places, or concepts, which may be represented by nouns or names. Google measures salience as it tries to draw relationships between the different entities present in an article. Think of it as Google asking what the page is all about and whether it is a good source of information about a specific search term.

Let’s use a real-life example. Let’s imagine you do a Google search to learn more about how to create great Instagram content during the holidays. You click on an article that claims to be a guide to doing just that but soon discover that the article contains one short paragraph about this topic and ten paragraphs about new Instagram features. 

While the article itself mentions both Instagram and the holidays, it isn’t very relevant to the intent of the search, which is to learn how to document the holidays on Instagram. These are the types of search results Google wanted to avoid when it was rolling out BERT. Instead of trying to game the system to get your content to the top of the search results, you need to consider salience as you produce your online content. 

Five tools that can help you develop SEO-friendly content

Given all the changes that Google has made to its search algorithm, how will you ensure that your content remains SEO-friendly? We’ve gathered six of the most useful tools that will help you create content that ranks high and satisfies user intent.

1. Frase

Frase (frase.io) claims to help SEO specialists create content that is aligned with user intent easily. It streamlines the SEO and content creation processes by offering a comprehensive solution that combines keyword research, content research, content briefs, content creation, and optimization. 

Fraser - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

Frase Content, its content creation platform, suggests useful topics, statistics, and news based on the keywords you enter. If you’re working with a team, the Content Briefs feature tells your writers precisely what you need them to produce, reducing the need for revisions and freeing up their time for more projects. 

2. Writer

Writer (writer.com) realizes that we all write for different reasons, and when you sign up, it asks you a few questions about what you intend to use it for. For example, you might be interested in improving your own work, creating a style guide, promoting inclusive language, or unifying your brand voice. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Writer

Writer’s text editor has a built-in grammar checker and gives you useful real-time suggestions focusing on tone, style, and inclusiveness. Writer also offers a reporting tool that lets you track your writers’ progress for a specific period, such as spelling, inclusivity, and writing style.

3. SurferSEO

Surfer (surferseo.com) makes heavy use of data to help you create content that ranks. It analyzes over 500 ranking factors such as text length, responsive web design, keyword density, and referring domains and points out common factors from top pages to give you a better idea of what works for a specific keyword. 

Surfer - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

You can see Surfer’s analysis at work when you use its web-based text editor. You will see a dashboard that tracks what the app calls the “content score”. It also gives you useful keyword suggestions.

4. Alli AI

Alli AI (alliAI.com) offers you a quick, painless way to perform SEO on existing content. All you need to do is add a single code snippet to your site, review Alli’s code and recommendations, then approve the changes. Once you approve the changes, Alli implements them in minutes.

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Alli AI

Alli does this by finding the easiest links to build. If you prefer to do things manually, the tool also shows you link building and outreach opportunities. If you’re struggling to keep up with all Google’s algorithm changes, Alli claims it can automatically adjust your site’s SEO strategy.

5. Can I Rank?

Can I Rank (canirank.com) compares your site content to other sites in its niche and gives you useful suggestions for growing your site and improving your search rankings. Its user interface is easy to understand and the suggestions are presented as tasks, including the estimated amount of time you will need to spend on them. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Can I Rank?

What we like about Can I Rank? is that everything is in plain English, from the menu to the suggestions it gives you. This makes it friendly to those who aren’t technical experts. It also presents data in graph form, which makes it easier to justify SEO-related decisions.

Bottom line

Google changes its search algorithms quite a bit, and getting your page to rank is a constant challenge. Because its latest update, BERT, is heavily influenced by AI and NLP, it makes sense to use SEO tools based on the same technologies.

These tools – such as Frase, Writer, SurferSEO, AlliAI, and Can I Rank? – help you create content that ranks. Some of them check for grammar and SEO usability in real-time, while others crawl through your site and your competitors’ sites and come up with content suggestions. Trying out these tools is the only way for you to know which one(s) work best for you. Stick with it, and you’ll stay ahead of the game and create content that performs well for years to come!

May Habib is Co-founder and CEO at Writer.com.

The post How NLP and AI are revolutionizing SEO-friendly content [Five tools to help you] appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


SMB’s guide to marketing: Stand out and boost sales during the holidays

December 28, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Generate highly personalized and engaging campaigns to drive conversions.
  • Segment your contact list by analyzing historic customer data.
  • Remind customers you are appreciative of their support.
  • Leverage the power of social media to grow your lead base.
  • Create a sense of urgency to drive sales.
  • A/B test campaigns to determine top-performing content.

A study by Mastercard shows that 77% of Americans will choose to shop local this year, while 82% of them are likely to shop online. To make the most out of this surge, small businesses will have to focus their holiday marketing effectively on digital channels. This guide will take you through all the necessary steps to drive sales and customer engagement during these holidays. 

A. Take advantage of email marketing

1. Choose the right subject lines

As the holiday season is one of the busiest for your inbox, it is important to keep your subject line both impactful and festive. Your subject lines essentially determine whether or not a subscriber will open your email. A flawless subject line is both direct and urgent. By being direct you’re telling your audience what you have for them, such as a percentage discount or free shipping. The offer itself would be attracting their attention. Consumers will scan hundreds of sales, which would mean your offer has to be good enough to convince them. The holiday season creates the urgency itself hence it is such an effective time for the year for any small business. The urgency will be signaling to your customers what your campaign is related to. It’s ideal to use catchy phrases such as “holiday season” or “holiday sale” as they will increase your open rates. As you personalize the subject line copy during the holidays, you can increase your open rate by 50%

2. Drive your CTAs with personalized content and on-brand email designs

Holiday content has to be clear and conversational. SMBs should capitalize on emotion-driven campaigns during the holidays as they create a sense of positivity that can be a powerful sales technique. Using an emotion-driven tone allows you to utilize limited-time language in your email subject lines and call-to-actions (CTAs). Similarly, on-brand email design captures the attention of your audience and guides them to your main message, and drives the desired CTAs. This is a savvy way to create a sense of urgency and increase sales. Take advantage of short paragraphs and bullet points, as you want to maintain the reader’s attention. Most email service providers have free email templates, as well as easy-to-use editors to guide you in the process of making eye-catching email designs. 

B. Use segmentation to send promotional emails for your holiday campaign

Email always provides better results when you tailor the message to the recipient. By targeting a smaller subset of your email contacts you can align the content with exactly what they need. An example of this could be sending an email to subscribers who have opened your last two emails, live in the US, and identify as women.

1. Understand customer purchase history

Targeting subscribers based on what they have purchased previously allows you to promote complementary products or suggest other products that could be of interest to them. Using the purchase history is an effective way to segment customers, as you can customize email sends to appeal to their purchase behaviors.

2. Customer preferences 

Customer-defined preferences guide you in creating email content that will appeal to subscribers. Empowering subscribers to set topics and frequency preferences at initial sign up give businesses a higher engagement rate than sending generic emails to your entire list of contacts. A common strategy for clothing businesses is to collect information about gender so they can tailor email content accordingly. However, depending on your business there may be other relevant fields you want to add, such as geographic location, age, etc.

3. Customer engagement on previous campaigns

Your subscribers’ level of engagement on previous marketing campaigns is another way to segment your contact list. Not only does this allow you to reward subscribers who have shown a higher level of interest in your business but it also lets you take a different approach with less engaged subscribers. This is a great practice to improve your email deliverability and increase overall engagement from your subscribers. 

C. Create a sense of urgency through email marketing and automation

The sense of urgency is a very powerful marketing tool, as email promotions creating urgency can increase sales by over 300%. To create a sense of urgency, consider planning a time-limited, flash sale campaign, and offer free shipping to entice customers. Using phrases such as “seasonal offer” or “last chance” in your email marketing campaigns can also drive customers to open your emails and purchase your products or offerings. During this time if your audience does not interact with your email campaigns, you can take advantage of marketing automation and send them reminder emails in hopes to re-engage them.

It’s important to remember when you opt for this strategy to make sure the messaging is crystal clear. If not, you run the chance of encountering disgruntled customers. After successfully defining and finalizing the urgency messaging, test it across different customer segments. Once you identify the copy that drives the most conversions, share it broadly with your subscriber base.  

1. Use promotional discounts to attract shoppers

A survey in January 2020 asked online shoppers how their habits have changed compared to last year, the most popular answer depicted that consumers are purchasing from websites offering the lowest price. This holiday season shoppers will look for the best deals, though slashing prices won’t be the only way to attract customers but also looking at discounts that could be enticing such as a percentage off orders over a certain amount, complementary products with the purchase, or a simple discount on multiple products. If a product discount doesn’t seem feasible, exploring other options such as free shipping could be beneficial as well.

2. Engage shoppers with abandoned carts through automation

There will always be shoppers who don’t complete their purchase and abandon their cart. Setting up automated abandoned cart emails during the holidays becomes an important tactic for small businesses to engage and win back these potential customers. Offering discounts and other promotions are an effective way to bring shoppers back to your site and finalize the sale given they are most likely browsing the different deals available.

To make the most out of the holiday season, small businesses should plan their campaigns early, test different strategies, and appeal to their audience by showcasing their appreciation for their support.

Steffen Schebesta is CEO at Sendinblue.

The post SMB’s guide to marketing: Stand out and boost sales during the holidays appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Honk introduces a real-time, ephemeral messaging app aimed at Gen Z

December 28, 2020 No Comments

A new mobile app called Honk aims to make messaging with friends a more interactive, real-time experience. Instead of sending texts off into the void and hoping for a response, friends on Honk communicate via messages that are shown live as you type, with no saved chat history and no send button. The end result is a feeling of being more present in a conversation, as Honk will notify users the moment someone leaves a chat. And if you really want to get someone’s attention, you can send them a “Honk” — a hard-to-miss notification to join your chat.

If it’s even more urgent, you can even spam the Honk button by pressing it repeatedly. This sends notifications to a friend’s phone if they’re off the app, or a flood of colorful emoji if they have the app open.

After setting up an account by customizing your profile pic, selecting a username and adding friends, you can then tap on a friend’s name in your list to send them a message.

When you enter a chat in Honk, you’ll be presented with two large conversation bubbles. The gray one on the top is where your friend’s messages are shown, while you type in the blue one. (You can change the colors and theme, if you choose.)

As you type, the other person will see the text you’re entering into this box in real-time — including the pauses and typos that would normally be missed. This “live typing” experience is reminiscent of older communication technology, like the early instant messaging app ICQ, or the innovative collaboration tool Google Wave, for example.

In Honk, you’re given 160 characters to type out your thoughts, and this is counted down on the right side of screen below the conversation bubbles. But you don’t tap a “Send” button to share the message — the recipient saw the text as it was entered, after all. Instead, you just tap the double arrow “refresh” button to clear the screen and type something new.

There are also buttons for sending emoji, snapping a photo or accessing photos from your Camera Roll to share in the chat. The emoji here work more like iMessage’s “Send with Echo” screen effect, as you’re not just sending a single emoji when you use this feature — you’re sending several huge emoji that temporarily fill the screen.

You can also optionally assign emoji to any word or phrase within an individual chat, using a “Magic Words” feature that will trigger effects as you type (see above). Plus, you can customize chat themes on a per-conversation basis or turn off notifications from an individual user, if you don’t want to hear from them as much.

None of the conversations are stored and there’s no history to look back on. This is similar to messaging apps like Snapchat or Messenger’s Vanish Mode, for instance. (Honk hasn’t clarified its position on security, however, so proceed with caution before getting into riskier content.)

And, of course, if you need to get someone’s attention, you can tap “Honk” to flood them with notifications.

If this all seems somewhat silly, then you’re probably not the target market for the Honk messaging experience.

The app is clearly aiming for a young crowd of largely teenage users. When Honk asks for your age during setup, in fact, you can select an exact number from the list that appears — unless you’re “old,” that is. The last option on the list of ages is “21+” — the “older folks” age bracket, which may sting a bit for the millennial crowd who often still think of themselves as the online trendsetters.

But Honk is aiming to grab Gen Z’s interest, it seems. It’s even marketing to them on TikTok, where it’s already generated some 140K+ “Likes,” as of the time of writing, despite having only uploaded its first video yesterday. Honk founder Benji Taylor also noted on Twitter the app has seen 550,000 “Honks” sent so far, as of Wednesday, December 23, 2020, shortly after noon Eastern. By the time of this article’s publication, that number was 1 million.

@usehonkwait for it ##fyp♬ original sound – Honk

Per its website, Honk is the flagship product from software company and app publisher Los Feliz Engineering (LFE), which is backed by investors including Naval Ravikant, Elad Gil, Brian Norgard, David Tisch, Jeff Fagnan, Ryan Hoover, Sarah Downey, Josh Hannah, Sahil Lavingia and others.

“It’s exceptionally well designed,” said Product Hunt founder and Weekend Fund investor Ryan Hoover, about Honk. “[Honk founder] Benji [Taylor] and team labored over the small details, from the animations to the sounds. They’re also super focused on speed,” he added.

Taylor declined a full interview when TechCrunch reached out, noting the team was focused on building the product for the time being.

“We’ve been working on Honk for a while now. Our goal is to make messaging fun, and empower people to communicate in new, creative ways that take relationships deeper,” Taylor told TechCrunch. “Ultimately though, we’re a small team building this for ourselves and our friends. If other people like it, all the better,” he said.

Honk, we should note, has been struggling under the load of new signups at launch and high usage. Honk users report the app will sometimes say they’re offline when they’re not, for example, among other bugs. Honk acknowledged the issues on its Twitter and says it’s been working to resolve them.

The app is currently a free download on iOS. It does not include in-app purchases or have any obvious business model.


Social – TechCrunch