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Monthly Archives: July 2021

The importance of accurate keyword difficulty scores

July 17, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Keyword difficulty (KD) scores help digital marketers understand potential search engine performance
  • KD scores are useful in building SEO strategies, filtering out ineffective keywords
  • Low competition keywords give an advantage in attracting traffic
  • Some KD calculating tools may be inaccurate due to the use of limited parameters
  • Semrush has developed a new formula for KD score calculations that it says has improved accuracy

With countless companies competing for the same audience, digital marketers need to develop a highly effective and targeted content strategy to find a way through the crowded market and connect with potential customers. Keyword difficulty (KD) is an essential metric to assist marketers in formulating an effective SEO strategy for reaching the top of search engine results pages (SERP).

Focusing on a keyword with a low KD score can achieve faster results with traffic from search engines as there is less competition. Whereas keywords with a higher KD score will typically have far more competition in search results, making it much harder to appear near the top of SERPs in the short term. Long-term improvements are achievable but will take time and require multiple SEO measures to be implemented.

KD calculation tools can determine how effective a keyword may be in search results. However, a lot can depend on the SEO tools that digital marketers are using. Such tools are not always accurate due to the limited parameters that can vary from developer to developer. The result is that the KD calculation may be inaccurate and even lead a digital marketer to believe that their keywords will perform better in practice than in reality.

Content created in partnership with Semrush.

Semrush, an online visibility management platform provider, has developed what it says is a proven formula to achieve an accurate KD percentage score based on in-depth research into SEO patterns and client feedback.

How Semrush’s Keyword Difficulty platform works

This year, Semrush released an updated version of its KD metric. The new formula was the result of extensive lab testing by the company’s team of data scientists and engineers. They studied patterns of SERP activity for approximately 120,000 keywords, covering more than 100 parameters and varying contexts to determine an accurate KD value. Alongside this, the teams analyzed the data to determine the difficulty that keywords would face in using SEO to appear on the first page of search results.

The three steps to decode your SERP standing and opportunities

Semrush’s platform has three steps to calculate the formula.

1. SERP analysis

The first involves SERP analysis, where the median value is identified for three metrics throughout URLs on the first page of search results. The three median values are:

  • The number of referring domains pointing to the ranking URLs
  • The authority score of the ranking domains
  • The ratio of follow/no-follow links to the ranking URLs

2. Keyword parameter analysis

The second step is an analysis of keyword parameters. This considers the above SERP factors, alongside a closer inspection of individual keywords. All factors are weighted differently in Semrush’s formula regarding the likelihood of influencing the first-page ranking.

The parameter weighted the highest by some way is the median number of referring domains for ranking URLs, totaling 41.22 percent. While the second-largest weighted share is the median authority score for ranking domains at 16.99 percent. Search volume is third with 9.47 percent, and the median follow/no-follow ratio for ranking URLs is a fraction lower in the fourth position at 9.17 percent.

Other parameters include featured snippets, branded keywords, and site links, with the weighted share becoming progressively smaller. Factors that can harm the KD score are keywords with a high word count and no SERP features.

3. The calculations

The third step is the calculation itself. The formula also adapts for each country, taking a nation’s population size and the number of websites into account when calculating the KD score based on Semrush’s regional database.

What KD scores mean for your SEO performance

On Semrush’s KD platform, the user can enter up to 100 keywords at a time to check the KD score. Crucially, the platform can help the user find valuable low-competition keywords. KD scores can also be calculated for both long-tail and local keywords. In addition, the tool allows the user to compare their SEO strategy with competitors to see what is performing well and identify any keyword gaps.

The results provide the user with the KD rating and advice on what they need to do next to gain hits. At the lower end of the scale, scores of 0-14 percent are classed “very easy” with the strongest likelihood of new pages appearing near the top of Google rankings without the need for backlinks.

The next step up is 15-29 percent, which is considered “easy”. While there may be some competition, it remains possible to achieve a high ranking for new web pages. However, this will require quality content based on the keywords.

Things get progressively harder as the KD scores get higher. A score of 85-100 percent, for example, is classified “very hard”, where keywords face the strongest competition and the odds are stacked against new websites breaking through. A ranking is still possible through features such as on-page SEO, link building, and campaigns to promote content. In this instance, pay-per-click advertising may prove more beneficial.


To find out more about Semrush and its Keyword Difficulty platform download its recent whitepaper.

The post The importance of accurate keyword difficulty scores appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Don’t Be Blinded By The Ad Strength: An Experiment On The Impact Of Ad Strength

July 16, 2021 No Comments

Don’t be blinded by the ad strength, focus on the performance! A higher ad strength doesn’t mean: better CTR, better conversion rate or better quality score.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Streamlabs launches Crossclip, a new tool for sharing Twitch clips to TikTok, Instagram and YouTube

July 16, 2021 No Comments

The company behind ubiquitous livestreaming software Streamlabs is introducing a new way for streamers to share their gaming highlights to platforms well beyond Twitch. Streamlabs calls the new tool Crossclip, and it’s available now as an iOS app and as a lightweight web tool.

With Crossclip, creators can easily convert Twitch clips into a format friendly to TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Facebook videos. Adapting a snippet from Twitch that you’d like to share is as simple as putting in the clip’s URL and choosing an output format (landscape, vertical or square) and a pre-loaded layout.

Crossclip iOS app

You can crop the clip’s length within Crossclip, blur part of the background and choose from a handful of layouts that let you place the frames in different places (to show the facecam view and the stream view together in vertical orientation, for example).

Crossclip’s core functionality is free, but a premium subscription version ($ 4.99/month or $ 49.99/year) removes a branded watermark and unlocks exports in 1080/60fps, larger uploads, added layers and pushes your edits to the front of the processing queue.

Discovery on Twitch is tough. Established streamers grow their audiences easily but anybody just getting started usually has to slog through long stretches of lonely Stardew Valley sessions with only the occasional viewer popping in to say hi. The idea behind Crossclip is to make it easier for streamers to build audiences on other social networks that have better discoverability features, subcommunities and tags to make that process less grueling.

“For a creator, making your content more discoverable is a huge advantage,” Streamlabs Head of Product Ashray Urs told TechCrunch. “When you consider the most popular Twitch streamers, you will notice that they have extremely popular YouTube channels and actively post on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. If you aren’t sharing content and building your audience with different platforms, you’re making things more difficult for yourself.”

Urs notes that creators are increasingly using TikTok’s algorithmic discovery abilities to grow their audiences. TikTok’s recent addition of longer, three-minute videos is a boon for many kinds of creators interested in leveraging the platform, including gamers and other Twitch streamers.

Anyone with an established audience will find Crossclip a breeze to use too, making it dead-simple to share gaming highlights or Just Chatting clips wherever they’re trying to build up a following. The average clip conversation takes two to three minutes and is a simple one-click process. There are a few tools out there that have similar functionality, independent web tool StreamLadder probably being the most notable, but Streamlabs takes the same idea, refines it and adds a mobile app.

Streamlabs, now owned by Logitech, has released a few useful products in recent months. In February, the company launched Willow, its own link-in-bio tool with built-in tipping. In May, Streamlabs deepened its relationship with TikTok — an emerging hub for all kinds of gaming content — adding the ability to “go live” on TikTok into its core livestreaming platform, Streamlabs OBS.


Social – TechCrunch


The SolarWinds Hackers Used an iOS Flaw to Compromise iPhones

July 16, 2021 No Comments

Security researchers say the group exploited a zero-day in Apple’s operating system to target European government officials over LinkedIn.
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A Letter to New Digital Marketers

July 14, 2021 No Comments

Dear new digital marketers: here are a few tips that you can actively do now to jumpstart your growth as a digital marketer or PPC specialist.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Twitter now lets you limit who can reply to a tweet after the fact

July 14, 2021 No Comments

If you’re tired of sending brilliant takes into the Twitterverse only to be met with wave after wave of reply guys, a new Twitter feature could give you some relief.

Starting today, anyone on Twitter will be able to adjust who can reply to individual tweets after they’ve been sent. Previously, you could limit who could reply to tweets when they were created, but you couldn’t go in and change your selection after the fact.

On Twitter, you don’t always have a sense of what kind of tweets will attract unwanted attention until it’s too late. The new feature makes the option to limit replies to people you follow or only people mentioned in a tweet much more useful, particularly because the mute button doesn’t always cut it.

Twitter added the option to limit replies last August to boost “meaningful conversations” on the social network and to help people feel safer from harassment when they tweet. Product researcher Jane Manchun Wong first spotted the feature’s expansion in June.


Social – TechCrunch


Raylo nabs $11.5M to get more mobile users to lease and reuse

July 14, 2021 No Comments

UK-based smartphone subscription startup Raylo has tucked $ 11.5 million in Series A funding into its top pocket, led by Octopus Ventures.

The equity round follows a debt raise last year — and brings Raylo’s total raised since being founded back in 2019 to $ 40M (in equity and debt). Its roster of investors to date also includes the Macquarie Group, Guy Johnson of Carphone Warehouse and the co-founders of Funding Circle.

The new funding will be used to charge up a subscription smartphone play that nudges consumers never to own their own mobile device — but just pay a monthly fee to lease a new or refurbished SIM-free device instead.

Raylo says it’s seen 10x YoY growth of customers and revenues, and plans to plough the Series A into accelerating its growth in the UK — including by doubling its headcount and further developing its tech. And while it suggests it’s entertaining the idea of a future global rollout it remains firmly UK focused for now.

Consumers opting to get the latest smartphone hardware through Raylo will pay a lower cost than the full RRP for a device since they won’t actually own the hardware at the end of the contract.

Environmental considerations aside, that may be an increasingly important consideration, given the inflating price of premium handsets like the top-of-the-range iPhone which has broken $ 1,000 for a few years now.

Plus the fact that most consumers simply won’t shell out so much for a handset. Leasing and returning offers an alternative way for people to get to use such expensive high-end devices.

With Raylo, the leased mobile is typically returned after the end of the 12 or 24-month contract — with the returned device refurbished for reuse via a second (or third) leased life with another user.

End of life devices are recycled (by partners), per Raylo. So it’s touting a circular model that promotes sustainability via device usage longevity vs the more typical upgrade scenario, via a carrier, where a consumer may just toss their old unused handset into a drawer, wasting its further potential utility.

Albeit, many people do pass on old devices to other family members or even sell or trade them in. But Raylo claims there are an estimated 125M smartphones in unused ‘hibernation’ across the UK. So, the suggestion is, plenty of smartphone users don’t bother ensure their old handset gets a second life.

Raylo reckons each of its subscription leased device can be used by a total of three customers over 6-7 years – which, if achieved, would mean a lifespan that it says is almost 2x longer than the UK average (of 2.31 years).

To further the longevity goal, all the phones it supplies come with a free case and screen protector.

Users also need to weigh up whether they want to shell out for insurance too, though, since they need to make sure they don’t damage the leased handset or risk having to shell out for expensive repairs or a non-return fee. (Raylo sells its own flavor of device insurance to users as an optional extra which slightly bumps up the monthly cost.)

Raylo competes with carriers’ own device subscription plans, of course. But again the claim is it’s cheaper to lease its way — although that’s as it should be since the consumer doesn’t own the hardware at the end of the contract (so won’t automatically have anything of value they could sell or trade in elsewhere).

If a user doesn’t want (or fails) to return a device at the end of the contract they have to pay a non-return fee — which varies depending on the handset hardware and how long they’ve been paying for it. But the fee can stretch to over £600 at the premium end — after 12 months of use of a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with 512GB of storage or an iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example.

While consumers that want to continue using the same device rather than upgrading after their contract ends can opt to continue paying their usual monthly fees — with payments continuing up to a maximum of 36 months, after which the non-return fee drops to a token £1.

All Raylo’s leased devices come with a 24 month warranty, under which it says it will freely repair faults not related to user damage or accidents, or else supply a replacement device if the handset can’t be fixed.

Commenting on Raylo’s Series A in a statement, Tosin Agbabiaka, early-stage fintech investor at Octopus Ventures, said: “The subscription economy is rapidly transforming the way we access products and services — yet the smartphone, an individual’s most valuable device, is still locked behind a bundled, ownership-based model. This means most people are trapped in a buy-and-dispose cycle, with a steep financial and environmental costs.

“Raylo solves these problems by offering access to premium consumer devices at lower, subscription-based prices, helping to widen access to the latest technology. By repurposing its devices at the end of their cycle, Raylo is also the sustainable choice in this market and has built a product loved by its customers — the opportunity here is massive, and we believe that [co-founders] Karl [Gilbert], Richard [Fulton], and Jinden [Badesha] have the vision and depth of expertise to transform the way we all access our devices.”

A number of refurbished electronics businesses have been attracting investor attention in Europe in recent years where lawmakers are also considering right to repair legislation.

Recent fundings in the space include a $ 335M round for French refurbished device marketplace startup Back Market; a $ 71m round for Berlin-based Grover‘s subscription electronics business; and a $ 40.6M round for Finland-based Swappie, which refurbishes and sells secondhand iPhones, to name a few.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency at Google

July 14, 2021 No Comments

Learning About SEO and How It Works With Language on Pages A couple of the concepts that you learn when learning SEO besides an inverted index at Google is how often words appear on pages and in Google’s index of the Web. Term Frequency Term Frequency is a measure of how often a term may … Read more

The post Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency at Google appeared first on SEO by the Sea ⚓.


SEO by the Sea ⚓


ZoomInfo drops $575M on Chorus.ai as AI shakes up the sales market

July 13, 2021 No Comments

ZoomInfo announced this morning it intends to acquire conversational sales intelligence tool Chorus.AI for $ 575 million. Shares of ZoomInfo are unchanged in pre-market trading following the news, per Yahoo Finance data.

Sales intelligence, Chorus’s market, is a hot space that uses AI to “listen” to sales conversations to help improve interactions between salespeople and customers. ZoomInfo is mostly known for providing information about customers, so the acquisition expands the acquiring company’s platform in a significant way.

The company sees an opportunity to bring together different parts of the sales process in a single platform by “combining ZoomInfo’s historic top-of-the-funnel strength with insights driven from the middle of the funnel in the customer conversations that Chorus captures,” it said in a release.

“With Chorus, the entire organization can make better decisions by surfacing insights and analytics that you would only get if you sat in on every sales or customer success call,” ZoomInfo CEO and founder Henry Schuck said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Ahead of the transaction, ZoomInfo was valued at just under $ 21 billion.

Chorus looks for what it calls “smart themes” in sales calls, which help managers steer sales teams towards the types of conversation and tone that is likely to drive more revenue. In fact, Chorus holds the largest patent portfolio related to conversational intelligence, according to the company.

Chorus was founded in 2015 and raised over $ 100 million along the way, according to Pitchbook data. The most recent round was a $ 45 million Series C last year.

Crunchbase News reports that at the time of its Series C round of funding, Chorus had “doubled its headcount to more than 100 employees and tripled its revenue over the past year.” That’s the sort of growth that venture capitalists covet, making the company’s 2020 funding round a non-surprise.

Notably PitchBook data indicates that the company’s final private valuation was around the $ 150 million mark; if accurate, it would imply that the company’s last private round was expensive in dilution terms. And that its investors did well in the exit, quickly more than trebling the capital that was last invested, with investors who put capital in earlier doing even better.

But we’re slightly skeptical of the company’s available valuation history given the growth that it claimed at the time of its Series C; it feels low. If that’s the case, the company’s exit multiple would decrease, making its final sale price slightly less impressive.

Of course a half-billion dollar exit is always material, even if venture capitalists in today’s red-hot, and expensive market are more interested in $ 1 billion exits and larger.

Chorus.ai will likely not be the final exit in the conversational intelligence space. Its rival Gong (often known by its URL, Gong.io) is one of the hotter startups in this space, having raised over $ 500 million. Its most recent raise was $ 250 million on a $ 7.25 billion valuation last month.

The implication of the Chrous.ai exit and Gong’s enormous private valuation is that the application of AI to audio data in a sales environment is incredibly useful, given the number of customers the two companies’ aggregate valuation implies.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Controversial WhatsApp policy change hit with consumer law complaint in Europe

July 12, 2021 No Comments

Facebook has been accused of multiple breaches of European Union consumer protection law as a result of its attempts to force WhatsApp users to accept controversial changes to the messaging platforms’ terms of use — such as threatening users that the app would stop working if they did not accept the updated policies by May 15.

The consumer protection association umbrella group, the Beuc, said today that together with eight of its member organizations it’s filed a complaint with the European Commission and with the European network of consumer authorities.

“The complaint is first due to the persistent, recurrent and intrusive notifications pushing users to accept WhatsApp’s policy updates,” it wrote in a press release.

“The content of these notifications, their nature, timing and recurrence put an undue pressure on users and impair their freedom of choice. As such, they are a breach of the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices.”

After earlier telling users that notifications about the need to accept the new policy would become persistent, interfering with their ability to use the service, WhatsApp later rowed back from its own draconian deadline.

However the app continues to bug users to accept the update — with no option not to do so (users can close the policy prompt but are unable to decline the new terms or stop the app continuing to pop-up a screen asking them to accept the update).

“In addition, the complaint highlights the opacity of the new terms and the fact that WhatsApp has failed to explain in plain and intelligible language the nature of the changes,” the Beuc went on. “It is basically impossible for consumers to get a clear understanding of what consequences WhatsApp’s changes entail for their privacy, particularly in relation to the transfer of their personal data to Facebook and other third parties. This ambiguity amounts to a breach of EU consumer law which obliges companies to use clear and transparent contract terms and commercial communications.”

The organization pointed out that WhatsApp’s policy updates remain under scrutiny by privacy regulations in Europe — which it argues is another factor that makes Facebook’s aggressive attempts to push the policy on users highly inappropriate.

And while this consumer-law focused complaint is separate to the privacy issues the Beuc also flags — which are being investigated by EU data protection authorities (DPAs) — it has called on those regulators to speed up their investigations, adding: “We urge the European network of consumer authorities and the network of data protection authorities to work in close cooperation on these issues.”

The Beuc has produced a report setting out its concerns about the WhatsApp ToS change in more detail — where it hits out at the “opacity” of the new policies, further asserting:

“WhatsApp remains very vague about the sections it has removed and the ones it has added. It is up to users to seek out this information by themselves. Ultimately, it is almost impossible for users to clearly understand what is new and what has been amended. The opacity of the new policies is in breach of Article 5 of the UCTD [Unfair Contract Terms Directive] and is also a misleading and unfair practice prohibited under Article 5 and 6 of the UCPD [Unfair Commercial Practices Directive].”

Reached for comment on the consumer complaint, a WhatsApp spokesperson told us:

“Beuc’s action is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of the update to our terms of service. Our recent update explains the options people have to message a business on WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. The update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook, and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family, wherever they are in the world. We would welcome an opportunity to explain the update to Beuc and to clarify what it means for people.”

The Commission was also contacted for comment on the Beuc’s complaint — we’ll update this report if we get a response.

The complaint is just the latest pushback in Europe over the controversial terms change by Facebook-owned WhatsApp — which triggered a privacy warning from Italy back in January, followed by an urgency procedure in Germany in May when Hamburg’s DPA banned the company from processing additional WhatsApp user data.

Although, earlier this year, Facebook’s lead data regulator in the EU, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, appeared to accept Facebook’s reassurances that the ToS changes do not affect users in the region.

German DPAs were less happy, though. And Hamburg invoked emergency powers allowed for in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in a bid to circumvent a mechanism in the regulation that (otherwise) funnels cross-border complaints and concerns via a lead regulator — typically where a data controller has their regional base (in Facebook/WhatsApp’s case that’s Ireland).

Such emergency procedures are time-limited to three months. But the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) confirmed today that its plenary meeting will discuss the Hamburg DPA’s request for it to make an urgent binding decision — which could see the Hamburg DPA’s intervention set on a more lasting footing, depending upon what the EDPB decides.

In the meanwhile, calls for Europe’s regulators to work together to better tackle the challenges posed by platform power are growing, with a number of regional competition authorities and privacy regulators actively taking steps to dial up their joint working — in a bid to ensure that expertise across distinct areas of law doesn’t stay siloed and, thereby, risk disjointed enforcement, with conflicting and contradictory outcomes for Internet users.

There seems to be a growing understanding on both sides of the Atlantic for a joined up approach to regulating platform power and ensuring powerful platforms don’t simply get let off the hook.

 


Social – TechCrunch