Google’s “People also ask” boxes are widely discussed within the SEO industry as they take a lot of SERP real estate while providing little to no organic visibility to the publishers’ sites.
That said, “People also ask” listings are probably helpful for Google’s users allowing them to get a better understanding of a topic they are researching. Yet, whether they do send actual clicks to publishers’ pages remains a huge question.
While we have no power over Google’s search engine page elements, our job as digital marketers is to find ways to take any opportunity to boost our clients’ organic visibility.
Is there any way for marketers to utilize this search feature better? Let’s see.
1. Understand your target query intent better
One of the cooler aspects of “People also ask” boxes is that they are dynamic.
When you click one question, it will take you in a new direction by generating more follow-up questions underneath. Each time you choose, you get more to choose from.
The coolest thing though is that the further questions are different (in topic, direction or intent) based on which question you choose.
Let me explain this by showing you an example. Let’s search for something like – “Is wine good for your blood?”
Now try clicking one of those questions in the box, for example, “What are the benefits of drinking red wine?” and watch more follow-up questions show up. Next, click a different question “Is red wine good for your heart and blood pressure?”. Do you see the difference?
Source: Screenshot made by the author, as of Feb 2020
Now, while this exercise may seem rather insignificant to some people, to me, it is pretty mind-blowing as it shows us what Google may know of their users’ research patterns and what may interest them further, depending on their next step.
To give you a bit of a context, Google seems to rely on semantic analysis when figuring out which questions fit every searcher’s needs better. Bill Slawski did a solid job covering a related patent called “Generating related questions for search queries” which also states that those related questions rely on search intent:
Providing related questions to users can help users who are using un-common keywords or terminology in their search query to identify keywords or terms that are more commonly used to describe their intent.
Source: Google patent
For a deeper insight into the variety of questions and types of intent, they may signal, try Text Optimizer. The tool uses a similar process of extracting questions Google does. For example, here are intent-based questions that refer to the topic of bitcoin.
Source: TextOptimizer’s search screenshot, as of Jan 2020
2. Identify important searching patterns
This one somewhat relates to the previous one but it serves a more practical goal, beyond understanding your audience and topic better. If you search Google for your target query enough, you will soon start seeing certain searching patterns.
For example, lots of city-related “People also ask” boxes will contain questions concerning the city safety, whether it is a good place to live in and what it is famous for:
Identifying these searching patterns is crucial when you want:
- Identify your cornerstone content
- Re-structure your site or an individual landing page
- Re-think your site navigation (both desktop and mobile)
- Create a logical breadcrumb navigation (more on this here)
- Consolidate your multiple pages into categories and taxonomies
3. Create on-page FAQs
Knowing your target users’ struggles can help in creating a really helpful FAQ section that can diversify your rankings and help bring steady traffic.
All you need to do is to collect your relevant “People also ask” results, organize them in sections (based on your identified intent/searching patterns) and answer all those questions on your dedicated FAQ page.
When working on the FAQ page, don’t forget to:
- Use FAQPage schema to generate rich snippets in Google search (WordPress users can take advantage of this plugin). If you have a lot of questions in your niche, it is a good idea to build a standalone knowledge base to address them. Here are all the plugins for the job.
- Set up engagement funnels to keep those readers interacting with your site and ultimately turn them into customers. Finteza is a solid option to use here, as it lets you serve custom CTAs based on the users’ referral source and landing page that brought them to your site:
Source: Screenshot by Finteza, as of July 2019
4. Identify your competitor’s struggles
If you have an established competitor with a strong brand, their branded queries and consequent “People also ask” results will give you lots of insight into what kinds of struggles their customers are facing (and how to serve them better).
When it comes to branded “People also ask” results, you may want to organize them based on possible search intent:
- ROPO questions: These customers are researching a product before making a purchasing decision.
- High-intent questions: Customers are closest to a sale. These are usually price-related queries, for example, those that contain the word “reviews”.
- Navigational questions: Customers are lost on your competitor’s site and need some help navigating. These queries can highlight usability issues for you to avoid when building your site.
- Competitive questions: These queries compare two of your competitors.
- Reputation questions: Those customers want to know more about your competitor’s company.
Source: A screenshot made by the author in January 2020
This information helps you develop a better product and a better site than those of your competitors.
With the changes in search algorithms over the years, the dropping and adding of key search elements, the evolution of Google’s SERPs, navigating digital marketing trends seems almost treacherous.
Yet, at the core of things, not much has really shifted and much of what we do remains the same. In fact, some of those changes have made it even easier to make an impact on the web than ever before. While we may welcome or frown upon each new change, there’s still some competitive advantage in each of them.
Our job, as digital marketers, is to distinguish that competitive advantage and make the most of it.
I hope the above ideas will help you use “People also ask” results to your advantage.
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com.
The post How to make the most of Google’s “People also ask” results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
One can easily translate sign reputation management to income management. Your public image directly affects sales, career and financial well-being in any field – whether searching for an investor, overcoming the negativity spread by your rivals, a change of field, or creation of a new public persona.
But what should you do if there are already lots of negative things written about you on the Internet? In this post, we’ll use one of our actual cases as an example to show how we changed a client’s reputation from 48% negative to neutral.
This article has been created by BDCenter Digital. We sign an NDA with all our customers. Therefore, all the data that could infringe on the client’s confidentiality have been changed. This doesn’t affect the mechanism of reputation management in any way.
Our assignment was to make sure that searching for our client’s name on Google in the US would yield zero negative content on the first two search engine results pages (SERPs).
At the time when the client asked us to help improve their reputation, 48% of the top 20 results were negative:
A total of seven BDCenter Digital team members worked on this reputation improving project, including:
Two SEO specialists + an assistant: Their job was to monitor and analyze search results, work out a strategy to eliminate negativity, and publish content on appropriate resources.
PR specialist: Who identified news-worthy content, contacted the media, as well as prepared and published articles.
SMM specialist: Who created social media accounts for the client and filled them with info.
Project Manager: Who allocated tasks, tracked progress, kept in touch with the client and the team, and evaluated the results.
Designer: Who prepared templates for social media and news resources.
Four months and 560 hours of work later, there was NO negativity left in the top two result pages on Google. Reputation improved!
Read on to find out how we did it.
|Igor Erenkov||Artem Shcherbakov||Olga Vodchyts|
1. Identifying resources containing negative content and monitoring changes
Our first step was to study the SERPs (with our client’s name as the search query) and find the sites that published negative content about him. This helped us understand the scope of the job and see which sites we would have to work with to push all negativity out of the top 20 results.
Every week, we would fine-tune our strategy – since Google often changes its ranking algorithm, we would get slightly differing results every day. For instance, a resource that was ranked as no.1 yesterday might not even be on the first page tomorrow.
For this reason, we checked on the situation once a week and recorded the results in a spreadsheet:
The color indicates the tonality of each resource relative to the individual in question. The names of sites were removed for the purposes of confidentiality.
One of the factors impacting how results are placed on a SERP is the age of the content. A new relevant piece of content can easily get a resource in the top 10, but just a week or two later, it can lose around 30 to 50 positions.
2. Posting mentions of the person on various websites
Undesirable information about the client was posted on large resources, one of them with 20 million monthly visitors. One of the obvious solutions was to overcome this negativity by posting positive content on even larger websites.
However, we couldn’t rely on this tool alone for two reasons:
A. High costs: The client would have to pay $ 4000 to $ 5000 per publication, and the actual budget was much lower.
B. Risk of repetitiveness: Google tries to vary its results, filling its SERPs with sites in different formats. Therefore, we decided to post content about our client on the following types of sites:
- News websites
- Blogging platforms
- Profiling sites
- Video hostings
- Podcast sites
- Social networks
- Interview-centered sites
- Client’s corporate pages
- Dropped domains
- Presentation hostings
3. Optimizing the client’s corporate site
Google prioritizes those sites that are most relevant to the search query. What do you see at the top of the list when googling the name of someone? Depending on the popularity, it can be a Wikipedia article, a corporate website, or a social media account.
In our case, the client’s corporate website was among the top results already, but we wanted to strengthen its position. To do this, we optimized the Team page and created an additional page with the client’s bio.
As a result, these two pages ended up in Google’s top three in the US, pushing all the negativity down the list.
4. Using dropped domains
When time is limited and you need a quick result, you can benefit from dropped domains.
A drop is a domain that its owner decided not to pay for any longer and is now for sale. Some of these dropped domains are still indexed by Google, and you can get good results by publishing backlinks there.
After confirming this step with the client, we created a site based on a good dropped domain and published new content on that site. In just a month, the site was ranked among the top five on Google.
5. Pushing negativity out of Google Image Search
The image search also yielded some negative results, so we had to work not only on pushing individual websites out of the top 20 but specific images, too.
Since Google likes unique content, we made sure to use only unique images of the client in our publications and his social media accounts.
If you don’t have any fresh pictures available, you can edit some of the old ones, changing the background, size, or color profile. This will make Google see them as unique, showing them first.
By the way, changing just the size doesn’t work. Google views such pictures as identical, showing only the one with the best resolution.
PR and content
1. Identifying newsworthy materials
The client didn’t have any important news to share, so we had to create it ourselves. In particular, we watched the industry news closely – and as soon as we found something valuable, we confronted the event with our client’s expertise. Thanks to his status and extensive experience, he could provide commentary on the latest research and news for the media.
2. Publishing content
The technique described above provided us with publications on news websites – however, they would allow free coverage only for really important events. Working with niche websites was much easier: we used them to publish expert articles and interviews.
We only chose sites that fit the following three criteria:
- Relevance to the subject – wealth management, finance, and investment.
- The site had to contain a negative article about our client. Publishing fresh content on the same site would get the old article to rank lower.
- Importance – the site’s «weight», or authority, had to be higher or equal to that of the sites that contained negativity, helping to overcome it.
By weight we mean the level of Google’s trust in the resource. This trust is based on the number of visitors, the site’s age and level of optimization.
If you need quick results, you can get a lot of coverage fast by publishing your content on PR Newswire. Read our recent post on how to do this.
Our client’s name had to be mentioned in the title: -this helped articles rank much better for our search query.
However, our title headline didn’t always fit the editing guidelines of individual resources: some preferred to list the author at the very bottom of the piece. Such articles weren’t useful to us since they didn’t rank the way we would’ve liked.
We tested this headline theory many times. Even a publication on the gigantic Yahoo! Finance with one mention in the body of the text works worse than an article on a small website, but with the client’s name mentioned in the title, lead-in, and text body.
1. Creating and filling social media accounts
We created accounts for the client on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and other platforms. We didn’t use those social networks that weren’t relevant to the client’s business — such as Pinterest, for example.
Linkedin yielded the best result: Our client’s profile on this platform still ranks as no. 1 in the search results, pushing out the old negative content. Xing, Tumblr, and Instagram didn’t produce any result at all: none of them got into the top 20.
We made sure to fill new social media pages with expert content – mostly pieces for the articles we wrote for the media. Naturally, we always adapted the text for social media. The posts were accompanied by photos of the client: we arranged special photoshoots for that purpose.
2. Posting podcasts and videos
Google prefers content to be varied. So it prioritizes not only fresh articles but also video and podcasts.
We started accounts on YouTube and Vimeo for our client and added several videos: some we created specifically to fit recent news, others were chosen among existing content.
We posted those videos not only on the client’s own accounts but also in other users’ profiles. By the way, it was a video posted on the page of another user that ended up in the top 10 of Google.
As for podcasts, they can work well, too – as long as you post them on popular platforms, such as iTunes or audioboom.com, which has over two million monthly users.
Project Manager’s comments
SERM, or search engine reputation management, combines such tools as SEO, PR, and SMM. In order to leverage this combination with maximum benefit, we utilize the following principles:
- Regular strategy updates – since both SERPs and relevant content change all the time, we have to monitor all changes and reassess our action plans when required.
- Analysis of the results – we constantly check what works and what doesn’t. This helps us work faster, better, and without wasting our resources.
- Daily contact with the client – this way we can quickly make strategic decisions and create fresh content.
- Generating relevant content – even though SERM is more about pushing negativity as far down as possible in the SERPs, we are also very serious about what we post – and so are our clients, of course. Content should also be relevant to the objective. In the case, we’ve described that meant niche articles, podcasts, and videos that accentuated the client’s expertise.
By using all these tools, we managed to radically transform the first two Google result pages. 90% of the top 20 were now positive, with the remaining 10% neutral.
Based on our experience with reputation management – and we’ve already worked with a Nobel laureate, several politicians, and CEO’s of financial institutions – your public image can have a tremendous impact on your business and career. By maintaining a good public image on a constant basis is much easier and cheaper than launching major reputation rehaul campaigns once every few years.
To maintain your reputation, make sure to monitor the search results for your name or brand. Select your key search queries and set up alerts: this way you’ll know what Google users see when they look for information about you and will be ready to react to any negativity.
The post Case Study: How BDCenter transformed a reputation from 48% negative on Google to neutral appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
When you create a website, the goal is to share your products, services, or information with as many people as possible. And to do that, you need people to visit your website and see what it has to offer. However, when you make a new website, it won’t automatically show up on the first page of Google results. You have to use SEO to get there, and we’re going to show you how to do that with WordPress.
Watch the 15-minute video here, or read the text below. In this video, you will learn how to setup WordPress SEO in 2020.
Why is SEO important?
SEO strategies take search engine algorithms into account, helping you build your website’s authority and visibility. SEO is a must-have for any successful digital marketing strategy, whether you are using WordPress or any other platform.
Is WordPress good for SEO?
WordPress has been one of the most popular website builders for many years. It started as a blogging platform, but in the last few years, it has become more and more popular as a website platform.
- It offers customizable themes and a wide variety of tools, extensions, and widgets.
- It has some great website building tools that make it very SEO-friendly.
- It is also an affordable platform with excellent technical support and lots of resources available.
WordPress suffers in some aspects when it comes to SEO, though. It is very complicated on the back end. You might need an SEO expert and a pro web developer, and research to implement more advanced SEO.
However, most cases will not require an expert as SEO can be set up on the platform. You will only have to choose a plugin and learn how to use it.
WordPress websites can also be negatively affected by Google’s mobile-first indexing. If you’re trying to decide what platform to use for your new website, you can learn more about WordPress and many others right here.
Step-by-step WordPress SEO setup: How to do SEO yourself on WordPress
We created a free video course that explains everything, step-by-step:
WordPress can provide a strong foundation for good SEO, but there are many things you can do to make your website more visible to search engines. Here’s a step-by-step list of how we handle SEO on WordPress.
1. Optimize URL structure
You will need to choose the correct permalink structure from the start, or you may have SEO problems later on. A simple way to structure your URLs is like this: yourwebsite.com/category/sub-category/product-page.
This URL structure is called “pretty URL”, and you can enable it from – Settings > Permalink menu inside of WordPress
2. Choose between www or non-www
Do you want a website that appears as “www.xyz.com” or just “xyz.com”? This doesn’t usually affect SEO, but if both versions exist, it will get you in trouble with Google. It’s mainly a matter of personal preference, but it’s something you may want to give some thought to.
3. Set up your site’s SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
The next step is to set up an SSL certificate, which is now required if you want to show up in search engines. As much as 90% of page #1 search results on Google will be HTTPS secure. You can do this with a free Cloudflare account. If you have questions about this, check out this step-by-step tutorial video to learn everything you need to know.
4. Install the Yoast plugin
Earlier, we mentioned that WordPress comes with many useful plugins that can make your life a whole lot easier. Yoast is one of the best plugins that do a great job. Thanks to its easy-to-use tools, Yoast can help you a lot with SEO and content optimization on webpages and blogs.
5. Verify Google, Bing, and Yahoo
Next, you should submit your website to search engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo) and verify your website ownership to them. This way, you can track your website performance, view keywords, get alerted to broken links and linkbacks, and get a whole lot of valuable data regarding these search engines.
6. Optimize your XML sitemap (exclude thin content pages)
This lets search engines know when your site has been updated. Yoast automatically configures *XML sitemaps, making things easy for you.
Optimize your Robots.txt file—This is a file placed on your site’s server to instruct the search engine robots on how to crawl and index files on your domain. There are two ways you can edit robots.txt on WordPress:
- Use Yoast > Tools > Editor to fix it.
- If not available, install the ‘Virtual Robots.txt’ plugin
Note: Make sure to add your XML sitemap in the robots file.
Create HTML sitemap
Many websites can benefit from an HTML sitemap in addition to an XML sitemap. The ‘Simple Sitemap’ plugin makes this easy.
7. Optimize your site for speed
A good website is a speedy website. These days, websites need to have high-quality images and design, but they still need to load almost instantly, or you’ll lose visitors. Loading speed affects your SEO both directly and indirectly. We recommend an image optimization plugin like Imagify and a cache plugin like WP Rocket or Autoptimize. Also, it is a good idea to change the settings for minification, lazy loading, and CDN delivery.
8. Install schema markup
If you operate a local business, online store, or you are an influencer, this is very important. It helps search engines deliver valuable results to visitors searching for you on Google. Here are some of the plugins we regularly use and suggest for basic schema markup: All In One Schema Rich Snippets, WP Review, snip – The Rich Snippets & Structured Data Plugin, and Schema.
There are many ways to set up SEO on WordPress and optimize it to your needs. As professionals in the field, these are our suggestions. However, SEO is ever-changing. If you want to stay in that coveted top slot of the Google search, you need to keep up with the changes and continually optimize. Check out our SEO Management service to get affordable, all-in-one SEO assistance for your business.
Mike is the co-founder of Zima Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and paid advertising.
Let’s admit it, all of us are trying our best to please search engines (SE) and cracking Google’s algorithm. After all, who doesn’t want some extra visibility and revenue?
Naturally, billions of websites are adopting innovative practices to gain Google’s attention and approval. In order to rank high on the SERP, businesses should comply with the Google updates that are introduced on a regular basis. But this, in no way, means finding loopholes in these search engine algorithms or adopting strategies to trick them. In fact, businesses employing such empty SEO tricks have to face the music later. Many firms already have experienced Google’s wrath in the past.
Google has been regularly introducing algorithm updates to improve the quality of its search results. But it also penalizes sites that employ unethical or outdated practices to rank higher. This can adversely impact a brand’s reputation and bottom line. Ideally, these updates should be used as a guide for improving a site’s UX, ranking on SERPs is an end result that will follow.
Read on to know the ill-effects of chasing Google’s algorithms. There’s also a bonus involved! You will also learn some effective tips to stay on top of these updates while boosting your business reputation.
1. Google penalties
Google’s algorithm updates are a solution to reward good content and identify and penalize websites using unethical and outdated SEO practices. Google absolutely doesn’t approve of tactics like keyword stuffing, buying links, linking to penalized sites, unnatural links, and others. Algorithm updates, Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, RankBrain, Broad Core, and others aim at improving the quality of search results for users.
Source: Google Webmaster Guideline
Thus, web developers, digital marketers, bloggers, and online businesses messing with these updates are penalized, sending their website plummeting down the SERP.
Google can penalize such websites in two ways –
A. Algorithmic penalty
Several other factors can cause your ranking to go down. Yet, with the introduction of an update, there’s a fair chance that your website may be affected. This is especially true if your site doesn’t adhere to the specific parameters assessed by the update.
For instance, Google Panda assigns a quality score to your site after checking for duplicate content and keyword stuffing. If your site has duplicate content, its ranking is bound to suffer.
Similarly, the latest January 2020 Core Update will be checking websites for authoritative and relevant content with a healthy E-A-T rating. So, if your website violates any of the guidelines shared by Google, it will automatically be penalized or filtered.
Make sure you check for issues in your domain on Google Search Console at regular intervals.
B. Manual penalty
This is a direct result of your website being penalized by a Google employee for not complying with the search quality guidelines. Manual penalties are Google’s way of punishing websites with spammy behavior. The Manual Actions Report on Search Console allows you to check such penalties, offering an opportunity to resolve them.
Check out this infographic by DigitalThirdCoast that shares an analysis of the businesses that tried to cheat Google along with the repercussions they had to face later.
2. Loss of reputation and credibility
Businesses obsessed with algorithm updates not only attract penalties but also lose focus on improving their site’s UX. Either way, the business loses its reputation and credibility. Lost reputation means an immediate loss of potential revenue, benefiting no one else but the competition.
Check out what John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google has to say about cleaning up the mess after being slapped by a Google penalty.
Of course, there are ways to recover from Google penalties. But it takes a lot of effort to rebuild the business reputation and trustworthiness, let alone improving the firm’s online ranking and winning back the lost customers.
3. Marketing myopia
One of the gravest dangers of being preoccupied with Google algorithm updates is losing sight of the business vision and goals. Instead of focusing on the audience’s needs the firm tends to adopt an inward-looking approach only to satisfy Google.
Google will forever introduce these updates. There’s no end to their journey towards improving the quality of search results. Google is clearly focused on its vision. Are you?
Don’t lose sight of your vision. Use Google’s algorithm updates as a guide to steer closer to your business goals.
What can you do to rank better on Google?
1. Don’t perennially chase Google updates
Google makes minor changes in its algorithm almost every other day. In 2019 alone multiple updates were reported. Not all were confirmed as Google is less upfront about these updates.
The sole objective of these updates is to create a better user experience. Merely chasing them and going all over the place with execution will not only land you with a penalty but also affect your reputation in the long term.
Stop obsessing about these updates and focus on making your website and content better each day.
2. Focus on delivering first-rate digital experience
Google’s algorithms are constantly judging and rating sites based on the quality of experience they offer and their E-A-T rating. In a nutshell, you need to prioritize these pointers.
A. Serve quality content
“Quality” seems to be a subjective term but not for Google. The search giant clearly states that the content on a website should be in-depth, relevant, useful, and from a credible source. Simply put, it asks us to create E-A-T worthy content.
This is especially true for the YMYL websites that affect an individual’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability.
(Source: Google’s Search Quality Guidelines)
Ask yourself these three questions when creating a piece of content:
- Is the content contributor an expert on the subject? (Expertise)
- Is the content contributor an influencer or an authority in the domain? (Authority)
- Is this content accurate and from a credible source? (Trustworthiness)
B. Work on your backlink profile
Backlinks are one of the top-ranking factors that help Google decide a website’s authority and credibility in its niche. Focus on getting quality backlinks from authority sites.
Well, authoritative sites will award links to websites serving relevant, useful, and shareable content. Build authority by creating great content in various forms like videos, podcasts, case studies, infographics, and others.
You should also collaborate with experts for content-creation projects. For instance, expert roundups can not only strengthen your network with influential people in a niche but also provide solid content for your upcoming posts.
Check out how RankWatch conducted an expert roundup involving 25 marketing experts like Rand Fishkin and Barry Adams to discuss the future of SEO. Such inbound link-building initiatives have earned the website a healthy number of backlinks from websites with healthy page authority (PA).
Here are the results as seen on MozBar.
Source: Moz Analytics
C. Improve your site speed
A website’s bounce rate is directly proportional to its load time. Google recommends having a site speed index of under three seconds.
Source: Think with Google
If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, be prepared to wear Google’s “Badge of Shame”. You read it right! Google’s planning to slap slow websites with this badge.
Source: Chromium blog
It’s best suggested to take effective steps to improve your site speed which will, in turn, boost your site’s UX and improve your ranking.
D. Avoid over-optimizing webpages
Google will see through any unscrupulous SEO hacks that are employed to game the system. Build sites to improve your audience’s online experience, not to trick Google. We will touch such unethical practices at the next point.
3. Play by the rules
Though Google isn’t transparent with its algorithm updates, it keeps sharing valuable tips for webmasters and content creators, encouraging them to serve quality content and boost their site’s UX. Use these tips to your advantage.
A. Take learnings from the search quality guidelines
Google wants webmasters to follow its guidelines when building sites and posting online content. So, it’s important to constantly stay updated about the current guidelines. Refer to the search quality guidelines when creating an SEO strategy for your business.
B. Avoid black and gray-hat SEO tactics
Avoid using black-hat SEO techniques and monetization schemes like keyword stuffing, private blog networks, spammy links, and affiliate links among others. Moreover, Google absolutely disapproves of gray-hat SEO tricks like buying expired domains, cloaking, dummy social accounts, and scraped content among others. These techniques normally go unnoticed but when used excessively are spotted by Google, attracting a penalty.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid both these unethical SEO tactics that only focus on tricking the algorithm. Make delivering value to users a priority!
4. Check for crawl errors
At times, your website isn’t featured in the top searched because Google’s spiders haven’t crawled it. One of the major reasons for this is a possible error in your code. Use Google’s Index Coverage report and URL Inspection tool to identify and fix the gaps in your code.
Also, remember to optimize your crawl budget to ensure that your important webpages in Robots.txt are crawled. Finally, watch out for 301 and 302 redirect chains that can hurt your crawl limit and cause the SE crawler to stop crawling your site.
A website doesn’t enjoy high visibility on Google, it practically doesn’t exist. Therefore, everyone’s bending over backward to crack Google’s algorithm updates. However, businesses adopting strategies merely to trick Google are headed for a slippery slope.
Google’s algorithms are smart enough to identify and punish websites that are up to no good. So, take my advice – instead of trying to crack Google’s algorithm updates, work towards creating awesome content and offering the best experience to users. The tips shared in this post will guide you in the process.
George Konidis is the co-founder of Growing Search, a Canadian based digital marketing agency providing optimal SEO and link building services worldwide. He can be found on Twitter @georgekonidis.
I think you’ll agree with us when we say, “It’s really hard to get conversions from social media channels.” Hours of creation and curation later, all we get are a few likes or just basic inquiries. But what if we told you that getting leads from social media isn’t quite a very hard nut to crack?
In fact, by using the below-mentioned tools we managed to get 89 new enquires in the past week alone. That’s a 594% staggering increase from the 12-13 leads that managed to squiggle through previously.
Well, our magic potion is certainly a mix of a few tricks and tools that helped us to achieve this feat. But most importantly, it is the result of months of trials, tests, and efforts of keeping the social community engaged through frequent posting and analyzing.
What exactly are social media conversions?
Conversions from social media could be anything – from gaining new subscribers to your mailing list, more app downloads, website visits, to closing sales through your social channels. These conversions are an important part of digital marketing services and strategy.
The question now is, how do you, as a marketer gain meaningful conversions from your social media channels?
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our most trusted social media tools for marketing that helped us gain an edge over our competitors:
1. Ace your social game with Agorapulse
Agorapulse is a social community and moderation tool that helps businesses manage all their social network profiles. Furthermore, it helps you gather critical data like statistics and reporting to help you gain high-quality insights, devise and execute effective social media campaigns.
It is the ultimate social media tool as you can connect it to every social account that you run. Plus it also provides a CRM platform making it efficient for sales-oriented tasks.
One amazing feature in Agorapulse is its ‘Social Inbox’. If you are the kind of brand that likes to stay connected with your customers and monitor each brand mention, then Agorapulse is the tool for you. All your social media notifications will appear in the social inbox, so you can take action and reply to comments and mentions directly from this social inbox.
As a social listening tool, Agorapulse can also find mentions of your brand on social media, where you haven’t been tagged. This generally helps you to identify negative reviews and smell a crisis before the disaster strikes. You can also set up custom searches for whatever query or keyword you like.
Content scheduling and queueing
Scheduling is easier too with categories. With the Chrome plugin, you can schedule content on the go.
As a B2B company, it is important to know if your clients are interested in your brand’s social content. Agorapulse lets you see your most engaged followers, who are more likely to become customers or clients in the near future.
Analytics and reporting
Agorapulse stands out for its in-depth analytics reports. These reports help in measuring your social media ROI to see if your efforts on social media are paying off. Compare your page’s performance to those of your competitors, to know where you are lacking.
Agorapulse, beyond the trial period, is a paid tool. But if you are serious about getting leads and conversions on social media, it is definitely one that we recommend spending on. Agorapulse plans come in four different pricing ranges.
- Medium- $ 99/mo
Best for small businesses
- Large-$ 199/mo
Best for agencies
- Extra Large-$ 299/mo
Best for larger organizations
- Enterprise-$ 499/mo
Best for large teams with many profiles
Agorapulse remains the favorite social management tool for big names like Ogilvy, Disney, Dove, and Yves Saint Laurent.
2. Understand your social media audience with Socialbakers
Socialbakers is a tool that can manage and measure everything from social media to your audiences in one place. It helps you discover your customer personas, what content resonates with them and which influencers do they like.
One of the more important things with social media is to understand the kind of content that resonates with your audience. Getting to know what your followers like and engage with, helps you in creating more relevant posts and content for the future. After all, content is created with the latent aim of getting customers in the long run.
Enter Socialbakers – an all in one analytical tool that helps you get the most of your data.
Creating detailed reports
Social media managers often tend to struggle with making customized performance reports to review their efforts on social media. With social bakers, you can get a complete analytical report scheduled to your inbox at set intervals of time. Save it as a presentation or excel sheet or PDF to peruse when required.
The multi compare feature in Socialbakers allows you to pit yourself against 10 other similar brands from your industry, so you can identify where you stand. By recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, you can create a better content strategy.
Discover what content is clicking with your audience, to do more of what’s working and engaging the viewers. Monitor your social media performance over different platforms to see which social channel is doing best.
Know your most engaged audience
Also, Socialbaker’s the ‘Response Time Evolution’ feature lets you determine the highest engagement time frame, you can mark the exact hour at which your posts should go out to get more responses.
Socialbakers has two pricing plans that are determined by the number of profiles you wish to manage with it.
- 10 profiles- $ 19/mo
- 20 profiles- $ 38/mo
Socialbakers is the tool of choice for brands like Sony, Samsung, Nat Geo, Vodafone, Walmart, and more.
3. Integrate apps, save time, and do more sales with Zapier
Zapier is an online automation tool that connects two or more apps. It automates simple repetitive tasks eliminating the need for coding and human intervention.
Zapier automation helps you manage your social media and spend time engaging in meaningful customer conversations.
Automate repetitive tasks
Zapier helps you by creating time-saving zaps or workflows that are fully automated. It is a personal assistant that does little tasks for you.
Crossposting across different social media platforms is easy with Zapier. That means if you post a new picture on Instagram, and want the same to be posted on your Facebook account, you don’t need to do it manually each time.
Many people face issues crossposting their Instagram content on Twitter. The pictures appear as links, which need to be clicked and can be viewed only on the native platform. Zapier allows you to create image tweets from Instagram that can be directly viewed on Twitter.
Ongoing sync among apps
As social media managers usually suffer from a lack of time, they look to automate simple tasks, these tasks could be anything from posting the same content on different platforms, posting blog links to social media channels, saving interested leads and sign-up form data to a Google sheet, and more.
Zapier eases the burden by automating all these processes.
The best part about Zapier is that there are already hundreds of zap recipes created for you to use. If you are unsure, you can even customize a zap, by specifying a trigger and the resultant action.
Zapier is a free tool for up to 100 tasks a month, and single-step Zaps, but if you want advanced features, and more zaps then there are four paid upgrades.
- Starter- $ 25/mo
- Professional- $ 61/mo
Advanced tools and unlimited Zaps
- Professional- $ 61/mo
- Team- $ 374/mo
Collaborate with team
- Company- $ 749/mo
Zapier is trusted by teams large and small. Popular users include BuzzFeed, Spotify, Adobe and Fox network.
4. Get high-quality B2B leads with Lusha
Lusha is primarily an email and phone number tracker. It is GDPR compliant and helps you get the contact information of B2B leads you’re interested in. Interestingly, you can even integrate Lusha with your salesforce to capture leads, contacts, and other sales front data.
Email and phone number finder
We tried using Lusha on our Linkedin profile and got some amazing results. Apart from people who regularly interact with our content on Linked in, we delved deeper and found contacts of people that we were interested to sell our services to. We primarily targeted CEOs, Marketing Managers, and key decision-makers.
With a warm list of qualified leads, we were able to create smart email campaigns. Also, using the phone numbers that we got through Lusha, we were able to pitch our services over sales calls.
The plugin works on LinkedIn, Gmail, and Salesforce platforms. Generally, contact information is hidden on LinkedIn, and to contact someone, you’ll have to send a message or an In-mail. With the click of a single button, Lusha shows you the personal email, work email, and phone numbers of the person you want to get in contact with.
The free plan gives you five credits. That means you can view the contact information of five different profiles. However, if you wish to export contacts, and save them to your CRM, you have to purchase a paid plan. Lusha prices its plans on the basis of the number of Lusha credits. There are 3 pricing packages to choose from.
- Professional – $ 75/mo
- Premium – $ 149/mo
- Enterprise – Price upon consultation
Lusha empowers some of the world’s best companies. These include Google, Uber, Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft and more.
Social media traffic has a low conversion rate of only 0.71% when compared to search campaigns and email marketing. However, given that we put in smart work and regularly monitor our efforts, we can milk in more leads than usual. What’s really important to note is the knowledge of each social medium and how audiences behave on different social platforms.
With the above mentioned social media tools for marketing, your social media team is better equipped for conversions. If you’re still unsure about your social media conversion strategy, you can avail digital marketing services of an experienced agency.
Shaista Mujeeb is a Copywriter at Wolftain Agency.
The post Four powerful tools to optimize your social media conversions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Now that you reviewed your SMBs’ 2019 performance, it’s time to refocus and think about goals for 2020. Have your goals changed? Are you now focusing more on efficiency, new customer acquisition, or building upper-funnel leads?
Are you trading efficiency for awareness or vice versa? Are there new customer segments that you are pursuing? Do you have new products, services, or functionalities to introduce? The answers to these questions should form the foundation of your digital growth strategy and should define the tests you run to support that strategy.
In this post, we’ll talk about the alignment of goals and tests to get you on the right path for 2020 growth.
If your main goal is building brand awareness and your base of engaged users, testing new audiences should be a key focus, with a secondary step planned for retargeting these users in the future. Facebook/IG has great demographic intelligence to tap into, and LinkedIn allows B2Bs incredible targeting capabilities by title, industry, company size, and other relevant parameters.
If you’re more focused on getting more value out of an already-healthy customer base, bringing them back to your site and working to earn more conversion, turn your attention to remarketing and user experience.
What does this mean for B2C and ecommerce?
For B2C and ecommerce, this means optimizing remarketing campaigns (testing promotions and other messaging) and running CRO tests to make sure your landing pages are finely tuned and moving the users through the conversion funnel.
What does this mean for B2B and lead gen?
For B2B and lead gen, moving a strong upper-funnel base of leads through the funnel means making sure your content and messaging is aligned with their place in the purchase journey – so test different copy and themes to see which resonate the best, then target leads that went dark during the sales process with retargeting campaigns on LinkedIn and GDN.
If your goal is to lower CPA and establish more reasonable CPCs in a world of oversaturation on Google and Facebook, I recommend testing new channels with less competition and lower CPCs/CPAs. Those platforms include Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, and Reddit.
No matter what your overall campaign goals or business type are, it’s critical to establish a testing strategy and framework for creative assets and automated features. For creative, this includes everything from ad format (video, single-image, carousel) to the aspect ratio, and specific messaging/offers. For automation, consider that Google and Facebook’s powerful machine-learning tools, including automated bidding and campaign budget optimization – can help improve performance. However, they would require oversight to ensure they’re on target. Automated creative tools, including Google’s responsive search ads and Facebook’s dynamic creative, blend machine learning with creative testing and should be tested and monitored to leverage in campaigns for all business types.
Once you begin these tests, the rock-solid measurement must inform decisions and optimizations moving forward. If your goal is to drive brand awareness, focus on improvements, on metrics such as impressions, clicks, site visits, and reach. Customer acquisition goals for B2B and lead gen should incorporate metrics including upper-funnel leads, converted leads, opportunities, CPL, and lead-to-opportunity conversion rates.
Ecommerce businesses focused on driving sales should focus on metrics like ‘add to cart’, purchases, CVR, ROAS, and CPA. Reviewing these metrics at a campaign level, ad group or ad set level, audience, and creative level will help inform decisions and future tests.
There are many more testing layers to get into, but make sure you have started towards your 2020 goals by aligning the first wave of tests and KPIs accordingly to give yourself a foundation for growth in the coming quarters.
The post How to uncover digital growth opportunities for SMBs in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that’s unprecedented in its ability to measure your website’s performance. The data it gathers is invaluable to you as a marketer. They can give you a clear view of what decisions you need to make to benefit your brand. Data, however, are just numbers and graphs. On their own, they cannot tell a story. It’s your job as a marketer to deduce that story through sound and unbiased analysis and not fall for Google Analytics myths.
If Google Analytics terms and data confuse you more than they enlighten you, this article will help you understand four Google Analytics and SEO-related myths you need to avoid.
How do I use Google Analytics?
Business owners use Google Analytics (GA) to see what they’re doing right, in terms of getting quality traffic to their sites. If you’re a business owner hoping to expand your presence in online spheres, you’ll need analytics to measure your success.
With the use of metrics, Google Analytics tracks who visits your site, how long they stay, what device they’re using, and what link brought them there. With these data, you can discover how to improve your online marketing and SEO strategies.
Google Analytics basics
At first, it may seem like Google Analytics is serving you raw data that are too complicated to digest. Learning to speak the analytics language, though, it is easier than you think. Below are some basic terms to help you better understand the data reported by Google Analytics:
Pageviews are the total number of times a page on your site that users have viewed. This includes instances in which users refresh the page or when they jump to another page and promptly go back to the page they had just left. This underlines what pages are most popular.
Sessions are measured by how much time users spend on your website, regardless if they spend it navigating only one or multiple pages. Sessions are limited to a 30-minute window. This means that if users stay on the site for 30 minutes but remain inactive and non-interactive with the page throughout, the session ends. If they leave the site and go back within 30 minutes, though, it gets counted as a session.
Average session duration refers to the average time users spent on your site. Pages per session, on the other hand, is the average number of pages that users view on your site within a single session.
Time on Page
This refers to the average time users spend on a page on your site. This can help you determine which pages users typically check out longer. This starts the second a pageview is counted until the subsequent pageview ends it.
Traffic refers to the number of people accessing your website. This comes from a traffic source or any place where users come from before they are led to your pages.
Traffic is classified into direct and referral. Direct traffic comes from pageviews triggered by specifically typing the whole URL or when a user is given a URL directly without searching for it. Referral traffic is directed from links on other sites, like search results or social media.
Unique pageviews are reported when your page is viewed once by users in a single session. These don’t count the times users navigated back to that page in the same session. For example, a user navigates the whole site in one session and navigates back to the original page three times; the Unique Pageview count is still at one, and not three.
Hits are interactions or requests made to a site. This includes page views, events, and transactions. A group of hits is measured as a session, used to determine a user’s engagement with the website.
Clicks are measured by the number of clicks you get from search engine results. Click-through rate (CTR) is the total amount of clicks divided by impressions or times you are part of the user’s search results. If CTR is dropping, consider writing titles and meta descriptions that capture your users’ attention better.
Events are actions users take on a particular site. This includes clicking buttons to see other pages or download files. You are looking at what kind of content encourages users to interact with the page, thereby triggering an event.
Bounce rate refers to users’ single-page sessions wherein they click on a page and exits quickly without interacting with a single element on the page. A high bounce rate can mean either that a user has swiftly found what they were looking for or that they did not think the content on the page was interesting enough to stay longer and engage.
You can input goals in your Google Analytics account to track user interactions on your site. These interactions include submitting a report, subscribing to your newsletter, or downloading files. If the user performs an event that you’ve identified as a goal, Analytics counts this as a conversion.
Four common Google Analytics myths debunked
Now that you have an overview of Google Analytics terms, below are five common misconceptions surrounding those terms and how to avoid these as a marketer.
1. The more traffic that goes to your site, the better
Generally, you’d want more people to visit your site. These huge amounts of visits, though, won’t matter if they don’t turn into conversions. Even if thousands of people flock to your webpages each day, if they don’t take the desired actions your SEO campaign is aiming for, these visits won’t provide any benefit for your site.
A good SEO strategy is built upon making sure that once you’ve garnered a pageview, the quality of your content drives the user to the desired action such as subscribing to a newsletter, for example.
Keyword research can help make sure that you use the right terms to get you a higher ranking on SERPs. The material on your site, however, is also crucial in satisfying your users’ queries, enough to get a conversion.
2. Users need to spend more time on webpages
Users spending a few quick seconds on your page is not entirely bad. This may mean that these users are looking for quick, precise answers. Quality SEO delivers this to them through well-placed keywords and concise content. Hence, if they quickly get the answers they need, they tend to leave the site immediately.
Quality SEO content ensures that your material is written in such a way that it invites users to learn more about the subject, which can be seen when they are led to another page on your site. This leads them one step closer to taking the desired action on your site.
3. The amount of unique visitors is an accurate metric to measure audience traffic
The upsurge of unique visitors on your page doesn’t necessarily mean that the amount of your audience is blowing up. Unique visitors are measured by cookies used by Google to determine if it’s a user’s first time on a site. The same user accessing the same page through a different browser or a browser whose cookies have been cleared is counted as a unique visitor too.
If you’re looking to study your audience, it’s not enough to look at how many of them go to your page. You can refer to the Audience > Demographics tab and see who are navigating your site and from what marketing links they were directed from. With this information, you can determine what types of content gather the most traffic and from what avenues this traffic comes from such as SERPs or social media posts, for example.
4. Traffic reports are enough to tell if your campaign is successful
Looking at traffic reports alone is not enough to determine whether your SEO campaign is successful, or that your keyword research paid off. Although at first, it seems as though heavy traffic signals an effective online marketing strategy, it only counts the quantitative aspect of your campaign and dismisses the qualitative side.
Maximize all the reports on GA. All these are correlated with how your campaign is going. Reports are valuable in comprehensively addressing issues instead of nitpicking on a single aspect of a campaign because, for instance, a report suggests it’s not doing its job.
These points will help you clear the air when it comes to Google Analytics and help you correctly derive insights.
It’s interesting seeing patents from Google that focus on ecommerce topics. The last one I recall had Google distinguishing between products and accessories for those products in search results. I wrote about it in Ranking Search Results and Product Queries.
New Product Lines in Product Search
A new patent from Google is about when new products appear in existing product lines, like a laptop that comes with more Ram or a bigger hard drive, or a camera with a zoom lens that it didn’t have before.
This patent is about determining in product search whether a query is looking for a particular product line, from within a specific brand.
Searchers frequently search for products offered for sale. Google is trying to understand the intent behind shopping-related search queries.
For Google to be able to do that well, it has to understand different aspects of product categories. This can include such things as:
- Whether a product as an association with a brand
- Whether a product is in a specific product line
The patent tells us it is essential to detect terms designating product lines from within product queries from searchers.
That includes associating detected product line terms along with their corresponding brands, to let Google keep up with new product lines and retiring product lines soon after changes occur.
Under the new Google patent is a process aimed at determining product lines from product search queries:
- A product query might be classified to identify a product category
- A brand may be identified for the product query
- The brand may be chosen from a list of known brands for the product category
Unknown Product Lines
The patent tells us that unknown product line terms may be identified within a product query.
A metric may indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand.
The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric compares to the specified threshold.
A product search may be performed using the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.
This product lines patent can be found at:
Detecting product lines within product search queries
Inventors: Ritendra Datta
Assignee: GOOGLE LLC
US Patent: 10,394,816
Granted: August 27, 2019
Filed: December 27, 2012
Systems and methods can determine product lines product searches.
One or more computing devices can receive a product query of search terms. The product query may be classified to identify a product category. A brand may be identified for the product query. The brand may be selected from a list of known brands for the product category.
One or more unknown product line terms may be identified within the product query. A metric may be computed to indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand. The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric favorably compares to the specified threshold. A product search may be performed on the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.
High Precision Query Classifiers
This patent shows Google trying to identify new products and product lines, so it can distinguish them from older product lines.
Interestingly, Google is looking at search queries to identify products and product lines. As the patent tells us:
Product lines associated with product brands may be determined from analyzing the received product search queries.
The patent refers to a “high-precision query classifier,” which is the first time I have seen that mentioned anywhere at all.
How does a “high precision query classifier” work?
As described in this patent:
- A search query may be automatically mapped to a product category
- A list of known brands within the product category may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying the product brand
- Similarly, a list of known category attributes may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying attributes of the product being searched
Attributes of Products
The patent provides some examples of attributes for products:
- A number of megapixels for digital cameras
- An amount of RAM memory for laptop computers
- A number of cylinders for a motor vehicle
Product Query Forms
We are told that the forms that a product query may take may vary a bit, but we are provided with some examples.
A product query could take the form “[B] [PL] [A].”
In such a query form, one or more terms [B] may indicate a brand that is a known brand within a list of known product brands, and one or more terms [A] may indicate attributes that are known attributes of the category. One or more unknown terms [PL] may then be identified as a potential new product line. Such an identification may be strengthened where [PL] is in a form associated with product lines. The identification may also be strengthened where [PL] is found with brand [B] frequently over time within various product queries. The identification may be further strengthened where the terms [PL] are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand [B] throughout many product queries over time.
A metric is calculated by comparing what might be the attributes of products from a new product line, with attributes of a actual product line associated with a brand.
This metric may consider the number of unique product queries containing the terms [PL] having the correct structure and/or category along with the extent to which [B] dominates among every query that has a brand preceding [PL].
Why would Google be looking at Queries to learn about new product lines from brands instead of from product pages that describe the attributes of products?
Identifying Product Lines
How this identification process may work:
- Software for product line resolution may identify product lines associated with brands for product categories determined by the query classifier
- Product line resolution may use a category attribute dictionary and a product brand dictionary to establish pairings between brands and product lines
- The product query and the determined brands and product lines may then be provided to a product search engine
- The product search engine may then provide search results to the searcher
- The query classifier may map the product query to a product category
- Product line resolution can use product category information with the category attribute dictionary and the product brand dictionary to identify terms from the product query about specific product lines relate to product lines
- The unknown terms identified by the product line resolution module for a category may be fed back into the category attribute dictionary as attributes for that category
- Each identified product line may also be related to a particular brand listed in the product brand dictionary
- The product brand dictionary can provide a list of known brands within various product categories
- The known brands may be used to determine and resolve terms associated with product lines within each brand
- The product line terms may then be used to identify a potential new product line
The identification of a new product line may be strengthened:
- When unknown terms information is in a form associated with product lines
- Where the unknown terms are found with a brand frequently over time within various product queries
- Where the unknown terms are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand identified throughout many products queries over time
Identifying When Unknown Terms Maybe in a form associated with product lines
Here are some observations about the form of product lines:
- Product line terms generally start with a letter
- Product lines generally contain few or no numbers (differentiating product line terms from model numbers or serial numbers
- Product lines may be related to a category or a brand (One brand may generally have single word product lines while a second brand may use two word product lines where the first word relates to performance and the second word is a three-digit number
These kinds of patterns or forms about product lines could be used to associate unknown terms within a product query as product line terms.
Using a Category Attribute Dictionary to Resolve Product Line Terms within Product Queries
The category attribute dictionary can provide a dictionary of attributes associated with various product categories and brands.
Terms from the category attribute dictionary may be used to resolving product line terms within the product query.
When unknown terms are often found within product queries along with brand information, those unknown terms could be seen as product line terms associated with a specific brand. When known attribute terms are found in the category attribute dictionary to be consistent with brand [B] or the category associated with the product query by the query classifier.
Product Query Processing
The patent includes this flowchart to describe the process behind the product search patent:
Where does Google Learn about product lines?
The patent doesn’t mention product schema, or merchant product feeds. It does tell us that it is getting a lot of information about product lines from searcher’s queries.
Google also collects information about products and product attributes from web sites that sell those products, in addition to looking at product queries, as described in this patent.
Collecting such information from site owners may be the starting source of much information found in the product and category dictionaries and product attribute categories that are mentioned in this patent.
The process of updating information about products and product lines from product queries from searchers is a way to crowdsource information about products from searchers and get an idea of how much interest there might be in specific products.
It is quite possible that Google can learn a lot about products from product data feeds that merchants submit to Google. Google is trying to get merchants to submit product feeds even if they don’t use paid product search, to make those products visible in more places on Google in Surfaces across Google as described on this Google Support page: Show your products on Surfaces Across Google.
We saw that Google is using product feed information to help it distinguish between product pages and accessory pages for those products as I wrote about in the blog post I linked to at the start of this post.
Google also describes product markup on their developers page Product. Google tells site owners that they should include that markup for their products because:
Product markup enables a badge on the image in mobile image search results, which can encourage more users to click your content.
By collecting information about products from product feeds, Product Schema, product web pages, and product queries from searchers Google is collecting a lot of data about products, which could enable it to be pretty good at providing answers to product queries, and to understand when new product lines are launched.
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How might Google improve on information from sources such as knowledge bases to help them answer search queries?
That information may be learned from or inferred from sources outside of those knowledge bases when Google may:
- Analyze and annotate images
- Consider other data sources
A recent Google patent on this topic defines knowledge bases for us, why those are important, and it points out examples of how Google looks at entities while it may annotate images:
A knowledge base is an important repository of structured and unstructured data. The data stored in a knowledge base may include information such as entities, facts about entities, and relationships between entities. This information can be used to assist with or satisfy user search queries processed by a search engine.
Examples of knowledge bases include Google Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Vault, Microsoft Satori Knowledge Base, DBpedia, Yahoo! Knowledge Base, and Wolfram Knowledgebase.
The focus of this patent is upon improving upon information that can be found in knowledge bases:
The data stored in a knowledge base may be enriched or expanded by harvesting information from wide variety of sources. For example, entities and facts may be obtained by crawling text included in Internet web pages. As another example, entities and facts may be collected using machine learning algorithms.
All gathered information may be stored in a knowledge base to enrich the information that is available for processing search queries.
Analyzing Images to Enrich Knowledge Base Information
This approach may annotate images and select object entities contained in those images. It reminded me of a post I recently wrote about Google annotating images, How Google May Map Image Queries
This is an effort to better understand and annotate images, and explore related entities in images, so Google can focus on “relationships between the object entities and attribute entities, and store the relationships in a knowledge base.”
Google can learn from images of real-world objects (a phrase they used for entities when they started the Knowledge Graph in 2012.)
I wrote another post about image search becoming more semantic, in the labels they added to categories in Google image search results. I wrote about those in Google Image Search Labels Becoming More Semantic?
When writing about mapping image queries, I couldn’t help but think about labels helping to organize information in a useful way. I’ve suggested using those labels to better learn about entities when creating content or doing keyword research. Doing image searches and looking at those semantic labels can be worth the effort.
This new patent tells us how Google may assign annotations to images to identify entities contained in the images. While labeling, they may select an object entity from the entities pictured and then choose at least one attribute entity from the annotated images that contain the object entity. They could also infer a relationship between the object entity and the attribute entity or entities and include that relationship in a knowledge base.
In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, a computer-implemented method is provided for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The method includes assigning annotations to images stored in a database. The annotations may identify entities contained in the images. An object entity among the entities may be selected based on the annotations. At least one attribute entity may be determined using the annotated images containing the object entity. A relationship between the object entity and the at least one attribute entity may be inferred and stored in a knowledge base.
For example, when I search for my hometown, Carlsbad in Google image search, one of the category labels is for Legoland, which is an amusement park located in Carlsbad, California. Showing that as a label tells us that Legoland is located in Carlsbad (the captions for the pictures of Legoland tell us that it is located in Carlsbad.)
This patent can be found at:
Computerized systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries
Inventors: Ran El Manor and Yaniv Leviathan
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,534,810
Granted: January 14, 2020
Filed: February 29, 2016
Confidence Scores While Labeling of Entities in Images
One of the first phrases to jump out at me when I scanned this patent to decide that I wanted to write about it was the phrase, “confidence scores,” which reminded me of association scores which I wrote about discussing Google trying to extract information about entities and relationships with other entities and confidence scores about the relationships between those entities, and about attributes involving the entities. I mentioned association scores in the post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google, because those scores were described in the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities.
I also referred to these confidence scores when I wrote about Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs, because association scores or confidence scores can lead to better answers to questions about entities in search results, which is an aim of this patent, and how it attempts to analyze and label images and understand the relationships between entities shown in those images.
The patent lays out the purpose it serves when it may analyze and annotate images like this:
Embodiments of the present disclosure provide improved systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The information used to enrich a knowledge base may be learned or inferred from analyzing images and other data sources.
In accordance with some embodiments, object recognition technology is used to annotate images stored in databases or harvested from Internet web pages. The annotations may identify who and/or what is contained in the images.
The disclosed embodiments can learn which annotations are good indicators for facts by aggregating annotations over object entities and facts that are already known to be true. Grouping annotated images by object entity helps identify the top annotations for the object entity.
Top annotations can be selected as attributes for the object entities and relationships can be inferred between the object entities and the attributes.
As used herein, the term “inferring” refers to operations where an entity relationship is inferred from or determined using indirect factors such as image context, known entity relationships, and data stored in a knowledge base to draw an entity relationship conclusion instead of learning the entity-relationship from an explicit statement of the relationship such as in text on an Internet web page.
The inferred relationships may be stored in a knowledge base and subsequently used to assist with or respond to user search queries processed by a search engine.
The patent then tells us about how confidence scores are used, that they calculate confidence scores for annotations assigned to images. Those “confidence scores may reflect the likelihood that an entity identified by an annotation is actually contained in an image.”
If you look back up at the pictures for Legoland above, it may be considered an attribute entity of the Object Entity Carlsbad, because Legoland is located in Carlsbad. The label annotations indicate what the images portray, and infer a relationship between the entities.
Just like an image search for Milan Italy shows a category label for Duomo, a Cathedral located in the City. The Duomo is an attribute entity of the Object Entity of Milan because it is located in Milan Italy.
In those examples, we are inferring from Legoland being included under pictures of Carlsbad that it is an attribute entity of Carlsbad, and that the Duomo is an attribute entity of Milan because it is included in results of a search for Milan.
A search engine may learn from label annotations and because of confidence scores about images because the search engine (or indexing engine thereof) may index:
- Image annotations
- Object entities
- Attribute entities
- Relationships between object entities and attribute entities
- Facts learned about object entities
The Illustrations from the patent show us images of a Bear, eating a Fish, to tell us that the Bear is an Object Entity, and the Fish is an Attribute Entity and that Bears eat Fish.
We are also shown that Bears, as object Entities have other Attribute Entities associated with them, since they will go into the water to hunt fish, and roam around on the grass.
Annotations may be detailed and cover objects within photos or images, like the bear eating the fish above. The patent points out a range of entities that might appear in a single image by telling us about a photo from a baseball game:
An annotation may identify an entity contained in an image. An entity may be a person, place, thing, or concept. For example, an image taken at a baseball game may contain entities such as “baseball fan”, “grass”, “baseball player”, “baseball stadium”, etc.
An entity may also be a specific person, place, thing, or concept. For example, the image taken at the baseball game may contain entities such as “Nationals Park” and “Ryan Zimmerman”.
Defining an Object Entity in an Image
The patent provides more insights into what object entities are and how they might be selected:
An object entity may be an entity selected among the entities contained in a plurality of annotated images. Object entities may be used to group images to learn facts about those object entities. In some embodiments, a server may select a plurality of images and assign annotations to those images.
A server may select an object entity based on the entity contained in the greatest number of annotated images as identified by the annotations.
For example, a group of 50 images may be assigned annotations that identify George Washington in 30 of those images. Accordingly, a server may select George Washington as the object entity if 30 out of 50 annotated images is the greatest number for any identified entity.
Confidence scores may also be determined for annotations. Confidence scores are an indication that an entity identified by an annotation is actually contained in an image. It “quantifies a level of confidence in an annotation being accurate.” That confidence score could be calculated by using a template matching algorithm. The annotated image may be compared with a template image.
Defining an Attribute Entity in an Image
An attribute entity may be an entity that is among the entities contained in images that contain the object entity. They are entities other than the object entity.
Annotated images that contain the object entity may be grouped and an attribute entity may be selected based on what entity might be contained in the greatest number of grouped images as identified by the annotations.
So, a group of 30 annotated images containing object entity “George Washington” may also include 20 images that contain “Martha Washington.”
In that case, “Martha Washington,” may be considered an attribute entity
(Of Course, “Martha Washington Could be an object Entity, and “George Washington, appearing in a number of the “Martha Washington” labeled images could be considered the attribute entity.)
Infering Relationships between entities by Analyzing Images
If more than a threshold of images of “Michael Jordon” contains a basketball in his hand, a relationship between “Michael Jordan” and basketball might be made (That Michael Jordan is a basketball player.)
From analyzing images of bears hunting for fish in water, and roaming around on grassy fields, some relationships between bears and fish and water and grass can be made also:
By analyzing images of Michael Jordan with a basketball in his hand wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, a search query asking a question such as “What basketball team does Michael Jordan play for?” may be satisfied with the answer “Chicago Bulls”.
To answer a query such as “What team did Michael Jordan play basketball for, Google could perform an image search for “Michael Jordan playing basketball”. Having those images that contain the object entity of interest can allow the images to be analyzed and an answer provided. See the picture at the top of this post, showing Michael Jordan in a Bulls jersey.
This process to collect and annotate images can be done using any images found on the Web, and isn’t limited to images that might be found in places like Wikipedia.
Google can analyze images online in a way that scales on a web-wide basis, and by analyzing images, it may provide insights that a knowledge graph might not, such as to answer the question, “where do Grizzly Bears hunt?” an analysis of photos reveals that they like to hunt near water so that they can eat fish.
The confidence scores in this patent aren’t like the association scores in the other patents about entities that I wrote about, because they are trying to gauge how likely it is that what is in a photo or image is indeed the entity that it might then be labeled with.
The association scores that I wrote about were trying to gauge how likely relationships between entities and attributes might be more likely to be true based upon things such as the reliability and popularity of the sources of that information.
So, Google is trying to learn about real-world objects (entities) by analyzing pictures of those entities (ones that it has confidence in), as an alternative way of learning about the world and the things within it.
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Podcasts Can Be Hard to Find
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. They can be fun to listen to while doing chores around the house, like watering plants, washing dishes, cooking meals, and cleaning up. There are podcasts on many different subjects that I am interested in. A good number about Search Engine Optimization.
Someone asked me If I had seen any patents about podcasts on Twitter recently. I hadn’t at the time and I told them that. A patent application later appeared on January 9, 2020. I returned to the tweet where I replied that I hadn’t seen any, and tweeted that I had found a new one, and would be writing about it. This is that post.
I am not the only one listening more to podcasts. Techcrunch from last year had an article about the growth of audiences for podcasts: After a Breakout Year: looking ahead to the future of Podcasting.
It seems Google noticed this trend and has worked on making podcasts easier to find in search results and by releasing a Google Podcasts app.
Google Tries to Make Podcasts Easier to Find
At the Google Blog, the Keyword, a post last August from Sack Reneay-Wedeen, Product Manager at Google Podcasts, called: Press play: Find and listen to podcast episodes on Search
If you produce a podcast or are looking for one to listen to, you may find this article from last autumn helpful: Google will start surfacing individual podcast episodes in search results.
It tells us that:
Google is taking the next step in making podcasts easier to find. The company will now surface individual podcast episodes in search results, so if someone searches for a show about a niche topic or an interview with a specific person, Google will show them potential podcast episodes that fit their query.
In Google Search Help is a page about finding Podcasts titled Listen to podcasts with Google Podcasts
There are also Google Developer pages about how to submit your Podcasts for them to be found using Google at this page: Google Podcasts, which offer guidelines, management of podcasts information, and troubleshooting for Google Podcasts.
The Google Play Music Help pages offer information about using that service to subscribe and listen to podcasts.
There are also Google Podcast Publisher Tools, which allows you to submit your podcast to be found on the Google Podcasts App, and preview your podcast as it would appear there.
The Google Podcasts App is at: Google Podcasts: Discover free & trending podcasts
How the New Podcast Patent Application Ranks Shows and Episodes
The new Google patent application covers “identifying, curating, and presenting audio content.” That includes audio such as radio stations and podcasts.
The application starts out with this statement:
Many people enjoy listening to audio content, such as by tuning to a radio show or subscribing to a podcast and playing a podcast episode. For example, people may enjoy listening to such audio content during a commute between home and work, while exercising, etc. In some cases, people may have difficulty identifying specific content that they would enjoy listening to, such as specific shows or episodes that align with their interests. Additionally, in some cases, people may have difficulty finding shows or episodes that are of a duration that is convenient for them to listen to, such as a duration that aligns with a duration of a commute.
It focuses on solving a specific problem – people being unable to identify and listen to audio content.
The method this patent uncovers for presenting audio content includes:
- Seeing categories of audio content
- Being able to select one of those categories
- Seeing shows based upon that selected category
- Being able to select from the shows in that category
- Seeing episodes from those shows
- Being able to select from an episode, and seeing the duration of playing time for each show
- Ranking the episodes
- Seeing the episodes in order of ranking.
Rankings are based on a likelihood that a searcher might enjoy the episodes being ranked.
The episodes can also be shown based upon a measure of popularity.
The episodes may also be shown based upon how relevant they might be to a searcher.
The identification of a group of candidate episodes is based on an RSS feed associated with shows in the subset of shows.
The patent application about podcasts at Google is:
Methods, Systems, and Media for Identifying, Curating, and Presenting Audio Content
Inventors Jeannette Gatlin, Manish Gaudi
Applicants Google LLC
Publication Number 20200012476
Filed: July 3, 2019
Publication Date January 9, 2020
The methods described in the patent cover podcasts and can apply to other types of audio content, such as:
- Radio shows
- Any other suitable type of audio content
- Television shows
- Any other suitable type of video content
The patent describes a number of techniques that podcasts are found with.
A group of candidate shows are selected, such as podcast episodes using factors like:
- Inclusion of evergreen content relevant to a listener
- Related to categories or topics that are of interest to a particular user
Recommendations of shows look at whether a show:
- Is associated with episodic content or serial content.
- Typically includes evergreen content (e.g., content that is generally relevant at a future time) or whether the show will become irrelevant at a predetermined future time
- Is likely to include news-related content based on whether a tag or keyword associated with the show includes “news.”
- Has tags indicating categories or topics associated with the show.
- Has tags indicating controversial content, such as mature language, related to particular topics, and/or any other suitable type of controversial content
- Has previously assigned categories or topics associated with a show that are accurate.
- Has episodes likely to include advertisements (e.g., pre-roll advertisements, interstitial advertisements, and/or any other suitable types of advertisements).
- Has episodes that are likely to include standalone segments that can be viewed or listened to individually without viewing the rest of an episode of the show.
- Has episodes often with an opening monologue.
- Has episodes featuring an interview in the middle part of an episode.
- Features episodic content instead of serial content, so it does not require viewing or listening to one episode before another.
- is limited in relevance based on a date (after the fact).
Human evaluators can identify episode based upon features such as:
- General popularity
- Good audio quality
- Associated with particularly accurate keywords or categories
- Any other suitable manner
Some podcasts may have a standalone segment within an episode that may feature:
- A monologue
- An interview
- Any other suitable standalone segment
That standalone segment could be trimmed as a new episode and included to be selected with the other episodes.
Episodes that are deemed too long in duration could be blacklisted or deemed not suitable for selection as a candidate episode.
An episode that contains adult-oriented content may be blacklisted from being presented to a user during daytime hours based on parental controls.
An episode containing a particular type of content may be blacklisted from being presented to a user during weekdays based on user preferences (e.g., particular topics for presentation on the weekdays as opposed to particular topics for presentation on the weekends).
Ranking of Candidate Episodes
Ranking can be based upon:
- Likelihood of enjoyment
- Previous listening history
- Relevance to previously listen to content
- Audio quality
- Reviewed by human evaluators
The patent tells us that this process can rank the subset of the candidate episodes in any suitable manner and based on any suitable information.
It can be based on a popularity metric associated with a show corresponding to each episode and/or based on a popularity metric associated with the episode.
That popularity metric may also be based on any suitable information or combination of information, such as:
- A number of subscriptions to the show
- A number of times a show and/or an episode has been downloaded to a user device
- A number of times links to a show have been shared (e.g., on a social networking service, and/or in any other suitable manner)
- Any other suitable information indicating popularity.
This process can also rank the subset of the candidate episodes based on a likelihood that a particular user of a user device will enjoy the episode.
That likelihood can be based on previous listening history, such as:
- How relevant a category or topic of the episode is to categories/topics of previously listened to episodes (Is it associated with a show the user has previously listened to?)
- A number of times the user has previously listened to other episodes associated with the show
- Any other suitable information related to listening history
This process can also rank candidate episodes based on the audio quality of each episode.
Alternatively, this process may also rank candidate episodes based on whether each episode has been identified by a human evaluator, and episodes that have been identified by human evaluators are ranked higher than other episodes.
A combined episode score might be based upon a score from:
- A trusted listener
- The audio quality
- The content quality
- The popularity of the show from which the episode originates
This patent appears to focus primarily upon how podcasts might be ranked on the Google Podcasts App, rather than in Google search results.
The podcasts app isn’t as well known as some of the other places to get podcasts such as iTunes.
I am curious about how many podcasts are being found in search results. I’ve been linking to ones that I’ve been a guest in from the about page on this site, and that helps many of them show up in Google SERPs on a search for my name.
I guess making podcasts easier to find in search results can be similar to making images easier to find, by the text on the page that they are hosted upon, and the links to that page as well.
SEO Industry Podcasts
I thought it might be appropriate if I ended this post with a number of SEO Podcasts.
I’ve been a guest on a number of podcasts, and have been involved in a couple over the past few years. I’ve also been listening to some, with some frequency, and have been listening to more, both about SEO and other topics as well. I decided to list some of the ones that I have either been a guest on, or have listened to a few times. They are in no particular order
Hosted by Dan Shure. Dan interviews different guests every week about different aspects of SEO and Digital Marketing. I’ve been on a couple of podcasts with Dan and enjoyed answering questions that he has asked, and have listened to him interview others on the show as well.
A Weekly podcast about Google Algorithm updates, and news and articles from the digital marketing industry. This is a good way to keep informed about what is happening in SEO.
Jim Hedger and Dave Davies have been running this podcast for a few years, and I’ve been a guest on it about 4-5 times. They discuss a lot of current industry news and invite guests to the show to talk about those. My last guest appearance was with David Harry, where we talked about what we thought were the most interesting search-related patents of the last year.
Danny Goodwin, Brent Csutoras, Greg Finn and Loren Baker take turns hosting and talking with guests from the world of SEO. No two SEOs do things exactly the same way, and learning about the differences in what they do can be interesting.
Erin Sparks hosts a weekly show about Internet Marketing, and he takes an investigative approach to this show, asking some in-depth questions. He asks some interesting questions.
Hosted by Robert O’Haver, Matt Weber, and Michelle Stinson Ross. They offer “Expert Advice on SEO and SEM. I had fun talking with these guys – I just listened half of my last appearance on the show.
Kate Toon is the host of this show, and she focuses on actionable tips and suggestions from guests on doing digital marketing.
Hosted by Mike Blumenthal, Carrie Hill, and Mary Bowling. They often discuss news and articles that focus on local search, but also discuss topics that have a broader impact on sites such as image optimization.
This is hosted by Jason Barnard. The “AEO” in the title is “Answer Engine Optimization” and Jason has been attending conferences to give him a chance to interview people for his podcast. The last time we did a show it was in a bakery across the street from my hotel in a suburb of Paris, talking about Entities at Google.
Martha van Berkel is the host of this show and is one of the people behind Schemaapp. She and I talked about featured snippets.
Barry Schwartz runs Search Engine Roundtable, which is originally based upon the roundtable in tales of King Author that knights would sit at. In this VLOG, he visits people where they work, and asks them questions about what they do. It’s fun seeing where people are from and learning more about them.
This is a weekly conversation between a number of SEOs having discussions, often about marketing and SEO, but sometimes veering off into different topics. It takes inspiration from early days of SEO where conferences such as Pubcon were often meetups in bars, with people sharing stories about what they had been doing. I am one of the hosts, and recently I’ve been joined by Doc Sheldon, Terry van Horne, Zara Altair, and Steve Gerencser.
Hosted by Jacob Stoops and Jeff Louella. They have guests join them from the world of SEO, and they ask them about their origin stories as SEOs. They have added a news section to the show as well,
These shows feature interviews with some really sharp and interesting SEOs and provide details on tips and techniques involving digital marketing and technical SEO.
With David Harry, and Terry van Horne. The Dojo is a center for training and learning SEO. It often includes guests who have been sharing ideas and approaches about SEO for years.
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