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SEO

Boost SEO teamwork through unexpected collaborations

January 16, 2020 No Comments

SEO plays a role in the success of most online businesses, but it’s kept in a silo. SEO focuses on organic traffic online, while other strategies operate independently around it. What happens when you break down the silos and start working SEO into other company functions?

The ‘Rule of 7‘ suggests that people need to see your messages at least seven times before they start to take notice of your brand. By combining your SEO efforts with ongoing marketing, advertising, and other activities, you can start to accelerate the number of times and channels by which people are seeing your messaging.

SEM collaborations

SEO and SEM are really just two sides to the same coin. SEO focuses specifically on monitoring and improving organic traffic to your website while SEM has a broad focus on improving conversions through mostly paid strategies. Many companies consider these two activities different enough to keep them separate, a strategy that makes sense when you look at the individual functions that differ from SEO and SEM.

However, when SEO and SEM are collaborating, you can often get better results for both departments. Both activities rely heavily on targeting keywords to draw in more people. By sharing keyword data and insights, both departments can work on targeting and optimizing for the best keywords and phrases, creating a more unified approach that puts content and ads in front of the same audience consistently.

When a website is well optimized, it can improve the results of SEM campaigns. Good SEO practices help Google and other search engines to consider your site as a legitimate source of information. This is good for your organic search placement, but also for your ad placements since search engines are more likely to promote more credible websites.

SEM is also vital during the early stages of an SEO campaign. By using PPC ads as you work on your SEO for a new website, you can start getting more traffic and legitimacy that may speed up your long-term SEO results and help you reach your goals faster.

CRM collaborations

If you’re using a CRM (customer relationship management) software, you can have a powerful impact on your SEO by utilizing the system to complement ongoing SEO activities. The three most distinct benefits of this collaboration are:

1. Insights about other companies your customers use

CRM systems can help point you toward other services or companies that your customers engage with on a regular basis. With this knowledge, you can approach those companies for guest posts or content collaborations. You’re more likely to get a “yes” if you can show the other company how your customers are related and the value you can offer that’s complementary to what they already offer.

The more relevant, high-quality links you’re getting, the better the results you can expect from your link building strategy.

2. Keyword insights related to holistic customer experiences

SEO analytics are great for showing you where customers can from and which keywords they searched to find you. But what happens if that customer took an unconventional journey?

CRM software is better at tracking the full customer journey, allowing you to gain some insight into the circumstances that brought a person to your website. You’ll be able to see when and where they engaged with you, along with keywords and phrases that may have influenced them along the way.

3. Unified content on all platforms

CRM systems let you see what’s going on all around so you can see how well your messages are mashing up. Whether you’re hosting expert webinar presentations, publishing a series of blogs about a relevant topic, or posting short social media videos, you’ll be able to see how these things are impacting your customers positively or negatively.

Having more data is necessary for successful SEO. You need to know what’s working, where, and why. CRM lets your SEO team draw from more complete data while ensuring that every outgoing message lines up with your ongoing SEO strategy.

SMM collaborations

If you’re not already combining SEO and social media marketing (SMM) activities, it’s time to catch up. Social media isn’t a good place to worry about keywords and typical SEO strategies, but it’s a very complimentary service that can drive a large amount of traffic to your website directly or to the search engine to look for you.

Messaging and brand voice displayed on social media should match that on other platforms and throughout your content marketing. Social media is a unique platform that’s more informal and comfortable for people wanting to interact with your business. While SMM doesn’t directly impact your rankings, it has an enormous indirect benefit and helps get your content in front of more people, resulting in more backlinks, more engagement, and higher traffic numbers overall.

Give your SMM team guidelines about how to effectively promote your SEO optimized content. SEO teams should make it incredibly easy to share content on social media (high-quality images, easy quotes or snippets, and the works). They should include social media features integrated into the website itself, while SMM teams should put in the work to make sure SEO content is getting out in front of their audience when it’s appropriate. In this way, both teams can help each other succeed.

Marketing collaborations

Traditional marketing has very little overlap with SEO. Since traditional marketing is more concerned with marketing that makes sense in the real world, rather than on the internet, it’s a completely different type of marketing. However, there is an important point of overlap that shouldn’t be ignored. Both marketing and SEO work with specific customer data, refining your brand messages and outreach based on who and how you’re reaching the most people.

Marketing is concerned with knowing as much about your customers or potential customers as possible. If you have a marketing focus that’s not exclusively limited to online marketing, it’s still important to combine these two departments to allow them to share their data back and forth.

The goal of collaborating

At the end of the day, you want to present a unified brand image that gives people the right impressions no matter how they access your brand. Your messaging may vary from platform to platform, but your brand voice should always be the same. All your teams should be working together to reach the same broad company goals and milestones.

When you start from the top and work your SEO strategy into every facet of your business, it’s easier to accomplish or even surpass your goals.

The post Boost SEO teamwork through unexpected collaborations appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The three pillars behind every successful content strategy

January 14, 2020 No Comments

As inbound marketing continues to be a dominant force, you’ve likely heard the phrase “content is king” more times than you can count. But getting the right message to the right person is not an easy task in a society that’s tangled in a web of digital content, and it requires a top-notch content strategy. 

A solid content strategy can help create meaningful, cohesive, engaging and sustainable content that attracts new customers and retains existing ones. Despite the importance that great content can have on your business, two of the biggest challenges for content marketers are knowing how to prioritize marketing efforts for one audience over another and communicating a content strategy effectively across teams so that everyone is on the same page.  

Content marketing is different than your typical product marketing efforts as it includes digital materials that answer specific questions and provides customers with valuable tools and information they aren’t getting anywhere else. These include: 

  • Educational articles 
  • Blogs 
  • E-books 
  • Videos 
  • Entertainment
  • Webinars 
  • Social media 
  • Graphics 

Planning a content calendar that includes every item on this list may seem daunting, but there are simple ways to get started.

The idea behind smart content planning is simple. You want to plan content in a way that is:

  1. Tied to an overarching business objective
  2. Linked directly to audience needs and desires 
  3. Can be shared in a simple and consistent format

The result is a content calendar that is more relevant to what people are searching for and is also differentiated from the competition. Today, smart content planning tools that use artificial intelligence are becoming more readily available and are making adopting this process a no-brainer.

While a Google search will yield a laundry list of best practices, the following three pillars – or fundamental building blocks – will help you create a successful content strategy that drives results. 

Plan content to meet business needs

To be truly effective, all content needs to be anchored to a clear business objective. Why? Because if it doesn’t, there’s no way for you to measurably show that it impacts the company’s growth. You may be nodding your head that yes, of course, it makes sense to plan content with the business objective in mind. But, how do we do that in a way that is meaningful and simple? 

You can start by picking an upcoming marketing initiative and stating the quantitative business goal, the intended audience and the competitive context for that initiative. Treating a business objective statement as a template that must be completed for each marketing initiative helps you to face the ambiguity and misalignment that may be bouncing around your organization. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect – the power comes from thinking about what matters most and then pressing forward with your best judgment.  

Understand your audience

Once you’ve created an objective statement, your entire team can focus on the true reason behind producing content in the first place: your audience. It’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of day-to-day tasks. In that moment of desperation, marketers make a choice between creating content the right way and simply getting content out the door. In reality, content is the very first glimpse of a brand that customers see and first impressions matter. Not only is content your front runner for garnering new customers, but it guides customers through every stage of the buyer journey including initial sale and retention. 

A recent survey showed that 70% of consumers feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing. However, this is only possible when you understand your audience at a deep level so that the content you create answers the questions they have, helps them do their job more effectively, inspires, or entertains them. 

Understanding your target audience’s needs and desires requires the right tools. One way to make sure your content is helping the customer is to build – and then reference – personas when creating content. The modern marketer has access to content intelligence tools that provide key insights to help choose which topics to share, what channels to use and when to go live during the buyer journey. Using multiple data points like CRM, search data, the website traffic, and social listening can diminish false assumptions about your target audience and provide insights on: 

  • Targetable characteristics 
  • Customer journey 
  • Needs and desires 
  • Perceptions of our strengths vs. competition 
  • Content format preferences 
  • Marketing channels where our audience hangs out 
  • Past content performance

Align your team with the strategy 

We know inconsistent external messaging can lead to brand confusion, which in turn leads to a decrease in brand loyalty. The same happens with confusing internal communication. It causes internal teams to lose sight of business goals. The childhood phrase “sharing is caring” is applicable to small and large businesses. When your content strategy is shared within your organization, it will drive alignment across your company and create a stronger brand. As an added bonus, when your team members understand what you do and how you do it, it’s natural for them to see you as a leader. 

Once your team understands the “Why?” behind your content strategy, it’s important to create a central location for your content planning to live. Having all content in one spot can make your content more likely to be tied to overarching business objectives, and overall, it’s easier for all departments to align their internal activities with the overall business objectives. 

Planning effective content is hard and takes time, but don’t give up! The first step to improve your content planning process is to recognize that smarter content makes a big impact. Remember, smart content starts with an objective statement, audience insight, and a clearly communicated plan. When you take the time to research and outline your audience’s needs and desires, your content will thank you and so will your audience.

Documenting your content marketing strategy gives you the ability to communicate the importance of your content across departments, increase engagement levels with target audiences and create better alignment around customers and marketing priorities. Moving toward smart content planning can add that special ‘something’ to your organization. Let your content strategy be your competitive advantage. 

Bart Frischknecht is the vice president of product strategy at Vennli, a content intelligence platform for marketers.

The post The three pillars behind every successful content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How to improve your website ranking in 2020

January 10, 2020 No Comments

There are factors that influence website ranking in search engines. Considering these factors determines how a website is ranked in search engines.

Many people wonder how the major search engines rank websites to determine which websites are the best for keyword searches. This is particularly something that people who are just starting into online marketing find perplexing. The answer to how to improve the ranking of a website through search engine optimization (SEO) methods is not always definite, but there are several known factors that have been known to significantly influence the ranking of websites.

Among the most significant factors that increase search engine optimization and influence the ranking of websites in major search engines to include a website’s content, a website’s architecture and a website’s link popularity. Even as the search engine innovations continue to advance, these have remained key factors to search engine optimization and determination of the websites that are best suited for keyword searches.

The website’s content

The old saying, “Content is king” can never be overemphasized. A website’s content is no doubt the number one factor that determines a website’s ranking by search engines. In fact, search engines are constantly developing new technologies to reward quality content on the web. The higher the quality of content on a website, the higher the website will be ranked by search engines. In turn, the high ranking of a website is a definite mark of approval that a website is relevant for particular keyword searches.

Among the things in a website’s content that are considered by search engines when evaluating the relevance of websites for keyword searches include the headers and page titles in websites, formatted texts, and links in a website, URLs of websites and page content in websites. These things help search engines establish websites that deserve high ranking for keyword searches. Therefore, for a website to be ranked highly through search engine optimization, it is very important that it maintains a good balance of these aspects of the content because they affect the ranking of websites in varying proportions.

More on the website’s content

The correct balance of keywords on a website’s page should generally be between four to five percent within the content of a website. This helps increase the odds of a website being ranked highly for keyword searches. Added to this, if the keyword is included in the URL of a website, a website’s page title and a website’s header the website increases its chances for favorable ranking by search engines. Different from earlier technologies where search engines only looked at the tags that indicated the description of a web page, today the search engine technology used by major search engines goes beyond the mega tags to look more keenly at the website’s content appropriateness for keyword searches.

The originality of a website’s content is therefore paramount to establishing and maintaining a favorable ranking of a website for keyword searches. To farther improve the chances of a website’s ranking in search engine searches, bolding the keywords can sometimes help. This indicates that a website is properly maintained, which goes a long way into convincing search engines that a website is good for keyword searches.

Website’s videos and SERP rankings

One of the reasons videos are nowadays a privileged form of content is because they are very well when it comes to delivering large amounts of information in a short/concise manner. A picture is worth a thousand words, we all know that and following that logic, we can communicate about 1.8 million words in a minute-long video which is around 3 600 pages of text.

From the standpoint of SEO, this is a big deal. The longer your visitor’s “dwell time” or session is, the greater your chances at getting search engines like Google to see your video’s value and the trustworthiness of the webpage it’s hosted on – and, ultimately, give the page a higher rank.

In addition to providing Google with textual information about your video, it needs to have an attractive thumbnail too.

in a recent e-mail interview, Natalia Hudyakova Simonenko, a Digital Marketing expert and CEO of Movavi, said,

“With regard to the SERP click-through rate, the thumbnail is even more important, since we, as humans, are naturally drawn toward catchy and beautiful images.”

Website’s architecture

The architecture of a website should ensure that the content of the website is not just appropriate, but that the content is easy to read. This is the number one reason why the architecture of a website should be maintained properly to ensure search engine optimization to a website’s content. In other words, the website’s architecture should have well-formed codes that make it easy for search engines to read the content of a site. Failure of the codes being well coded can lead to search engines totally missing a website’s content, which means poor ranking by search engines.

Therefore, websites should forego the old content management systems and use the newer, more improved encoding systems that use URL rewriting technologies. The new content management technologies make a website’s content easily readable by major search engines. This makes the website more visible by search engines. Moreover, making a website easily readable by people with disabilities also improves the chances of a website being ranked highly in major search engines.

Website’s link popularity

Needless to say, the popularity of a website is a good indication of how relevant a website is for keyword searches. A website that has high traffic suggests that the website contains relevant information for particular keywords. Because of this, the popularity of a website is used by search engines as a criterion for determining the relevance of a website for keyword searches. Google and Yahoo are an example of two major search engines that particularly use this criterion to rank websites.

Many search engines also use inbound links of websites on other websites to determine the popularity of a website. When a reference or link to a website is made within another website, search engines consider this a “vote of confidence” for the referred website.

This becomes an indication that the referred link is relevant for a particular keyword search. As a result, many such inbound references to a website are used to some degree by search engines to determine the ranking of a website.

These factors are obviously not the only SEO factors that determine the ranking of a website, but they are certainly among the well-known factors that significantly influence the ranking of the website by major search engines. Therefore, by considering these factors people stand the best chance of considerably optimizing the ranking of their website.

Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

The post How to improve your website ranking in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans

January 9, 2020 No Comments

The baby boomer generation placed smartphones in the hands of the millennial generation and younger generations. As the baby boomers enter the retirement stage of life, they’re not quite up-to-speed on all the great things that technology can do for them.

Part of the reason for that is that they’re just not as familiar with all the things technology can help them with. Elderly people have a low frustration tolerance for learning how technologies work which is a big reason why voice assistants like Alexa are catching on with this audience.

With devices like Amazon Alexa or Google home, they simply speak their request and the device responds. No swiping or clicking required.

Voice-first technology is a game-changer for seniors

A San Diego pilot project conducted by Davis Park, the executive director for Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, set up an Alexa system in a retirement community with 50 residents where most residents were over 80 years old and observed the results.

About 75% of the residents used their smart devices regularly. Instructors focused on helping the residents to connect with the technology. For example, they set up the technology so they could use voice commands to listen to their favorite types of music or watch or listen to their favorite sports teams. From there they were able to branch out and learn how to use the technology to turn the lights off and on, change the temperature, adjust the volume on the music, listen to audiobooks, and get medication reminders using only their voices. 

Voice-first technology quickly generated excitement for them because it allowed them to have greater control and independence, which means they could be less reliant on others. They also felt safer, less isolated, and more connected to friends, family, and the community. In essence, voice-first technology gave them a greater quality of life. 

What possibilities does voice technology bring?

The frontrunners of voice technology in the U.S. are Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There are, however, even more companies that have Voice devices available.  We’re also seeing third party apps on these platforms, built specifically with older Americans in mind.

For example, Alexa has Ask Marvee which is a free service where a senior citizen could send out a morning blast to their loved ones by saying, “Alexa, tell Marvee to send a message saying I’m alright.” Everyone on the list gets a text, email, or both. Seniors can also use Marvee to ask for social visits and get news from their family members. Users can expand their list for a nominal fee.

Another app called ‘Ask My Buddy’ uses voice commands to send an alert via text, call, or email to designated people in times of crisis or trouble. It’s accessible through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana. It’s the next best thing to calling 911.

Alexa also works with LifePod, a proactive voice-first technology that initiates interactions based on preconfigured schedules. The app prompts seniors to follow their routines for taking their medications, checking in with caregivers, staying hydrated, getting exercise, or anything else at a scheduled time, including playing music. If the user doesn’t confirm or respond, the app automatically alerts a caregiver. The app also uses artificial intelligence to recognize irregularities in a senior’s condition, behavior, or sleep patterns and alerts their loved ones.

ElliQ is much like a smart speaker that sits on a nightstand or table. It was created by Intuition Robotics with the senior audience in mind. ElliQ will send or play messages to loved ones. If you ask ElliQ to play some music or pull up some photographs of the grandchildren, the app responds accordingly. If a senior is lazing the day away, ElliQ will suggest that they take a walk or get up and get moving. 

The company incorporated robotics technology into ElliQ which is reflective of a human’s body language. When a senior speaks to ElliQ, it swivels its “head” towards the senior. The device also lights up when it’s speaking. These features increase engagement between the user and the device without trying to mimic a human-robot.

The objective is for the device to be a service bot that doesn’t replace a human companion. Dor Skuler, CEO of Intuition Robotics, states that older adults who are participating in their pilot program are connecting to it. Customers give ElliQ a female gender and classify her as a new entity in their home – somewhere between a person and an appliance.  

Benefits of voice-first technology for the senior population

The goal of voice-first technology is to provide value for the people who use it. By communicating with voice for normal everyday tasks, it’s convenient, saves time, and it’s cost-effective. The value for seniors increases exponentially. For the senior who needs his or her hands to get around using a walker, it’s far easier to ask an electronic app to turn the lights on or off. They no longer need to scour their home looking for a smartphone to call their loved ones every day and tell them they’re doing okay. They will no longer have to put notes up around the house reminding them to take their medication. 

If a senior slips and falls, all they have to do is call out to their app and it will alert someone to send help right away. Photos and videos of close family and friends provide a way to cheer up lonely seniors. With an app like ElliQ, they can see photos or videos of their family members any time they choose, without having to ask someone to dig heavy boxes out of the attic, so they can sort through photographs. 

For family members of aging loved ones, voice-first technology gives them an all-important peace of mind. They can wake up every day and get a message telling them that their loved one is okay and doing well. There is less fear about their loved ones falling and getting injured and not being able to call for help. It eliminates the worry of envisioning them lying helpless on the floor for hours before help arrives. It’s helpful to know that their beloved seniors feel less isolated because they can gain access to audiobooks, music, and television just by making requests out loud. 

How digital marketers can create strategies for seniors by using voice

Do you know what a voice strategist is? Well, I didn’t know what it was either until I met Scot and Susan Westwater, the co-founders of Pragmatic Digital at Global Marketing Day in New York City. When I asked them about how to create strategies for senior care using voice strategy, their first tip was clear – have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what your audience needs from a voice experience. Once you’ve identified what it is that you want to accomplish, it’s easier to develop different strategies to reach your goal. 

For example, if your goals are safety in the home, it’s important to know what their daily schedule looks like. Do they have a consistent routine? Does their daily routine vary on the weekends? Do caregivers come in one or more days per week? Are seniors capable of taking their own medication? Are they able to reach light switches and temperature controls? Can they see the digits on the thermostat? If they go for a walk, how long would they normally be gone? Are they able to take their medications as prescribed? Are they strong enough to lock their doors at night and unlock them without assistance if someone comes to the door? 

By answering those questions, a digital marketer can help some to choose the right digital solutions to accomplish the customer’s goals. 

Using voice-first technology to address health proactively

In many cases, people would live longer if they could make an early diagnosis based on symptoms in the early stages of a disease or illness. It’s possible for voice-first technology to play a role in recognizing symptoms and recording when they first appeared. Electronic apps could play a role such as giving a call to action such as, “Call your doctor…” making it possible to diagnose issues earlier and treat them before they become problematic or life-threatening. 

How to maximize the potential for communication in the senior population

Communication is an important factor when considering your objectives. I find it helpful to list your business objectives and your audience’s objectives and assess where the two meet. What does your message say? Is it clear? You have to think beyond the message and consider who your audience is. The senior population has very different needs than an active young couple or a busy single mother with multiple schedules to manage.

In my recent interview with Scot and Susan Westwater, they noted that they think of voice-first technology as audience-first technology. If you ask it a question, you’re going to get a direct answer. It’s much more senior-friendly than traditional methods of search, where you type your question and have to click around for answers.

The future of voice-first technology in senior care services

As I consider the future of voice-first technology and how it could greatly improve the senior care service industry, I can’t help but consider the barriers that stand in the way. The first obstacle that digital marketers have to overcome is trying to get the seniors on board with understanding that there is more to benefit than to fear with using voice-first technology. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and they may feel that technology is out of reach due to cost, without realizing how cost-effective it is. 

Finally, there’s always hesitancy when switching to something new. For many individuals, it’s easier to take a wait-and-see approach than it is to be a pace-setter. 

The key to employing technology in the senior care industry is education, awareness, and a focus on safety and well-being for senior populations.

Karina Tama is a contributor for Forbes, Thrive Global and the El Distrito Newspaper. She can be found on Twitter @KarinaTama2.

The post How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Google Has Updated Quote Searching to Focus on Videos

January 7, 2020 No Comments

Searching for Quotes has shifted at Google with an Updated Continuation Patent

In August of 2017, I wrote the post Google Searching Quotes of Entities. The patent that post was about was called Systems and methods for searching quotes of entities using a database.

I noticed that this patent was updated last year (February 2019) with a continuation patent. I like comparing the claims in older patents with the claims from newer continuation patents – it is a message saying, “We used to do something one way, but we have changed how we do it now, and want to protect our intellectual property by updating the claims in this patent with a newer version of it.”

Reviewing the Patents on quote searching

It appears that this patent is showing us that Google is paying more attention to indexing audio, and that shows in this updated patent.

Here is a comparison of the claims from the patents.

The first claim from the 2017 versionSystems and methods for searching quotes of entities using a database:

1. A computerized system for searching and identifying quotes, the system comprising: a memory device that stores a set of instructions; and at least one processor that executes the set of instructions to: receive a search query for a quote from a user; parse the query to identify one or more key words; match the one or more key words to knowledge graph items associated with candidate subject entities in a knowledge graph stored in one or more databases, wherein the knowledge graph includes a plurality of items associated with a plurality of subject entities and a plurality of relationships between the plurality of items; determine, based on the matching knowledge graph items, a relevance score for each of the candidate subject entities; identify, from the candidate subject entities, one or more subject entities for the query based on the relevance scores associated with the candidate subject entities; identify a set of quotes corresponding to the one or more subject entities; determine quote scores for the identified quotes based on at least one of the relationship of each quote to the one or more subject entities, the recency of each quote, or the popularity of each quote; select quotes from the identified quotes based on the quote scores; and transmit information to a display device to display the selected quotes to the user.

The first claim from the 2019 versionSystems and methods for searching quotes of entities using a database

1. A method comprising the following operations performed by one or more processors: receiving audio content from a client device of a user; performing audio analysis on the audio content to identify a quote in the audio content; determining the user as an author of the audio content based on recognizing the user as the speaker of the audio content; identifying, based on words or phrases extracted from the quote, one or more subject entities associated with the quote; storing, in a database, the quote, and an association of the quote to the subject entities and to the user being the author; subsequent to storing the quote and the association: receiving, from the user, a search query; parsing the search query to identify that the search query requests one or more quotes by the user about one or more of the subject entities; identifying, from the database and responsive to the search query, a set of quotes by the user corresponding to the one or more of the subject entities, the set of quotes including the quote; selecting the quote from the quotes of the set based at least in part on the recency of each quote; and transmitting, in response to the search query, information for presenting the selected quote to the user via the client device or an additional client device of the user.

If you want to read about how this patent was originally intended to work, I detailed that process when I wrote about the original granted patent that was granted in 2017. The continuation patent was filed in 2017 and was granted last spring. The first version tells us about finding quotes looking at knowledge graph entries. The phrase “knowledge graph” was left out of the newer claim, but it also tells us that it is specifically looking for audio content, and performing analysis on audio content to collect quotes from entities.

Takeaways

What this update tells me is that Google is going to rely less upon finding quote information from knowledge base sources, and work upon collecting quote information from performing audio analysis. This seems to indicate a desire to build an infrastructure that doesn’t rely upon humans to update a knowledge graph but instead can rely upon automated programs that can crawl content on the web, and analyze that information and index it. This does look like an attempt to move towards an approach that can scale on a web level without relying upon people to record quotes from others.

I am seeing videos at the top of results when I search for quotes from movies, and that have been reported upon in the news. Like President Trump referring to a phone call he had with the leader of Ukraine as a “perfect phone call.”

quote searching using videos

Note that Google is showing videos as search results for that quote.

I tried a number of quotes that I am familiar with from history and from Movies, and I am seeing at or near the top of search results videos with those quotes in them. That isn’t proof that Google is using audio from videos to identify the sources of those quotes, but it isn’t a surprise after seeing how this patent has changed.

Has Google gotten that much better at understanding what is said in videos and indexing such content? It may be telling us that they have more confidence in how they have indexed video content. I would still recommend making transcripts of any videos that you publish to the web, to be safe in making sure content from a video gets indexed correctly. But it is possible that Google has gotten better at understanding audio in videos.

Of course, this change may be one triggered by an understanding of the intent behind quote searches. It’s possible that when someone searches for a quote, they may be less interested in learning who said something, and more interested in watching or hearing them say it. This would be a motivation for making sure that a video appears ranking highly in search results.


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Google Top Stories Are Chosen By Importance Scores

January 3, 2020 No Comments

Changes have been made to Top Stories shown in Carousels in Google SERPs

Google made a recent announcement on its Keyword blog about top stories from non-news sites in search results. They told us about this change in the post Smarter organization of top stories in Search.

They start off the post by telling us:

People come to Search for all types of information to help them form a better understanding of the world and the topics they care about most. We’ve continued to bring new improvements to Search to help people better orient themselves around a topic and easily explore related ideas, so they can more quickly go from having a question in mind to developing deeper understanding. Now, we’re using the latest in machine learning to bring this approach to top stories in Google Search, making it easier for people to dive into the most useful, timely articles available.

They also tell us that we will see these top stories in carousels in organic search results when there are relevant and timely stories to share on a topic. Here is an example of the carousels about “top stories” involving artificial intelligence:

Artificial Intelligence Top Stories

On hearing this news, I did what I normally do when hearing about a change at Google. I went search through Google’s patents to see if I could find a recent patent that might be related in some way. I searched for “top stories” in Google patents and came across one that was granted in March of last year.

It didn’t have all of the added features that the blog post did, but it talks about how Google might start creating news digests filled with “top stories.” What the blog post told us was an added wrinkle to this reporting of the news was the addition of machine learning approaches using tools like BERT:

To generate these groups, we use a variety of machine learning techniques including BERT models to examine the related articles and determine where one story ends and another begins. Our research has shown that clustering results into clearly-defined stories are critical in helping people easily navigate the results and identify the best content for their needs.

In addition to the added use of machine learning, we were also told about these results being more well-rounded and diverse:

We’re now also featuring key information, such as notable quotes and related opinion pieces, in the top stories carousel within Search. These different content types provide people a more well-rounded view of a news story to help them decide which angle to explore more deeply.

Google News Digest Patent

This patent granted in March of 2019 gives us a look at the framework behind the surfacing of these “top stories” results in what Google refers to as an “automated news digest.”

When Google indexes news information from news sources the content providers of that information focus upon serving news articles for the current time, to “allow a user to view the most shared news articles or news stories.”

So what does this new patent do to bring something new and different to show off news results?

We are told that what is innovative in the patent is how it captures the most interesting stories from different times based upon the use of an “importance score” for that time period.

Top news stories are selected and the second top news stories use those importance scores to rank what is shown as “top stories.”

Articles associated with the top news stories for those times are selected and displayed – a predetermined number of articles about each story may be decided upon beforehand, and the stories that are shown may also depend upon categories of interest identified in a user profile for a searcher who may be looking at those (not mentioned in the patent, but this reminds me of Google Discovery, and Google collecting categories of interest when deciding what to show for a searcher, brings me thoughts of the post How Google Might Predict Query Intent Using Contextual Histories.)

Importance Scores for News Stories in the Automated News Digest

So how do “top stories” become “top stories?”

The news digest system, during a time, may rank each of the news stories from the snapshots of times/regions/languages. For instance, the news digest system determines a score for each of the news stories that represent the news story’s importance. The news digest system may use an importance score of each of the news stories to determine the score.

Each snapshot in the database includes data that represents a region, a language, or both.

The news story ranking process may decide that the news stories A-B for snapshot A are specific to a region M and a language N, such as North America or the United States, and English.

The news story ranking process determines another snapshot for a different region, such as the United Kingdom, or another language, such as French or Spanish.

News stories snapshots

Importance Scores for Top Stories

The importance score for a particular news story may be included in the same snapshot that identifies the particular news story. These are the things considered in the creation of such importance scores:

  • A number of articles written about a news story (when each news story relates to a general event such as snow in Washington, D.C. and the separate articles were published by different news distributors)
  • A cumulative number of clicks on articles about a news story
  • A cumulative number of social actions (shares, likes, etc.)
  • A cumulative number of queries received from user devices for which articles for a news story are responsive, are selected, or both
  • A rate of change of a metric for a news story (when the metric may be clicks, queries, social actions)
  • A time, recency or freshness of publication related to a news story
  • An expertise of a publisher in a certain news topic or geographic area (when the publisher published an article related to the news story)
  • A historical click rate on articles from the publisher
  • Citations made to the article and/or publisher
  • Relevance of article to the news story
  • Another appropriate metric
  • A combination of two or more of these to determine the score for the news story

The news digest system may use any number of relevant signals to determine a score and corresponding ranking of the news stories.

The importance scores are used to rank new stories like this:

The news digest system uses the scores to rank the news stories. For instance, the news digest system may determine that a news story A for the digest time period, e.g., Jan. 30, 2016, has a lower score than the news stories B through H 108b-h as indicated by the news story A not being presented in the news story ranking

Importance Scores for news stories flowchar

Advantages of this Automated News Digest Patent

A news digest system may:

  • Provide a user with more unbiased news May require little or no editorial judgment compared to systems that have an editorial review of news stories
  • Provide news digests irrespective of the digest time period, the region for the news digest, the language for the news digest, or a combination of two or more of these
  • Personalize a news digest according to user settings, e.g., personal interests of a user
  • Provide a news digest to a user device for a time period during which a user was unable to check the news
  • Provide a news digest to a user device that includes top stories for a historical time period, e.g., ten years ago
  • Provide a news digest to a user device that includes top stories for a particular topic of interest, e.g., when the particular topic of interest does not have frequent news stories

The Automated News Digest patent can be found at:

Automated news digest
Inventors: Pan Gu, Mayuresh Saoji, Yuqiang Guan, Maricia Scott, Vikas Sukla, and Anand Devraj Paka
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,242,096
Granted: March 26, 2019
Filed: March 15, 2016

Abstract

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, for automatic generation of news digests. One of the methods includes accessing a database storing news snapshots, each snapshot identifying a predetermined quantity of top news stories for a period of time, each of the top news stories in a particular snapshot for a particular period of time ranked according to an importance score that measures the importance of the news story relative to other news stories for the particular period of time, determining a digest time period, determining, for the digest time period, all of the snapshots with periods of time included in the digest time period, generating, from the top news stories in the determined snapshots, a digest ranking of digest news stories, and providing, to a user device, data identifying one or more of the digest news stories for presentation according to the digest ranking.

Takeaways

The Google blog post told us a few things that weren’t mentioned in the Automated News Digest Patent.

One is that for articles to appear in a “top stories” carousel, they do not need to be registered as news sites with Google. So timely blog posts and articles aren’t at news sites, but cover one of the news stories for a specific time could be included in the carousels.

The blog post also told us that Google will include in those carousels notable quotes and related opinion pieces. The purpose of those is to make sure that the news being shown is more detailed and diverse.

The importance score approach for particular news stories explains how certain stories are selected as top news, but not how the articles chosen for carousel slots are selected.


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Google Analytics glitch in an ad-filled internet

December 30, 2019 No Comments

Ad blockers are a constant of the internet, but what does that mean for us? After comparing two different sources for one KPI, I noticed a significant difference. This piece covers the observations made about the Google Analytics glitch.

A strange disparity

Whilst collecting our monthly KPIs I came across an interesting error.

One of our KPIs, demo requests, which we track in two ways – with Google Analytics events and through a custom Zapier integration that inserts the prospects’ details into a Google Sheet and our internal Attio account.

After comparing the two datasets, I noticed a significant difference in the month’s numbers. The number of requested demos on our Google Sheet was 22% higher than the number of recorded demo requests on Google Analytics.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tell which demo requests weren’t recorded due to the Google Analytics glitch but we can say for certain that a significant proportion of this month’s demo requesters were somehow subverting Google Analytics.

The Culprit

What can disrupt a websites’ tracking, is used by a considerable number of people, and is applied to websites indiscriminately?

Ad blockers.

Like almost the entire population of the internet, I hate ads. Especially the in-your-face, unskippable, make-me-hate-your-website ads. So I use an ad blocker. I’ll happily disable ads on websites that serve unobtrusive and relevant ads but as a general rule of thumb, I’ll be loading a site with ads blocked. My behavior pattern is certainly common. And consequential. Since the most common permissions for ad blockers is to opt-out, rather than in, then visitors to your website will be automatically blocking ads.

It’s not until delving into this problem that I realized that it’s not just ads that your average ad blocker is blocking. Almost anything that can track or identify you is being blocked. Google Analytics included.

Our customers vs the general public

I found a variety of studies that put the percentage of internet users using an ad blocker at 20-27%. Since it’s reasonable to assume that if you use an ad blocker you’re more technologically-savvy than the average internet user, and as a power-user centric, Web 3.0, SaaS application, you’d expect our prospects to exhibit a higher percentage of ad blocker usage.

However, the similarity in our 22% dataset disparity and ~24% of global internet users blocking ads suggests that the potential customers landing on our website are no more likely to be using an ad blocker than a random selection of internet users.

It would be an interesting extension to see if the ad blocker usage changed when browsing in a professional setting.

A cause for concern

From a data analysis standpoint, it might seem like the issue of ad blockers and blocked analytics tracking would be a problem, a misrepresentation of actual events is never good surely?

In actual fact, it’s not an issue at all.

Whilst it’s true that the demo request events aren’t tracked, neither are the page view, demo form open, or demo form close events. Holistically, our dataset in Google Analytics is exactly the same, on a relative basis, as if the blocked events were also tracked.

Now you could look into differences in user actions based on their usage of an ad blocker but the likelihood of finding any meaningful correlation is close to nil. If someone installs an ad blocker, are they more likely to request a demo for a SaaS product? Potentially, but I doubt it.

The only downside to ~24% of your visitors using ad blocking software is that it reduces the absolute value of our KPIs. When comparing year-on-year growth or conversion rates this doesn’t matter, but when presenting absolute values to potential investors it would certainly be nicer to have them 22% higher.

Alex Vale leads the growth efforts at Attio, the next generation of intelligent relationship workspace.

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Top 10 Search Engine Patents to Know About from 2019

December 24, 2019 No Comments

I was on the podcast Webcology last week, with fellow guest David Harry, talking with hosts Dave Davies and Jim Hedger about search engine patents.

Both David and Dave also write about search engine patents from time to time, so it was a fun discussion.

David and I were discussing patents and the show before it started, and we both began to compare the most memorable patents we had come across in the last year. This post is my top ten list, along with blog posts I wrote about each of these search engine patents.

The majority of my favorites from the past year are knowledge-based patents covering the use of knowledge graphs and entity extraction.

Another favorite was a news-related patent that was updated for the 6th time. One of the previous times that it was updated (in 2013), the magazine/website ComputerWorld reported upon the update, but didn’t bother to look at the updated claims in the continuation patent, but instead reported upon what the description said (copied from the original 2003 version of the patent) missing out on the actual changes to that patent. It has changed a lot since the first version.

Another favorite is actually a hybrid search/knowledge-based patent that tries to understand and anticipate query templates that might be asked.

The last of the bunch is about better information local search by using actual visits to businesses to calculate quality visit scores to potentially boost rankings of local results.

These are my top ten Search Engine Patents posts of 2019 (I only chose ones that I spent enough time with to write about them. Hopefully, David Harry will share his Top 10 search engine patents from this year with us, too.

Knowledge-Based Patents

1. User-Specific Knowledge Graphs to Support Queries and Predictions Structured user graph to support querying and predictions, is a post about the patent Structured user graph to support querying and predictions. This patent was originally filed in 2013. however, it makes a lot of the same points as this very similar 2019 whitepaper from Google on Personal Knowledge Graphs.

User-specific Knowledge graph example
A user-specific Knowledge Graph with knowledge relationships between entities.

2. Augmented Search Queries Using Knowledge Graph Information – The patent behind this one explains how Google has been including knowledge graph-based results, such as knowledge panels, Related Questions, Related Entities, and more in Search Results for queries, where they have recognized that there is an entity in a query that you may have searched for. The post is about the patent Providing search results using augmented search queries

augmented search queries with entities

3. In Google Knowledge Graph Reconciliation, I wrote about a patent that explains how Google works to better understand knowledge graphs and entities that appear in those in tuples and reverse tuples, and how to expand what those knowledge graphs cover. The patent behind it was Automatic discovery of new entities using graph reconciliation.

entity graph reconciliation planet of the apes

4. In How Might Google Extract Entity Relationship Information from Q&A Pages?, I wrote about the patent Information extraction from question and answer websites, which focuses upon relationships between entities, and how confidence scores might be developed to determine the likelihood that those relationships are true. It also looks at the natural language parsing behind finding answers to questions regarding such relationships.

Entity Relationship Model Example

5. In the post Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs, I wrote about Natural Language Processing With An N-Gram Machine, which tells us about how Google may create a knowledge graph to answer a query by performing a search on a question submitted to the search engine, an then use the results (or a percentage of the results) to create a knowledge graph that it can then use to answer the query. This reminded me of the User-Specific knowledge graphs that I wrote about in the first patent I wrote about in this post, and how it pointed out that Google was engaged in creating many more knowledge graphs than just the one that we think about when they told us they were going to index real-world objects back in 2012.

Association scores

6. The post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google is about the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities about how Google uses natural language processing to extract entities from text on Web Pages, and how it also parses that text to understand relationships between the entities it finds, and facts and attributes and classifications of those entities, and the confidence scores between those entities and facts about them.

Entity Extractions entity Classes

7. In How Google May Interpret An Ambiguous Query Using a Semantic Interpretation, I wrote about how Google may decide to answer a query that may seem ambiguous by trying to decide upon the intent behind the query and comparing the results that Google search returns for the ambiguous query from the searcher with ones that cover different intents to see how similar the SERPs are for each of those. Google tells us that each of the different semantic interpretations that guess at the intent behind a query might be associated with a canonical query that it would test to see the similarity between it and the original query. This approach is described in the patent Evaluating semantic interpretations of a search query.

Ambiguous Query Patent Flowchart

News-Based Patents

8. I compared earlier claims in Evolution of Google’s News Ranking Algorithm to the claims from the 6th update to one of the original Google News patents at Google, which started out by ranking articles based upon features of the sources of that news in the first version and evolved in a number of ways to focus upon originality by how much it references different entities, as described in updated claims in the patent Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles (6th version of this patent, updating the claims as a continuation patent)

Search-Based Patents

9. The post Automatic query pattern generation is about a patent that takes a hybrid search/knowledge approach to better understanding queries that searchers may perform, by looking in query logs for questions that searchers may perform as templates and using entities from Google’s Knowledge Graph as part of those questions. An example would be “what are the symptoms for pneumonia?” The patent behind this post is Automatic query pattern generation. That Google is combining the use of query log information with knowledge graph information to learn about what people might search for, and anticipate such questions shows us how they may combine information like they do with augmentation queries, and answering questions using knowledge graphs.

Query Patterns

Local Search-Based Patents

10. In the post Quality Visit Scores to Businesses May Influence Rankings in Google Local Search, I wrote about how Google might combine real-world information about visits to businesses, as captured using navigational devices such as smartphones, as described by the patent Quality visit measure for controlling computer response to query associated with physical location. Google referred to the use of such quality visit scores in one of their support pages about ads and analytics and mentioned that they might be awarding digital and physical badges to the most visited locations as local favorites (which Google is now awarding in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.)


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Seven content marketing strategies you should try [With examples]

December 22, 2019 No Comments

Digital marketing is racing ahead at such a pace that it isn’t easy to create content marketing strategies that are completely reliable. These are some of the best marketing strategies that have worked for other marketers and brands and could inspire your team’s brainstorming.

There are numerous brands that have adopted diverse content marketing strategies to their benefit. How and why were these brands successful and how can you adopt their content marketing strategies?

We look at seven content marketing strategies you can try, along with examples of brands that successfully executed those strategies.

1. Personalize your content marketing

This is a particularly difficult pill to swallow, but brands need to accept that internet users are tired of being sold to. People are using the internet to be educated, entertained, and to read the news. 

When they are scrolling through their social media feeds, they do not want to see posts announcing the latest product from your company.

But you have products and services to sell. If people don’t want to be sold to, how are you meant to sell your stock?

According to tech trends in 2019, customer loyalty is a driving force for businesses, more so than obtaining new customers.

Your content marketing strategies need to go beyond selling your product. Instead, you should endeavor to place your product or service as something that adds value to your customer’s life.

You can do this by personalizing the way users experience your marketing. Offer tips, tricks, how-to guides, and DIY tutorials that would benefit your target audience.

And don’t include vague salutations in your brand emails—address your emails to your customers by name.

Personalizing your content marketing allows you to actively create a connection between your brand and your customers.

Example: Netflix

Netflix is all about personalization—the streaming service studies its customers and caters to their every need. 

The site is extremely data-driven, and it has greatly benefited the way that they can personalize the user experience.

Every time a user watches something, or stops watching it, adds something to their Watchlist, likes or dislikes a product, and even when they pause their viewing activity, Netflix takes note.

Of course, the Netflix engine is huge and has been fine-tuned over the years, but their system is nothing if not aspirational.

To make your content marketing stand out from the crowd, you need to actively mine the data you collect from your customers to ensure that you give them the most personalized experience possible.

2. Guest blogging

Most brands host a blog on their website—blogs are great for SEO and to generate traffic to your website.

Creating content for these blogs usually falls in the purview of content marketers within the team. But their expertise is often limited to the realm of their specific workplace.

This is why guest blogging is now becoming a popular aspect of content marketing. 

Brands are reaching out to influencers, experts, and writing professionals for their advice, tips, and experiences in a chosen field.

On the flip side, brands are also asking their own marketers to guest blog for other sites.

Not only is this a great way to build connections between like-minded brands, but brands get to refresh the perspective on their blog, and place themselves as thought-leaders online.

Example: Moz

Source: Moz

One of the foremost voices in digital marketing, Moz, the SEO software website, has built its brand with the help of guest blogging.

Moz’s blog is regularly updated with posts from its in-house experts as well as digital marketing experts from fellow marketing companies and experts.

Take a leaf out of Moz’s guest posting handbook and open your blog to guest posters who can write how-to guides and case studies. 

And offer your marketers’ services for the same to spread your brand name and value across the digital realm.

3. Show products and services in use

We have already established that people on the internet do not want to be sold to. While personalizing your content for them is one way to reach the most stubborn of users, there is also another method.

Tailor your content marketing strategy towards showing potential customers what they are missing out on by not purchasing your product or service.

The best way to do this is by showing your products in use—on your website, social media, and email marketing.

When you create landing pages and product pages, don’t use passive images of your products on their own—show how a person would use that product.

This is a tricky proposition for services—there is nothing concrete to show. What you can do is show happy customers after they have used your service. 

Include a testimonial or two, alongside a picture of the customer to make the endeavor more personable.

Example: Nike

Nike is an internationally-renowned sportswear brand and they have had years to perfect their content marketing devices. 

This is exactly why marketers should be studying Nike’s content marketing strategies to see what works—chiefly how they show their products in use.

Nike leverages the storytelling aspect of its brand, going beyond what its products can do for their customers. 

In essence, Nike doesn’t just show its products in use—it shows how aspirational its products and lifestyle can be for customers.

4. Get behind a social cause

Championing a social cause, or fighting against social evil, are daunting prospects for brands, which is why so many avoid dabbling in this area. Everyone remembers Pepsi’s debacle from 2017, after all.

However, choosing a social cause to get behind can have significant benefits for brands. 

The most vocal generations on social media—millennials and Generation Z—are socially and politically active.

They are more likely to align themselves with a brand that stands against a social evil, and they won’t hesitate to call out brands that fail to react appropriately to social issues.

If you want to tap into the younger generations of customers, taking a strong stand against a political issue can expand your customer base, and help you lobby to create real change.  

Example: Gillette

Early in 2019, Gillette made waves with a powerful ad calling out toxic masculinity. Not only did the YouTube video receive over 32 million views (to date) but they were loudly praised by activists and customers alike. 

The ad was timely, following in the wake of the worldwide #MeToo revolution. It could not have been an easy choice—a small group of men declared the ad, and the brand, ‘anti-men’, but for the most part, the reactions were positive.

Choosing a social issue to get behind won’t be easy—you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of history. 

Study your audience and your contemporaries to decide which is the best choice for your content marketing strategy, and then stick by your decision.  

5. Try new technologies

Marketing technologies are changing constantly. Your content marketing strategies need to acknowledge these changes and adapt accordingly.

Not so long ago, content marketing lived within the domain of blogging and social media. Now it’s moved into podcasts, vlogs, AI, VR, and AR.

Even within the social media spectrum, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are only some of the channels being used by brands. Snapchat and TikTok are fast catching up.

Your content marketing strategy needs to encompass these new technologies. This doesn’t mean you join the latest fad—it could die down before your campaign has taken off.

Assess the situation around you and examine your competitors to see what they are doing. Then think of ways to adopt the new technologies in ways that would benefit your customers.

Example: Toyota

In 2019, Toyota unveiled an app that allowed users to better understand their hybrid engine. 

The AR app worked by overlaying images of the car’s interiors on the product—the user could tap on an area to ‘see’ what the part looked like and how it worked.

This experience benefited customers who were unaccustomed to the hybrid model Toyota was displaying. Any questions were answered through the interactive experience.

Using new technologies can help you enhance the user experience and allay any concerns they may have about a new product or service.

6. User-generated content

Creating content on the go is no longer the best way to capitalize on digital marketing. If you want to produce a steady stream of high-quality content, you need to get creative and thrifty.

A number of brands have found the perfect alternative to creating steady content—leveraging user-generated content (UGC). 

Not only does UGC save content marketers the hassle of creating reams of content every day, but it also adds interactivity and personability to a brand’s content marketing strategy.

Often conducted as an Instagram or Facebook contest, UGC has shown excellent results for marketers.

People love seeing other people on social media—it humanizes a brand and provides evidence of how well-loved a brand is. It also makes for great shareable content.

Leveraging UGC will save your marketing team time and will help you expand your reach.

Example: Warby Parker

Warby Parker is a brand that sells glasses. One would assume their content wouldn’t be exciting but they have leveraged UGC to showcase their products and their customers.

They frequently repost videos and photos sent to them by happy customers. Their content acts as social proof for other customers and makes their social feed more diverse.

Involve your followers in your content by requesting pictures or videos of them using or unboxing your products, and using your services.

We have spoken about how UGC helps marketers save time and energy. And that isn’t the only method marketers can adopt—repurposing content has the same effect on marketers.

Instead of creating new kinds of content on a regular basis, examine your existing content and see how you can update or use it in another form—JumpFactor have a great article on optimizing old and new blog posts here.

There are numerous ways to repurpose content—for instance, you can turn a single blog into an infographic, several social media posts, vlogs, or a podcast.

Repurposing content is as limitless as your imagination, and will not only save you a great deal of time, but will boost your content’s reach beyond its original scope.

Example: Nifty

Buzzfeed’s Nifty repurposes articles as 10-12 minute videos. The site also creates shorter videos for its Instagram account and makes GIFs to share on its other social media.

For viewers who don’t regularly visit Nifty’s website, they can still come across their content on social media and YouTube. Their brand is ever-present on all channels because of the way it repurposes its content.

Conclusion

These seven content marketing strategies and examples will help marketers be more creative and efficient in the way they create their content and reach clients.

Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at the online infographic and design platform, Venngage.

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Top eight SEO trends for 2020

December 14, 2019 No Comments

As new businesses spring up each day, the competition for the reader’s attention heightens. Staying on top of the latest SEO trends will enable you to meet specific requirements that search engines use to rank websites.

Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithms every year. While most changes are minor, they could affect your search ranking. These are some of the SEO trends I expect to see in 2020.

1. Voice search: People search how they speak

“Google, can you find the nearest taco place near me?”

There were 33 million voice search queries in 2017 alone. Data from March 2019 shows that 20% of mobile queries are voice searches.

As voice search becomes increasingly popular, more people will type search queries the same way they speak.

Notice that most of these search queries are long-tail and very specific? Users want an accurate answer to the exact question they asked.

Users who search long-tail keywords are in the consideration stage and are more likely to convert than someone in the awareness stage.

Bullet lists Increase your chances of ranking for voice queries, and most voice queries are local. Hence, optimize your website for local SEO.

2. Featured snippets will continue to dominate search results

A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a search query. Google displays it at the top of the SERP result, above paid and organic ads.

They’ve been around for a few years and have led to significant changes in Google’s search engine result page. Almost half of all searches result in no clicks because users get the answers they need directly from SERPs. In fact, an Ahref study of 2 million featured snippets revealed that featured snippet gets more traffic than the first organic search result.

Aim for question-based search queries and keywords. Use questions from the “people also ask” section as it offers insight on related questions for a more in-depth answer.

3. More marketers will leverage influencers for SEO

17% of businesses spent over half of their entire marketing budget on influencers. The statistics highlight the importance of influencer marketing for companies, especially those in fashion, beauty, ecommerce, travel, and lifestyle.

Online users are overwhelmed with ads. They are looking for authentic information they can trust. Most times, the source of that information are reviews from influencers. They are more likely to trust information from an influencer than an ad.

So, what’s the relationship between influencer marketing and SEO? Working with an influencer helps you generate traffic, increase your online visibility and amplify your content reach.

Many companies do not see the return on their investment in influencer marketing because they don’t plan or execute their sponsored content properly. Your marketing fails if it doesn’t align with the needs of your audience.

To get the most bang for your buck, partner with influencers in your niche who already engage with your target audience. The backlinks you gain from influencer sites also show authority to Google and enhances your SEO efforts.

4. BERT is here to stay

BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) enables anyone to train their own question answering system. This is the first major change Google has made to its search algorithm since RankBrain in 2014. 

BERT will impact one in ten queries. SEO marketers who apply BERT models increase their chances of ranking on the first page for featured snippets in Google SERP.

BERT will have the most impact on conversational queries where prepositions like “to” and “for” matter to the meaning of the search query.

Just to clarify, you can’t optimize for BERT. Google uses BERT to improve its understanding of natural language.

But you can optimize for the intent behind search queries because intent matching is crucial to creating successful content.

Before writing copy, analyze the top ten content ranking on the first page of SERP for that specific keyword. Is the result informational, transactional or navigational? Create content that matches the user’s intent based on your analysis.

5. People will want digital experiences

44% of companies have moved to a digital-first approach to improve customer experience. Whereas, 56% of CEOs said the improvements led to revenue growth.

Page load speed is an important ranking factor. Great content means nothing if your web page doesn’t load quickly or you have a complex user interface. 

Successful businesses understand that building a long-term relationship with customers hinges on customer experience, and customer experience invariably affects search ranking because only users who have a good user experience will spend time on your website.

Focus your user experience on helping customers find the information they need. Make it easy for visitors to proceed to the next step.

To provide the best user experience, you’ll need to wear the visitor’s shoes to identify roadblocks that cause poor experiences. Do not use complex words they do not understand. Lack of clarity in your messaging also increases the bounce rate and negatively impacts your site’s SEO.

6. Video will be the new king of content

Google loves video. It’s a crucial part of your SEO strategy and digital marketing efforts. According to a Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to show up on the first page of SERP than a web page with plain text. Also, 62% of Google universal searches include video.

Create helpful YouTube videos that support existing content on your website. It’s not a guarantee for first page results but you’ll enjoy higher traffic when Google indexes your video.

Embed videos on your website to get more traffic. Remember to optimize your video to your blog’s width. Add copy on the page to help Google understand what your video content is about.

7. Content length will determine search rankings

Only high-quality content can help you beat the competition to page 1 ranking. But you will also have to consider quantity alongside quality.

There’s a lot of arguments around the ideal length of a blog post.  Research shows that the average length of the top 10 results is at least 2,000 words. That’s because web pages with long-form, high-quality content enjoy more visibility.

However, your content must comprehensively answer the question the user asked as well as questions related to the main search query. 

Lengthy articles increase dwell time, which tells Google that users enjoy your content. You build authority and Google increases your ranking for the search query.

8. Mobile search will continue to take over

 87% of internet users are on mobile phones and 40% of transactions occur on mobile. Google moved to mobile-first indexing on the 1st of July 2019 to improve the mobile search experience.

You can’t get far on search engine results if you haven’t optimized for mobile. Think beyond responsive designs to rich snippets.

If you’ve optimized for voice search, you’ve also optimized for mobile. Besides incorporating long-tail keywords for on-page SEO, modify the content structure and representation for technical SEO.

Conclusion

Just when you think you fully understand SEO, algorithm updates happen. Today’s SEO is a holistic process that requires both offline and online marketing strategies to succeed. Invest in SEO as a long-term strategy for lead generation and stay on top of the latest SEO trends to avoid getting left behind.

Would you like to add to this list of SEO trends in 2020? Drop them in the comments.

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