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Facebook to pay $52 million to content moderators suffering from PTSD

May 13, 2020 No Comments

Facebook has agreed in principle to pay $ 52 million to compensate current and former content moderators who developed mental health issues on the job.

The Verge reported Tuesday that the settlement will cover more than 11,000 content moderators who developed depression, addictions and other mental health issues while they worked moderating content on the social media platform.

In fact, it was The Verge that sparked the inquiry to begin with. Silicon Valley editor Casey Newton reported that Facebook content moderators, hired through outsourcing giant Cognizant in Phoenix and Tampa, were subject to hate speech, murders, suicides and other graphic content.

Facebook employs thousands of content moderators to sift through the vast number of posts, images and other content posted to the site. If a potentially rule-breaking post is flagged by other users, it’s often reviewed by a content moderator who makes the final call on whether it stays or is deleted.

One former content moderator, Selena Scola, said she developed post-traumatic stress disorder — or PTSD — and sued Facebook to start a fund to create a testing and treatment program for current and former moderators.

Cognizant later pulled out of the content moderation market altogether following The Verge’s investigations.

The preliminary settlement will cover moderators in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas from 2015, and each moderator will receive at least $ 1,000. Others could receive up to $ 50,000 in damages.

The California court overseeing the case will make the final call, expected later this year.

A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch: “We are grateful to the people who do this important work to make Facebook a safe environment for everyone. We’re committed to providing them additional support through this settlement and in the future.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.


Social – TechCrunch


How writers can optimize content for a variety of search engines

May 9, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • If you think optimizing your content for Google is tough, then youre going to be amazed by how many factors youll have to consider when optimizing your writing for multiple search engines. 
  • Two benefits of doing so can be seen in local SEO and voice search.
  • UK Linkology’s Content Marketing Manager, Hannah Stevenson walks you through the complex process to understand and implement how you can optimize content for search engines beyond Google – Bing, DuckDuckGo, Ask.com, and more.

Optimizing your content for just one search engine can be a challenge, as weve still got no idea what Google expects. 

There is a range of different tools out there designed to help, but theyre all merely making educated guesses. To use them effectively, you need to be assessing what they tell you and, where possible, using more than one metric to evaluate your sites success and boost its rankings. 

If you think optimizing your content for Google is tough, then youre going to be amazed by how many factors youll have to consider when optimizing your writing for multiple search engines.  

Read on to find out why its important that you dont overlook alternative search engines and how you can include them in your optimization process.  

Why you need to optimize content for a range of search engines 

Google has the largest market share of any search engine in the world, so, understandably, most writers and SEOs focus on optimizing for it. 

However, there are a wide variety of alternative search engines out there. Bing, Microsoftsearch engine offering, has 5.53% of this market. This might seem like a small percentage, but when you consider that the digital population around the world is in the billions, it is still a significant number of users that youre overlooking by only optimizing your content for Google. 

A percentage of users of Bing will have it set as their prefered search tool due to the browser or device they are using. Microsoft favours its own tools, which is why Bing is the default search engine on Windows phones, tablets and computers.  

Some developers have deals to make certain search engines their default. Many of these deals involve Google, but in some cases, the titan of the search engine market is usurped.  

For example, AOL chose Bing over Google in 2015, meaning that Bing is the default engine on AOL browsers. While this might not seem significant, many users will not bother to change their settings, and simply use the default search engine, meaning if this option is not Google, then other search engines will rise in popularity.  

Additionally, some smaller search engines target specific demographics, such as Ecosia, which is marketed at environmentally-conscious users and donates money towards planting trees with every search that users make.  

For users who are concerned about privacy and data storage, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that promises not to store information and block out hidden tracking software.  

As such, if you are targeting these specific demographics, then you need to make sure that you optimize your content for these tools.  

Research the search engines on the market 

Before you start optimizing your content, you need to check out the search engines on offer and work out which ones are the most relevant to your website.  

Some of the key search engines on the market, not including Google, are: 

  • Bing: As mentioned earlier, Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, which has a strong market share.  
  • Yahoo!: Powered by Bing, Yahoo! Uses the same technology, but is a different platform, meaning that you can optimize for this solution using the same techniques you use for Bing.  
  • Ecosia: An eco-friendly search engine that promotes itself by offering to donate money towards tree planting efforts for every search users make on its platform.  
  • DuckDuckGo: A privacy-focused search engine that does not track user data, making it harder to optimize for and less-informative than other tools.  
  • Qwant: Another search engine that’s dedicated to privacy, Qwant has it’s own indexing engine and doesn’t track user activity.  
  • Ask.com: Using a question and answer format, Ask.com providers users with answers to any queries they may have by showing them relevant pages and content.  

Look beyond Google Analytics 

The first step towards to optimize content for alternative search engines is to find new sources of traffic information.

Most webmasters use Google Analytics to review their traffic and site information, but this platform only shows clicks from Google searches. 

If you want to find out where youre getting all of your page visits from, then youll need to find alternative ways to review your traffic.  

Analytics tools such as SEMrush, SimilarWeb and Ahrefs all show you where your traffic is coming from, as well as offering a wide range of additional tools such as keyword searches and top page analysis. As such, theyre definitely worth investing in if you want to boost your site, both on Google and a range of other search engines.   

Follow them on social media to stay updated 

One of the easiest ways you can learn about the latest developments in the way these alternative search engines operate, and how you can optimize content around them is to stay updated.  

As such, you should follow them on social media and sign up to their newsletters to read the latest developments and advice that theyre offering to users and content creators.  

Keeping tabs on so many different search engines can be a challenge, particularly if youre trying to optimize your content around several different tools.  

Youll be able to get all of the updates as and when theyre released. Youll also receive expert commentary on what these developments mean for you and your content.  

Local SEO benefits some alternative search engines

Some search engines offer tailored local insight, meaning that you can use local SEO practices to target these platforms. 

For example, Bing offers Bing Places, a directory of local companies, and is committed to offering users search results tailored around their location.  

As Yahoo! is powered by Bing, boosting your reach on one platform will translate to growth on the other.  

Bings dedication to sharing local search results means that, if you use local search terms in your content, you will be more likely to rank on this platform.  

Flash is Bings favourite

Bing also has technical preferences, with a focus on Flash and Silverlight based applications: 

Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash Player, can improve the aesthetic appearance or the functional ability of a site for end-users. However, the way these technologies are typically implemented often causes problems with the ability of search engine bots to crawl and fetch any meaningful data from the site. 

Sites extensively employing JavaScript and AJAX technologies can also cause the same problems for search. This is because search bots are primarily readers of the text. It is much more difficult to parse and derive indexable, relevant content from graphic and multimedia content. As a result, sites who implement these technologies without regard to search bot accessibility often unexpectedly see their search rankings drop off (from the search bot perspective, the site simply has little-to-no indexable content available, which adversely affects its relevance to the site’s main theme).

As such, you need to try to move your site onto RIAs where possible and optimize the meta tags and description tags to help you achieve strong results on Bing.  

Ask.com is optimized in a similar way to voice search

Voice search is one of the fastest-growing trends in the SEO market currently, with so many consumers now turning to their smart devices and virtual assistants to give them the information they need. 

When optimizing content for voice search, the key is to answer questions, as the majority of verbal searches are questions. 

This is because voice search queries use natural voice commands, as users are speaking rather than typing. Google has identified that almost 70% of searches on Google Assistant are performed in natural language, rather than the keywords that you often find in written searches.  

Its more natural to ask a question than it is to yell keywords towards your device. As such, optimizing your content for voice search involves including questions and providing the answers.  

Creating content with question and answers in it not only helps you to boost your voice search results, but also helps you to optimize your content for Ask.com. 

As Ask.com focuses on providing users with the answers to questions, by also focusing on this format, you can kill two birds with one stone and optimize your writing for both Ask.com and voice search.  

Never sacrifice quality and relevance

The key to search engine visibility and increased traffic will always be quality and relevance. No matter what tools you use and what search engines you choose to target, you should always focus on creating readable content that grabs your readers attention.  

Always make sure that your content is thoroughly proofread and that you havent stuffed too many keywords into obscure positions. If you start every sentence with your target keywords, then search engines will pick up on this and may penalize your site.  

A Google penalty is a serious issue, but a penalty from any other search engine can also cause you major problems.  

Tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway Editor can help with readability, while SEO Surfer can help you understand keyword density and content layout. It should be mentioned that SEO Surfer takes much of its data from Google, but the tool can be useful for spreading out your keywords to help boost your rankings in a variety of search engines.  

Conclusion  

At the end of the day, content remains king in the SEO market. Creating quality content needs to remain your key focus, with optimizing it and getting it in front of your target audience your second priority.  

As with any business decision, when youre optimizing your content, you should try to spread your risk. Aim to create content that is valuable not only for Google but a range of other search engines too.   

Hannah Stevenson is the Content Marketing Manager at UK Linkology. 

The post How writers can optimize content for a variety of search engines appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Why these three content types are winning quarantine season

May 4, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • In-home media consumption during the quarantine of March 2020, worldwide, shows that 35% are reading more books/listening to more audiobooks, and 44% are spending more time on social media.
  • People are looking for education without getting slumped with an information overload. For example, LinkedIn professionals are going “live” to share data-driven and real insight with their audiences.
  • On the other hand, people are looking to stay entertained and keep their minds in a good place during this time of change and are resorting to TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
  • How can your brand support your audience and employees? How can you test different methods to motivate and encourage, showing that we’re all in this together?
  • Lead digital PR strategist at Directive, Ashton Newell helps businesses create content types that can reach their people through.
  • Observations, tips, and personal examples of content types and how her organization has performed in quarantimes.

No one planned for a global pandemic. How could you?

However, the performance marketers who were able to adjust quickly and provide support to their audience (in various ways) are reaping the benefits.

As you know, social media is a tool for people to connect and can be used to empower your brand. Now, it’s one of the few ways to stay connected virtually and build genuine relationships with your audience.

So, what are the winners doing? Here’s a look at the content types that are winning in “quarantimes”:

1. Educating

Think virtual marketing conferences, free online training courses, TikTok dances, business leaders live on LinkedIn, etc.

For those who are interested, continued education has become a way to keep productive and sane during this extra time at home.

According to Statista, in-home media consumption during the quarantine of March 2020, worldwide, shows that 35% are reading more books/listening to more audiobooks, and 44% are spending more time on social media.

Wait, social media….learning? It’s true. Gone are the days of social media just to mindlessly scroll.

For example, LinkedIn professionals are going “live” to share data-driven and real insight with their audiences. This gives them a platform to address what’s happening, share how they’re adjusting, and be vulnerable with their followers.

For example, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, Ann Handley, puts together “a pop-up twice-weekly video show about coping with COVID-19, business, and life” on her LinkedIn profile.

content types - Education by Ann on LinkedIn

Source: Screenshot from Ann Handley on LinkedIn

Additionally, sharing helpful content is important. However, people may not be as open to read a long whitepaper right now.

How can you provide support and empathy, without being too focused on quarantine that it bums out your reader?

Give them a game plan to succeed during this time.

Source: Screenshot from @thefuturishere on Instagram

The Instagram post above shares 10 quality design slides, actionable tips with real tools the audience can use to add to their WFH set-up, and a strong call-to-action for the reader to leave their favourite tools, so others continue to learn.

A different route

For others, they might not be looking to learn new business skills during this time. Instead, people are looking to stay entertained and keep their minds in a good place during this time of change.

According to Vox, people are turning to Instagram and TikTok to learn how to make Dalgona coffee (whipped coffee) and baking bread. The word “bread” even hit an “all-time high” on Google searches, according to Eater.

Additionally, TikTok videos are now a way that families can learn dances and bond together, according to CNN.

According to the article, TikTok offers various COVID-19 resources for families to engage in positive ways. A nightly series called #HappyAtHome features top creators who share advice, motivation, and more. Educational live streams are also available throughout the popular app.

So, as marketers, why do we care?

Key point

As you’re crafting content for social media, what can you share that is educational in some way?

How can you share easily digestible content that leaves the audience taking something new away from it?

Remember:

  • The whipped coffee recipe has three ingredients, and it went viral.
  • You don’t need professional equipment to create TikTok videos.
  • To go live on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook, you don’t need any equipment. Simply hit “Go Live”.
  • You can create free infographics with impressive data using Canva.

Overall, listen to your audience. Find what they need during this time.

Give them something they can learn.

2. Motivating

Think mental health advocates going live, empathetic stories shared by brands, support for hospitals, charity work.

While your audience may be open to learning, many people are feeling low right now.

Job security may be lost, kids may be home from school, the weather may be depressing, a family member may be sick – this may not be the time your audience wants to pick up a new business book or create something new.

So, how can your brand support them? How can you test different methods to motivate and encourage, showing that we’re all in this together?

It might sound crazy, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars and make a brand new campaign to reach your people.

Check out this Instagram post from Hubspot that received incredible engagement (their highest of the week) by sharing motivational words that resonate with their audience of marketers and sales specialists looking to grow their businesses.

View this post on Instagram

#RemoteWork

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on

 

content types - motivation - example from Hubspot

Screenshot from Hubspot’s Instagram

Additionally, companies are doing big things to support mental health.

According to an article on CNN, the Disaster Distress Helpline, a federal crisis hotline operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, calls in March have gone up by more than 300%, compared to February. Compared to March of last year, the hotline has seen 891% more calls, according to the article.

At Directive, we wanted to support our team and clients during this time by providing “motivation through movement”. As an E-RYT certified yoga instructor, through YouTube Live, I was able to teach a class for our people to get moving, focus on their breath, and keep their wellness a priority through these challenging times.

It was incredibly encouraging to hear feedback that both parties enjoyed the class and felt better, and I was thankful to share my love of the yoga practice with them all.

We highlighted this on social media to encourage other companies to try something similar, as well.

Directive - Ashton Newell hosts YouTube live yoga session to encourage employee wellbeing

Screenshot from Directive on Instagram

Additionally, companies like Salesforce are utilizing social media to build a schedule around guided meditation, conversations with health and wellness experts, and being present.

Salesforce builds a campaign on guided meditation

Screenshot from Salesforce on LinkedIn

Additionally, companies like Headspace provide motivational (and educational) content on Instagram on how followers can make “no-sew masks from home”. This can help motivate people to stay healthy, even if they don’t have new income coming in.

Headspace example of no-sew masks

Source: @headspace on Instagram

Key point

While bringing in new income is essential to your business, right now, it’s imperative to put your brand and culture first. People will remember how you made them feel.

Show sentiment to your audience, and make sure it’s authentic. Your actions should be more powerful than your words.

After you find a rhythm that works for your social content, make sure that what you’re sharing is resonating with your audience. We are marketers, and our audience shows us what they like and don’t like through the data.

According to Janet Balis’s article on Harvard Business Review:

“Frequent tracking of human behavioural trends will help marketers gain better insights in real-time. Marketers will want to measure sentiment and consumption trends on a regular basis to better adapt messaging, closely observing the conversation across social media platforms, community sites, and e-commerce product pages to look for opportunities and identify looming crises more quickly.”

Be there for your audience. Mean it. Track it.

3. Building a virtual community

Think Zoom happy hours, live Instagram workouts, Instagram challenges, community support, real images from working from home.

Without your community, life can seem a little duller. Luckily, technology has your back and helps you see your colleagues and loved ones as much as you’d like to.

For some, this has been the key to working remotely and showing up every day.

From experience, the Directive team has all Zoom meetings with the cameras on, to see teammates’ faces, and to have “real” conversations and connections.

building a virtual community

Source: Image from Directive

Sharing a real image (like the one above) on social media shows your team coming together and the power of your community.

Additionally, Directive was excited to participate in a #ShowUsYourWorkspace social media challenge. It was encouraging to see the team share their spaces, show their furry friends, and how they’re adapting into their everyday work lives.

They also tagged other companies to “share their spaces” to carry on the challenge as well.

Here is one of the examples

#ShowUsYourWorkspace social media challenge

Source: Image from @directiveconsulting on Instagram

Key point

Building community with your audience, adjusting to working from home, and showing how you’re sticking together behind the scenes is impactful.

Show your followers how you are doing it and continue to do it. Also, find creative ways to keep your followers engaged.

We’re all in this together

While the world continues to feel a little different, you can educate, motivate, and build your community to encourage your audience to push through and stay on their feet.

You have the tools you need, it’s your time to create winning content for your audience.

Ashton Newell is the lead digital PR strategist at Directive, a performance marketing agency specialized in the software space. When Ashton is away from her day job, she spends her time teaching yoga, cheering on the ASU Sun Devils, and drinking numerous cups of coffee. She can be found on Twitter @ashtonmeisner.

The post Why these three content types are winning quarantine season appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy

May 2, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for ecommerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
  • The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving.
  • Some things the search trends have shown is that consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for.
  • leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
  • Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
  • As a “topic”, interest in instrument playing tutorials has increased by 72%.
  • Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
  • Director of SEO at Stella Rising, John Morabito shares lots of insights and shines a light on how businesses can use these trends in their content creation.

With the coronavirus pandemic now nearing its peak in many parts of the U.S., search trends are rapidly evolving in ways many search marketers have never seen before. Changes are happening almost daily, and traditional search volume as a monthly average metric has become practically useless. Google Trends, however, offers useful, daily analysis of what’s trending in search. At present, Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for e-commerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.

In this post, we’ll cover ways that search marketers can use Google Trends and other tools to discover opportunities in today’s fast-moving landscape, and review how the team at Stella Rising has been using Google Trends to inform our strategy during the pandemic. 

The obvious Google Trends

Medical suppliers will be aware that, amidst the overall demand for masks, behaviours have shifted from favouring N95 masks to surgical masks. The CDC recently revised their recommendation. In this case, we see that search demand for masks is already starting to decrease.

Surgical Masks (7 Day View) – Down 68% (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)

COVID-19 Google Trends

Full Year View

 The less obvious: Search evolution in unexpected places

The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving. For example, at first glance, one might not think that the beauty segment would find success in a pandemic. However, social distancers are turning to self-care. “Peel masks” are seeing a huge increase in interest with a 58% increase in over the last few weeks. Google Trends - Peel masks search

Searches for skincare are skyrocketing, as are those for foot care. Consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for. Note the following trends from Spate:

Search trends - Foot care search graph by Spate

Source: Spate.nyc

Hand moisturizer has similarly seen an even larger increase, jumping up 156% since February (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)

COVID-19 search trends - Moisturizer Leveraging the trend

When it comes to the growth in demand for skincare products, skincare brands have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to their content efforts. Make sure your product pages are being listed in Google shopping’s new free listings, and ensure that you have robust on-page content for each of your skincare product or category pages. Lastly, in a time where making returns is not an easy task, and consumers want to minimize contact with the outside world, content that helps guide users to the right product selections can be extremely valuable.

For example, this article from Bucklers Remedy, a skincare brand ranks top three for “choosing the right hand lotion”. In another example, we see a Vaseline article about how to deal with dry cracked hands ranking for a total of 1,100 keywords.

Example - Vaseline hand moisturizer search trend

For apparel companies

Apparel companies should shift their messaging as consumers browse for clothing on their devices. Right now, leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month. 

COVID-19 Google Trends - leisurewear is the king

Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward. 

"how to look good on zoom" search trend in COVID-19 times

Leveraging the trend

Everyone from publishers to apparel and beauty brands can get in on the need for Zoom/video conferencing related content. If you fall into one of those categories, consider producing looks and tutorials for your captive audience.

For instrument makers

For instrument makers like Fender and Les Paul, there has never been more interest than now in learning how to play the guitar. 

instrument related search trends

Leveraging the trend

Fender and Les Paul both offer instructional content, but now is the perfect time for them to ramp-up efforts and even consider partnering with musicians who are out of work and can easily produce tutorial content on their behalf. 

People are also interested in learning about all sorts of topics. As a “topic”, interest in tutorials has increased by 72%.

Leveraging the trend

If you’re a brand with a product that has any sort of instructions or bares any type of explanation in how to use it, I would recommend using this time to produce tutorial content for each of your products or for the things your products help people to do. For example, makeup brands can not only product tutorials on how to use a specific product which can help them to rank for both nonbrand and branded terms, but they can also target things like “zoom makeup looks” which can help them to rank for an even broader set of nonbrand terms.

Sometimes, search trends are influenced by necessity. We’ve seen more interest in “how to cut your hair” than ever before. 

The not so fun part

While there are search trends dealing with keeping consumers busy, there are also new trends around more serious subjects. Some of our clients at Stella Rising are writing about these. One of our clients in the small business formation space is writing about how their customers can get loans and stay in good corporate standing. Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.

Estate lawyers may want to consider online-only services as “get a will online” has seen a steep rise. 

How to get started

Now that you’ve seen some of the ways that search trends are evolving—and how to check—start by inspecting your website’s most valuable target keywords and see how searches are moving for those items. You may be surprised by what you find. Finding interesting trends can be tough, so think carefully about how behaviour will evolve in the future, not simply how it has changed today. 

Bonus tool tip

Explodingtopics.com is a tool that shows exploding topics using Google Trends data and provides two key metrics: gradient and exponent. Essentially, the exponent is a mathematical expression that defines how much like a “hockey-stick” a curve is. The tool breaks up Google Trend data by category and presents which topics are “exploding” versus which have peaked in interest. This analysis is useful when wishing to stay relevant with content writing.

John Morabito is Director of SEO at Stella Rising. John has over nine years of experience in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing channels. 

The post Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Why content campaigns need to be surprising to earn top-tier press

April 27, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Every successful content campaign understands its audience and knows their pulse. How do you know whether your content campaign is worthy of being viral?
  • Fractl’s first in-depth study into viral emotions found that the most common emotions invoked when consuming viral content were amusement, interest, and surprise.
  • Domenica D’Ottavio shares the key ingredients of successful content campaigns with some interesting examples.

Successful content begins with understanding your audience. What does your audience like? What do they avoid? What do they want to learn more about? What are they most likely to share and engage with?

Fractl’s first in-depth study into viral emotions found that the most common emotions invoked when consuming viral content were amusement, interest, and surprise. After executing thousands of content campaigns, we keep these three emotions in mind when creating content—particularly the element of surprise.

Easier said than done, though. What makes content surprising? How can you use surprise in your content marketing campaigns to earn links and media coverage at top-tier websites?

In this post, I’m going to share two examples of content market campaigns that embraced the element of surprise and why they were primed to be successful.

Content with shock value is primed for social sharing

You often don’t know, until you start working on a project, whether your content will offer something readers don’t expect.

If something is surprising enough to get Whoopi Goldberg talking about it, you know you were successful. In a survey execution for one home-improvement client, we asked 1,000 Americans about their cooking habits.

What seemed innocuous at first, quickly became a link building success, in large because of the huge disparities in the results.

 

Why the content worked

Not only did we learn that Millennials are the worst cooks, but we also learned they have trouble identifying a butter knife, compared to other generations surveyed.

These two news hooks directly resulted in widespread coverage, because they were surprising enough, but also relatable enough, to spark conversation among readers.

Content campaigns that surprise - Example of Millenials being unable to identify a butter knife

After the first placement went live with Washington Post, this campaign spread like wildfire across the internet, earning top tier placements at dozens of publishers including USA Today, Thrillist, and The Daily Meal totalling 145 press mentions for a simple survey execution.

This content campaign is a perfect example of how just a few data points can carry a campaign. The content idea itself doesn’t need to be surprising — that is, exploring cooking habits — just as long as a single component of the data is shocking.

Surprising content that’s useful, too, can produce big wins

While the previous two campaigns produced results full of shock-value, a project doesn’t have to be controversial to be successful.

A lot of brands and businesses want to produce content that’s not only entertaining but also informative and useful to their audience. When producing surprising content that also can be informative, consider the impact of the information. What ideas can you produce that will contribute positively to people’s lives?

In a content campaign for one career-related client, we wanted to find out how much money you could make in various careers that don’t require a degree.

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Many of whom entered college during or following the great recession. So, topics related to career and finance are hot for millennials, as many of them graduated with student debt, and may have trouble finding work with the degree they earned.

Survey executions are useful for new studies, but when the data already exists and is available for use, why not use it?  The average person often finds it difficult to interpret meaningful findings from existing data sets, which is why they can be perfect for link building content campaigns.

After digging through the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (a free-to-the-public data source) we found that contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a degree or to own your own business in America and earn 6-figures.

In addition to being surprising, this data also proved useful to our audience.

Many college graduates in America are not making six-figures. So, this campaign was surprising and eye-opening to them. For those looking to get started in a different field, this study provided a glimpse into what high-paying jobs are out there. For those without degrees, this study provided hope and inspiration to improve their situation.

After earning coverage on CNBC, this campaign appeared across many work and career-related publishers wanting to cater to their audience and deliver these surprising and informative findings. Capping out at 141 press mentions, this campaign was also featured on MSN, Marketwatch, and The Ladders.

An element of surprise grabs and keeps the audiences’ attention

When producing content, not every aspect of your piece has to be surprising. In fact, we find that it’s usually one or two data points that yield the majority of link building results for our clients.

The key to creating successful content campaigns in any niche is to intend to serve your audience first. Come up with ideas that answer their questions, and then put your own surprising spin on it.

When producing any successful content campaign, make sure that there’s an element that’s newsworthy, surprising, and data-driven for optimum success.

Domenica D’Ottavio is a Brand Relationship Manager at Fractl. She can be found on Twitter @atdomenica.

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Content marketing in the COVID-19 crisis: What the hospitality industry is teaching us

April 21, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The COVID-19 crisis is impacting so many incredible brands — from neighbourhood spots to household names — many businesses have been reeling from the impact of everyone needing to stay home for the good of public health.
  • Fractl’s Marketing Director, Amanda Milligan looked into how various brands are responding to this hardship through content to share some important lessons for other B2B and B2C businesses.
  • She mentions how the messaging you use and the ways you choose to help are absolutely essential to maintaining positive relationships.
  • Great examples included right from Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Marriot to humble brands like Orbitz and The Potter’s house.
  • Take a step back and consider how your brand can best contribute to the solutions your clients or customers need, you can form a short-term strategy on how your content can better serve them now.

Everyone is suffering in some way during the era of the COVID-19 crisis, but as it relates to marketing, the tourism industry may be taking the hardest hit. (If you’re one of these marketers, hang in there, and please let me know if I can help in any way.)

So many incredible brands — from neighbourhood spots to household names — have been reeling from the impact of everyone needing to stay home for the good of public health.

In this unprecedented time, I decided to look into how various brands are responding to this hardship through content.

And from what I’ve found, their actions serve as important lessons for all of us.

B2C content priorities: Information and connection

The exponential spread of the virus meant that things changed very quickly, events were cancelled, people were advised not to travel, and more such things that were restricted or curbed. So, from the moment things started to make a shift, consumers turned to brands for information.

Building brand loyalty should always be a priority, but especially in times of crisis, when timely information needs to be communicated ASAP. Aside from the customer service related queries, a brand new set of questions and concerns appeared because of Coronavirus, and if brands were in a good position to answer those questions, they could be extremely helpful in a tumultuous time.

Rather than dealing with everything through customer service, for example, Orbitz put together a blog post that explains what consumers need to know about changing their travel plans.

content marketing in the COVID-19 crisis - Example Orbit

But it’s not just about providing information, either. If people can’t spend money on your products or services, one of your top marketing priorities should be maintaining communication and connection with them in the midst of this hardship.

I’ve personally seen places in D.C. doing an excellent job at this. For example, The Potter’s House, a nonprofit cafe, bookstore, and event space, closed down their location on March 13 for public health and safety reasons.

However, they’ve been in contact via email, using personable, human language, explaining what they’re doing to give back during the COVID-19 crisis, and talking about ways they’re trying to keep the community together.

Potter's Community emailer that sets an example for content marketing in the COVID-19 crisis

The subject line of this email was simple: “We miss you!”

And sometimes, short messages can say a lot. Look at the popup featured on the Marriott homepage.

Marriot home page pop up

Brands need to remember that their brand advocates miss them, too. No one wants to be cooped up and worried. They’d much rather be engaging with their communities plotting future plans, and giving back in any way they can.

Simple messages of encouragement, camaraderie, and hope can go a long way.

B2B content priorities: Reassurance and support

B2B marketing isn’t just about getting new business. It can also be about “marketing” to your current clients and customers.

When you work with other companies that are suffering financially, your messaging is critical. If you have a healthy partnership, they see the money they spend on your product/services and your brand as an important piece of their success.

The TripAdvisor CEO presents a good example of how to handle this kind of communication. The message is for all of the businesses that use the TripAdvisor platform in some way.

 

It includes two crucial things

  1. Expression of their desire to help
  2. Details of the actions they’ve already taken

recent letter from Airbnb’s CEO to its hosts around the world encompasses the same elements, though also with an apology for how they handled cancellations in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

The messaging you use and the ways you choose to help are absolutely essential to maintaining positive relationships. This is when marketing overlaps greatly with communications and PR strategies, as it should at times when silos can’t do the trick.

And words aren’t enough (as the Airbnb letter notes as part of their apology). Showing people that you’re going to do whatever is in your power to be their advocate can build massive amounts of goodwill.

OpenTable impressed me from the get-go. They’ve been using their brand influence to encourage people to support restaurants in various ways. Just a glance at their Instagram feed shows how nearly all of their content is dedicated to providing ways to connect people to restaurants in this social distancing age.

If you’re a restaurant that pays OpenTable for reservation capabilities, this is what I’d imagine you’d like to see — those who you work with advocating for you. And yes, of course, OpenTable benefits from these efforts, too, but if it seems like sincere, practical help that they’re providing, it can go a long way in building goodwill.

Conclusion

It’s hard not to get caught up in the stress, especially when facing uncertainty. But if you can take a step back and consider how your brand can best contribute to the solutions your clients or customers need, you can form a short-term strategy on how your content can better serve them now.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

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Consumers go to YouTube for uplifting content during COVID-19

April 4, 2020 No Comments
  • In recent research, Channel Factory, a global technology platform, asked more than 1000 US consumers to share their YouTube activity in the recent weeks of social distancing as a result of the COVID-19.
  • People are flocking to YouTube for uplifting and mood-enhancing content.
  • 80% of respondents go to YouTube to improve their mood.
  • 69% find the platform’s content more uplifting than other channels.
  • Over 70% of respondents want ads that both boost and align with their mood.

Channel Factory Consumer Survey sheds light on contextual opportunities for brands.

Channel Factory, a global technology platform, announced the results of a new survey that shows how people are flocking to YouTube for uplifting and mood-enhancing content. Entitled ‘Content consumption & consumer sentiment amid the Coronavirus pandemic’, the survey asked more than 1000 US consumers to share their YouTube activity in the recent weeks of social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

Consumers go to YouTube to improve their mood

Channel Factory found that the vast majority of consumers go to YouTube to improve their mood and find uplifting, helpful and educational content. The survey also found that respondents felt that YouTube offers more contextually relevant content based on what they wanted to see.

  • 80% of respondents go to YouTube to improve their mood
  • 69% find the platform’s content more uplifting than other channels

While 33% of respondents go to YouTube for COVID-19 content specifically, many more are watching a broad variety of mood-boosting videos:

  • 48% are watching entertainment videos
  • 48% are watching music-related content
  • 33% are consuming comedy
  • 31% are looking at videos about DIY
  • 29% are feasting on cooking-related content

Jed Hartman, Chief Commercial Officer at Channel Factory, said,

“YouTube is delivering both meaningful and useful content for its viewers as we all spend time at home. From entertainment and comedy to fitness and cooking, people feel that YouTube is helping to entertain, accomplish tasks and boost their moods.”

Survey respondents were very positive about advertising’s role

The research also points to a significant opportunity for brands to find positive and uplifting contextually targeted inventory on YouTube. From fitness and comedy to cooking and crafting, YouTube’s surge in traffic goes far beyond topics directly related to the pandemic. When asked specifically about YouTube advertising, survey respondents were very positive about the role advertising plays on the site:

  • Over 70% of respondents want ads that both boost and align with their mood
  • 29% of participants expect ads to be relevant to the content they’re watching

Jed Hartman further added,

“Right now, advertisers have a unique opportunity to reach their audience on YouTube with highly targeted contextual placements at a low cost. Our research concludes that the shift in consumer patterns and desire to engage with uplifting content on YouTube gives brands the opportunity to engage in a high-quality environment with a highly engaged audience.”

About Channel Factory

Channel Factory is a global technology and data platform that sits at the crossroads of brand suitability and performance, turning YouTube’s five billion videos and 500 hours per minute of new content into brand-suitable, efficient advertising opportunities.

Channel Factory has offices across the USA and is present in over 30 countries worldwide including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

The post Consumers go to YouTube for uplifting content during COVID-19 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Five tips to establish a successful content creation process

March 13, 2020 No Comments

In this digital age where around 90% of all digital marketers use content marketing, there is no shortage of content that is flowing around, even in niches you probably never heard of.

Unfortunately, a big chunk of that content is a spammy mess that exists only to build a link, promote things we do not need, and push an agenda that doesn’t care about facts.

Despite all of that, there is always room for more quality content that can put your business on the map. To do that effectively, you need two things – consistency and a strategic approach to content creation.

Why should you have a consistent content publishing schedule?

If you are pumping out mediocre content on a regular basis to try and “trick” Google into favoring you over other domains, you are probably wasting your time. That’s if you want to listen to Google’s own John Mueller.

Now, here’s why this discussion doesn’t really matter. On one side, there is a whole list of stronger search ranking factors to focus on. On the other hand, even if publishing frequency doesn’t directly affect your rankings, there are plenty of other reasons you want to be consistent with your content creation and publishing process.

Some do it because they want to run a newsletter, others simply want to keep their blog fresh and have something to share on their social channels. However, most marketers that look to run content consistently are those who want to grow their businesses with content marketing.

For them, creating consistent content with a purpose is not an option, it’s a necessity. In continuation of this article, we’ll take a look at five tips on how to do exactly that.  

1. Do the groundwork

What does it mean to create quality content? I believe most of us know how to intuitively recognize it, but some would have trouble coming up with a clear definition. 

Here is a snapshot from the guidelines we share with all of our writers that represent how we look at quality content:

Writing to the right audience and solving their problems with actionable advice is hard to do if you only have a vague idea of who you are targeting. That’s why it is crucial to properly research your target audience. Go to Quora and Reddit, visit niche forums, run surveys among existing customers and subscribers, follow top blogs in your niche, analyze your competitors.

If you’re planning to create content consistently, it pays to know both big and small problems your target audience is running into on a regular basis.

If you do extensive research, you should have a substantive list of issues to cover. However, not all of those issues are worth covering on your blog. Creating personalized content is great, but spending 20 hours on a piece that solves an issue exactly three people have is just not worth it.

This is where keyword research comes into play. Using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and even Google Trends is a great way to find out what is the scope of the issues you identified and which are, subsequently, worth covering.

If you’re a start-up looking to grow through content marketing efforts, keyword research and target audience analysis are the foundation to build upon. For brands with an already active blog, they can expand this preparation step by also doing content audit and content gap analysis.

2. Create content with a purpose

I do not know about you, but we like to publish content with a certain goal in mind. In an ideal situation, content should satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It talks about a real problem your target audience has
  2. It can be optimized around a keyword with a worthwhile monthly search volume
  3. It aims to generate brand awareness, nurture gathered leads or has another specific purpose listed below

Now, there are only so many content pieces that will be able to check all three boxes, and that’s just fine. Since you plan to create content consistently, you will have to branch out anyway at some point. The trick is not branching out too far. Always look that your content satisfies at least two of the stated criteria.

One example of content with a purpose that satisfies “only” two criteria (but is still worth creating) is content for nurturing your hard-earned leads.

Depending on who you ask, the sales funnel can have between three and six phases. For the purpose of this example, we can hold on to the version with four that is on the illustration above.

Let’s assume that, during your audience research, you defined four different target audience personas you want to cover. Let’s also assume that you decided to create two different pieces of content for every persona at every stage of the funnel.

This leads us to four personas x four funnel stages x two content pieces for each = 32 content pieces! 

Some of those 32 pieces will not bring you any organic traffic but they will be an integral part of your email sequences, your Facebook funnels and/or any other strategy that uses content for lead nurturing. 

3. Plan three months in advance

The key point of this section is planning ahead, the number of months is up for discussion. If you have enough resources and the ability to stick to the schedule, you can plan six months ahead or more. For many businesses, however, that is not necessary.

For example, we push out one to three content pieces each month and our average time to produce a piece (involves keyword research, outline, writing, polishing, custom images, promotion plans, SEO optimization) is about three weeks (but keep in mind that people don’t work on the content every day).

Considering our available resources, time to produce a single piece, and the number of pieces we publish each month, planning two months ahead is enough to keep everything on track. By “keeping everything on track” I mean ensuring we never end up in a situation where: 

  • We do not have anything to publish because a single article got delayed
  • We do not have resources to schedule in an additional content piece that shares important company news or discusses nig industry trends/news that just popped up  

As you scale up those numbers, you should look to plan three-plus months ahead, especially if you are doing a lot of research, round-ups, longer video content, and interactive content. 

These types of content pieces are more likely to get delayed and increase your average production time, which means they should be scheduled well in advance.

4. Watch what you outsource

At some point, you might wish to scale content production or realize that you just don’t have enough resources to create content consistently on your own. While outsourcing can work well when done properly, if you are working with the wrong people, it will waste you a ton of time you don’t have. 

To anyone that looks to outsource part of their content creation process, here are two important tips:

A. Do not be satisfied with mediocre talent

Even if it takes a long time, run job posts until you find people that meet all of your requirements. Otherwise, you will spend more time reviewing and editing the content than you would spend on creating it yourself in the first place. So if a platform like Upwork fails you, run paid adds on another one like ProBlogger or similar platforms until you find a good match.

B. Give the advantage to people with actual experience in your niche

There are many people out there that can write pretty well. A chunk of those has good research skills and can create a decent piece on almost any topic. However, there usually aren’t that many people with a lot of personal experience that can actually give actionable advice.

I put a lot of value in personal experience because of one thing – authenticity. If the only thing you have to say is just a rehash of what other people said, you are not bringing anything new to the table and it limits the ability to provide actionable tips. That will undoubtedly be reflected in the reduced engagement of your content pieces. 

Since we are talking about outsourcing, I’d also like to point out that there are some content types that I would recommend producing internally whenever possible such as:

  • Pieces that describe a step-by-step process of how your service/product works
  • Pieces that contain a lot of screenshots/videos/graphics that have to be produced internally
  • Very specific pieces where you have to give the freelancer so many details you’re better of doing it yourself

I’m not saying that there aren’t amazing freelancers out there who can cover even promotional pieces to the level you need them to, but I am saying that they are hard to find and small business owners can rarely afford them.

5. Don’t discard guest contributors

Many blogs decide not to publish content from guest contributors because they believe that the average quality of the pieces that are sent over does not justify the time you need to put into managing the whole process. 

While that is true to a certain extent, there are ways to streamline the process to actually be cost-effective. I know that because we have implemented it on our blog. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Setup “write for us page” that outlines what kind of content you are looking for. 
  2. Create a guest contribution form people need to apply through and include it somewhere on the write for us page. You can reply only to people you want to work with which eliminates a lot of unnecessary email communication. 
  3. Create detailed writing guidelines that you send to every guest author. 
  4. Do not be afraid to say “no”. Do not waste time on contributors that do not match your requirements or do not respect your guidelines.

Using questions like the ones you can see on the screenshot below, you will be able to filter out bad submissions fairly quickly. 

If you want to take this a step further, you can even prepare content briefs. For example, guest authors that apply to our blog and are open to writing on a topic we suggest, get a list of primary and secondary keywords to orient their posts around and a list of major sections the article should discuss. 

As long as you have a reasonable linking policy and at least a moderate site authority, good pitches will come. Why not use them to help you push out content more consistently?

Ensuring content quality

One thing that tends to suffers when you put focus on volume is content quality. That is natural, but it can be easily avoided.

The best way to enforce consistent content quality is to set up detailed guidelines (and stick to them). These rules include (but are not limited to):

  • Tone of voice
  • Target audience
  • Linking policy for outgoing links 
  • Formatting guidelines
  • Visual guidelines and the use of rich content
  • Focus on examples and actionable advice

The above guidelines allow you to run every piece through a simple checklist and see if anything needs to be improved before the content goes live. 

When all of this is done as a part of a strong content marketing strategy, it is going to make you happy, it is going to make your customers happy, and it is going to make your bottom line very happy.

Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service.

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The changing face of search: Dynamic content and experiences that perform

February 14, 2020 No Comments

As that last page of the calendar flips over, we’re always reminded to look back, refocus, and prepare for the year ahead. Take yourself back for a moment to the beginning of 2010 – could you even have imagined how much search would change in the last decade?

At a macro level, the last decade has brought about a transformation from search as a perfunctory information-finding task to a complex journey with many touchpoints across devices, networks, and channels. Simply browsing has given way to desires for the convenience of instant answers. As social media has been plagued by “fake news” and rampant misinformation, search has proven far more effective at crowdsourcing the verification of data, whether it’s business location information, answers to informational questions, claims about products, and more.

In fact, ten years ago marketers were hard-pressed to get their messaging in front of people who actually wanted to hear it. Today, over 60% of people expect brands to give them the information they need when they need it, and less than half of them feel that brands are delivering (Google). The face of search is changing and SEOs, more than anyone, need to track the trajectory of these changes to stay relevant.

How the evolution of the consumer is driving changes in SEO

Voice search is undoubtedly one of the most impactful consumer trends affecting SEOs, and you can expect that to continue over the next decade. Google first introduced Voice Search in 2002, but it’s only in the last several years that consumers have really grown comfortable conversing and engaging with their devices in the way we now do. People are no longer pecking words into the keyboard and hoping Google understands their intent, they’re asking questions and even having ongoing conversations with technology. Longtail is the new norm.

They’re not only asking Google or Alexa, either. Even though Google dominates traditional search engine market share, search is happening on platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube, too. Getting the answer to a single question might span multiple networks as increasingly savvy searchers compare answers from different sources.

Zero-click search

SEOs are having to adapt to a zero-click environment, where Google curates so much information that searchers’ needs are answered without ever leaving the SERP. As a result, SEOs are having to make better use of Featured Snippets and other space available to them throughout the search ecosystem. Schema.org has been around since 2011 but it’s only in the latter part of this last decade that structured data really became one of the core tenets of SEO.

Mobile experience

The mobile experience has been an area of focus for many years, but in 2018 it was made mission-critical as Google introduced the mobile-first index and mobile speed updates. Snippets became smaller, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches, and video became a far more commonly used content format in the SERPs. SEOs had to move beyond thinking of “mobile-friendly” only in terms of web development and consider how mobile users search for and consume content, as well.

Today, we’ve moved beyond mobile-friendly to mobile-first, where websites need to do a lot more than just work on smartphones. Mobile-first design thinking offers a seamless, intuitive experience with careful thought given to content, navigation and site structure, CTAs in the context of the customer journey, and more.

EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust)

Many have long assumed that the Quality Rater’s Guidelines were the keys to understanding algorithmic ranking factors, but it wasn’t confirmed by Google until VP of Search, Assistant and News, Ben Gomes told CNBC in 2018,

“You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go.”

EAT (expertise, authority, trust) are categorized as “very important” in the Guidelines. This is not new or earth-shattering, but it’s clear that content quality and author/business authority aren’t going anywhere. Crafting authoritative content, citing reputable sources, developing your digital footprint and online profile, and being involved in your niche are all going to be critical in the years to come.

Machine learning, entities, and NLP

“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. […] 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.”

Duncan Osborne, product manager at Google

SEOs are being challenged by machine learning on two fronts – the first, in how Google uses it to evaluate and rank content. But secondly, SEOs have a huge opportunity to scale and maximize their own performance with smart automation and tools that incorporate machine learning.

First, the October 2019 NLP-based BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update, designed to use machine learning to help Google better understand the relationships between queries and content, rolled out affecting 10% of all queries. Google called BERT the “biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of search,” so you can bet this is an area SEOs want to focus in the coming years.

As for how SEOs can use machine learning and smart automation, I’ve written about this in recent columns; check out How AI is powering real-time SEO research: Insights and optimization and Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization for more.

Technical SEO is as important as ever, but SEOs are being forced to think more holistically about searcher experience and the entire journey from discovery to conversion and loyalty.

Data and AI-driven SEO strategy

The IDC predicts that in 2025, 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of new data will be created around the world. As the role of SEO has evolved inside organizations, we increasingly find ourselves as the point resource for interpreting and activating marketing data.

In the coming years, we’ll have even more rich and diverse sources of data to draw from, too. For example, marketers now have access to crowdsourced open-source data via Google’s Dataset Search, just out of beta.

“The majority of governments in the world publish their data and describe it with schema.org. The United States leads in the number of open government datasets available, with more than two million. And the most popular data formats? Tables–you can find more than six million of them on Dataset Search.”

– Natasha Noy, Research Scientist at Google Research

Again, I can’t overstate the importance of smart automation for SEOs given the pace of the flood of data organizations are up against. Embracing automation there’s no possible way to perform in a real-time world without them. AI is enabling marketing to target demand, deliver on consumer expectations for real-time personalization, make smart content optimizations content that speaks directly to consumer needs at each stage of the journey across channels and devices, and more.

Video and visual

Video and visual SEO will be increasingly important elements in a comprehensive SEO strategy going forward. The next generation of search continues to push our understanding of what’s possible and develop particularly around how consumers find and consume multimedia content.

SEOs are now able to optimize for the awareness and consideration stages with voice content. Currently, Google Assistant is on over a billion devices and Google Home makes up 24% of the U.S. installed base (Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo accounts for 70%). Amazon uses Alexa as a loss leader to get consumers to spend money elsewhere on Amazon, while Google treats voice search as an extension of the search experience; as a more conversational way to find answers to life’s every need and problem.

Mike Levin, co-founder and partner in Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, said Amazon and Google’s strategies of offering lower-priced devices so people can own more than one in their home seems to be working. “Now, about one-third of both Amazon Echo and Google Home users have multiple units.” The report said 35 percent of owners have more than one device as of the December 2018 quarter, compared with 18 percent the previous year (CNBC).

Knowing that two of the world’s most prolific tech giants are duking it out to ensure there’s a voice search device in every home, car, and pocket, SEOs would be remiss not to make voice search an area of focus.

Don’t forget about your visual content, too, including video. Over two billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month and every day people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views. What’s more, greater than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, according to YouTube. The platform is a massive search engine in its own right. Original content is a great opportunity. But SEOs can also increase the online footprint of their company or clients by creatively repurposing content to capture traffic here and point it back to the next relevant step in the customer journey.

The changing face of search puts SEO front and center at the marketing table

As the various facets of digital marketing continue to collide and converge, SEOs are uniquely positioned to lead. Last year (according to BrightEdge research) organic channel share expanded to 53.3% of website traffic. At some point in recent years, your SEO tasks could have touched on not only technical SEO and data analysis but social media, email marketing, blogging, PR, web design, and more.

The evolution of search is creating the necessity for a sort of Sherpa inside organizations; for hybrid marketers with equal parts analytical and creative thinking. Whether that person is in-house or a contracted extension of the team, the need for this bigger picture conductor who understands the challenges and opportunities of each channel is growing.

Bright edge stat showing the changing face of SEO

Source: BrightEdge

In this next phase of SEO, optimizing for search engines and optimizing the consumer experience truly become one. Business leaders will rely more heavily on the insights that SEO provides to make decisions in every department and will look to SEOs for guidance on how organizational data is used. As SEOs continue to bridge the gap between departments and disciplines, we enter a new era where the delivery of dynamic content and SEO is helping to create new experiences across the whole digital journey.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.

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How AMP technology can boost your content strategy

January 26, 2020 No Comments

AMP technology can help you boost your content strategy for 2020. Here’s how to get started today.

It was back in 2016 when Google announced the launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The rise of mobile consumption made it imperative to aim for a seamless user experience through smartphones and AMP seemed like a great solution to it.

According to an early study, Google AMP pages load four times faster and use eight times fewer data than traditional mobile-optimized pages.

The idea was to provide an open-source framework that can make the mobile experience better and faster. Several publishers started implementing AMP but not all of them were initially able to measure the success of their efforts.

The state of AMP by the end of 2019

There were several interesting announcements around AMP in 2019 to keep an eye on.

On July 25, Google Images announced:

“Google Images made a series of changes to help people explore, learn and do more through visual search. An important element of visual search is the ability for users to scan many ideas before coming to a decision, whether it’s purchasing a product, learning more about a stylish room, or finding instructions for a DIY project. Often this involves loading many web pages, which can slow down a search considerably and prevent users from completing a task. As previewed at Google I/O, we’re launching a new AMP-powered feature in Google Images on the mobile web, Swipe to Visit, which makes it faster and easier for users to browse and visit web pages. After a Google Images user selects an image to view on a mobile device, they will get a preview of the website header, which can be easily swiped up to load the web page instantly.”

The use of AMP in Google Images is improving the speed of searching for visual content. The increasing demand for visual searches creates the need for improved user experience. This announcement proved that AMP is not just about the written text but it is going to affect complete websites and the way we perceive content.

Moreover, Google recently announced that the AMP framework will join the OpenJS Foundation. This is a move that can make AMP even more accessible without relying too much on Google. According to Malte Ubl of AMP’s Technical Steering Committee:

“Google will continue to be a strong supporter of AMP.  Google is already a platinum member of the OpenJS Foundation and will continue to provide additional financial and other forms of support to the foundation to ensure a thriving AMP community and ecosystem.  The team of Google employees contributing full time to the AMP open-source project will also continue to do so”.

It is estimated that since 2016, more than 25 million domains have published more than 1.5 billion AMP pages. This move can signal an even higher number of pages using AMP to improve the user experience.

According to Google, 53% of mobile visitors abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

How AMP can affect your content strategy

AMP can make a useful addition to a content strategy in many different ways:

1. Improved UX

Focusing on accelerated mobile pages can have a significant impact on user experience. A good content UX can lower the bounce rates on your page while it can also help your visitors stay engaged.

2. Increased conversion

The more time a visitor is spending on your content, the higher the chances of conversion. It’s not always enough to provide high-quality content to increase conversions. The speed of the site, the overall user experience, and the design of your page can still affect your conversions.

3. Reducing load time

Your site’s visitors expect a seamless experience from the very first second. The longer it takes for your content to load, the lower the chances to keep someone interested.

4. Beating competition

Not all websites are invested in AMP technology. It’s not too late to review your site’s speed and start exploring the best ways to use AMP for your content. If your content is already relevant to your visitors and you combine it with a fast experience, then you can end up ahead of your competitors.

Content as a priority

AMP technology is helping developers and marketers understand the importance of delivering a great experience at all levels. From designing your website to the creation of the actual content, everything needs to provide the best experience to all your visitors. This is always helpful in making the content a priority of your website. The loading speed is not enough if the copy is not relevant and informative.

Embracing the omnichannel experience

It’s more important than ever to embrace a multi-channel approach in your web development and also content marketing. Not everyone is accessing your content from the same device. As the load time makes a great factor on a site’s user experience, AMP can help you speed up your content, whether it’s on desktop or on a mobile device.

Boost SEO

AMP might not be an official ranking factor but site speed can significantly impact your ranking in the SERPS. Implementing AMP technology to your site can improve your rankings while delivering great user experience.

How to start

It’s not too late to get started with AMP technology. Here are the first steps that you can follow:

  • Review your site’s current load time, you could use GTMetrics or some online tools that are similar
  • Set up AMP (you can install the AMP plugin if you’re a WordPress user)
  • Validate the pages that you want to involve
  • Look at the content that you want to include if you need to make any changes
  • Start measuring the success of your posts
  • Keep reviewing the content performance and the load time

It’s quite easy to start applying AMP to your website to improve the speed of your pages. Your visitors will appreciate a faster load time and you will start reaping the benefits of it.

Content marketing, UX, and web design have never been more interlinked and it’s a great opportunity to make the most of them in 2020.

Cole McKeon is President at Revealize Inc.

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