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Five strategies to promote your business using LinkedIn Stories

December 31, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

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

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

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

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

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

What are LinkedIn Stories?

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

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

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

LinkedIn Stories example

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

stat on Instagram stories

Source: Later.com

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

So, what meaning does this hold for businesses?

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

Benefits of LinkedIn Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five strategies to promote your business through LinkedIn Stories

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

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

1. Share real-time activities

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

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

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

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

2. Share customer testimonial stories

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

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

3. Share business tips and updates

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

4. Share trending news or announcements

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

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

5. Host corporate Q&As

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

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

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

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

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

Do spend time building a strategy

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

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

Don’t spend time behind perfecting every story

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

Do relate to followers

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

Don’t be too casual

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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Dungeons, Dragons, and Diversity

December 31, 2020 No Comments

Dungeons & Dragons has spent the past few months pushing a new era of diversity and inclusions, but it’s still got a lot of work to do.
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Social media analytics 101: The data that matters most

December 31, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Marketing decisions should be backed by data about consumers, their behavior, and conversions.
  • Marketing and namely social media analytics provide numerous categories to analyze, so it is easy to get lost.
  • In the article, Aleh Barysevich defines major points for a social media marketer to analyze strategy success or failure.
  • Important data points for analysis: profiles, target audience, competitors, and web traffic from social media.
  • Social listening data provide even more data about the target audience.

Knowledge is power — this saying is even more relevant in our age of information. Anyone who works in marketing holds this belief to some extent. In the ideal world, every marketing decision you take is supported by knowledge, that is, the data you have about consumers, their behavior, and so on.

Of course, as marketers, we don’t always have access to this knowledge. Some of us are luckier than others, and I’d say that social media marketers are the luckiest: they probably get the most data on their customers, their own performance, and marketing possibilities. However, there’s a downside. Social media analytics is such a vast area that it’s incredibly easy to get lost.

Social networks provide you with a thousand different categories to choose from when it comes to analyzing your successes and failures. But your own social media stats are only a part of the story: your competitors and most importantly your clients are also on social media and it would be foolish to ignore all the information they can give you.

Thus, we end up in a situation when you have to prepare a monthly (quarterly/yearly/campaign) report but you are not quite sure what data you should highlight. That’s why this article exists!

We will go through the most important data points for four categories, which you should consider with social media analytics: your profiles, your target audience, your competitors, and the web traffic you get from social media. Let’s begin with the most obvious one: your own page.

Social media analytics: Your social media profiles

In most cases, your own pages and posts are the first thing you are going to track.

For starters, these insights are built in the functionality of social media platforms so you have them right at hand. Secondly, these insights lead to immediate action: since you manage your pages and posts, you can introduce changes to your social media strategy as soon as you notice that something is working (or isn’t working).

Facebook offers more than 150 data points, and the rest of the social networks are not far behind. How do you choose which metrics to track?

Well, every monitoring activity you do should depend on your goals. Are you trying to grow your audience? Track followers and likes. Are you doubling down on video content in order to raise conversions? Check watch time. At the same time, there are some metrics that are considered essential to monitor for any social media manager. They will give you a general understanding of how successful your social media strategy is. What are they?

1. Number of followers (subscribers, likes)

As I mentioned above, the number of followers is the telltale sign of how fast your audience is growing. Every time someone follows you it means that they want to keep an eye on your long-term. But the number of followers is not the only sign of the size of your audience.

Some platforms have several metrics to evaluate the size of your audience, for instance, Likes and Followers on Facebook. Likes, besides expressing the desire to follow your updates consistently, also show the support for your brand. Keep these differences between followers, subscribers, likes, supporters, etc. in mind when you are doing social media analytics: even though they all represent the magnitude of your audience, they can mean different things.

Typically, this metric is available right on your profile. If you want to see how it changed over time, check your Insights or Analytics.

2. Reach

Another important metric to help you evaluate the size of your audience is reach, which is conceptually close to impressions or views. Reach shows how many people were reached by your posts, and views and impressions show how many times the posts were seen, thus, the number of impressions will always be higher than reach.

If the number of followers/subscribers shows how many people want to stay up to date with your news, i.e. your loyal audience so to say,  reach shows your potential audience, i.e. how many people could be interested in your brand. Since most social media algorithms work in such a way that users generally see the content they might potentially like, social media almost eliminates the possibility of reaching a completely wrong audience.

Reach and impressions are usually represented in two ways: you can see the overall reach of your content for a certain time period, and reach for each of the posts. This may differ from platform to platform, but all the major ones: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn allow you to check stats for individual posts as well for the profile in general.

3. Engagement

Engagement is represented by several metrics, most commonly, reactions (likes), comments, and shares. They all are indicative of different grades of approval from your audience.

Reactions show that people agree with your post, comments indicate the desire to start a conversation, and shares show that your post was so good that people want others to see that as well.

One more metric which you’ll see when checking your engagement stats are clicks, that is, how many people clicked on the links you shared. This is the metric that’s more relevant to traffic so we will discuss it in the respective part of the article.

If you need an outline of the most important metrics to follow, check out this template I designed to track your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram stats. The different tabs are necessary to track your metrics in relation to some basis: initial numbers or the average number. Download it, add metrics that are important for you, and start tracking your social media performance!

Social media analytics: Your target audience

Many social media managers stop at tracking their profiles’ stats, but it’s only one part of the social media analytics. The other big part of social media analytics is analyzing social listening data. If your number of followers, engagement, and reach say more about your social media strategy, social listening data is what you analyze to find out more about your target audience.

Admittedly, tracking social listening data is a bit less accessible than tracking your own metrics. This process requires a social listening tool: however, there are a lot of social listening tools for different needs and budgets.

Depending on the social listening tools, you’ll get a lot of insights including demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. Some social listening insights are directly tied to major business KPIs. I’ve decided to highlight the main points you need to cover.

1. Number of mentions and reach

Social listening is the process of gathering mentions of your keywords online. Those keywords may be different: traditionally brands monitor their brand names, names of their products, campaigns, their industry, and so on.

The first metric to pay attention to is the number of mentions. This is pretty straightforward —this stat shows how many times your keyword was mentioned in the selected time period. Depending on what you’re tracking, this metric can show you brand awareness, the popularity of certain products, or your target audience’s demands.

Another metric that is vital to evaluating your brand awareness is reach. In social listening, reach shows how many people saw your brand mentioned on social media. The higher the number of mentions is, the higher the reach is.

However, there’s one caveat. If your brand gets mentioned once by a popular social media user, you’ll reach more people than if it’s mentioned 10 times by someone with 20 followers. That’s why reach doesn’t always correlate with the number of mentions.

2. Demographics: Gender, location, language

Social listening tools don’t just collect and count the mentions of your keywords, they are able to tell you who the people who use these keywords are. For example, you can find out that your brand is popular among Australian men, or that in Texas it’s much more popular among the Spanish-speaking population than among English-speaking people.

All these insights can lead you to game-changing marketing decisions so don’t ignore them.

social media analytics 101 - demographics

3. Sentiment

Most social listening tools are able to analyze the sentiment of the mentions and show you the overall sentiment around your brand, products, CEO, etc. Moreover, you can see the sentiment change over time and identify potential crises right away.

social media analytics 101 - sentiment analysis

As soon as you see that there is a sudden surge in negative mentions, you can pinpoint the reason behind this surge and nip the crisis in the bud.

4. Influencers

When we talked about reach, I mentioned that popular accounts have more weight when it comes to brand awareness. That’s why it’s important to keep track of them as well!

Most social listening tools are able to recognize influential accounts that are talking about your keywords. They even rank them according to how much reach they can bring you. By identifying these accounts for each major social media network, you’re able to enrich your influencer marketing strategy.

Social listening tools allow you to skip the tedious process of designing a report since most of them already offer different types of reports to export and share with your colleagues. The tool I’m using offers three types of reports: the general report of your monitoring topic, comparison of several topics, and influencers. Each report is fully customizable, so you can choose to highlight the metrics you need and discard those that you don’t need.

Social media analytics: Competitors

Competitor analysis is a wide topic that includes a lot of aspects: business strategy, products, hiring strategy, marketing, SEO, advertising, and so on. Social media is just a part of this topic, but it doesn’t make it any less important.

Of course, you won’t be able to get as detailed information on your competitors as you have for your own social media profiles, but there are still ways to analyze their social media strategy. First of all, track their stats that are available to you: number of followers and likes. You can also write down the engagement (reactions, comments, and shares) for their posts to count average engagement — that is, of course if they don’t post too often.

Secondly, there are other ways to benchmark your own pages against theirs. For example, Facebook allows you to select several competitors and you will get their monthly growth stats in your Insights. Moreover, some social media tools let you analyze pages simply by putting in their @ — you can use them to get the basic data of your competitors’ pages, see how fast they are growing, how often they post, and so on.

As for their target audience, this is even easier. All you need to do is create a monitoring topic for their brand just like you did for yours and then compare the two (or more) topics — that way you’ll see the difference in your brand awareness levels, what parts of the market you cover vs them and more.

As you can see, you are covering the same points for your competitors as you did for your own brand. The insights you get from competitor analysis on social media may inspire you to change and improve your social media strategy.

Social media analytics: Traffic to websites

Social media platforms are giving brands more and more ways to sell their products right on the platforms. However, most companies are still defining conversion on social media as somebody clicking the link in their post and purchasing a product or service. That’s why monitoring your social media traffic is extremely important. It’s also usually the most convincing argument for extending your budget/hiring new team members when talking to your boss.

To track social media traffic you need to gather data related to social media analytics AND website analytics.

1. Traffic from your pages (link clicks)

Remember I mentioned link clicks when we talked about engagement? Now is their time to shine.

Most social media platforms provide you with overall link clicks for the chosen period of time. Some platforms, for example, LinkedIn, even show you link clicks for each post. This is extremely useful since you can immediately see what call to action works better, what design encourages more people to click, and so on.

2. Traffic from social media

Google Analytics also shows you all the traffic you get from social media pages: this includes your posts, links in your bio, buttons on your profiles that take users to your website, and links to your website shared by other people.

To check this stat, go to Google Analytics – Sources – Social media. Here you can see which social media networks bring you traffic, where this traffic is landing, how much of the traffic leads to conversion, etc.

Closing note

And that’s it! The four pillars of social media analytics covered in one guide. Logically, nobody expects you to present all this data in your monthly reports — at least, most clients don’t. But, you need to keep an eye on these four areas to have a good understanding of your social media strategy, see what’s working and what doesn’t, and perfect it along the way.

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.

The post Social media analytics 101: The data that matters most appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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VMware files suit against former exec for moving to rival company

December 31, 2020 No Comments

Earlier this month, when Nutanix announced it was hiring former VMware COO Rajiv Ramaswami as CEO, it looked like a good match. What’s more, it pulled a key player from a market rival. Well, it seems VMware took exception to losing the executive, and filed a lawsuit against him yesterday for breach of contract.

The company is claiming that Ramaswami had inside knowledge of the key plans of his former company and that he should have told them that he was interviewing for a job at a rival organization.

Rajiv Ramaswami failed to honor his fiduciary and contractual obligations to VMware. For at least two months before resigning from the company, at the same time he was working with senior leadership to shape VMware’s key strategic vision and direction, Mr. Ramaswami also was secretly meeting with at least the CEO, CFO, and apparently the entire Board of Directors of Nutanix, Inc. to become Nutanix’s Chief Executive Officer. He joined Nutanix as its CEO only two days after leaving VMware,” the company wrote in a statement.

As you can imagine, Nutanix didn’t agree, countering in a statement of its own that, “VMware’s lawsuit seeks to make interviewing for a new job wrongful. We view VMware’s misguided action as a response to losing a deeply valued and respected member of its leadership team. Mr. Ramaswami and Nutanix have gone above and beyond to be proactive and cooperative with VMware throughout the transition.”

At the time of the hiring, analyst Holger Mueller from Constellation Research noted that the two companies were primary competitors and hiring Ramawami was was a big win for Nutanix. “So hiring Ramaswami brings both an expert for multicloud to the Nutanix helm, as well as weakening a key competitor from a talent perspective,” he told me earlier this month.

Mueller doesn’t see much chance of the suit succeeding. “It’s been a long time since the last lawsuit happened in Silicon Valley [involving] a tech exec jumping ship. Being an ’employment at will’ state, these suits are typically unsuccessful,” he told me this morning.

He added, “The interesting part of the VMware v. Nutanix lawsuit is, does a high-ranking executive interviewing with a competitor equal a break of confidentiality by itself, or does material information have to be breached to reach the point. Traditionally the right to (confidentially) interview has been protected by the courts,” he said.

It’s unclear what the end game would be in this type of legal action, but it does complicate matters for Nutanix as it transitions to a new chief executive. Ramaswami took over from co-founder Dheeraj Pandey, who announced plans to leave the post last summer.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


CommonGround raises $19M to rethink online communication

December 30, 2020 No Comments

CommonGround, a startup developing technology for what its founders describe as “4D collaboration,” is announcing that it has raised $ 19 million in funding.

This isn’t the first time Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz have launched a startup together — they also founded video networking company BigBand Networks, which won two technology-related Emmy Awards, went public in 2007 and was acquired by Arris Group in 2011. Before that, they worked together at digital compression company Optibase, which Oz co-founded and where Bassan-Eskenazi served as COO.

Although CommonGround is still in stealth mode and doesn’t plan to fully unveil its first product until next year, Bassan-Eskenazi and Oz outlined their vision for me. They acknowledged that video conferencing has improved significantly, but said it still can’t match face-to-face communication.

“Some things you just cannot achieve through a flat video-conferencing-type solution,” Bassan-Eskenazi said. “Those got better over the years, but they never managed to achieve that thing where you walk into a bar … and there’s a group of people talking and you know immediately who is a little taken aback, who is excited, who is kind of ‘eh.’”

CommonGround founders Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz

CommonGround founders Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz. Image Credits: CommonGround

That, essentially, is what Bassan-Eskenazi, Oz and their team are trying to build — online collaboration software that more fully captures the nuances of in-person communication, and actually improves on face-to-face conversations in some ways (hence the 4D moniker). Asked whether this involves combining video conferencing with other collaboration tools, Oz replied, “Think of it as beyond video,” using technology like computer vision and graphics.

Bassan-Eskenazi added that they’ve been working on CommonGround for more than year, so this isn’t just a response to our current stay-at-home environment. And the opportunity should still be massive as offices reopen next year.

“When we started this, it was a problem we thought some of the workforce would understand,” he said. “Now my mother understands it, because it’s how she reads to the grandkids.”

As for the funding, the round was led by Matrix Partners, with participation from Grove Ventures and StageOne Ventures.

“Amir and Ran have a bold vision to reinvent communications,” said Matrix General Partner Patrick Malatack in a statement. “Their technical expertise, combined with a history of successful exits, made for an easy investment decision.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


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

December 30, 2020 No Comments

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

December 29, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major impact from Google BERT update

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

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

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

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

Source: Google

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

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

Developing SEO-friendly content for improved Google

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

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

Core understanding of search intent

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

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

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

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

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

Term frequency-inverse document frequency

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

TF-IDF is calculated by multiplying the following metrics:

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

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

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

Sentiment importance

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

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

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

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

Salience and category

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

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

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

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

Five tools that can help you develop SEO-friendly content

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

1. Frase

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

Fraser - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

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

2. Writer

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

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

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

3. SurferSEO

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

Surfer - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

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

4. Alli AI

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

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

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

5. Can I Rank?

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

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

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

Bottom line

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

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

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

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

Search Engine Watch


AI chipmaker Graphcore raises $222M at a $2.77B valuation and puts an IPO in its sights

December 29, 2020 No Comments

Applications based on artificial intelligence — whether they are systems running autonomous services, platforms being used in drug development or to predict the spread of a virus, traffic management for 5G networks, or something else altogether — require an unprecedented amount of computing power to run. And today, one of the big names in the world of designing and building processors fit for the task has closed a major round of funding as it takes its business to the next level.

Graphcore, the Bristol, UK-based AI chipmaker, has raised $ 222 million, a Series E that CEO and co-founder Nigel Toon said in an interview will be used for a couple of key purposes.

First, Graphcore will use the money to continue expanding its technology, based around an architecture it calls “IPU” (Intelligence Processing Unit), which competes against chips from the likes of Nvidia and Intel also optimized for AI applications. And second, Graphcore will use the funding to shore up its finances ahead of a possible public listing.

The funding, Toon said, gives Graphcore $ 440 million in cash on the balance sheet and a post-money, $ 2.77 billion valuation to start 2021.

“We’re in a strong position to double down and grow fast and take advantage of the opportunity in front of us,” he added. He said it could be “premature” to describe this Series E as a “pre-IPO” round, “we have enough cash and this puts us in a position to take that next step,” he added. The company has in recent weeks been rumored to be eyeing up a listing not in the UK but on Nasdaq in the US.

This latest round of funding is coming from a roster of financial investors. Led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, it also includes participation from Fidelity International and Schroders, as well as previous investors Baillie Gifford and Draper Esprit. Graphcore has now raised some $ 710 million to date.

This Series E gives Graphcore a definite step up in its valuation — the company last raised money back in February of this year, a $ 150 million extension to its Series D that valued the company at $ 1.95 billion — but all the same, it closes off what Toon described as a “challenging” year for the company (and indeed, the world at large). 

“I view this year as a speed bump,” he said. “It has been challenging and we’ve realigned to speed things up.”

As it has been for many companies, the year came in different parts.

On one side, Graphcore’s hardware and software product development continued apace with ever-faster processors in ever-smaller packages. In July, Graphcore launched the second generation of its flagship chip, the GC200, and a new IPU Machine that runs on it, the M2000, which the company described at the time as the first AI computer to achieve a petaflop of processing power “in the size of a pizza box.”

But on the other side, the building and launch of those products was largely done with a remote workforce, with employees sent to work from home to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus that has gripped the world and rewritten how much of it operates.

Indeed, the industry at large, and how companies are spending and investing during a period of uncertainty, has also likely shifted. Some companies like Amazon, Apple and Google are all getting more serious about their own chipmaking efforts. Others are caught up in a wave of consolidation: witness Nvidia’s efforts to acquire ARM in a $ 40 billion deal.  

All of these spell challenges for an upstart like Graphcore. Toon said Graphcore doesn’t have any plans to make acquisitions: its strategy is based around organic growth.

And, no great surprises here, he is not excited about Nvidia’s acquisition of ARM: “If we’re not careful, things will consolidate too much and that could kill off innovation,” he said. “We have made our position clear to the UK government. We don’t think the Nvidia ARM deal is a good thing.” (Somewhat ironic, considering he and Graphcore co-founder Simon Knowles sold a previous startup to none other than Nvidia.)

He also declined to talk about new customers for Graphcore, but he said that there has been interest from financial services companies, and some from the world of healthcare, automotive and internet companies, “large hyperscalers” in his words, that require the kind of technology that Graphcore is building either to run their systems, or to complement processors that they are potentially also building themselves. (Strategic backers of the company include the likes of Microsoft, BMW, Bosch and Dell.)

Graphcore said that the company is shipping its newest products “in production volume” to customers, and Toon said that a couple of big names are likely to be announced in the coming year, one that some believe might actually be calmer overall for the chip industry compared to 2020.

And it’s that pull of technology, and specifically the processing demands of the next generation of computing, that investors believe will continue to drive business to Graphcore as the dust settles on this year.

“The market for purpose-built AI processors is expected to be significant in the coming years because of computing megatrends like cloud technology and 5G and increased AI adoption, and we believe Graphcore is poised to be a leader in this space,” said Olivia Steedman, senior managing director, Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP) at Ontario Teachers’. “TIP focuses on investing in tech-enabled businesses like Graphcore that are at the forefront of innovation in their sector. We are excited to partner with Nigel and the strong management team to support the company’s continued growth and product development.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Search engine saturation: The ever evolving SERP and how brands are responding

December 28, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The evolution of search results in addition to this crazy pandemic has changed search results more than ever. Including new features to drill down by brand, see news, and reviews.
  • Brands who appear in both paid and organic listings were at the lowest level in 11 years with just 8% of brands appearing in both categories.
  • Google local map pack results are appearing in 47% of search results. The highest since this study has been conducted in four years.

Yes, we know, this year is unlike any other. The world is always changing around us, but this year the pace of change is faster and more jarring than ever. The search engine marketing world has had massive changes. This made my annual look at search engine results very interesting. Starting back in 2010 I started trying to understand how brands handled bidding on paid search when they were also in organic search. Recently, this has also included how often the local map pack + shopping results were included. At a macro level, this year caused massive changes – for example, travel is basically shut down, curbside is now a word that not only we are all familiar with but expect brands to deliver, and ecommerce has experienced explosive growth.

Search engine saturation at the lowest level in 11 years

So how did these macro changes impact the number of brands who appeared in both paid and organic search? Simply put it crashed. Overall, it was down by 60% year over year and 78% from 2018. This was mostly driven by a reduction in paid search results overall. Travel alone was down 78% since 2019. Travel down is very logical and makes sense given the reduction in both consumer and business travel. Travel brands are choosing to not make the investment in paid traffic at this point given the low likelihood of conversion. 

percentage of brands appearing in paid and organic search

What is surprising was the reduction in the retail overlap. Retail volume hasn’t been reduced, instead, it’s simply shifted to a more digitally forward DTC model. Retail search overlap is down 77% year over year to just 3%. That means that just 3% of the page one listings had the same brand in both organic listings and either Paid Search or Shopping listings. This stat is really incredible. We had retail peaking at 33% of brands having listings in both areas just a few years ago. So why the decrease? I think you can directly attribute this to two key factors:

1. The rise of DTC brands

This year has seen the massive growth of brands that are direct to consumers. Take a look at the screenshot below. The search results seen without scrolling are all ads and the top two are DTC brands (Bombas and Mack Weldon). These brands increase the number of competitors to “traditional brands” who would have traditionally competed for these listings. This makes it more difficult to have your listing in both paid and organic search.

2. Google Shopping moving from paid to free

This democratizes smaller brands’ ability to appear in shopping results. The move from paid to free has not only removed any financial barrier allowing more brands to enter. It also lets those brands who were only submitting just portions of their product feed to submitting the entire feed. 

Search Engine Saturation - Google Shopping moves from paid to free

Shopping and local map listings appear on 40% of search results

Long gone are the days of 10 blue links. Now search results are filled with an assortment of various results from the local map pack, shopping results, news, images, “brand refinement,” and reviews to name a few. These results complicate things for brands. Understanding how all these pieces fit together and impact the customer journey and customer experience isn’t easy. 

SERPs now show major data that satisfies the search query Search results for ecommerce related queries

For the purposes of this article let’s just focus on how often these various types of listings appear. Starting with Shopping listings. The frequency of times a shopping listing is included in a search result has been fairly consistent at around 40%. One theory would be change from paid to free listings would decrease the number of shopping ads Google would show to maximize revenue. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, the results are consistent with Google’s overall strategy to continue to provide consumer choice and fight against Amazon as the first source for retail searches.

Stats on retail search

It’s a different story for the local map pack. This has continued to grow year on year. This year it was the highest since I started tracking this 4 years ago at 47%. This finding was fascinating given the economic environment we are in. However, Google continues to want to provide choices to consumers and support local businesses. There have been a lot of updates to the Google My Business product over the past few years and those investments are showing up by being included in more search results.

Search engine saturation - Stats on industries

Maximize your SERP for your customers

There are three things we recommend our clients think about when trying to determine how to best optimize their search engine strategy.

1. Understand the customer experience

You should always walk through the experience that your customers would be having. Understand what they might be seeing and experiencing. Are landing pages and ad copy aligned? Is another brand providing a better-optimized schema that provides direct answers for a key consumer query? You need to understand what they are experiencing to be able to create a strong search engine marketing strategy.

2. Understand your KPIs

Not everyone can afford $ 60 for a car insurance paid search click. Understanding what you can afford and what your key business drivers are is key. Your strategy and ability to be aggressive might be different for different targets, keywords, etc… This is a great place to understand your various customers, some are more valuable than others and can impact your bid modifiers. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is the key to this important pillar.

3. Always be testing

As you can see from these results things have changed a lot over the years and will continue to do so. Personalization will continue to drive these results based on the specific individual making it even harder to understand what’s driving impact. The key is to accept change and build a plan that enables testing and optimization. This will help keep your continue fresh on your site, the big strategy agile, and your technical architecture held accountable for SEO results. These elements will help you stay ahead of the competition who might be distracted by other elements or relying on previous success.

Jason Tabeling is CEO at AirTank. He can be found on Twitter @jtabeling.

The post Search engine saturation: The ever evolving SERP and how brands are responding appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Tive nabs $12M Series A to track shipment conditions in real time

December 28, 2020 No Comments

Tive, a Boston-based startup, is building a hardware and software platform to help track the conditions of a shipment like say food or medicine to make sure it is stored under the proper conditions as it moves from farm or factory to market. Today, the company announced a $ 12 million Series A.

RRE Ventures led the round with help from new investor Two Sigma Ventures and existing investors NextView Ventures, Hyperplane Ventures, One Way Ventures, Fathom Ventures and other unnamed individuals. The company has now raised close to $ 17 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Tive helps companies all over the world track their shipments in a very specific way,” company co-founder and CEO Krenar Komoni told me. Using a tracking device the company created, customers can press a button, place the tracker on a palette or in a container, and it begins transmitting shipment data like temperature, shock, light exposure, humidity and location data in real time to ensure that the shipment is moving safely to market under proper conditions.

He said that they are the first company to create single-use 5G trackers, meaning the shipping company doesn’t have to worry about managing, maintaining, recharging or returning them (although they encourage that by giving a discount for future orders on returned items).

Tive tracker over computer displaying tracking data software.

Tive hardware tracker and data tracking software. Image Credit: Tive

The approach seems to be working. Komoni reports that revenue has grown 570% in 2020 as the product-market fit has become more acute with digitization hitting the supply chain in a big way. He says that in particular customers and investors like the company’s full-stack approach.

“What’s interesting […] and why we are resonating with customers and also why investors like it, is because we’re providing the full stack, meaning the hardware, the software, the platform and the APIs to major transportation management systems,” Komoni explained.

The company has 22 employees and expects to double that number in 2021. As he grows the company, Komoni says that as an immigrant founder, he’s particularly sensitive to diversity and inclusion.

“I’m an immigrant myself. I grew up in Kosovo, came to the U.S. when I was 17 years old, went to high school here in Vermont. I’m a U.S. citizen, but part of who I am is being open to different cultures and different nationalities. It’s just part of my nature,” he says.

The company was founded in 2015 and its facilities are in Boston. It has continued shipping devices throughout the pandemic, and that has meant figuring out how to operate in a safe way with some employees in the building. He expects the company will have more employees operating out of the office as we move past the pandemic. He also has an engineering operation in Kosovo.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


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