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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Extra Crunch roundup: Edtech VC survey, 5 founder mistakes, fintech liquidity, more

January 30, 2021 No Comments

Edtech is so widespread, we already need more consumer-friendly nomenclature to describe the products, services and tools it encompasses.

I know someone who reads stories to their grandchildren on two continents via Zoom each weekend. Is that “edtech?”

Similarly, many Netflix subscribers sought out online chess instructors after watching “The Queen’s Gambit,” but I doubt if they all ran searches for “remote learning” first.

Edtech needs to reach beyond underfunded public school systems to become more sustainable, which is why more investors and founders are focusing on lifelong learning.

Besides serving traditional students with field trips and art classes, a maturing sector is now branching out to offer software tutors, cooking classes and singing lessons.

For our latest investor survey, Natasha Mascarenhas polled 13 edtech VCs to learn more about how “employer-led up-skilling and a renewed interest in self-improvement” is expanding the sector’s TAM.

Here’s who she spoke to:

  • Deborah Quazzo, managing partner, GSV Ventures
  • Ashley Bittner, founding partner, Firework Ventures (a future of work fund with portfolio companies LearnIn and TransfrVR)
  • Jomayra Herrera, principal, Cowboy Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies Hone and Guild Education)
  • John Danner, managing partner, Dunce Capital (an edtech and future of work fund with portfolio companies Lambda School and Outschool)
  • Mercedes Bent and Bradley Twohig, partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners (a multistage generalist fund with investments including Forage, Clever and Outschool)
  • Ian Chiu, managing director, Owl Ventures (a large edtech-focused fund backing highly valued companies including Byju’s, Newsela and Masterclass)
  • Jan Lynn-Matern, founder and partner, Emerge Education (a leading edtech seed fund in Europe with portfolio companies like Aula, Unibuddy and BibliU)
  • Benoit Wirz, partner, Brighteye Ventures (an active edtech-focused venture capital fund in Europe that backs YouSchool, Lightneer and Aula)
  • Charles Birnbaum, partner, Bessemer Venture Partners (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including Guild Education and Brightwheel)
  • Daniel Pianko, co-founder and managing director, University Ventures (a higher ed and future of work fund that is backing Imbellus and Admithub)
  • Rebecca Kaden, managing partner, Union Square Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including TopHat, Quizlet, Duolingo)
  • Andreata Muforo, partner, TLCom Capital (a generalist fund backing uLesson)

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In other news: Extra Crunch Live, a series of interviews with leading investors and entrepreneurs, returns next month with a full slate of guests. This year, we’re adding a new feature: Our guests will analyze pitch decks submitted by members of the audience to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

If you’d like an expert eye on your deck, please sign up for Extra Crunch and join the conversation.

Thanks very much for reading! I hope you have a fantastic weekend — we’ve all earned it.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

13 investors say lifelong learning is taking edtech mainstream

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Rising African venture investment powers fintech, clean tech bets in 2020

After falling into yesterday’s wild news cycle, Alex Wilhelm returned to The Exchange this morning with a close look at venture capital activity across Africa in 2020.

“Comparing aggregate 2020 figures to 2019 results, it appears that last year was a somewhat robust year for African startups, albeit one with fewer large rounds,” he found.

For more context, he interviewed Dario Giuliani, the director of research firm Briter Bridges, which focuses on emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Talent and capital are shifting cybersecurity investors’ focus away from Silicon Valley

A road sign that says "Leaving California."

Image Credits: MCCAIG (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

New cybersecurity ecosystems are popping up in different parts of the world.

Some of of that growth has been fueled by an exodus from the Bay Area, but many early-stage security startups already have deep roots in East Coast cities like Boston and New York.

In the United Kingdom and Europe, government innovation programs have helped entrepreneurs close higher numbers of Series A and B rounds.

Investor interest and expertise is migrating out of Silicon Valley: This post will help you understand where it’s going.

Will Apple’s spectacular iPhone 12 sales figures boost the smartphone industry in 2021?

On Wednesday, 20 January, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Image Credits: NurPhoto (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Today’s smartphones are unfathomably feature-rich and durable, so it’s logical that sales have slowed.

A phone purchased 18 months ago is probably “good enough” for many consumers, especially in times of economic uncertainty.

Then again, of the record $ 111.4 billion in revenue Apple earned last quarter, $ 65.68 billion came from phone sales, largely driven by the release of the iPhone 12.

Even though “Apple’s success this quarter was kind of a perfect storm,” writes Hardware Editor Brian Heater, “it’s safe to project a rebound for the industry at large in 2021.”

The 5 biggest mistakes I made as a first-time startup founder

Boy Standing with Dropped Ice Cream Cone

Image Credits: Randy Faris (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Finmark co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid wrote a post for Extra Crunch that candidly describes the traps he laid for himself that made him a less-effective entrepreneur.

As someone who’s worked closely with founders at several startups, each of the points he raised resonated deeply with me.

In my experience, many founders have a hard time delegating, which can quickly create cultural and operational problems. Rami’s experience bears this out:

“I became a human GPS: People could follow my directions, but they struggled to find the way themselves. Independent thinking suffered.”

Dear Sophie: How can I sponsor my mom and stepdad for green cards?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie:

I just got my U.S. citizenship! My husband and I want to bring my mom and her husband to the U.S. to help us take care of our preschooler and toddler.

My biological dad passed away several years ago when I was an adult and my mom has since remarried.

Can they get green cards?

— Appreciative in Aptos

Check out the amazing speakers joining us on Extra Crunch Live in February

Extra Crunch Live February Schedule: February 3 Gaurav Gupta Lightspeed Venture Partners Raj Dutt Grafana Labs February 10 Aydin Senkut Felicis Kevin Busque Guideline February 17 Steve Loughlin Accel Jason Boehmig Ironclad February 24 Matt Harris Bain Capital Isaac Oates Justworks

Next month, Extra Crunch Live returns with a lineup of guests who are extremely well-qualified to discuss early-stage startups.

Each Wednesday at noon PPST/3 p.m. EST, join a conversation with founders and the investors who backed their companies:

February 3:

Gaurav Gupta (Lightspeed Venture Partners) + Raj Dutt (Grafana Labs)

February 10:

Aydin Senkut (Felicis Ventures) + Kevin Busque (Guideline)

February 17:

Steve Loughlin (Accel) + Jason Boehmig (Ironclad)

February 24:

Matt Harris (Bain Capital) + Isaac Oates (Justworks)

Also, we’re adding a new feature to Extra Crunch Live — our guests will offer advice and feedback on pitch decks submitted by Extra Crunch members in the audience!

10 VCs say interactivity, regulation and independent creators will reshape digital media in 2021

Photo of a young woman watching TV in the bedroom of her apartment; eating sushi and enjoying her night at home alone.

Image Credits: Aleksandar Nakic (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Since the pandemic disrupted the social rhythms of work and school, many of us have compensated by changing our relationship to digital media.

For instance, I purchased a new sofa and thicker living room curtains several months ago when I realized we have no idea when movie theaters will reopen.

Last year, podcast sponsors spent almost $ 800 million to reach listeners, but ad revenue is estimated to surpass $ 1 billion this year. Clearly, I’m not the only person who used a discount code to buy a new product in 2020.

At this point, I can scarcely keep track of the multiple streaming platforms I’m subscribed to, but a new voice-activated remote control that comes with my basic cable plan makes it easier to browse my options.

Media reporter Anthony Ha spoke to10 VCs who invest in media startups to learn more about where they see digital media heading in the months ahead. For starters, how much longer can we expect traditional advertising models to persist?

And in a world with hundreds of channels, how are creators supposed to compete for our attention? What sort of discovery tools can we expect to help us navigate between a police procedural set in a Scandinavian village and a 90s sitcom reboot?

Here’s who Anthony interviewed:

  • Daniel Gulati, founding partner, Forecast Fund
  • Alex Gurevich, managing director, Javelin Venture Partners
  • Matthew Hartman, partner, Betaworks Ventures
  • Jerry Lu, senior associate, Maveron
  • Jana Messerschmidt, partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners
  • Michael Palank, general partner, MaC Venture Capital (with additional commentary from MaC’s Marlon Nichols)
  • Pär-Jörgen Pärson, general partner, Northzone
  • M.G. Siegler, general partner, GV
  • Laurel Touby, managing director, Supernode Ventures
  • Hans Tung, managing partner, GGV Capital

Normally, we list each investor’s responses separately, but for this survey, we grouped their responses by question. Some readers say they use our surveys to study up on an individual VC before pitching them, so let us know which format you prefer.

Does a $ 27 billion or $ 29 billion valuation make sense for Databricks?

Data analytics platform Databricks is reportedly raising new capital that could value the company between $ 27 billion and $ 29 billion.

By the end of Q3 2020, Databricks had surpassed a $ 350 million run rate — a $ 150 million YoY increase, reports Alex Wilhelm.

At the time, he described the company as “an obvious IPO candidate” with “broad private-market options.”

Which begs the question: “Can we come up with a set of numbers that help make sense of Databricks at $ 27 billion?”

End-to-end operators are the next generation of consumer business

Tourist route to the top of the mountain. Rope bridge in the clouds. Crimea. Ai-Petri

Image Credits: Natalia Timchenko (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Rapid shifts in the way we buy goods and services disrupted old-school marketplaces like local newspapers and the Yellow Pages.

Today, I can use my phone to summon a plumber, a week’s worth of groceries or a ride to a doctor’s office.

End-to-end operators like Netflix, Peloton and Lemonade take a lot of time and energy to reach scale, but “the additional capital required is often outweighed by the value captured from owning the entire experience.”

Unpacking Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC deals for Latch and Sunlight Financial

On January 25, Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya tweeted that he was making two blank-check deals.

Enterprise SaaS company Latch makes keyless entry systems; Sunlight Financial helps consumers finance residential solar power installations.

“There are nearly 300 SPACs in the market today looking for deals,” noted Alex Wilhelm, who unpacked both transactions.

“There’s no escaping SPACs for a bit, so if you are tired of watching blind pools rip private companies into the public markets, you are not going to have a very good next few months.”

Fintechs could see $ 100 billion of liquidity in 2021

Long exposure spillway shines water and light. Copy space.

Image Credits: dan tarradellas (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

On Monday, we published the Matrix Fintech Index, a three-part study that weighs liquidity, public markets and e-commerce trends to create a snapshot of an industry in perpetual flux.

For four years running, the S&P 500 and incumbent financial services companies have been outperformed by companies like Afterpay, Square and Bill.com.

In light of steady VC investment, increasing consumer adoption and a crowded IPO pipeline, “fintech represents one of the most exciting major innovation cycles of this decade.”

Drupal’s journey from dorm-room project to billion-dollar exit

Dries Buytaert, co-founder and CTO at Acquia

Image Credits: Acquia

On January 15, 2001, then-college student Dries Buytaert released Drupal 1.0.0, an open-source content-management platform. At the time, about 7% of the world’s population was online.

After raising more than $ 180 million, Buytaert exited to Vista Equity Partners for $ 1 billion in 2019.

Enterprise reporter Ron Miller interviewed Buytaert to learn more about his 18-year journey.

“His story is compelling, but it also offers lessons for startup founders who also want to build something big,” says Ron.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


The Best VPNs to Protect Yourself Online

January 30, 2021 No Comments

It won’t solve all of your privacy problems, but a virtual private network can help make you a less tempting target for hackers.
Feed: All Latest


NEW Hero Conf & SearchLove Virtual Summit

January 30, 2021 No Comments

Missed your professional development in 2020? Here’s your chance to re-connect with your favorite events! Hear sessions on Paid and Social Search, Content Creation, Programmatic, Display, AI and Machine Learning, Shopping Ads, and more.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


2021 Search marketing: The year of automation

January 29, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The search engine results page (SERP) is a battleground for user attention riddled with colorful paid and organic content including shopping ads, Quick Answers, popular products, and videos.
  • Today’s search users would rather see to believe than read.
  • Let’s explore what marketers must master in 2021 to stay ahead of the curve for search marketing.

Pull up your phone and search for any good or service, what do you see? In today’s Google and Microsoft search experiences, you will see loads of images and other visual content staring back at you. The search engine results page (SERP) is a battleground for user attention. It is riddled with colorful paid and organic content including shopping ads, Quick Answers, popular products, and videos. The traditional “blue links” are now just one mere navigational aid. Today’s search users would rather see to believe than read. Let’s explore what marketers must master in 2021 to stay ahead of the curve with search marketing:

1. The customer journey must be known

For years, search, while connected to other media channels, largely felt isolated as a “pull” marketing medium. Its purpose was clear: capture demand and connect products and services to the user’s intent.

Today, however, search excellence requires new connectivity to speak more personally to the customer at different stages of their journey. Doing this well requires leveraging first-party customer data, but also, and equally important, leveraging the platform’s view of the customer, be it Google, Facebook, or Amazon. Modern marketers must leverage first-party data, third-party data, and platform data to create greater experiences and ROI. It is pivotal that marketers get this step of the process right as the third-party cookie deteriorates in 2022, causing a new horizon in marketing. Increased focus and investment must be placed on aligning and connecting data and identities across environments, with a privacy-first mindset. To enable this infrastructure, advertisers must enlist developers to automate datastreams that fuel machine learning algorithms in near real-time. Without this investment, both the knowledge of and intelligence behind the customer’s journey is lost.

2. The machine must run

Automation is a requirement to compete in search, but there has always been a complementary relationship between human and machine. The right approach is “both/and” instead of “either/or”.

Still, modern marketers must stay current and regularly question how much to favor machines over humans and for which elements. Further, within the aspects we may turn over to automation, we have what the advertiser, agency, and platform each uniquely know about the customer on the other end of the query. As such, today’s marketers must capitalize on knowing who is better equipped to inform a particular action we take with our ad program.

For example, the advertiser does not know the three most recent websites the user has visited, but platform A does. Platform A does not know which ads the user has interacted with on platform B, but the agency does. However, the agency is unaware of the offline conversion data for the user in a digital marketing target list. Data assets held by the platforms, the agency and the advertiser need to work together in guiding the machine.

Brands should employ just a handful of the real-world search marketing capabilities that use automation based on information the advertiser wouldn’t have themselves. Here are some tips:

1. Real-time automated bidding

Leverage platform-only signals such as previous queries and device/browser combination such as an iPhone 11 running the Google app for search.

2. Automated customer segmentation

This runs the gamut from basic remarketing tags, to platform “smart” audiences, to advanced cluster models. All levels of customer segmentation should be used and layered into your search programs.

3. Dynamic Search Ads

Augmenting most successful paid search programs, this “keywordless” automation step will find newly productive query volume to complement traditional keyword campaign activity. It cannot replace traditional keyword generation but should be used to augment those efforts.

4. Responsive Search Ads

Particularly important to highly-specialized, dynamic, and nuanced businesses, automating ad copy, with distinct, feed-driven customizers is a no-brainer for advanced paid search marketers. Gone are the days of specifying quantities, price points, or geo-targeted locations in tens of thousands of ad groups. Allowing for dynamic keyword inclusion and rotating ad copy narratives is just the beginning of fully automated contextual success.

Business automation accelerates growth

Modern search is mature and as comfortable as a well-worn tee-shirt. To the consumer, it is familiar, yet with fresh subtleties. To the marketer, it is ever more necessary to understand and balance the efforts of the human and machine.

The modern search marketer must have a complete line of sight to the visual battleground of paid and organic listings, understand the customer journey at a session-based level, and guide platform automation with intelligent business inputs as we move into 2021 and beyond. The quaint days of endless negative keyword list management have given way to projects that include near real-time activation of customer segments, based on modeled first-party data and competitive intelligence.

Do you spot any search marketing trends brewing? Feel free to share your observations in the comments.

Matt Mierzejewski, SVP of Performance Marketing Lab and Search, Merkle Inc.

The post 2021 Search marketing: The year of automation appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Eight simple steps to write epic product descriptions that boost conversions

January 29, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Issues with increasing your site’s organic traffic may be attributed to low organic CTRs.
  • Creative title tags helps your site create a positive first impression.
  • Limit your meta description to under 160 characters to avoid truncation.
  • A well-optimized, keyword-rich URL can increase organic CTRs by 45%.
  • Leverage the power of rich results to steal SERP real estate from your competitors.

Product descriptions are an integral part of your sales funnel. By infusing creativity and perfect optimization, you not only can improve your marketing copy but also boost your ecommerce conversion rate. 

Since online buying doesn’t allow customers to have a tactile buying experience, ecommerce store owners have to put in extra effort to prove that their product is the right fit for the customers. 

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is they write product descriptions for the sake of describing their product features only. However, the fact is that marketers should create descriptions that help them accentuate their product pages.

Ideally, your product descriptions should represent a unique value proposition alongside offering the perfect solution to an annoying problem. 

Online sellers that don’t overlook the significance of creative product descriptions witness lower bounce rates and better ecommerce conversion rate than stores that don’t get this step right.

In this article, you’ll learn how to write epic product descriptions that boost conversions. So without any further delay, let’s get started.

What is a product description?

A product description is a marketing copy that contains information about key product features and benefits. The goal of the product description is to provide customers with information and specifics to encourage them to want to invest their money in your products and services.

As a general rule, your descriptions should provide answers to the following questions:

  • “What problem does your product solve?”
  • “What does your buyer gain from using this product?”
  • “What sets your product apart from the rest of the competition?”

Essentials of a good product description

Before we highlight the eight simple steps to writing compelling product descriptions, we’re going to have a quick look at some of the essentials you should incorporate in your descriptions to convince shoppers to reach their credit cards and make a purchase.

Keyword enrichment

Keywords keep your product descriptions visible in front of search engines. Integrating the right mix of keywords into your product copy helps Google deliver results that direct potential customers to your product pages.

Here the key is to maintain the perfect balance as too little optimization leaves you unnoticed, while too much appears as keyword stuffing.

Customer engagement

A winning product description should demonstrate how your product fills a need in the customer’s life.

A description that only highlights product features cannot engage the reader or boost ecommerce conversions. Why? Because it is focusing on generic elements only instead of providing a real-time solution to the customer’s problems. 

Highlighting specifics

Poorly-written descriptions are generally boring and unappealing. Most of the time, they contain duplicate content (that you get from your manufacturer).

The information you provide regarding product benefits and features should address potential customer’s queries (even before they’re asked).

Frequent updates

Your product pages constantly evolve based upon different factors, including page conversions, bounce rates, and the latest trends. Just ensure you keep tracking changes and adjust your product copy accordingly for the best results. 

Eight simple steps to writing epic product descriptions that boost conversions

1. Focus on your target audience

You’ll have to know your target audience before you write product descriptions for your e-commerce store. 

Trying to write a copy with a huge crowd of customers in mind will result in descriptions that are not targeted. 

Also, the tone and vocabulary you should use in descriptions solely depend on the type of audience you’re writing for. For example, if you run a toy store online, your descriptions should sound fun and humorous. Similarly, if you sell fitness pills or any other type of medicine, you should keep your tone professional.

The process starts by imagining your ideal buyer. Try to find out the best words and phrases that your target audience appreciates and uses regularly.

2. Sell an experience

The biggest ecommerce store mistake owners make is they only focus on individual product benefits and features. 

But did you know your potential customers are more interested in the perks of each feature separately? Here, the key is to highlight the advantages of each of your product features. Talk about specs that will help your buyers feel more productive and happy.

Remember, your goal as a marketer is to sell an experience and not just a product. 

3. Do not include “yeah-yeah” phrases

Writing creative product descriptions isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a creative skill that requires owners to create a copy that instantly grabs their customer’s attention. 

Sadly, the majority of online sellers write descriptions because they feel it’s a part of the entire process. Especially when they’re stuck with words, they try to incorporate filler words and phrases, such as, ‘premium-quality products’, ‘top-rated products’,  and the like.

These phrases are called the ‘yeah-yeah’ phrases in the ecommerce world. As soon as a website visitor goes through such words and phrases, they think, yeah, yeah, that’s pretty obvious. After all, nobody ranks its product quality as below-average or bad. 

To avoid this reaction, you must stick to the basics. Try to be as specific as possible and highlight technical aspects instead of just bragging about your product quality and benefits.

4. Provide specific proof

Superlatives mean nothing unless you have the proof to back them up. Make sure you have evidence to prove why your product is the best.

For instance, if you deal with electronic products, you can talk about patents, their construction, quality certifications, etc.

The idea is to give your readers the impression that there is something special about your offer. If you don’t have the references to prove that your product is a real deal, you must tone your copy down. Alternatively, you can also quote a customer testimonial to show that there are people who think your product is the best thing they have experienced so far.

5. Include sensory words

Research suggests that sensory words engage more brain processing power and help improve the ecommerce conversion rate.

What are Sensory Words?

Sensory words are descriptive. They explain how we experience the world using our five senses.

Let’s suppose you run a chocolate store online. You can use more sensory adjectives like smooth, crunchy, velvety, sweet, aromatic, and crisp to your descriptions to dazzle your readers.

Similarly, people tend to trust brands that have high-quality images included in their products. 

Words, such as ‘you’, ‘new’, ‘guaranteed’, and ‘free’ are Power words that make your descriptions sound more effective and help your customers experience your copy while reading. 

6. Use a scannable design

Instead of throwing words in front of your customers, make sure you spend time and energy in creating descriptions that look more organized and professional.

Use white spaces, headlines, and bullets to highlight each product benefit separately. The more readable your product descriptions are, the better your customers will comprehend the associated benefits.

If you sell smartphones, you’ll want to convert specs into a checklist or bullet points for an easy read. Don’t forget to use the right font to improve readability and increase conversions.

7. Split test it

No matter how professional your product descriptions look at first glance, you must always split test them for different factors.

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, enables owners to compare two different variants of the same thing to determine which performs better. 

Test your descriptions for different formats, lengths, fonts, and more. With this info at hand, you can better optimize your product pages and boost ecommerce conversions.

8. Include all the details

The goal of writing a compelling product description copy is to provide your potential customers with all the relevant details, specs, and info they might need to make a purchase.

For example, if you sell footwear or apparel online, your product page should include every possible detail, including size charts, care instructions, material info, and other details to help your customers choose the right product for themselves.

Similarly, if you sell any food items, you must highlight allergen details and ingredients to improve the user experience

Bonus tips

Write your own product descriptions

Never copy/paste descriptions you get from your manufacturer. The same manufacturer supplies products to multiple stores, and if they’re also using similar descriptions, your store will have difficulty getting its due place in SERPs. 

Also, you’ll be at higher risk of getting penalized due to duplicate content. 

It’s crucial to understand that product descriptions provide ecommerce store owners with an opportunity to show the creative side of their business. It’s your chance to prove to your potential customers that your products offer the best value for their money.

If you think writing compelling product descriptions isn’t your cup of tea, you can also hire a creative copywriter to do this job for you. 

Use online tools

Also, if hiring a copywriter isn’t an option currently, you may also leverage different tools available online. 

You can also hire someone from online academic writing services to create descriptions. 

Basic tools, such as Grammarly, Cite It In, etc will help you refine your descriptions. Also, you can use keyword research tools to determine the most appropriate keywords you can use for your descriptions. 

Optimize your descriptions for better conversions

Whether it’s your product descriptions, the About Us section on your website, or your blogs, you have to ensure that every content piece available on your website is optimized for SEO.

Again, there are different online tools available for this purpose. The idea is to find out keywords that are relevant to your product. For example, if you dropship cosmetics online, you can choose keywords like ‘MAC highlighters’, ‘Maybelline Red Lipsticks’, and more. 

Here, it is crucial to understand that the unnecessary use of keywords is going to ruin your ranking.  

Here are a few tips you must consider before you write SEO-optimized product descriptions for your e-store:

  • Include keywords in headings/subheadings
  • Do not write for search engines
  • Leverage LSI keywords
  • Optimize product images and videos
  • Avoid keyword stuffing at any cost

Use the right tone

Your tone of voice says it all. With the right tone, you can target customers who are truly interested in your product range.

As mentioned above, your tone should be in line with the type of products and services you’re selling online. Those selling life vests or coffins cannot use a casual tone. Similarly, those selling fun products, like swimming pools, fashion accessories, or costumes must stick to a tone that is lively and engaging.

All in all, your descriptions should represent the unique personality of your business. It’s also crucial to keep your brand tone in mind before you write descriptions for your business

Spell check your work

Carefully go through your descriptions to ensure there are no grammar mistakes and typos. 

Key takeaways

There you have it – Eight simple steps to write epic product descriptions that boost conversions.

The good thing about these steps is that they’re all tried and tested, meaning you can implement them right away without worrying about the results. 

Have questions or are looking to add something valuable to this list? Drop your feedback in the comments section below. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify – free Shopify theme, helping drop shippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies, and mentoring programs.

The post Eight simple steps to write epic product descriptions that boost conversions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Hong Kong startup ICW eyes supply chain diversification demand amid trade war

January 29, 2021 No Comments

For American importers, finding suppliers these days can be challenging not only due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The U.S. government’s entity list designations, human rights-related sanctions, among other trade blacklists targeting Chinese firms have also rattled U.S. supply chains.

One young company called International Compliance Workshop, or ICW, is determined to make sourcing easier for companies around the world as it completed a fresh round of funding. The Hong Kong-based startup has just raised $ 5.75 million as part of its Series A round, boosting its total funding to around $ 10 million, co-founder and CEO Garry Lam told TechCrunch.

ICW works like a matchmaker for suppliers and buyers, but unlike existing options like Alibaba’s B2B platform or international trade shows, ICW also vets suppliers over compliance, product quality, and accreditation. It gathers all that information into its growing database of over 40,000 suppliers — 80% of which are currently in China — and recommends them to customers based on individual needs.

Founded in 2016, ICW’s current client base includes some of the world’s largest retailers, including Ralph Lauren, Prenatal Retail Group, Blokker, Kmart, and a major American pharmacy chain that declined to be named.

ICW’s latest funding round was led by Infinity Ventures Partners with participation from Integrated Capital and existing investors MindWorks Capital and the Hong Kong government’s $ 2 billion Innovation and Technology Venture Fund.

Supply chain shift

In line with the ongoing shift of sourcing outside China, in part due to the U.S.-China trade war and China’s growing labor costs, ICW has seen more customers diversifying their supply chains. But the transition has limitations in the short run.

“It’s still very difficult to find suppliers of certain product categories, for example, Bluetooth devices and power banks, in other countries,” observed Lam. “But for garment and textile, the transition already began to happen a decade ago.”

In Southeast Asia, which has been replacing a great deal of Chinese manufacturing activity, each country has its slight specialization. Whereas Vietnam abounds with wooden furniture suppliers, Thailand is known for plastic goods and Malaysia is a good source for medical supplies, said Lam.

When it comes to trickier compliance burdens, such as human rights sanctions, ICW relies on third-party certification institutes to screen and verify suppliers.

“There is a [type of] qualification standard that verifies whether a supplier has fulfilled its corporate social responsibility… like whether the factory fulfills the labor law, the minimum labor rights, or the payroll, everything,” Lam explained.

ICW plans to use the fresh proceeds to further develop its products, including its compliance management system, product testing platform, and B2B sourcing site.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Why You Need To Be Using Google Ads Bid Automation

January 29, 2021 No Comments

When advertisers give Google the correct parameters and enough data, automated bidding can work effectively. Achieve your goals and amplify growth efforts.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


The Tula Mic is a powerful portable recorder that doubles as a great USB-C microphone

January 29, 2021 No Comments

Tula is a new company founded with the specific purpose of developing user-friendly hardware and software for sound capture, and its debut product, the Tula Mic, is now shipping after a successful crowdfunding campaign last year. Tula Mic is both a USB-C microphone input for computers and mobile devices, and also a dedicated recorder that has built-in storage and its own battery that can provide up to 14 hours of continuous use. It’s a strong intro offering that fits a lot of user needs at an attractive price point.

Basics

The Tula Mic is small — it’s definitely best described as “hand-held,” taking up roughly the size and surface area of a deck of cards. The physical design includes microphone capsules up top, with control buttons running along either side, and a USB-C charging port in the middle of the back of the hardware. The top-left side also features a standard 3.5mm port, which can be used not only for headphones for monitoring and playback, but also for input for lavalier microphones, effectively turning the Tula into a body pack.

Just below the grill that contains the recording capsule, there are two lights on the face of the Tula Mic. These include a gain/peaking indicator and a recording indicator, providing you with simple but effective visual feedback. There’s 8 GB of built-in memory on board, and that built-in rechargeable battery offers up to 14 hours of continuous recording. Inside, there are not just one, but two recording capsules, including one with a cardioid recording pattern for capturing audio from one user speaking toward the mic, and one with an omni pickup pattern for recording room sound, best for events or interviews.

The Tula Mic comes with a stand attached, which folds up and attaches magnetically to its midsection for easy transport. This is also removable and can be swapped out for a standard microphone-mount threaded attachment point. It’s a simple and elegant design that proves very handy in active use, but the proprietary mounting method here means that if you ever lose one or the other of these accessories, you can’t just pick up a generic one like you could if they’d used a standard tripod thread instead, for instance.

Design and performance

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The Tula Mic’s design definitely conveys retro aesthetics, and its flat-sided oval shape is immediately eye-catching and recognizable. The unique look also provides great hand-holdability, and when used in stand mode, it’s immediately clear how a user should address the mic in use. The flip-down stand is elegant and keeps the mic firmly in place, thanks to its weighted metal construction.

The controls located down either side of the Tula Mic are each labelled, but I found that I definitely had to repeatedly reference the included user guide before I could consistently remember what each of them did. The icons are helpful, but not necessarily immediately intuitive. It’s nice to have physical controls, however, rather than touch sensitive surfaces or a screen for input.

The most important thing to note about the Tula Mic’s performance is that it sounds great, in both wired USB-C and standalone recorder mode. Having the ability to switch between omni and cardioid pickup patterns is also immensely useful in terms of the mic’s versatility as a one-size-fits-most solution, since you can use it for podcasting, for recording a class or lecture, and for recording a two-person interview all with equal ease and very high-quality results.

Lastly, Tula includes a built-in local noise cancellation algorithm, which allows you to capture a brief recording of room tone in order to automatically remove it from your subsequent recording. It’s a very handy and surprisingly effective feature, and one that should provide big benefits in terms of later using recordings from the mic with transcription services like Otter.ai.

Bottom line

At $ 199, the Tula Mic is already priced to match many of the leading USB microphones on the market today. The fact that it’s also a full-featured standalone digital recorder, many of which are also priced at or near that mark, really makes it an obvious choice for anyone looking for portable recording flexibility in a compact package.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


How to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google

January 28, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • A sitemap is one of the technical sides of SEO.
  • A sitemap doesn’t boost your SEO traffic but helps search engines index your web pages faster.
  • It’s very easy to create an XML sitemap and doesn’t require any coding knowledge.
  • Once a sitemap is created, you need to submit it to Google.
  • Through your Google Search Console dashboard, you can see detailed index coverage reports and fix any technical errors if present.
  • Founder of WPMyWeb.com, Jyoti Ray guides you through the process of creating an XML sitemap using different tools and details on how you can fix existing sitemap errors.

When it comes to SEO, there are over hundreds of Google ranking factors you need to master as well as execute them in order to increase your search engine visibility. Believe me, it’s lots of work – generating content ideas, keyword researching, creating high-quality content, building backlinks, auditing your website, etc. And working on each of the techniques is time-consuming and requires lots of effort. Fortunately, there are some SEO techniques that are easier to perform but have a huge impact on SEO. One of them is – submitting an XML sitemap to Google.

Although a sitemap is one of the parts of “technical SEO”, it doesn’t require any technical knowledge, and most importantly, it’s free and easier to create.

Even, in just 10-15 minutes, you can create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google.

So, in this article, we will first explain what is an XML sitemap, why do you need a sitemap, and then show you how to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. Let’s get started.

What is an XML sitemap?

A sitemap is a list of a website’s URLs. It’s a roadmap of a website that tells Google what information is available and where to find it. A sitemap contains important information about each URL, such as – when a post or page was last updated, how often do you change, etc.

The best part of a sitemap is that you can specify what pages, posts, or media files to be indexed by search engines crawlers.

Sitemaps are specially written for search engines, not for humans. So, it would be hard for us to understand if not seen before.

Here’s how an XML sitemap looks:

XML sitemap example

Source

Why do you need a sitemap?

Search engines use crawlers to find and index all the information on the web. While crawling a page, they use both internal and external links to discover new content.

However, if a new webpage hasn’t linked from other known pages, crawlers find it difficult to discover new pages on a website, and as a result, the indexing process gets delayed.

That’s where a sitemap comes.

A sitemap doesn’t only contain a bunch of valuable links but also helps Search Engine crawlers to discover new information faster.

Once you submit your XML sitemap file to Google, you can see that all new posts/pages you are publishing are available somewhere on Google search results (after a couple of minutes). It’s because of the sitemap file.

When do you need to use a sitemap?

Not everyone needs a sitemap. Google has its own complex algorithm to schedule crawling.

Google officially stated when a webmaster needs a sitemap:

  • Your website is really large
  • Your website is brand new and has few external links pointing to it
  • You don’t build internal links

However, in most cases, having a sitemap could be beneficial in a few ways.

Now I know the basics of a sitemap, let’s see how to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google.

How to create an XML sitemap

Creating a sitemap is very simple. You can use an online tool to generate an XML sitemap and for WordPress sites, there are plenty of plugins available.

I will show both of them.

1. Creating a sitemap in WordPress

More than 35% of the total websites are powered by WordPress.

If you run a WordPress site, you can create a sitemap using a plugin.

There are several WordPress plugins available that allow you to create an XML sitemap, such as Yoast SEO, Rank Math SEO, etc.

Method 1, Create a sitemap using Yoast SEO

Yoast is one of the best SEO plugins for WordPress. Yoast plugin helps you to optimize your page titles, meta descriptions, SEO analysis, etc.

It also has an option to create an XML sitemap.

If you are not using the Yoast SEO plugin, download and install it from the WordPress plugin directory.

Follow the steps below

From your WordPress admin panel, go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Yoast SEO”.

Creating an XML sitemap using the Yoast plugin

Once activated, go to SEO > General > Features. Click on the Question icon to reveal the sitemap URL.

Yoast SEO Sitemap

Method two – Creating a sitemap using Rank Math SEO

If you are using the Rankmath SEO plugin, you can generate a sitemap like the way you created using the Yoast SEO plugin.

But, I prefer using the Rank Math plugin because it gives more advanced options that are missing in Yoast SEO.

First, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.

Search for “Rank Math” and install it.

Rank Math

Upon activation, go to Rank Math > sitemap Settings.

From there, you can set how many links you want per sitemap page, exclude URLs, images in posts, etc.

At the top, you can see your sitemap URL which looks like:

“https://www.website.com/sitemap_index.xml”

Rank Math Sitemap

Now, you are ready to submit to Google Search Console.

2. Creating a sitemap without a CMS

If you are not using any CMS, you can still generate a sitemap.

For this case, Screaming Frog would be a great option. Screaming Frog is a desktop-based program (available on Windows & Mac) that crawls your website. The software comes both in free and premium versions.

If your site has less than 500 URLs, you can start using the free version of Screaming Frog to generate a sitemap.

Follow the steps given below

Once downloaded and installed, open the software on your computer.

At the top of the screen, enter your website URL and click on Start.

Using Screaming Frog for creating an XML sitemap

It will start crawling your site and may take a few minutes to finish.

Once the crawl is finished, take a look at what pages are being crawled.

If the number is below 500, then you are good to go.

From the top of the menu section, click on sitemap > XML sitemaps.

Screaming Frog Sitemap

You can also include or exclude any options that you want in your sitemap file, such as Noindex pages, last modified date, Paginated URLs, PDFs, Images, etc.

I recommend keeping this default, however, you are free to make any modifications.

Once done, hit on the Export button and save the file on your computer.

Your XML sitemap file is ready to use.

3. Creating a sitemap in Wix

If you are using Wix, then you don’t need to manually create a sitemap.

Wix does it automatically.

You can view your sitemap file by going to “your-wix-site.com/sitemap.xml”.

However, in Wix, you wouldn’t have much control over your sitemap.

If you want to exclude a page from the sitemap, simply go to the “SEO (Google)” settings tab under page settings and turn off “Show this page in search results”.

Creating a sitemap on Wix

Note: Wix recommends that you submit your sitemap each time you make any changes.

4. Creating a sitemap in Squarespace

Like Wix, Squarespace also creates a sitemap automatically.

You can view your sitemap by adding “/sitemap.xml” at the end of your website’s URL, which is “your-website.com/sitemap.xml”.

You can’t manually edit your sitemap in Squarespace, however, you can exclude pages from search results.

To perform this, go to Page setting and check “Hide this page from search engine results” in the SEO tab.

Squarespace Sitemap

5. Creating a sitemap in Shopify

Shopify automatically generates an XML sitemap file for you. You can view your sitemap file by going to “your-website.com/sitemap.xml”.

The generated sitemap contains all the products, collections, blogs, and webpages. The sitemap files automatically updated when made any changes.

Now your sitemap file is ready for submission.

Suggested read – How to optimize your Shopify site for SEO

How to submit an XML sitemap to Google

Now you have just created an XML sitemap file, it’s time for submitting to Google.

For this, you will need to connect your Google Search Console account with your website. Here’s the step by step procedure by Google.

Once connected, log in to your Google Search Console account and select your website.

From the dashboard, click on the sitemaps.

You will see the option “Add a new sitemap”. Enter your sitemap URL in the blank field, and hit the Submit button.

Google Search Console Submit Sitemap

That’s it. Now, sit back and relax. Google will take care of the rest.

Fixing your sitemap errors to improve SEO

Generally, if your site consists of one or more technical errors, it’s really hard to figure it out. However, in most cases, it’s not even detectable unless you use a paid site auditor tool.

But, there is good news for you.

If you have submitted your sitemap to Google, you can see detailed index coverage reports to check if there is any technical error present on your site.

Log in to your Google Search Console account, and click on Coverage.

Then click on the Error, Valid with a warning, Valid, and Excluded tab to get the details.

Google Search Console XML Sitemap Coverage

From there, you can check pages for:

  • Indexed but blocked by robots.txt
  • Pages that have a server error (5xx)
  • Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag
  • Crawled but not indexed
  • Not found (404)
  • Page with redirect
  • Blocked by robots.txt, and many more

Google Search Console Sitemap Coverage Error Details

Click on each of the error pages to check what you need to fix. Once done, you can request Google to mark it as fixed by clicking on Validate Fix.

Once you fix all the technical errors with the help of your XML sitemap file, you can see a significant improvement in your search traffic.

Conclusion

Creating an XML sitemap is very simple and doesn’t require any technical skills. If you are using WordPress, you can create a sitemap using SEO plugins in just a few clicks. It’s also easier if you are not using any CMS.

There is no evidence that a sitemap boosts your website’s SEO, but it helps Google to find and index your website’s content faster. I also recommend you use a sitemap.

Submitting a sitemap to Google is just a tiny part of the full SEO game.

Jyoti Ray is the Founder of WPMyWeb.com. He writes about blogging, WordPress tutorials, hosting, and affiliate marketing.

The post How to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


SAP is buying Berlin business process automation startup Signavio

January 28, 2021 No Comments

Rumors have been flying this week that SAP was going to buy Berlin business process automation startup Signavio, and sure enough the company made it official today. The companies did not reveal the purchase price, but Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the deal could be worth $ 1.2 billion.

With Signavio SAP gets a cloud-native business process management tool. SAP CFO Luka Mucic sees a world where understanding and automating businesses processes has become a key part of a company’s digital transformation efforts.

“I cannot overstress the importance for companies to be able to design, benchmark, improve and transform business processes across the enterprise to support new capabilities and business models,” he said in a statement.

While traditional enterprise BPA tools have existed for years, having a cloud-native tool gives SAP a much more modern approach to attacking this problem, and being able to automate business processes via the cloud has become more important during the pandemic when many employees are working entirely from home.

SAP also sees Signavio as a key missing piece in the company’s business process intelligence unit. “The combination of business process intelligence from SAP and Signavio creates a leading end-to-end business process transformation suite to help our customers achieve the requirements needed to gain a competitive edge,” he said.

SAP has been making moves into process automation of late. In fact at SAP TechEd in December, the company announced SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, its foray into the RPA space. This should fit in nicely alongside it.

Dr. Gero Decker, Savigno co-founder and CEO, sees SAP resources helping push the company beyond what it could have done on its own. “Considering the positioning of SAP, its geographical coverage and financial muscle, SAP is the biggest and best platform to bring process intelligence to every organization,” he said in a statement.

The increased resources and reach argument is one that just about every acquired company CEO makes, but being pulled into a company the size of SAP can be a double-edged sword. Yes, it has vast resources, but it also can be hard for an acquired company to find its place in such a large pond. How well they fit in and make that transition from startup to big company cog, will go a long way in determining the success of this transaction in the long run.

Signavio launched in 2009 in Berlin and has raised almost $ 230 million, according to Crunchbase data. Investors include Apax Digital and Summit Partners. The most recent investment was a July 2019 Series C for $ 177 million, which came in at a $ 400 million valuation.

Customers include Comcast, Bosch, Liberty Mutual and yes SAP. Perhaps it will be getting a discount now.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


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