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5 Ways to Reinvent Customer Experiences That Will Increase Your ROI

Posted by on Jul 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Reinvent Customer Experiences That Will Increase Your ROI

5 Ways to Reinvent Customer Experiences That Will Increase Your ROI

Did you know that 17 percent of your customers could walk away from your business after just one bad customer experience? That’s a pretty significant number, especially when you’re trying to grow your business and increase your return on investment (ROI).

There’s good news, though: You don’t need to lose these buyers if you prioritize the customer experience. Below, I’ll explain what customer experiences are, why they matter, and how you can optimize your customer experience online.

What Are Customer Experiences?

Customer experience (CX) is how customers perceive any interactions they have with your company. It’s the overall impression of your company that customers build as they move through each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Think of it this way. Each time a customer interacts with your brand, even if it’s only a brief interaction, they’re building an impression of what it’s like to do business with you. This impression determines, for example, whether they’ll shop with you again or recommend you to friends.

In other words, positive (or negative) customer experiences can directly impact your bottom line. Got an unhappy customer? They might abandon their cart or never shop with you again. Got a happy customer? They might recommend your services to a family member.

Actions that can shape the customer experience include:

calling your help centerpaying a bill tweeting you with a query

How important is CX, though, in real terms? Very. Let me show you why.

Why Is Customer Experience Important?

For one thing, it’s hard to grow your business without customers. They’re central to everything you do. However, if you’re still not convinced CX matters, here are a few more specific reasons why the online customer experience is so important:

Customers are more likely to stay loyal to brands offering great CX. Given that 65 percent of a company’s business often comes from existing customers, delivering a great experience can help you work on that all-important retention rate.When a customer has a great experience, they could leave a review online, which encourages others to try your business. According to ReviewTrackers, more than a third of individuals reading reviews only look at businesses with four or more stars, so great CX can help you boost your visibility.The better the experience, the less likely customers are to abandon your business in favor of competitors. In other words, CX can directly affect your churn rate.

The bottom line? Happy customers are more likely to spend more, stay loyal, and recommend your brand to others. If you’re keen to boost your ROI, it pays to work on customer experience optimization.

What Do Most Businesses Get Wrong About Customer Experience?

Customer experience optimization can be challenging to get right, especially if you approach it all from the wrong angle. To help you avoid making time-consuming (and potentially costly) mistakes, here’s what businesses often get wrong about CX.

Ignoring CX

It sounds obvious, but the biggest mistake businesses make is ignoring CX completely. Why? Because customers care about their experience. In fact, four out of five people would abandon a brand after fewer than three negative experiences

Ignoring CX could damage your customer retention and even limit your ability to attract new business.

Failing to Track Metrics

Even if you do care about customer experience optimization, you’ll never know how you’re doing without tracking your performance. I’m going to touch on the best metrics to track later, but here are some key questions that performance data can help answer.

How many customers stop doing business with you?Would customers recommend you to friends or family?How easy is it for customers to resolve issues or queries?

By tracking customer experience metrics, you can optimize CX at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Using Impersonal Communication

It’s not uncommon for businesses to treat customers as a whole unit rather than an online audience made up of multiple individuals. The issue? Well, personal communication matters: Impersonal communication won’t drive growth.

According to McKinsey research, 71 percent of customers expect personalized interactions from businesses. What’s more, fast-growing companies see at least 40 percent of their revenue coming from personalized messaging.

If you treat your customers as numbers, they could look elsewhere for the personalized CX they want.

Neglecting to Train Employees

Sure, it’s important to build a user-friendly website and make it easy for buyers to shop with you, but the customer experience starts with your staff. What’s a common mistake companies make, though?

Failing to train their employees in the art of customer service delivery.

Customers come to you looking for a shopping experience. If your staff don’t have the knowledge, experience, or authority to resolve customer issues, then you’ll frustrate your shoppers and they could turn to your competitors instead.

Now you know what not to do, there’s still one question remaining: How do you actually improve CX to boost your revenue? Let’s take a look.

5 Ways to Improve Customer Experiences and Increase Revenue

While there are multiple ways you might drive revenue by optimizing customer experiences, here are my five favorite strategies.

1. Find Out Where You Stand

Before you can perform customer service optimization, you need to know what’s working right now by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs.)

You might already be familiar with tracking KPIs as part of your wider marketing strategy. However, in terms of measuring customer experiences, here are some metrics to track:

Churn rate: Your churn rate is how many customers stop using your services, e.g., they cancel their subscription. The higher the churn, the more customers you’re losing. Customer effort: This is how easy people think it is to perform an action, e.g., complete checkout. A low customer effort score means people are dissatisfied. Net promoter score (NPS): This is how likely someone is to recommend your business. The higher the NPS, the more likely it is that they’ll recommend you.Retention rate: Your retention rate is the number of customers you hold onto over a period of time. High retention scores mean greater customer loyalty.

Here are some tips to measure metrics:

Measure churn by choosing a set period and dividing the number of customers you lost by the number of customers you started with. The percentage is your churn. Poll customers using surveys and ask them to rate their experience. Ask customers how likely they are to recommend you on a 1-10 scale. Measure customer retention by choosing a set period of time, calculating how many customers you start with, and how many of those customers stay with you.

Not sure where to start with customer surveys? Email them to customers or do what Tim Hortons does and invite people to complete satisfaction surveys online:

An example of using surveys to find out the customer experience with a brand.

2. Improve Your Customer Service

It’s important to note that customer service differs from the customer experience. CX means every interaction a customer has with your brand, while customer service refers to interactions between a customer and employees when there’s a problem.

Unsurprisingly, then, boosting your customer service delivery can have a positive effect on your overall CX. How do you improve customer service, though? Here are some ideas.

According to research by Khoros, 77 percent of customers expect customer support teams to share information so they don’t need to repeat themselves. Make sure you properly integrate your customer support processes using, for example, customer relationship management (CRM) software.Use chatbots: The Khoros research shows that 79 percent of customers enjoy chatting to customer service reps through these apps. Identify your most loyal customers. Reward them with exclusive discounts and special offers to encourage new transactions.

Here’s an example of a chatbot from Dropbox. Users can follow the step-by-step instructions or, if the chatbot can’t answer their questions, they can speak to a service representative or try other resources:

An example of using chatbots to improve customer service.

Improve customer service by offering various quick, simple, and effective ways to reach your team.

3. Make Conversions Easier

Zendesk’s research shows that 65 percent of customers are looking for quick, easy transactions. What does this mean?

Well, if you’re an e-commerce store, this means customers want a straightforward checkout experience. Let me give you some tips for speeding up the process.

Provide a guest checkout option so there’s no need for someone to create an account to buy something. Offer multiple ways to pay, such as PayPal or mobile wallets like Apple Pay. Make your shipping and delivery costs transparent.Reduce the number of checkout screens where possible.

Are you a service provider? Then you want to ensure your sales process is seamless.

Offer a free trial to nurture customers along the sales funnel. Explain your sales process upfront so customers know what to expect.Schedule a sales call so you can get the information you need from customers to solve their problems and resolve any hesitancies. Offer clear packages and transparent pricing structures tailored to various customers’ requirements.

Monday.com, for example, has a very clear pricing structure.

An example of using a clear pricing structure to help make customer conversations easier.

What’s more, it only takes a few steps to get started with a free account so prospects can experience the software before committing to a paid package:

Use free accounts to allow customers to use software before committing to purchasing it.

Impress your customers and boost CX by creating a seamless, user-friendly sales experience.

4. Personalize Customer Interactions

Earlier I touched on how personalization goes a long way to help boost customer acquisition and retention. How do you personalize customer interactions, though? Here’s what you can do:

Build customer profiles so you know who your ideal customer is. Once you determine your audience base, you can segment your customers into groups to send them relevant marketing materials tailored to their personal preferences. Take an omnichannel approach. According to Zendesk’s research, companies with higher CX scores deliver consistent, reliable experiences across all mediums, from in-store shopping to buying products through a mobile app. Use the data you collect from customers to personalize surveys and try to follow up on survey responses.

Don’t forget the power of email, either. Retarget lapsed customers with personalized incentives, and send loyal customers recommendations based on their shopping history.

5. Empower Your Employees to Take Action

Who do your customers interact with? Your employees. If customers aren’t happy with your employees, there’s a risk they’ll abandon your brand completely.

What’s the answer? Empower your employees. Give them the tools they need to resolve queries, by:

Asking employees for their feedback. Do they feel they have the resources necessary to deliver a great service, or are they feeling frustrated? Resolving identified pain points. Maybe you could streamline manual processes by updating your CRM software, or you could improve contact center protocols. Finally, empowering your employee, for example, maybe they could offer a discount to incentivize a new customer.

Customer Experience Case Study: Gymshark

Gymshark, an international fitness brand, excels at employee engagement.

How? Because employees have pretty significant authority to resolve disputes, and they’re very engaged with customers online.

For one thing, they have a dedicated Gymshark Help social media account to answer queries, proactively engage customers, and improve the customer experience.

An example of engaging with customers online.

Their employees are entrusted to offer real solutions, which make customers feel valued at every stage of the buyer’s journey—even after the sale.

Does it pay to give employees freedom over CX delivery? Absolutely: Operating in over 180 countries and still growing, Gymshark knows how delivering great customer experiences can boost ROI.

Frequently Asked Questions About Customer Experiences

We’ve covered why customer experiences matter and how you might improve your CX, but let me give you some key takeaways.

How do you improve customer experiences?

Learn who your customers are and how they interact with your business. Once you understand the buyer’s journey, you can equip your employees to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

What are the main components of customer experiences?

Promoting a customer-focused culture, ensuring you’re easy to do business with, measuring customer satisfaction, and delivering on your promises all contribute to the customer experiences that individuals have with your business.

How do you track the customer experience?

Get honest customer feedback and track CX metrics at each stage of the buyer’s journey using tools to measure your churn rate, customer effort score, retention rate, and net promoter score.

What makes a good customer experience?

Great customer experience starts with your staff. Give them the knowledge they need to manage your buyers, and you’re on track to impress your customers.

Conclusion: Improving the Customer Experience Is Crucial to Business Growth

Without customers, you won’t boost your ROI and your company won’t get off the ground, so you need to prioritize customer experiences.

To perform customer experience optimization successfully, help your staff nurture individuals along the buyer’s journey. Monitor key customer experience metrics along the way, and don’t be afraid to ask customers what you’re doing right—and where you’re falling behind.

Need extra help with the online customer experience? Check out my consulting services.

What do you think makes a great CX?

The Keys to Success With Amazon Advertising

Posted by on Jul 2, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Keys to Success With Amazon Advertising

The Keys to Success With Amazon Advertising

Do you want to be more successful with Amazon advertising?

With millions of active customers, Amazon is the perfect place to grow your business. However, it’s not as simple as putting up products and waiting for sales to come in.

Sometimes, you may need the help of ads. Let’s take a look at how best to use them.

What Is Amazon Advertising?

Amazon advertising is paid advertising that runs on a pay-per-click model. Through them, you can feature your product listing at the top of Amazon’s search results for chosen keywords.

Rather than paying upfront for your advertising, pay-per-click ads mean you only pay when someone clicks to view your product.

PPC is very efficient because you only have to pay when you know you’ve reached your target audience. It’s still up to you to get the conversion and sell your product, but Amazon advertising gives you the opportunity to do this.

Ultimately, Amazon is a search engine and, as with most search engines, your click-through rate drops considerably if you’re not in the top few results. Building this presence organically takes time though, so having an Amazon advertising strategy is a great way to gain exposure quickly.

Over 2.5 million products are sold on Amazon only in the U.S., so it’s easy to get lost in a sea of product results pages. By mastering the Amazon ads manager, you ensure this won’t happen to your business.

Benefits of Amazon Advertising

People lead busy lives. One of the reasons Amazon has become so popular is that it’s convenient.

It gives people instant access to a huge array of products.It makes checkout incredibly simple.It offers fast delivery so people get their hands on their purchases quickly.People don’t have to leave their houses to buy products.

Amazon respects the fact that people’s time is valuable, and that’s one of the reasons it’s been so successful. It’s also a key reason why Amazon ads are so beneficial for businesses.

People don’t have the time to search through pages two, three, and four of Amazon’s results. They expect to find the best results at the top of page one, and, if your product isn’t there, then your sales are going to suffer.

This is further complicated by the fact that it’s hard to distinguish your brand from the competition on Amazon. When you sell products on your own e-commerce store, you’re in complete control of your branding, however, when you sell on Amazon, you’ve got to work within its regulation.

Limited control over how you build your brand means you’re incredibly reliant on turning up at the top of the search results.

The proof is in the return on investment.

Creating an Amazon ad can bring you instant results, and businesses like Empire Case, a mobile phone and tablet accessories seller, regularly see an ROI of 200+ percent.

Amazon Advertising Examples

I’ve talked about some of the benefits of Amazon ads, but how do they apply to real-world scenarios? As you’ll see from these examples, getting your Amazon advertising strategy right can have a huge impact.

Alexandra Workwear Increased Sales by 300+ percent

Alexandra Workwear, a manufacturer of work uniforms, grew their chef workwear sales by 372 percent year on year using Amazon advertising, achieving a 500 percent return on advertising spend (ROAS).

It followed a simple strategy that brought in impressive results. They:

Set up a “sponsored product campaign” on Amazon’s ad console.Used the campaign-builder to identify new keywords.Executed an aggressive bidding strategy to increase search impressions by 80 percent.Created A+ content for each product.Optimized product images and copy on the product page.Ran sponsored display ads to complement the sponsored product campaign.Expanded their reach and made more sales.

This case study reinforces the idea that appearing at the very top of the search results is extremely important, but it also shows how essential it is to optimize your product pages.

There’s no point in increasing your Amazon ads budget if your product pages aren’t persuasive enough to make sales.

You’ve got to make use of all the organic tools you have available to you. That means offering top-quality images, writing great copy, and utilizing elements like fantastic content.

Lenovo Increased Brand Awareness by 19 Points

These Amazon advertising strategies don’t just work for smaller brands; they’re also effective for large, global businesses like Lenovo computers.

To promote its premium Yoga laptop, Lenovo used a 15-second Amazon video that saw impressive results.

According to the Brand Lift study, this ad campaign coincided with a 19-point lift in brand awareness, a 5-point increase in perception as a premium brand, and a 9-point increase in purchase intention.

On the scale of a business like Lenovo, those are huge numbers, so how did it achieve them? They:

Used Amazon’s ad manager to identify relevant audiences.Targeted specific groups (such as lifestyle tech enthusiasts, people in-market for laptops, and audiences with high purchase propensity.)Reached six million people.

The key takeaway from this is targeting.

Don’t assume that you already know exactly who your audience is and what they want. Go the extra mile to make sure your Amazon ads are reaching exactly the right people.

Amazon Advertising Costs

Ready to start using Amazon advertising?

First, you need to set your budget. What should you expect to spend?

This is a tricky question to answer because it varies greatly depending on your industry.

The average Amazon ads CPC in the U.S. is $1.20 per click, however, this is very much a guideline. A CPC algorithm sells each impression to the highest bidder (other factors do enter into the equation, but the value of the bid plays a big part), so the more competition there is, the more you’re likely to pay.

A bar graph showing the average CPC of Amazon advertising over an 18 month period.

However, the element that will ultimately decide your Amazon advertising costs is your conversion rate.

If you’re spending $1 for every click and converting 1 percent of those clicks, then you spend $100 to sell one product. On the other hand, you might pay $2 per click, but if your conversion rate is 5 percent, then $100 of ad spend is going to get you five sales.

The trick is to find keywords where buyer intent is highest. These might be more competitive, but, if they result in much higher conversion rates, then it’s going to offer you a better return in the long run.

Amazon Advertising Strategies: 9 Tips to Drive Sales

Let’s take a look at some of the Amazon advertising strategies you should follow to help you drive more sales.

1. Outline Your Goals

One of the first steps in any form of marketing is to clearly outline your goals.

What do you want to achieve with your Amazon advertising?

This isn’t just how many sales you want to make, or what ROAS you’d like to achieve. It starts with questions like:

Do you want to drive brand awareness (as Lenovo did)?Do you want to increase traffic for your product?Do you want to have better conversions and increase sales?

Many people will focus on sales with Amazon, but its advertising options are much more diverse than this.

Remember, people who write down their goals are around 50 percent more likely to achieve them, so this is an important step.

2. Choose the Right Amazon Advertising Campaign

One of the first things you will have to decide with your Amazon advertising is which campaign type you want to run.

Choose the best type of Amazon ad based on your goals.

When you go into your Amazon Ads Manager, you’ll be presented with different campaign types:

Sponsored Products: Feature your products at the top of search results.Sponsored Brands: Feature your brand in shopping results.Sponsored Display Ads: Display ads across relevant Amazon pages.Stores: Feature your brand story and portfolio of products.Audio Ads: Play on the free tier of Amazon Music.Video Ads: Play on connected TVs and publisher channels and networks.

The format you choose will largely be dictated by your goals.

For example, if you’re looking to drive brand awareness, then you might choose a store, audio, or video ads campaign. However, if you’re looking to be more sales-focused, then sponsored products, brands, or display ads might be the best option.

One of the great things about Amazon advertising is that they make it very easy to set up and run your campaign, no matter what format you choose.

3. Set a Budget

As with any investment, you should have a clear understanding of what you want to spend on your Amazon ads before you begin.

The last thing you want to do is go over budget and hurt your bottom line. Amazon advertising should be increasing your profit margin, not shrinking it.

The Amazon ad manager can make suggestions for you and tell you if it thinks you need to up your budget, but ultimately, this is something you have to decide.

Amazon certainly isn’t the only ad platform you should consider (Google and the social media networks are also very valuable), so you’ve got to find the balance that works for you.

Set a budget that you’re comfortable with and then give it time to see how it performs. Once you’ve got data to work with, then you can make a more informed decision about raising or lowering your budget.

Digital ad spend is worth over $560 billion, so it’s clearly an important marketing tool. In order for it to work for you, your Amazon advertising strategy has got to work within your monetary constraints.

4. Choose the Right Products to Promote

You want your Amazon advertising to have maximum impact, so you’ve got to choose the right products to promote.

Not only are there millions of products on Amazon and heaps of competition, but you may have products that sell cheaper than the cost you’d spend per click. Therefore, some products of yours will outperform others.

Start to figure out which ones are the best fit for your Amazon ads. Thankfully, the answers are going to be in your analytics.

First, go to your Amazon Seller Central dashboard.Second, identify how much traffic each of your products is already receiving.Assess which has the highest conversion rate.Look at the cost of the keywords you’d want to use.Work out your ideal profit margin.

This information is going to be crucial in helping decide which products you should start promoting.

You want to choose ones with good conversion rates that aren’t over-saturated with traffic (and therefore costly), as this is where the greatest potential lies.

5. Choose the Right Visual Assets

One of the drawbacks of e-commerce is that shoppers can’t see the products in person before buying them.

You have to overcome this by giving them the next best thing—high-quality images.

If customers can inspect your products in a similar way to how they would in a real-life store, then it’s going to result in more sales.

360-degree rotating images are a great tool for this, and they’ve been shown to increase e-commerce conversion rates by as much as 27 percent. Humans are visual creatures, and we need good images to understand the finer details of products.

6. Write Clear, Engaging Copy

You’ll often see two extremes when it comes to copy on Amazon product pages: those who neglect it, and those who stuff keywords everywhere to try and gain an SEO benefit.

Your copy has a direct impact on your conversion rate though, so it’s an important part of your Amazon advertising strategy.

Yes, you want to include the right keywords, but you’ve also got to be concise and informative.

Tell the story of your business.Show the benefits of your products (and not just the features).Build your brand identity.

Writing clear and engaging copy helps drive sales.

This is also an area where you can constantly optimize.

Run some A/B tests to find out what works, and make sure your copy is helping you to get the most out of your Amazon ads.

7. Target the Right Audience

As we saw in the Lenovo case study, identifying the right target audience is a vital part of Amazon advertising.

It’s tempting to try and sell your product to everyone. However, you’ve got to focus your resources to maximize your sales. No spraying and praying.

The only way to do this is if your Amazon ads are showing to the right people.

You might find a big new audience that almost seems like the right fit and get a ton of traffic to your page, but it’s not worth it. Clicks without sales eat into your budget, and that’s what happens if your targeting isn’t quite right.

8. Add Negative Keywords

Talking of things that eat into your budget, here’s another: negative keywords.

Amazon’s algorithms are pretty smart. They’re able to understand how keywords are related and which ones might be applicable to your product. The thing is, they don’t get it right all the time.

You’ll find that if you use an automatic campaign, you’ll get some clicks for keywords that just aren’t relevant to your product. When you notice these, it’s important that you add them to your negative keywords list so you don’t show up for that query in the future.

For example, you might be advertising for keywords related to tennis, and Amazon decides that Pickleball and tennis are closely related. If you get clicks for Pickleball related queries, then you’d want to add them to your negative keywords.

Otherwise, you could be losing money.

9. Test + Optimize Your Ads

Selling products online is all about optimization.

If you’re not learning from the data you collect, then it’s difficult to move forward. What data allows you to do is run split tests. This is where you change an element of your Amazon advertising strategy and see how it performs compared to the control version.

By individually testing different elements of your Amazon ads and product pages, you can isolate which tactics work and which don’t.

Frequently Asked Questions About Amazon Advertising

What is the difference between self-service and managed amazon ads?

Self-service Amazon ads put sellers in control of their campaigns, whereas managed Amazon ads are controlled for you. Typically, managed Amazon advertising requires a minimum budget of $50,000.

Can I schedule ads in Amazon advertising?

Yes! Amazon ads can be scheduled. All you have to do is log into your Amazon ads console and select the campaign you want to edit. You’ll see a drop-down table titled more. The first tab in the drop-down is ad scheduling which allows you to choose when your ad is shown.

What are the different types of Amazon ads?

There are six types of Amazon ads: sponsored products, sponsored brands, display ads, stores, audio ads, and video ads. Each has its own benefits, so it’s worth exploring them more to find out which ones best fit your brand.

What are the benefits of Amazon Advertising?

With Amazon advertising, you can reach a huge audience with high purchase intent. Its tools also allow you to be extremely targeted with your ads, ensuring you reach the people who are most likely to benefit your brand.

Conclusion: The Keys to Amazon Advertising Success

There are some great benefits to Amazon advertising, and, to make the most of your money, the key is choosing the best strategy and slowly fine-tuning your approach through trial and error.

Amazon offers some great tools to help you target the correct audience and manage your budget, however, you’ve got to go a step further than this.

If you’re going to invest money in advertising, then your product pages have to be fully optimized, and you need to learn from your analytics.

Through A/B testing and incremental changes, you can perfect the art of Amazon advertising and make a big difference to your business.

Are you using Amazon ads? If not, when are you going to start?

What’s new in Google News – with Barry Adams

Posted by on Jul 2, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What’s new in Google News – with Barry Adams

What’s new in Google News – with Barry Adams

With the 20th birthday of Google News coming up, Google launched a new version of Google News last week. Barry Adams, the news SEO specialist, sheds light on the new look of Google News in this post. What are the exact changes, and what does it mean for publishers, readers and SEO? As a bonus, you’ll get some tips to increase your chances to get into Google News!

We also talked about this and more with Barry during Tuesday’s SEO news webinar. Rewatch it or sign up for the next webinar with Areej AbuAli!

What changed in Google News?

Google News has got a new look. Or, more specifically, news.google.com has got a new design. Google described the change in the following way:

Our new look for Google News on desktop was inspired by feedback we received from readers. We’ve made it easier for you to catch up on the most important news by bringing Top stories, Local news and personalized picks for you to the top of the page.

Brand Bender & Olivia Ma – Google

The redesigned Google News home page now looks like this on desktop:

The updated design of Google News

Let’s shortly highlight the three aspects Google mentioned: Top stories, Local news, and Personalized picks.

Top stories

Top stories feature the most important news of that moment. With the current design, they appear at the top of the Google News home page on the desktop. Typically, they show the headlines of major news outlets. One of these articles is featured most prominently; below that article, you can see two alternatives (usually also from big publishers).

Top stories is an overview of the most important stories as brought by different outlets

Good to know: when Google detects someone typed a news-oriented search query in their search bar, they can also show Top stories in the usual search results on desktop or mobile in a card-like design.

Searching for a news item in Google

Local news

On the top right, you’ll now find your Local news. Google says they added this selection here because of customer feedback. It features the main news stories of the areas you’re located or interested in. You can set the locations you want to follow with the manage button on the local tab. For Local news to work correctly, you need to log in to your Google account. Otherwise, it will show you more general Picks for you instead of the local news.

You can set multiple locations to track the local news

Personalized picks

Lastly, Google News allows you to select and organize the news categories you want to keep track of. It offers big categories such as Business, Technology, and Entertainment. If you click on the customize button next to Your topics, you can select which topics you’re interested in. Google will then show you the three main stories of that category. You can also change the order of the topics, so the most important ones to you are at the top.

You can follow your favorite topics to get personalized news

In addition, Google News has improved fact-check features and more ways to learn about the provider of the news item with About this result. So what kind of effects will these changes have? Is it just a new look, or does it entail more? And what does it mean for publishers?

What does this redesign mean for news SEO?

We asked news SEO expert Barry Adams of Polemic Digital about his experiences with the redesign of news.google.com:

“I quite like the new design of Google News. It puts more emphasis on local news and customized news feeds. The old design was a bit funky, but you got used to it in the end. Not particularly modern, so it needed an update. It was also a bit of a hassle to read news from the publications in the area that we live in. So, with the redesign, Google has successfully managed to put that front and center, so good work on that.”

News SEO is more than news.google.com

“Having said that, most people who engage with news on the Google ecosystem never go to the news.google.com sub-domain. Most people use regular search to find their news. If you look at the analytics of any given news publication, you’ll notice that just a fraction of the clicks come from the news.google.com domain. If you look a bit closer, you see that the vast amount of clicks comes from the regular search results. Not the News tab in Google, not the news.google.com domain, but the Top Stories box and related news rich results.” 

“The last statistics I read on these is that between 10% and 12% of all Google searches have a news box of some form. And that is where most news publishers will get the bulk of their organic traffic from Google. So while the redesign and new features are nice, most of the news SEO work still goes into trying to get publishers those Top Stories boxes.”

So, how to get there?

“For news SEO to work, you need to take it seriously. Be a news publisher. To rank in Google News, you need a separate website with very little commercial content. Publish nothing but newsworthy content and publish a lot — consistently. Get journalists to write stories. Do this consistently on a highly-optimized website, and you’ll start to see results around two years in. Yes, news SEO is hard work.”

Start optimizing for Google News!

Do you have a news website? Make sure Google picks up on your news articles by using the Yoast News SEO for WordPress plugin!

Get News SEO »Only $79 USD / year (ex VAT)

News SEO tips

So how to optimize for Google News? Apart from creating lots of newsworthy content written by journalists, as Barry says, here are some concrete tips to increase your chances to get into Google News.

Google Publish Center and news guidelines

You’ll need to configure your Google Publisher Center account to manage your presence in Google News. But first, you’ll need to ensure that you abide by Google’s general Webmaster guidelines and Google News-specific policies. In these guidelines, there are several technical requirements and quality guidelines; most of these are met by using WordPress; assuming you use a standard theme, there are a few things to note.

Technical requirements

Google News sitemap; a Google news sitemap is “not required but recommended, “according to Google’s documentation. Helpfully, our News SEO plugin automatically generates this for you.Optimized feed formats; Google digests news content from feed formats (such as RSS/Atom), so our News SEO plugin does the heavy lifting of structuring and formatting the feeds that WordPress already generates.

Editorial and quality requirements

There are also a few other things you’ll need to improve your chances of getting your site into Google News. Most of it is focused on showing you’re a real publisher, working with actual journalists:

A contact page listing contact information such as your address, phone numbers and or email addresses. Just a contact form won’t do. Google wants to make sure you’re a legitimate news organization, make sure your site shows you as such.A page listing all of your editorial staff. It’s probably wise to make this a listing of author profiles and make sure your author profiles are rich.Suitable images: When deciding which image it uses for your article, Google reads schema.org image tags and og:image tags, which our core Yoast SEO plugin automatically generates.Use NewsArticle and Author schema: Using structured data properly for your news content helps Google understand your topics better – and the journalists who wrote the articles.

To conclude

News SEO is a different beast from ‘regular’ SEO. It’s hard to get into the top stories as a new publisher and you might need to work hard for years for Google to even recognize you as a trusted source. Your site has to be technically fit, and Google has to be able to crawl your content quickly. You should use proper NewsArticle structured data and publish high-quality, original news content. Luckily, we have a News SEO WordPress add-on for Yoast SEO that takes care of the technical stuff of news SEO so you can focus on publishing that fantastic content.

The post What’s new in Google News – with Barry Adams appeared first on Yoast.

What is a Subdomain and How Does it Affect Your Site’s SEO?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What is a Subdomain and How Does it Affect Your Site’s SEO?

What is a Subdomain and How Does it Affect Your Site’s SEO?

When navigating the internet you may notice the URL changing as you click from site to site. Sometimes you have a simple URL like www.mysite.com. Or, you might see words added before the site like this, www.shop.mysite.com.

The word “shop” in this case, is a subdomain and it’s used to differentiate the two websites from each other.

In this guide, you’ll learn what subdomains are, how you can use them, and whether or not they impact SEO.

What Is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is an addition made to a URL string to separate and organize content on a website.

Using a subdomain allows you to partition areas of the site, such as a blog or store, from the main areas of your website.

Each time you see a URL, there are essentially three main parts:

The top-level domain of a URL.

1. Top-Level Domain or TLD: This is the extension at the end. Examples would be, .com, .org, or .io.

The second-level domain of a URL

2. Second-Level Domain or SLD: This is the creative portion of the domain. In Neilpatel.com, Neilpatel would be the second-level domain.

The subdomain of a URL.

3. Subdomain: The subdomain in this scenario would be anything that comes before “neilpatel.” For example, if you go to app.neilpatel.com, the “app” part of the URL is what leads you to the keyword research tool, Ubersuggest. In this case, “app” would be the subdomain and it helps separate the tool from the rest of the site.

Many sites use this to create different sections for organization and user experience purposes.

An example of Wikipedia uses a subdomain to create different sections of their website.

If we look at the example above from Wikipedia, you’ll see they use one to differentiate the languages across their site. There are many purposes for subdomains, but they’re all used to make the experience easier and faster for the user.

Now you have an answer to “what is a subdomain.” Let’s learn how to create a subdomain.

How to Create a Subdomain

Learning how to create a subdomain is very simple and something you’ll do through your web hosting provider.

Let’s use HostGator as an example.

Step 1: Login to Your account

You’ll first login to your backend and scroll down a little until you find the section for domains.

Step one of creating a subdomain.

Step 2: Create a Subdomain

Here you’ll enter the name of your subdomain and the domain you want to attach it to. In this case, I used a tennis site as an example.

Step two of creating a subdomain.

Step 3: Update DNS Records

Once you’ve created the subdomain, you’ll need to add a new domain name system record or DNS. It can take anywhere from an hour to 24 hours for the changes to update and be implemented on your site so don’t expect to jump back in right away.

Subdomain vs. Subdirectory

The biggest misunderstanding is the difference between a subdomain and a subdirectory. Here is an example of a subdomain:

App.neilpatel.com

Now, here is an example of a subdirectory:

Neilpatel.com/blog

In the case of a subdirectory, the addition to your URL is still part of the main domain. It’s a part of the website as a whole and doesn’t tell Google that it’s anything different.

Subdomains, on the other hand, intend to stand alone, and want Google to treat them as a separate site.

Subdirectories always come after and subdomains always come before.

The big question of the subdomain vs. subdirectory debate is, which is better for SEO?

The most important thing to understand is that Google treats a subdomain as a separate entity—which means everything you do isn’t associated with the main site. All links and content are not factored into the overall domain rating of your primary domain.

This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your goal.

If you’re doing something completely different on the subdomain that could hurt the reputation of the parent domain, then it could be a good thing. If your subdomain is entirely related to the parent domain and you’re getting all your links and content on that area of the site, then it could be a bad thing.

With customer experience being one of the most important driving factors for businesses this year, I can understand why subdomains seem desirable, but Mr. Google himself has said it:

We do have to learn how to crawl[subdomains] separately, but for the most part, that’s just a formality for the first few days. – John Mueller, Google

In most cases, the difference between the two is extremely minimal, so you’re better off focusing on something else like content audits and mobile optimization.

When Should You Use a Subdomain on Your Website?

Now that you understand some of the differences between subdomains and subdirectories, here’s when you should use one over the other.

Detach From Your Main Site

In some cases, you want to create content or do something on your site but you don’t want it associated with the main page.

Adding a store to your site is a great example of this.

An example of when to use a subdomain.

If we look at the image above from Nascar, we’ll see they use a subdomain for their store. This makes sense if you think about the actual purpose of Nascar.com when compared to a Nascar-related e-commerce store.

Nascar.com is trying to rank for time-sensitive news about races and drivers, while the store targets people who want to buy Nascar gear and apparel.

While they’re similar, each URL has its own purpose and should be treated separately for SEO purposes.

Improve Organization

Google tells us that on-page experience is important and so do consumers. If your site is not well organized and is difficult to navigate, people will leave, it’s as simple as that.

Subdomains help you organize your site by limiting the amount of information on it. No one wants to sift through dozens of pages to find one simple answer that they’re looking for. It’s up to you to provide your customers with a high-quality user experience and both subdomains and subdirectories can help do this.

To Separate Sites by Language

If you operate multiple companies in different countries around the world, you may want to use a subdomain for each language.

I gave you the Wikipedia example above, but plenty of international brands use this to improve site organization while also allowing Google to focus on the right language for your audience at the time.

When Should You Not Use a Subdomain?

If you’re using SEO as your primary way of generating traffic for your site, you might want to avoid subdomains. You want to create cohesiveness across your brand and that includes all aspects of your website.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t put keyword-rich content on sales and product pages as well. By treating your store as a separate site from your blog, Google isn’t taking that link juice and keyword richness and passing it off to your main site.

Keep in mind, Google won’t punish you for doing these things, but it will have no benefit to you either.

I think the focus should be on crafting high-quality and relevant content as your primary means of giving your site an SEO boost. You can still organize your site in a way that works well for everyone without having to use subdomains.

What Are the SEO Benefits of Using a Subdomain?

So far, we’ve talked quite a bit about why subdomains shouldn’t be a major focus for SEO but let’s discuss the reasons why they could actually be beneficial to you.

Improve the On-Site Experience

A massive UX study performed by Amazon Web Services found that 88 percent of online shoppers would not return to a site if they had a bad experience.

That’s no surprise. There are so many options to buy and read anything you want, why would you bother going back to a site that you didn’t enjoy?

Remember this, our job is to recreate the in- store experience but do so online. If you walked around a store for two hours and were unable to find what you were looking for and no one helped you, would you go back to that store?

The same rules apply online.

Boost Your Domain Authority

Domain authority is a rating that essentially states how well you’re trusted to provide what searchers are looking for. The better and older your site is, the higher rating it gets.

When a site is first created, it’s automatically given a score of 1.

If you’re publishing high-quality content, generating traffic, and keeping people on your site for a while, the score will go up. If you’re using black hat SEO techniques, your score can go down.

One great way to use subdomains to increase domain authority is by linking between the two domains.

For example, you can create a piece of content on your blog that includes links to products on your store. This type of back and forth linking looks good for SEO as long as you don’t overdo it.

According to Brian Dean, only 2.2 percent of content gets links from multiple websites, so every step you take helps.

Better Organize Your Content

I’ve talked a lot about user experience and content organization but it’s important to understand why this matters.

When your content is organized, it’s not just easier for people to find—it also makes it easier for Google to crawl your site. This can help Google find the keywords you’re trying to rank for faster, and if Google can easily navigate the site then users can as well.

Allow You to Include Relevant Keywords in Your URL

As of 2018, John Mueller said that keywords in URLs have very little to do with ranking or user experience.

John Mu explaining the keywords in URLs are not crucial to ranking.

In my opinion, they can very easily have a negative impact, but it’s much more difficult for them to have a positive impact.

That said, including keywords as an overarching subdomain to help organize content could positively affect your SEO. Again, it makes the site easier to crawl, but it also tells Google right away what that section of your site is about.

What Are the SEO Drawbacks of Using a Subdomain?

Here are some of the ways that subdomains can negatively impact your site.

Subdomains Can Dilute Your SEO

Here’s a great analogy for you.

You have two buckets that you’re filling with water and when one bucket is full, you get to drink from the bucket. But, you can’t have a drink until at least one bucket is completely filled.

If you’re dying of dehydration, is the best strategy to fill each bucket equally or focus on one bucket?

Having an unnecessary subdomain spreads your SEO efforts across two sites instead of focusing on one. This means it could take double the links and content to get the same results if you simply focused on one domain.

The consequences can be even worse if you have a blog on a subdomain. Companies with blogs get 97 percent more inbound links, so instead of those links benefiting your main site, they’ll only benefit your blog subdomain and leave your primary URL out to dry.

They Won’t Help With Internal Linking

Links to a subdomain are considered an external link. Anyone in SEO will tell you that internal linking is one of the most important ranking factors.

If you’re linking from a subdomain to a main page, it doesn’t count as an internal link and could possibly force Google to see your site as weak or “thin.”

A Little More Difficult for Google to Crawl

Earlier in the article I talked about how Jon Mueller said the algorithm needs to learn to crawl subdomains separately, but that’s not something that lasts forever. Since subdomains are a separate site, you’ll need to verify them and track everything in Search Console and Analytics separately.

All of these factors combined can make it more challenging for Google to crawl the site in the beginning with hopefully a better experience on the backend.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Impact of Subdomains on SEO

What Are the Benefits of Subdomains for SEO?

Subdomains can improve the on-site experience when used properly, boost your domain authority if you’re linking between the two sites, and can help you better organize content.

How do you set up a subdomain?

You’ll login to your cPanel, find subdomains, create a subdomain name, attach it to the primary domain, and update your DNS. Expect to wait up to 24 hours for changes to take place.

What is the difference between subdomains and subfolders?

Subdomains come before the URL while subfolders come after. Subdomains are treated as a completely different site from the primary URL while subfolders are simply new pages on the main domain. s

What are the drawbacks of using a subdomain?

The main drawbacks are you’re spreading your SEO efforts across multiple websites, which makes internal linking more difficult. They can also make your site more difficult to crawl if you don’t organize everything properly.

Conclusion: What Is a Subdomain?

Now you know what a subdomain is—so what do you plan to do now? Do you think subdomains are the right choice for your site?

While they certainly have their time and place, I’d recommend treading carefully and only using them if you absolutely have to. In terms of overall SEO ranking factors, this is pretty close to the bottom.

Instead, focus on organizing the content you have on your site, fill up your content calendar, and work towards improving your on-site SEO.

What is your opinion on subdomains? Do you think they’re good or bad for SEO?

How to use Google Ads Competitive Metrics

Posted by on Jul 1, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to use Google Ads Competitive Metrics

How to use Google Ads Competitive Metrics

If you’ve been running Google Ads for any amount of time, you’re probably aware that there’s generally a competitive aspect to any campaign that makes you want to monitor your vanity metrics around where you rank.

In one of my former jobs, a senior leader would walk by every day and ask who ranked number one that day, us or the competition.

The question wasn’t are we lowering our cost per acquisition or improving the overall metrics of the account, it was pure vanity and the desire to “win.”

While “winning” in this way isn’t actually meaningful, it is important to pick your head up out of the sand from time to time and understand how your campaigns are performing vs. the competition. This helps you know who your actual competition is and how aggressive they are.

These data points can be used to understand fluctuations in your own data. If your click-through rate is down, but you really haven’t changed anything, that doesn’t mean your competition isn’t on the move. Google recognized the importance of these data points and has been rolling out more competitive metrics into the Google Ads platform. 

In the reporting section of Google Ads, you will find these metrics under “Competitive Metrics” and “Auction Insights” from the metrics and dimensions menu list. Underneath these two areas are some really great tools for understanding how you stack up to your competition. Here are a few of my favorites. 

Search Outranking Share

This data will let you know what specific domains are outranking your ads and how often. You can use this data at all levels (account, campaign, ad group, and keyword).

We find this particularly helpful when there is a direct brand selling with various affiliates. Since seeing all the various competitors is difficult given a host of factors, it can also be helpful to understand and identify competitors that were not on your radar. 

Search Overlap Rate and Position Above Rate

A couple of other similar, but important metrics available are Search Overlap Rate and Position Above Rate. 

Search Overlap Rate helps you understand how often a brand or domain also appears with you. This will give you a better understanding of the options your consumers have on the search results page.

The Position Above Rate metric provides insights into how often that brands ad appears above your own ad when they are both shown together. The last part is really important.

The data is not just telling you how often that brands ad has a higher rank than your average rank, but specifically when you are bidding against one another for the same customer search result.

Why is this important?

Because it helps give some insight into direct competition.

In the below data Listingbaby.com outranks the clients ads almost 90% of the time.

The action I would take based on this would be to understand their ad copy and landing page experience to evaluate the search experience. Looking for potential variances that would impact quality score. 

Under the competitive metrics there are also a lot of valuable data points. The data points we use the most are around Impression Share.

Understanding impression share helps give your brand insight into the total market opportunity.

Impression share is the percentage of total impressions that your ad was displayed vs. what was possible.

For example, if there are 100 searches for “running shoes” and your ad showed for 50 of those your impression share would be 50%. 

The next piece that Google provides insight into is why your ad did not show for the other potential search results. They break it down into two buckets:

Lost due to Rank Lost due to Budget.

These are really the two key levers to your ad being shown more. We use this all the time to help customers understand, “How high is up?” “What is the total market opportunity?” “How much could we spend if we exceed our ROI targets?” 

For your keyword strategy the exact match impression share metric can help you understand how well aligned your keywords are to what consumers are searching for.

Having exact match keywords will give you a better ability to control bids and the entire experience. It’s certainly not possible to have this be 100%, but monitoring this metric gives you a sense of how closely aligned you are and when your customers might be altering what they search for or how Google is changing the algorithm.  

Click share is another important competitive metric that is provided. “Click share” is the clicks you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks that you could have received.

These impression share metrics are available for both display and search campaigns.

They are also available for absolute top impressions (true #1 ranking). Reminder, it is a vanity trap to just chase the absolute number one position, unless you are crushing your KPIs, then it’s game on.

These metrics can be used in the following various areas of your business.

Search marketing: Inform bid and keyword strategiesProduct Management: Understanding more about who the true competitive set is and how they position their products (we find too often brands ignore who their true competitors are and focus on perceived competitors).Creative/UX: Can look at the competitors and their landing page experiences.Finance: To understand and forecast the market opportunity. Helping to inform budgets for upcoming fiscal planning.

These data points put campaigns into context

These data points help advertisers understand what volume is available and who you competing against.

Using this data can help inform a variety of business units beyond just search marketing.

Use the data wisely, keep your ego in check and go out and win! 

The post How to use Google Ads Competitive Metrics appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Twitter’s algorithm ranking factors: A definitive guide

Posted by on Jul 1, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Twitter’s algorithm ranking factors: A definitive guide

Twitter patents and other publications reveal likely aspects of how tweets become promoted in the timeline feeds of users.

Some of Twitter’s timeline ranking factors are very surprising, and adjusting your approach to Tweeting may help you to gain greater visibility of your Tweets.

Based upon a number of key patents and other sources, I have outlined a number of probable ranking factors for Twitter’s algorithm herein.

The Twitter timeline

Twitter first began using an algorithm-based timeline back in 2016 when it switched from what was purely a chronological feed of Tweets from all the accounts one followed. The change ranked users’ timelines to allow them to see “the best Tweets first.” Twitter has since experimented with variations of this up to the present.

A feed-based algorithm for social media is not unusual. Facebook and other social media platforms have done the same. 

The reasons for this change to an algorithmic mix of timeline Tweets are pretty clear. A purely personal, chronological timeline composed of only the accounts one has followed is very siloed and therefore limited – while introducing posts from accounts beyond one’s direct connections has the potential to increase the time one spends on the platform, which in turn increases overall stickiness, which in turn increases the worth of the service to advertisers and data partners.

Various interest classifications of users and interest topics associated with their accounts and tweets further enables potential for advertisement targeting based upon user demographics and content topics.

Twitter power users may have developed some intuitions about various Tweet factors that can result in greater visibility within the algorithm.

A reminder about patents

Corporations register patents all the time for inventions that they do not actually use in live service. When I worked at Verizon, I personally wrote a number of patent drafts for various inventions that my colleagues and I developed in the course of our work – including things that we did not end up using in production.

So, the fact that Twitter has patents that mention ideas for how things could work does not at all guarantee that that is how things do work.

Also, patents typically contain multiple embodiments, which are essentially various ways in which an invention could be implemented – patents attempt to describe the key elements of an invention as broadly as possible in order to claim any possible use that could be attributed to it.

Finally, just as with the famous PageRank algorithm patent that was the foundation of Google’s search engine, in instances where Twitter has used an embodiment from one of their patents, it is highly likely that they have changed and refined the simple, broad inventions described, and will continue to do so.

Even despite all this typical vagueness and uncertainty, I found a number of very interesting concepts in the Twitter patent descriptions, many of which are highly likely to be incorporated within their system.

Twitter and Deep Learning

One additional caveat before I proceed involves how Twitter’s timeline algorithm has incorporated Deep Learning into its DNA, coupled with various levels of human supervision, making it a frequently, if not constantly, self-evolving beast.

This means that both large changes and small, incremental changes, can and will be occurring in how it performs content ranking. Further, this machine learning approach can lead to conditions where Twitter’s own human engineers may not directly know precisely why some content is displayed or outranks other content due to the abstraction of ranking models produced, similar to what I described when writing about models produced by Google’s quality ranking through machine learning.

Despite the complexity and sophistication of how Twitter’s algorithm is functioning, understanding the factors that likely go into the black box can still reveal what influences rankings.

Twitter’s original timeline was simply composed of all the Tweets from the accounts one has followed since one’s last visit, which were collected and displayed in reverse-chronological order with the most recent Tweets shown first, and each earlier Tweet shown one after another as one scrolled downward. 

The current algorithm is still largely composed of that same reverse-chronological listing of Tweets, but Twitter performs a re-ranking to try to display the most-interesting Tweets first and foremost out of recent Tweets.

In the background, the Tweets have been assigned a ranking score by a relevance model that predicts how interesting each Tweet is likely to be to you, and this score value dictates the ranking order.

The Tweets with highest scores are shown first in your timeline list, with the remainder of most-recent Tweets shown further down. It is notable that interspersed in your timeline are now also Tweets from accounts you are not following, as well as a few advertisement Tweets. 

Twitter’s connection graph

First of all, one of the most influential aspects of the Twitter timeline is how Twitter is now displaying Tweets based upon not only your direct connections at this point, but essentially what is your unique social graph, which Twitter refers to in patents as a “connection graph”.

The connection graph represents accounts as nodes and relationships as lines (“edges”) connecting one or more nodes. A relationship may refer to associations between Twitter accounts.

For example, following, subscribing (such as via Twitter’s Super Follows program or, potentially, for Twitter’s announced subscription feature for keyword queries), liking, tagging, etc. – all of these create relationships. 

Relationships in one’s connection graph may be unidirectional (e.g., I follow you) or bidirectional (e.g., we both follow each other). If I follow you, but you do not follow me, I would have a greater expectation of seeing your Tweets and Retweets appearing in my timeline, but you would not necessarily expect to see mine.

Simply based on the connection graph, you are likely to see Tweets and Retweets from those you have followed, as well as Tweets your connections have Liked or Replied to.

The Twitter algorithm has expanded Tweets you may see beyond those accounts that you have directly interacted-with. The Tweets you may see in your timeline now also include Tweets from others who are posting about topics you have followed, Tweets similar in some ways to Tweets you have previously Liked, and Tweets based on topics that the algorithm predicts you might like.

Even among these expanded types of Tweets you may get, the algorithm’s ranking system applies – you are not receiving all Tweets matching your topics, likes, and predicted interests – you are receiving a list curated through Twitter’s algorithm.

Interestingness ranking

Within the DNA of a number of Twitter’s patents and algorithm for ranking Tweets is the concept of “interestingness.”

This was quite likely inspired by a patent granted to Yahoo In 2006 called “Interestingness ranking of media objects”, which described the ranking methods used in the algorithm for Flickr (the dominant social media photo-sharing service that has been subsequently eclipsed by Instagram and Pinterest).

That earlier algorithm for Flickr bears a great many similarities to Twitter’s contemporary patents. It used similar and even identical factors for computing interestingness. These included:

Location info.Content meta data.Chronology.User access patterns.Signals of interest (such as tagging, commenting, favoriting).

One could easily describe Twitter’s algorithm as taking the Flickr interestingness algorithm, expanding upon some of the factors involved, computing it through a more sophisticated machine learning process, interpreting content based upon natural language processing (NLP), and incorporating a number of additional variations to enable rapidity for presentation in near real-time for a gargantuan number of users simultaneously.

Twitter ranking and spam

It is also of interest to focus some on methods used by Twitter to detect spam, spam user accounts, and to demote or suppress spam Tweets from view.

The policing for disinformation, other policy-violating content, and harassment is likewise intense, but that does not necessarily converge as much with ranking evaluations.

Some of the spam detection patents are interesting because I see users frequently running aground of Twitter’s spam suppression processes quite unintentionally, and there are a number of things one may do that result in sandbagging efforts to promote and interact with Twitter’s audience. Twitter has had to build aggressive watchdog processes to police and remove spam, and even the most prominent users can run afoul of these processes from time to time. 

Thus, an understanding of Twitter’s spam factors can be important as they can cause one’s Tweets to get deductions from interestingness they would otherwise have, and this loss in the relevancy scores can reduce the visibility and distribution power of your Tweets.

Twitter ranking factors

So, what are the factors mentioned in Twitter’s patents for assessing “interest”, and which influence how Twitter scores Tweets for rankings?

Recency of the Tweet posting

With more recent being generally much more preferred. Aside from specific keyword and other types of searches, most Tweets would be from the last few hours. Some “in case you missed it” Tweets may also be included, which appear to range primarily over the last day or two.

Images or Video

In general, in general, Google and other platforms have indicated that users tend to prefer images and video media more, so a Tweet containing either might get a higher score.

Twitter specifically cites image and video cards, which refers to websites that have implemented Twitter Cards, which enables Twitter to easily display richer preview snippets when Tweets contain links to webpages with the card markup.

Tweets with links that show images and video are generally more engaging to users, but there may be an additional advantage for Tweets linking to the pages with the card markup for displaying the card content

Interactions with the Tweet

Twitter cites Likes and Retweets, but additional metrics related to the Tweet would also potentially apply here. Interactions include:

LikesRetweetsClicks to links that may be in the TweetClicks to hashtags in the TweetClicks to Twitter accounts mentioned in the TweetDetail Expands – clicks to view details about the Tweet, such as to view who Liked it, or Retweeted it.New Follows – how many people hovered over the username and then clicked to follow the account.Profile visits – how many people clicked the avatar or username to visit the poster’s profile.Shares – how many times the Tweet was shared via the share button.Replies to the Tweet

Impressions

While most impressions come from the display of the Tweet in timelines, some impressions are derived when Tweets are shared through embedding in webpages. It is possible that those impressions numbers might also affect the interestingness score for the Tweet.

Likelihood of Interactions

One Twitter patent describes computing a score for a Tweet representing how likely it is that followers of the Tweet’s Author in the social messaging system will interact with the message, the score being based on the computed interaction level deviation between the observed interaction level of Followers of the Author and the expected interaction level of the Followers.

Length of Tweet

One type of classification is the length of the text contained in the Tweet, which could be classified as a numerical value (e.g. 103 characters), or it could be designated as one of a few categories (e.g., short, medium, or long).

According to topics involved with a Tweet, it might be assessed to be more or less interesting – for some topics, short might be more beneficial, and for some other topics, medium or long length might make the Tweet more interesting.

Previous Author Interactions

Past interactions with the author of a Tweet will increase the likelihood (and ranking score in one’s timeline) that one will see other Tweets by that same author.

These social graph interaction metrics can include scoring by the origin of the relationship.

So, a past history of replying-to, liking, or Retweeting an author’s Tweets, even if one does not follow that account, can increase the likelihood one will see their latest Tweets.

There is a likelihood that the recent of one’s interactions with a Tweet author may also factor into this, so if you have not interacted with one of their Tweets for a long time, potential visibility of their newer Tweets may decrease for you.

In the context of the algorithm, “author” and “account” are essentially used to mean the same thing, so Tweets from a corporate account are treated the same as Tweets from an individual.

Author Credibility Rating

This score can be calculated by an author’s relationships and interactions with other users.

The example given in the patent is that an author followed by multiple high profile or prolific accounts would have a high credibility score.

While one rating value cited is “low”, “medium”, and “high”, the patent also suggests a scale of rating values from 1 to 10, and it can include a qualitative and/or quantitative factor.

I would guess that a range like 1 to 10 is much more likely. It seems likely that some of the spam assessment values could be used to subtract from an Author Credibility Rating. More on potential spam assessment factors in the latter portion of this article.

Author Relevancy

It is possible that authors that are assessed to be more relevant for a particular topic may have a higher Author Relevancy value. Also, mentions of an Author may make them more relevant in the context of the Tweets mentioning them.

The patents also speak about associating Authors with topics, so it is possible that Authors that Tweet involving specific topics on a frequent basis, along with good engagement rates, may be deemed to have higher relevancy when their Tweets involve that topic.

Author Metrics

Tweets may be classified based on properties of the Author. These metrics may influence the relative interestingness of the Author’s messages. Such Author Metrics include:

Location of the Author (such as City or Country)Age (based upon the birthdate that can be given in account details)Number of FollowersNumber of Accounts the Author FollowsRatio of Number of Followers to Accounts Followed, as a larger number of Followers compared to Followed conveys greater popularity along with the raw Followers number. A ratio closer to 1 would indicate a quid pro quo following philosophy on the part of the Author, making it less possible to infer popularity and lending an appearance of artificial popularity.Number of Tweets Posted by the Author per Time Period (for example: per-day, or per-week). Age of the Account (months since account opened, for instance) – with accounts that have been set up very recently given much lower weight.Trust.

Topics

Tweets get classified according to the topics they involve. There are some very sophisticated algorithms involved in classifying the Tweets.

Twitter users often have selected topics to be associated with their accounts, and you will obviously be shown popular Tweets from the topics you have selected. But, Twitter also automatically creates topics based off of keywords found in Tweets.

Based on your interactions with Tweets and the accounts you follow, Twitter is also predicting topics that you would likely be interested in, and showing you some Tweets from those topics despite you not formally subscribing to the topics.

Phrase Classification

Twitter’s system is highly complex, and allows custom ranking models to potentially be applied to Tweets for particular topics and when particular phrases are present.

Twitter has a large staff that works to develop models for particular “customer journeys”, and this would appear to coincide with patent descriptions of how editors could set rules on topic-oriented posts and keywords or phrases in posts.

For instance, posts containing text about “hiring now” or “will be on TV” might be considered boring for a topic, while phrases like “fresh”, “on sale”, or “today only” might be given greater weight as they could be predicted to be more interesting.

This could be quite difficult to cater to, as there is a huge field of potential topics and custom weightings that could be applied.

One recent job posting at Twitter for a Staff Product Designer, Customer Journey described how the position would help:

“Whether you’re looking for Ariana Grande fanart, #herpetology, or extreme unicycling, it’s all happening on Twitter. Our team is responsible for helping new members navigate the diverse array of public conversations happening on Twitter and quickly find a sense of belonging…”

“Gather insights from data and qualitative research, develop hypotheses, sketch solutions with prototypes, and test ideas with our research team and in experiments.”

“Document detailed interaction models and UI specifications.”

“Experience designing for machine-learning, rich taxonomies, and / or interest graphs.”

This description sounds very similar to what’s described in Twitter’s patent for “System and method for determining relevance of social content” where:

“Editors might set rules on classifying certain phrases as more or less interesting…”

“…an editor may decide that some phrases and attributes are interesting in all content, regardless of the category of place that authors the content. For instance, the phrase ‘on sale’ or ‘event’ may be interesting in all cases and a positive weight may be applied.”

One patent describes how Tweets detected to have commercial language could be assigned a lower score than Tweets that did not have commercial language. (Contrarily, such weights could be flipped if the user was conducting searches indicating an interest in purchasing something, so that Tweets containing commercial language could be given a higher weight.)

Time of Day

Time of day can be used to impact relevancy. For instance, a rule could be implemented to lend more weight to Tweets mentioning “Coffee” between 8:00am to 10:00am, and/or to Tweets posted by coffee shops.

Locations

Patents describe how “place references” in Tweets could invoke greater weight for Tweets about a place, and/or to accounts associated with the place reference versus other accounts that merely mention the place. Also geographic proximity between the location of a user’s device and location associated with content items (the Tweet text, image, video, and/or Author) can increase or decrease potential relevancy.

Language

Language of the Tweet can be classified (e.g., English, French, etc.).

The language may be determined automatically using various automated language assessment tools.

A Tweet in a particular language would be of more interest to speakers of the language and of less interest to others.

Reply Tweets

Tweets can be classified based on whether they are replies to previous Tweets. A Tweet that is a reply to a previous Tweet may be deemed less interesting than a Tweet concerning a new topic.

In one patent description, the topic of a Tweet could determine whether the Tweet will be designated to be displayed to another account or included in other accounts’ message streams.

When you are viewing your timeline, there are instances where some of a Tweet’s replies are also displayed with the main Tweet – such as when the Reply Tweets are posted by accounts you follow. In most cases, the Reply Tweets will be only viewable when one clicks to view the thread, or click the Tweet to view all the Replies.

“Blessed” Accounts

This is an odd concept, that I believe might not be in production.

Twitter describes Blessed Accounts as being identified within a particular conversation’s graph, where the original Author in a conversation would be deemed “blessed”, and out of the subsequent replies to the original post, any of the Replies that is subsequently replied-to by the blessed account becomes “blessed” as well.

Those Tweets posted by Blessed Accounts in the conversation would be given increased relevance scores.

Website Profile

This is not mentioned in Twitter patents, but it makes too much sense in context of all the other factors they have mentioned to pass up.

A lot of major content websites frequently have their links shared on Twitter, and Twitter could easily create a website profile reputation/popularity score that also could factor into the rankings of Tweets when links to content on the websites is posted.

News sites, information resources, entertainment sites – all of these could have scores developed from the same factors used to assess Twitter accounts. Tweets from better-liked and better-engaged-with websites could be given greater weight than relatively unknown and less-interacted-with websites.

Twitter Verified

Yes, if you suspected the blue badge next to usernames conveys preferential treatment, there is specific verbiage in one of Twitter’s patents that confirms they have at least considered this.

Since Verified accounts often already have various other popularity indicators associated with them, it is not readily apparent if this factor is in-use or not. Tweets posted by an account that is Verified may be given a higher relevance score, enabling them to appear more than unverified accounts’ Tweets.

Here is the patent description:

“In one or more embodiments of the invention, the conversation module (120) includes functionality to apply a relevance filter to increase the relevance scores of one or more authoring accounts of the conversation graph which are identified in a whitelist of verified accounts. For example, the whitelist of verified accounts can be a list of accounts which are high-profile accounts which are susceptible to impersonation. In this example, celebrity and business accounts would be verified by the messaging platform (100) in order to notify users of the messaging platform (100) that the accounts are authentic. In one or more embodiments of the invention, the conversation module (120) is configured to increase the relevance scores of verified authoring accounts by a predefined amount/percentage.”

Has Trend

This is a binary flag indicating whether the Tweet has been identified as containing a topic that was trending at the time the message was broadcasted.

App Detected Gender, Sexual Orientation & Interests

Twitter may be able to use an account holder’s mobile device information to infer Gender of the account holder, or infer interests in topics such as News, Sports, Weight Training, and other topics.

Some mobile devices provide information upon other apps loaded on the phone for purposes of diagnosing potential application programming conflicts. Thus, some Tweets matching your Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Topical Interests could be given more interestingness points simply based upon inferences made from your phone’s apps. (See:  https://screenrant.com/android-apps-collecting-app-data/ )

And more ranking factors

Twitter states that:

“Our list of considered features and their varied interactions keeps growing, informing our models of ever more nuanced behavior patterns.”

So this list of factors is likely something of an underrepresentation of the factors they may be using, and their list may be expanding.

Also imagine that a custom combination of some of the above factors may be applied as models for Tweets associated with particular topics, lending a large potential complexity to rankings through machine learning methods. (Again, the machine learning applied to create rank weighting models custom to particular queries or topics is very similar to methods that are likely in use with Google.)

Twitter has stated that the scoring of Tweets happens each time one visits Twitter, and each time one refreshes their timeline. Considering some of the complex factors involved, that is very fast!

Twitter uses A/B testing of weightings of ranking factors, and other algorithm alterations, and determines whether a proposed change is an improvement based on engagement and time viewing/interacting with a Tweet. This is used to train ranking models.

The involvement of machine learning in this process suggests that ranking models could be produced for many specific scenarios, and potentially specific to particular topics and types of users. Once developed, the model can get tested, and if it improves engagement, it can get rapidly rolled-out to all users. 

How marketers can use this information

There are a lot of inferences that can be drawn from the list of potential ranking factors, and which can be used by marketers in order to improve their Tweeting tactics.

A Twitter account that only posts announcements about its products and promotional information about its company will likely not have as much visibility as accounts that are more interactive with their community, because interactions produce more ranking signals and potential benefits.

Social media experts have long recommended an approach of blending types of posts rather than merely publishing self-referential promotion – these strategies include “The Rule of Thirds”, “The 80/20 Rule”, and others.

The Twitter ranking factors likely support these theories, as eliciting more interactions with numbers of Twitter users is likelier to increase an account’s visibility.

For instance, a large company account with many followers could post an interesting poll to get advice on what features to add to its product. The votes and comments posted by users will make it such that the respondents will be much more likely to see the company’s next posting due to the recent interactions, and that next posting could be promoting or announcing something new. And, the respondents’ followers might also be more likely to see the company’s next posting, since Twitter appears to factor-in that users with similar interests may be more open to seeing content matching their interests. 

Also, the factors suggest a number of potentially beneficial approaches.

When posting a Tweet promoting a product or making an announcement, combining something to elicit a response from one’s followers could easily expand exposure on the platform as each respondent’s replies to your Tweet may increase the odds that their direct followers may see the original Tweet and their connection’s reply Tweet. 

Leveraging the social graph aspect of Twitter’s algorithm can help to increase the interestingness of your Tweets, and can increase exposure of your Tweets for other users.

Spam factors can negatively impact tweet rankings

Spam detection algorithms can negatively impact Tweet ranking ability.

For one thing, Twitter is very fast to suspend accounts that are blatantly spamming, and in cases where it is obvious and unequivocal, one can expect the account to get terminated abruptly, causing all of its Tweets to disappear from conversation graphs and timelines, and causing the account profile to be no longer available to view.

In yet other instances where it is not as clear whether an account is spamming, the account’s Tweets could simply be demoted by application of negative rank weight scores, or the Tweets could get locked or suspended until or if the account holder takes a corrective action or verifies their identity.

For example, a Twitter account with a long history of good Tweets might abruptly begin posting Viagra ads or links to malware, such as if an established account became hacked. Twitter might temporarily suspend the account until corrective actions were taken, such as passing a CAPTCHA verification, or receiving a verification code via cellphone and changing passwords. Another example could be a new user that accidentally passes over some threshold of following too many accounts within a short timeframe, or posting a little too frequently. 

Twitter employs a number of methods for detecting spam and sidelining it so users see it less.

Much of the automated detecting relies upon detecting a combination of account profile characteristics, account Tweeting behaviors, and content found in the account’s Tweets.

Twitter has developed numbers of characteristic spam “fingerprints” in order to perform rapid pattern detection. One Twitter patent describes how:

“Spam is determined by comparing characteristics of identified spam accounts, and building a ‘similarity graph’ that can be compared with other accounts suspected of spam.”

Tweets identified as potentially containing spam could be flagged with a binary value like “yes” or “no”, and then Tweets that are flagged can get filtered out of timelines. 

It is equally possible for there to be a scale of spamminess, computed from multiple factors, and once a Tweet or account surpasses a threshold, it then suffers demotion. I think it is worthwhile to include mention of these as Twitter users may not understand the implications of how the use the platform. For example, posting one overly-aggressive Tweet might negatively impact an account’s subsequent Tweets for some period of time. Repeated edgy behavior could result in worse, such as complete account deletion, with no opportunity to recover.

I will add a few factors here that are not specifically mentioned in Twitter patents or blog posts because Twitter does not reveal all spam identification factors for obvious reasons. But, some spam and spam account characteristics seem so obvious that I am adding a few from personal observations or from well-regarded research sources to provide a wider understanding of what can incur spam demotions.

Spam factors & other negative ranking factors

Tweets containing a commercial message posted without a follower/followee relationship or in a unidirectional relationship (the Tweet’s Author is following the account it is mentioning but the receiving account does not follow the Author), but they have not had previous interactions, begins to seem suspicious. If this is done many times with similar or identical text, it will not take long for this to be deemed to be spam activity, especially for newer accounts.Account Age – where the age shows the account has been set up very recently. (SparkToro’s recent research on Twitter spam suggests account age of 90 days or less.)Account NSFW Flag – the account has a flag indicating it has been identified for linking to websites documented in a blacklist of potentially offensive sites (such as sites having porn, explicit materials, gore, etc). Offensive Flag – the Tweet has been identified as containing one or more terms from a blacklist of offensive terms.Potentially Fake Account – the account is suspected of impersonating a real person or organization, and has not been verified.Account Posting Frequent Copyright InfringementBlacklisting – One patent suggests use of a blacklist that will apply a relevance filter to decrease the relevance scores of accounts that can include but are not limited to: spammers, potentially fake accounts, accounts with a potential or history of posting adult content, accounts with a potential or history of posting illegal content, accounts flagged by other users, and/or meeting any other criteria for flagging accounts.Account Bot Flag – identifying that the account broadcasting the Tweet has been IDed as potentially being operated by a software application instead of by a human. This particular criteria has a number of implications involved, particularly for those accounts that have used types of scheduling applications for posting Tweets, or other software that generates automated Tweets. For instance, scheduling too many Tweets to be posted per time period through an app like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can result in the user account getting suspended, or its app access via the Twitter API to get suspended. This can be particularly galling, as if the same number of Tweets per time period were posted manually, the account would not run into issues. There has long been a believe among marketers on Facebook as well as Twitter that the respective algorithms might dumb-down visibility for posts published through software versus via manually, and this component suggests that that very well could be the case with Twitter.Tweets containing offensive language might be allowed to erode their interestingness score.Tweets posted via Twitter’s APIs, such as through social media management tools that rely upon Twitter’s API, are generally subject to greater scrutiny as Twitter has described “The problem may be exacerbated when a content sharing service opens its application programming interface (API) to developers.” My observation is that accounts that rely solely upon third-party posting applications and APIs – particularly newer accounts – may see their distribution ability somewhat sandbagged. Newer accounts should work to become established through human usage for an initial period before relying more upon scheduling and posting applications, and even established accounts may see greater distribution potential if they mix some human manual posting in combination with their scheduled/automated/third-party-application posts.Accounts Dormant for a Long Period – Accounts that have not posted for a long time, and then suddenly spring to life do not immediately have the ranking ability they otherwise might. The reason for this is that spammers sometimes may successfully hijack inactive accounts in order to subvert a previously bona fide account into posting spam.Device Profile Associated With Spammer or Other Policy Violator – Essentially, patents suggest that Twitter is using Browser Fingerprinting and Device Fingerprinting to detect spammers and other bad players. Fingerprinting enables tech services to generate profiles of a combo of data that would include things like IP address, device ID, user agent, browser plugins, device platform model and version, and app downloads to create unique “fingerprints” to identify specific devices. A major takeaway from this is that if you have two or more Twitter accounts you use with your phone or browser, if you perform abusive Tweeting through one of those accounts, there is the very real possibility that it could impair rankings in a more “professional” account you operate on the same device. In a worst-case scenario, it could even get you locked-out of both accounts for what you may do on one. This has pretty serious implications for companies and agencies that have employees conducting professional Tweets, while they may switch on their device to posting personal Tweets as well. Some types of Tweets that could cause issues would include: Spam, Harassment, False or Misleading Info, Threats, repeated Copyright Infringement, posting Malware links, and likely more. While I theorize that a personal account could also get a professional account suspended on the same device, I would hazard a guess that it might only suspend the professional account for that particular device holder, and the professional account could be subsequently accessed through a different device.Lack of other app usage data – It is very possible that Twitter may be able to receive data from mobile devices that indicates if the device operator has downloaded or recently used other apps on the device beyond just the Twitter app. (See:  https://screenrant.com/android-apps-collecting-app-data/ ) A common spam account characteristic is that they do not reflect other app usage because the device is primarily dedicated to spamming Twitter and is not showing human usage characteristics. Or, the account is hosted on a webserver instead of a mobile device, and is attempting to imitate the usage profile of a human user. Blocks – accounts that other users have blocked numerous times, or accounts that have been blocked over a particular time frame can be indicative of a spam account.Frequency of Tweets – if a number of Tweets sent from the same account in a given time frame exceeds a threshold amount, then that account may be flagged as spam and denied from sending subsequent Tweets. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, or it is variable in application, because there are larger, corporate accounts with many staff members handling posting of Tweets to a large customer base, such as in the case of American Airlines. There are accounts such as this which are added to whitelists to avoid automatic suspension due to the large volumes of Tweets they may post within short time frames.High Volume of Tweets with the Same Hashtag or Mentions of the Same @Username – Obviously, high-volume Tweets are risky, and increasing your volume within short timeframes will inch your account closer and closer to being deemed to be that of a spammer. Thus, attempting to overwhelm the timeline of a particular Hashtag will be deemed to be annoying and potentially spammy. Likewise, insisting upon gaining the attention of a particular account by mentioning them repeatedly will begin to appear annoying, unnecessary, abusive harassment, and/or spammy. CAPTCHA – If suspected of spam, the service may prevent a Tweet from being written-to or published, requiring the user account to first pass a CAPTCHA challenge to establish that the account is operated by a human. (My agency has encountered this as we have set up new accounts on behalf of clients. This is more likely to happen when the computer that is used to set up the account has been used recently to set up other accounts, and the account is set up using free email service accounts instead of through mobile phones. Twitter also often requires sending a mobile text message to confirm a phone number before unblocking the account.)Account Signup Reflects Anomoly – New accounts are exposed to greater scrutiny and suspicion within Twitter’s systems, and one way of critiquing new accounts is based upon data associated with the initial account signup, since spammers have used automation to try to create large volumes of new accounts for bot usage. Twitter usage can reflect real account setups, or false ones, so Twitter has analyzed many false accounts and has developed fingerprint types of patterns to detect likely spam/bot accounts. For instance, when a human user accesses Twitter’s account signup page in a browser window, to submit registration info, the browser will rapidly make calls back to Twitter’s servers for dozens of elements that are used in composing the page in the browser – such as for Javascripts, cascading stylesheets, and images. Bots are more likely to submit registration info without first calling all the registration page elements. So, image requests and other filetype requests preceding a registration submission can be used to determine whether a new signup reflects an anomaly indicating a bot-generated signup has occurred. Thus, accounts signed-up with anomalous characteristics may have their Tweets deducted some in relevancy.Bulk-Follow of Verified Accounts – Spam accounts will often bulk-follow prominent and/or Verified accounts in order to establish a foothold in the social graph. When setting up a Twitter account for a real, human user before, we used to follow a handful of the Verified accounts suggested by Twitter during the signup process. Oddly enough, this behavior alone can cause an account to get suspended until a CAPTCHA or other verification is passed. So, the takeaway here is do not follow all that many accounts suggested to you in the signup process if you are setting up a new account. Definitely do not use one of those automated follow services that people used to use a lot years ago, or your account could get downgraded in relevancy or suspended.Few Followers – Spam accounts are often newer, and because they often do not promote themselves in ways beneficial to the community they inspire very few followers. So, a low follower account can be one factor in combination with others to identify a potentially spammy user.Irrelevant Hashtags in Reply Tweets – Hashtags in Tweets that do not involve the original Tweet’s topic.Tweets Containing Affiliate Links – self explanatory.Frequent Requests to Befriend Users in a Short Time FrameReposting Duplicate Content Across Multiple Accounts – Especially duplicate content posted close in time. Accounts that Tweet Only URLsPosting Irrelevant or Misleading Content to Trending Topics/HashtagsErroneous or Fictitious Profile Location – For example, a profile location showing “Poughkeepsie, NY”, but the user’s IP is China, would produce an apparent mismatch indicating a potential scammer or spammer account.Account IP Address Matching Abuser Account Ranges, or Country Locations that Originate Greater Amounts of Abuse – For example, Russia. Likewise, commonly known proxied IP addresses are easily detectable by Twitter, and are flagged as suspect.Default Profile Image – Human users are more likely to set up customized account images (“avatars”), so not setting one up and continued use of Twitter’s default profile image is a red flag.Duplicated Profile Image – A profile image duplicated across many accounts is a red flag.Default Cover Image – Failure to set up a custom cover image in the profile’s masthead is not as suspicious as continued use of a default profile image, but use of a different masthead image is more representative of a real account.Nonresolving URL in Profile – SparkToro suggests this, and it does align with many spam accounts. Sometimes this is because spammers may be more likely to set up websites that are likely to be suspended, or typosquatting domains intended to create Trojan horse websites which can also get suspended.Profile Descriptions Matching Spammer Keywords/PatternsDisplay Usernames Conform To Spam Patterns – Usernames that are meaningless alphanumeric sequences, or proper names followed by multiple numeric digits reflect a lack of imagination upon the part of spammers who may be attempting to register hundreds of accounts in bulk, with each name generated randomly, or each username generated by adding the next number in a sequence. Example: John32168762 is the sort of username that most humans find undesirable.Patterns – Profile and Tweet patterns used by spammers often reveal spammer accounts. For instance, if numbers of accounts with default Twitter profile pics and similar patterned display usernames all Tweet out links to a particular page or domain, those accounts all become extremely easy to identify and sideline. 

Simply listing out spam identification factors sharply understates Twitter’s sophisticated systems used for spam identification and spam management.

Major Silicon Valley tech companies have often fought spam for years now, and it has been described as a sort of arms race.

The tech company will create a method to detect the spam, and the spammers then evolve their processes to elude detection, and then the cycle repeats again, and again. 

In Conclusion

Twitter’s patents illustrate a huge sophistication in terms of employing components of Artificial Intelligence, social graph analysis, and methods that combine synchronous and asynchronous processing in order to deliver content extremely rapidly.

The AI components include:

Neural networks.Natural language processing.Circumflex calculation.Markov modeling.Logistic regression.Decision tree analysis.Random forest analysis.Supervised and unsupervised machine learning.

As the ranking determinations can be based upon unique, abstracted, machine learning models according to specific phrases, topics, and interest profiling, what works for one area of interest may work a little differently for other areas of interest. 

Even so, I think that looking at these many potential ranking factors that have been described in Twitter patents can be useful for marketers who want to attain greater exposure on Twitter’s platform.

Author’s disclosure

I served this year as an expert witness in arbitration between a company that sued Twitter for unfair trade practices, and the case was amicably settled recently.

As an expert witness, I am often privy to secret information, including private communications such as employee emails within major corporations, as well as other key documents that can include data, reports, presentations, employee depositions and other information.

In such cases, I am bound by legal protective orders and agreements not to disclose information that was revealed to me in order to be sufficiently informed on the matters I am asked to opine upon, and this was no exception.

I have not disclosed any information covered by the protective order in this article from my recently-resolved case.

I have gained a greater understanding and insights into some aspects of how Twitter functions from context, observations of Twitter in public use, logical projections based on their various algorithm descriptions and from reading Twitter’s patents and other public disclosures subsequent to the resolution of the case I served upon, including the following sources:

Identifying relevant messages in a conversation graphProviding content for broadcast by a messaging platformPromoting content in a real-time messaging platform System and method for determining relevance of social contentSystems and methods for establishing or maintaining a personalized trusted social networkDisplaying relevant messages of a conversation graph Search infrastructureVisibility filteringPrioritizing Messages Within a Message Network Application graph builderUsing Deep Learning at Scale in Twitter’s TimelinesMulti-tiered anti-spamming systems and methodsDetecting scripted or otherwise anomalous interactions with social media platformHow Twitter is fighting spam and malicious automation Suspended Accounts in Retrospect: An Analysis of Twitter Spam Twitter Analysis: 19.42% of Active Accounts Are Fake or Spam

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What’s the biggest hidden secret in Google Ads?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What’s the biggest hidden secret in Google Ads?

What’s the biggest hidden secret in Google Ads?

Marketers are increasingly turning to automation to unlock new growth opportunities. Automated ads are quick, easy and simple to use. However, in a world of smart and automated strategies, optimizing advertising campaigns that outperform the competition can be challenging.

Can marketers influence a smart or automated strategy? The answer may surprise you.

A “secret” or not well-known tactic when it comes to Google Ads is that audience bid modifiers that are manually set can be used to help prioritize which audience list is served if a user is on multiple lists. For example, a higher bid modifier means your preferred list will be prioritized but not be used in the bid modifier in the auction itself.

This is important for prioritizing high-value targets.

Learn more by joining Torkel Öhman, CTO at Amanda AI, who explains how to optimize automated Google campaigns in his informative SMX Advanced session.

After watching his presentation, you’ll be able to optimize your automated advertising campaigns to out-perform your competition on Google, change both the targeting and attribution of audience lists with bid modifiers and get insights into other methods of how to advertise effectively and drive better results on Google.

Watch the session and become your marketing team’s rockstar by finding specific audiences you never thought you could find and understanding how channels, users, impressions, clicks and audiences impact your performance.

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Writing with Yoast SEO and Bertha – a content AI tool

Posted by on Jul 1, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Writing with Yoast SEO and Bertha – a content AI tool

Writing with Yoast SEO and Bertha – a content AI tool

If you’re a content creator, you’ve probably considered using a content AI tool to help you write. After all, these tools can be extremely helpful in generating ideas and getting your creative juices flowing. But is it really a good idea to rely on an AI tool for your writing? I wrote this post together with Bertha. This is a tool that will help you to draft your content using AI. In this blog post, Bertha and I will tell you all about our first collaboration!

How to start with Bertha?

This section is actually written by me, Marieke. I was skeptical about AI. I am a writer, an artist, and was not that sure that a robot could take my place. But I decided to give this a try. The first step I took was to let Bertha come up with a blog post outline based on the title of this article. Bertha gave me some great ideas! I chose the following outline:

Introduction: Content AI tool that can help you write better headlines, blog posts, and social media updatesYoast: A content optimization plugin for WordPress that will help you with your SEOWhat does Bertha.AI do?Conclusion: How these two tools can help you take your content to the next level

I decided to skip the second suggestion because that will not be of much use for our Yoast audience. After that, I asked Bertha to write the introduction to this blog post. Admittedly, I added the last three sentences myself (hey, it still is a collaboration :-)). Also, I filled out the focus keyphrase in Yoast SEO for which I want this post to rank for ‘Yoast SEO and Bertha’. With the paragraph generator, I generated the three topics Bertha suggested I would write. It asked me what the paragraphs should be about. So, it’s my opinion and voice you’re reading, but I did not draft those exact sentences. After that, I generated the concluding paragraph.

My (or should I say Bertha’s) readability score remained green throughout the writing process. I did notice that Bertha’s sentences are a bit more lengthy than my sentences generally are. The bullet of the Yoast SEO analysis was orange. So I did some minor tweaks on my SEO after I drafted this post.

Do Content AI tools like Bertha help you?

If you’re someone who uses WordPress and wants to be found online, then you’re the ideal customer for Bertha. It’s a content AI tool that can help you write better headlines, blog posts, and social media updates. Marieke, who was originally skeptical about AI’s ability to write a blog post, is now a big fan of Bertha. She thinks it’s especially useful for product descriptions. With Bertha, you can keep your own voice and let the AI handle the hard writing work.

So what does Bertha do?

If you’re struggling to write a blog post, don’t worry – Bertha is here to help. It’s an AI-powered writing assistant that can help you get the job done. Just enter your topic and Bertha will get to work, giving you the perfect paragraph to use in your blog post. So why not give her a try?

If you’ve ever used an AI content tool, you know that they can sometimes say weird things. In Bertha’s case, she said that Bertha is better than Yoast and that’s simply not true :-). The AI can sometimes make mistakes, especially with longer pieces of text. So it’s important to keep using your brain and not rely too heavily on AI.

Yoast SEO and Bertha: a match made in heaven?

If you’re using WordPress, then you should definitely try out Bertha (next to Yoast SEO). They work great together and can really help improve your online presence. Yoast SEO can help ensure that all the SEO boxes are checked, while this AI tool can do the hard work of writing for you. So there you have it! If you’re looking for a great SEO tool, give Bertha a try.

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How to Generate More Leads Through Your Online Marketing Campaigns

Posted by on Jun 30, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Generate More Leads Through Your Online Marketing Campaigns

How to Generate More Leads Through Your Online Marketing Campaigns

Are you happy with the number of leads your marketing campaigns are generating? Or, do you wish they were a bit more effective?

If you’re serious about growing your business—whether it’s a B2B company, an e-commerce store, or a startup—increasing the number of leads should be a top priority. Setting up online campaigns is a good start, but it’s not enough. You need to optimize those marketing campaigns to squeeze every last lead from your funnel.

Are you ready to get to work? Here are seven strategies to generate leads like never before.

Why Are Leads so Crucial to Business Growth?

Two of marketers’ top priorities are generating leads and converting those leads to customers. Only increasing customer satisfaction comes close to the importance of getting new leads.

A bar graph of the top marketing priorities in the next 12 months.

It’s no surprise that lead generation is a top priority. Without a continuous flow of new leads, sales dry up. Without sales, there’s no revenue. And without revenue, your business folds.

What’s more, most people who land on your site won’t purchase right away. You need to constantly collect leads so you can nurture them and convert them into buyers in the future.

Not just any leads will do, however. Referrals, conferences, and cold calling are all great lead generation strategies, but they aren’t enough. You also need to learn how to generate more leads from your online campaigns.

Why are advertising leads better? Using targeting you can gather better leads faster and even automate parts of the process. How do you make sure your ads are driving quality leads?

How to Generate Leads Online: 7 Strategies to Drive More Leads

If you aren’t sure how to create a lead generation campaign, I have previous articles to walk you through the process. What I’m going to do is show you how to generate leads online by improving your existing ad campaigns.

Optimize Your Landing Page

Your landing page (or squeeze page) is one of the most important elements of your online lead generation campaign. The goal is to leave the visitor with no choice but to hand over information in exchange for something valuable.

Landing pages convert better than most other ads or offers. The average conversion rate is 2.35 percent, but some have conversion rates in excess of 10 percent. If your landing page’s conversion rate isn’t pushing double digits, you should look to optimize one or more elements ASAP.

I recommend looking at your page’s copy, including its headline, first. Make sure your copy is short, sharp, and engaging. Users need to understand exactly what your product is and how it helps them within a few seconds of landing on your site. Make sure you focus on the benefits of your product to the user, not its features.

Spend more time tweaking and testing your headline than anything else. This will be the first thing a user reads and one of the biggest deciding factors in whether they continue browsing the rest of the page.

You can speed up a user’s understanding of your product by including a video on your landing page. A good chunk of your audience would rather watch a video than read your copy, which is why 76 percent of sales teams say video is key to securing more deals.

Finally, remove all distractions from your page. The layout should be as simple as possible and there’s no need for a navigation bar or links to any other pages on your site. This leaves the user with two options: close their browser window or sign up.

ConvertKit’s Creator Pass is a fantastic example of how to create a great landing page. There’s no headline navigation, the headline copy offers a clear benefit, and there’s an enticing call to action right in front of you.

Generate more leads by optimizing your landing page.

Offer Real Value

Arguably the most important part of your landing page isn’t the copy, image, or CTA. It’s the piece of content, tool, or resource you offer in return for each lead’s email address.

For most brands, gated content takes the form of a PDF download, something like an ebook or a whitepaper. But it doesn’t have to be. Case studies, surveys, webinars and video series are all excellent types of gated content.

Whatever form your gated content takes, it must deliver tremendous value. Otherwise leads will leave your funnel as quickly as they entered. How do you deliver value? By solving a problem your leads have. What are their pain points? Where do they get stuck? What expertise can you leverage to make their lives a little bit easier?

Delivering value also means presenting gated content in the best way possible. Make it visually appealing, with images, videos, and other forms of multimedia content. The nicer it is for your leads to consume, the more they’ll engage with it.

Here’s an example of a non-ebook lead magnet from Leadpages:

Generate more leads by offering real value to the consumer.

They know their leads often struggle to create high converting pages, so they created a training course to solve that issue.

Use Automation to Nurture Leads

Collecting leads is just the first step of the process; you also need to nurture them. Only two percent of sales are made at first contact, yet most salespeople give up after the first attempt. If you automate the follow-up process, you don’t have to worry about a thing.

I recommend using email to nurture when possible. It is a great way to drip feed messages to your leads, it also generates massive ROI. According to research by the Direct Marketing Association, the ROI of email marketing is £42 for every £1 spent.

If you don’t have an email automation platform yet, check out my review of the best solutions. Then integrate your landing page’s form so every email is automatically added to your mailing list.

Next, create an automated series of emails that is sent out at regular intervals. Your goal is to take leads through each stage of the buying process—and that means providing them with the right educational content at the right time. Start by educating them about your wider industry and their general problems. A couple of emails later, you can start to focus on your product and service and how you can help.

The more emails you send, the more you can make your product the hero of the email, and the more direct you can be with the lead.

Use Chatbots to Turn Conversations Into High-Quality Leads

Your salespeople aren’t the only ones who can nurture leads. Chatbots can automate almost every part of the lead generation process. They’re incredibly effective at it, too. Over half of businesses that use AI-powered chatbots generate better quality leads.

Start by replacing forms on your landing page with a chat bot. Forms can be long-winded and rarely offer a great user experience. Chatbots make it easier for prospects to fill out their details. In some cases, users may not even be aware they’re filling out a lead form.

You can also use chatbots to respond to leads at lightning speed. Response time matters in lead generation. A study by Harvard Business Review shows businesses that respond to leads in under five minutes are 100 times more likely to convert them. With chatbots, you can automate the response process and send a message as soon as a lead fills out a form.

Finally, use chatbots to nurture and qualify leads. Chatbots can ask the same qualifying question as your salespeople to separate the wheat from the chaff. The best can be sent directly to sales, while everyone else is added to a nurturing sequence.

Drift’s chatbot is an excellent example of this. It asks a qualifying question as soon as someone lands on the site, putting them straight through to a sales rep if they’re ready.

Generate more leads by utilizing chat bots.

Use Multi-Platform Campaigns

How many platforms are you using to advertise your landing page and gated content? You probably aren’t using enough.

Today’s customer journey is long. Most don’t convert to customers the first time they land on your site. The majority probably won’t sign up on your landing page, either. A recent Google study found it takes between 20 and 500 touchpoints to become a customer.

The solution is a multi-touch campaign, where your message is delivered in multiple formats across multiple channels.

Advertising on a range of channels maximizes the chances that potential customers will see and click your ad. It’s a numbers game at the end of the day. The more shots you take, the more chances you have to score.

Leverage Personalization

If you want an easy way to increase conversion rates at every stage of your online lead generation campaign, try personalization. In a survey of B2B sales and marketing professionals, over three-quarters (77 percent) said personalization made for better customer relationships, and over half (55 percent) said personalization led to higher sales conversions.

How can you add personalization into your funnels to generate leads?

Start by personalizing your ads. While Apple may have made creating hyper-personalized ads a lot harder, Google still makes it relatively easy to personalize paid search ads with dynamic ads.

Next, personalize your landing page, particularly the call to action. Research shows personalized CTAs achieve 202 percent better conversions. Marketing tools like HubSpot and Unbounce can help you create dynamic CTAs that change depending on who views them. But you could also go old school and create several different versions of your page for each ad group and personalize the copy accordingly.

Finally, build personalization into your email automation tool. Every major email marketing tool makes it easy to automatically insert the recipient’s name into the subject line and body copy, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to personalize your nurturing emails.

Target Your Ads Carefully

There’s no point wasting resources nurturing leads who will never buy your product. That’s why you need to target your lead generation ads carefully.

I’ve written extensively about how to find your target audience and identify target markets for paid campaigns, so I’m not going to cover old ground here.

I will say it’s important not to be too hasty when judging the performance of your landing page ads. When pruning and optimizing ad campaigns, don’t just judge performance based on how many people they send to your landing page that sign up. That’s a good measure, but it’s not as important as how many people actually convert into customers.

Think about it. One ad campaign could have a ridiculously high signup conversion rate of 20 percent. But if only a tiny fraction of those people make a purchase, it’s not a particularly effective ad. An ad campaign with a much lower signup conversion rate could be far more effective at generating high-quality leads.

Of course, this means you’re going to have to wait longer to collect relevant data. But the end result should be a much more targeted and effective ad campaign.

The best way to target ads effectively? Target keywords with higher buyer intent. These are search terms that indicate the user is closer to conversion.

Frequently Asked Questions About Generating More Leads

How do you build a lead generation campaign?

Start by having an objective and defining your target audience. Create a valuable piece of gated content and drive traffic to it using paid ads. Collect emails and then use email to nurture those leads.

What is an example of a lead generation marketing campaign?

A gated whitepaper is an example of a lead generation marketing campaign. Webinars can also be used as a lead generation marketing campaign to acquire leads and nurture them using video

How do I optimize my lead generation campaign?

There are several strategies to optimize lead generation campaigns. Improve your landing page copy, put your emails on autopilot, use chatbots to speed up response time, and personalize messaging.

Where should I advertise for my lead gen campaign?

Social media platforms are one of the most cost-effective places to advertise your lead generation campaign. But the important thing is to advertise wherever your target audience hangs out online.

Conclusion: Generate More Leads to Improve Marketing ROI

Improving your online marketing campaigns and optimizing how you generate leads are the keys to growing your business. But you don’t have to use all of the strategies I’ve listed all at once.

Optimizing your campaigns should be an ongoing endeavor, so pick one or two of these strategies to implement at a time. Pretty soon you’ll send your ROI skyrocketing.

Now you know how to generate leads online, which strategy will you start with first?

Google rich results guidelines now prohibits weapons, recreational drugs, tobacco & vaping products and gambling-related products

Posted by on Jun 30, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google rich results guidelines now prohibits weapons, recreational drugs, tobacco & vaping products and gambling-related products

Google has updated its rich results content guidelines to align better with the overall Google merchant guidelines thus disallowing rich results for products that are widely prohibited or regulated, or that can facilitate serious harm to self or others.

These include, but are not limited to, weapons, recreational drugs, tobacco & vaping products and gambling-related products.

New rich results guidelines. Google has updated the rich results product content guidelines to add this section:

Don’t mark up content that promotes widely prohibited or regulated goods, services, or information that may facilitate serious and/or immediate or long term harm to self or others. This includes content related to firearms & weapons, recreational drugs, tobacco & vaping products and gambling-related products.

Application. Google said this policy applies to all forms of rich result markup, including star ratings, prices, or availability information and more. This can impact products with rich result structured data markup that are widely prohibited or regulated, or that can facilitate serious harm to self or others. “This could include goods like fireworks, recreational drugs, and other products that can pose acute threats of physical harm,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.

Effective immediately. Google told us this policy goes into affect today, at the time this story has published.

Why we care. If you sell any of these types of products, you will probably want to remove the structured data markup from those pages. If you do not remove the markup, either way, Google will not show rich results for these product categories.

We did ask Google if you will receive some sort of manual action within Google Search Console and Google said it will not issue manual actions, instead Google will simply just remove the rich results for these types of search results. So no manual action will be given but technically the removal of these rich results is the penalty one would receive for violating the rich results content guidelines.

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