Tag Archive | "Real"

How to Make Your Writing Real

In this day and age, substance matters. What you say must be meaningful to the people you’re trying to attract….

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Eventually, You Won’t Know What’s Real or Not in Computer Games

“We’re going to reach a point where you won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s created in the computer and what’s real,” says Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick. “That doesn’t mean we’ll do it for all of our games. This promise of taking certain titles, like basketball, and making it truly look like live-action is pretty close now. Squint a little bit and it looks like live-action (even now). That’s really exciting and that gives our creative folks a new canvas on which to paint.”

Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software, the company behind such games as Grand Theft Auto, Borderlands, and NBA 2K, discusses the future of gaming in an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC:

Eventually, You Won’t Know What’s Real or Not in Computer Games

We have a new console generation coming and that’s going to allow us to do some things that we haven’t been able to do before creatively. That’s exciting. But as I’ve said before, we’re going to reach a point where you won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s created in the computer and what’s real. That doesn’t mean we’ll do it for all of our games. Borderlands, for example, is an animated universe and it’s always going to be an animated universe. 

But this promise of taking certain titles, like basketball and making it truly look like live-action is pretty close now. Squint a little bit and it looks like live-action. That’s really exciting and that gives our creative folks a new canvas on which to paint.

Our Strategy Is To Make the Best Entertainment

We’re incredibly grateful to our creative teams and they keep delivering. The reason they deliver is that our strategy is to make the best entertainment. We are focused on being the most creative, the most efficient, and the most innovative company in the entertainment business. We don’t always succeed but that’s what we aim to do every day. We’re really happy with how NBA 2K is doing and by the way, we’re happy with how (our competitor) Fortnite is doing. Hits are good for the marketplace. 

NBA 2K19 has now sold 12 million units and recurrent consumer spending was up 140 percent in the quarter. It is extraordinary. It used to be about a three-month experience. It’s now a nine or ten-month experience. Our goal is to make that a 12-month experience. It never ends, it just gets better and better. In China, we have our online games. So NBA 2K online in China we launched the second iteration and that title is up 75 percent year-over-year. We have 46 million registered users. It remains the number one PC Sports title in China. 

We’re still saying there are 110 million users for Grand Theft Auto. But you should know, in the past six months, five out of those six months it’s been a top ten title. And Grand Theft Auto Online set a new record in the first quarter. That’s before the launch of Casino Pack which is huge. Rockstar Games has done an amazing job and Social Casino is a big part of the interactive entertainment business. It’s great to be in the social casino business now through Red Ded Online and Grand Theft Auto Online. 

Give An Audience Something That’s Fantastic And They Show Up

The conventional wisdom before the launch of the first Red Dead Redemption was westerns don’t work in interactive entertainment. Truth is if you give an audience something that’s unexpected and fantastic they show up for it. Red Dead Redemption 2 has now sold 25 million units. Very few titles can rise to the level of Rockstar Games titles. and if Borderlands 3 became close to Red Dead Redemption 2, we’d be just thrilled. 

The truth is that Borderlands 3, coming out in September, is shaping up to be a massive title. The catalog has been selling great. The margins are high and consumers are really loving it. A concern that we had is that it’s been almost eight years since Borderlands 2 and you wonder whether you know consumers see that as a fresh title. The buzz is saying absolutely yes.

It’s Disrespectful To Point the Finger At Entertainment

This is a terrible and tragedy a senseless tragedy. It’s fun to talk about entertainment but lives were we’re lost. The truth is it’s disrespectful to the victims and the families to point the finger at entertainment. Entertainment is part of people’s daily joy. It’s consumed worldwide and it’s the same worldwide. However, gun violence is uniquely American. That has to change and that will only change if we address the real issues.

Eventually, You Won’t Know What’s Real or Not in Computer Games – Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two

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The Real Impact of Mobile-First Indexing & The Importance of Fraggles

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While SEOs have been doubling-down on content and quality signals for their websites, Google was building the foundation of a new reality for crawling — indexing and ranking. Though many believe deep in their hearts that “Content is King,” the reality is that Mobile-First Indexing enables a new kind of search result. This search result focuses on surfacing and re-publishing content in ways that feed Google’s cross-device monetization opportunities better than simple websites ever could.

For two years, Google honed and changed their messaging about Mobile-First Indexing, mostly de-emphasizing the risk that good, well-optimized, Responsive-Design sites would face. Instead, the search engine giant focused more on the use of the Smartphone bot for indexing, which led to an emphasis on the importance of matching SEO-relevant site assets between desktop and mobile versions (or renderings) of a page. Things got a bit tricky when Google had to explain that the Mobile-First Indexing process would not necessarily be bad for desktop-oriented content, but all of Google’s shifting and positioning eventually validated my long-stated belief: That Mobile-First Indexing is not really about mobile phones, per se, but mobile content.

I would like to propose an alternative to the predominant view, a speculative theory, about what has been going on with Google in the past two years, and it is the thesis of my 2019 MozCon talk — something we are calling Fraggles and Fraggle-based Indexing

 I’ll go through Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing, and how this new method of indexing has made web content more ‘liftable’ for Google. I’ll also outline how Fraggles impact the Search Results Pages (SERPs), and why it fits with Google’s promotion of Progressive Web Apps. Next, I will provide information about how astute SEO’s can adapt their understanding of SEO and leverage Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing to meet the needs of their clients and companies. Finally, I’ll go over the implications that this new method of indexing will have on Google’s monetization and technology strategy as a whole.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Fraggles & Fraggle-based indexing

The SERP has changed in many ways. These changes can be thought of and discussed separately, but I believe that they are all part of a larger shift at Google. This shift includes “Entity-First Indexing” of crawled information around the existing structure of Google’s Knowledge Graph, and the concept of “Portable-prioritized Organization of Information,” which favors information that is easy to lift and re-present in Google’s properties — Google describes these two things together as “Mobile-First Indexing.”

As SEOs, we need to remember that the web is getting bigger and bigger, which means that it’s getting harder to crawl. Users now expect Google to index and surface content instantly. But while webmasters and SEOs were building out more and more content in flat, crawlable HTML pages, the best parts of the web were moving towards more dynamic websites and web-apps. These new assets were driven by databases of information on a server, populating their information into websites with JavaScript, XML or C++, rather than flat, easily crawlable HTML. 

For many years, this was a major problem for Google, and thus, it was a problem for SEOs and webmasters. Ultimately though, it was the more complex code that forced Google to shift to this more advanced, entity-based system of indexing — something we at MobileMoxie call Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing, and the credit goes to JavaScript’s “Fragments.”

Fraggles represent individual parts (fragments) of a page for which Google overlayed a “handle” or “jump-link” (aka named-anchor, bookmark, etc.) so that a click on the result takes the users directly to the part of the page where the relevant fragment of text is located. These Fraggles are then organized around the relevant nodes on the Knowledge Graph, so that the mapping of the relationships between different topics can be vetted, built-out, and maintained over time, but also so that the structure can be used and reused, internationally — even if different content is ranking. 

More than one Fraggle can rank for a page, and the format can vary from a text-link with a “Jump to” label, an unlabeled text link, a site-link carousel, a site-link carousel with pictures, or occasionally horizontal or vertical expansion boxes for the different items on a page.

The most notable thing about Fraggles is the automatic scrolling behavior from the SERP. While Fraggles are often linked to content that has an HTML or JavaScript jump-links, sometimes, the jump-links appear to be added by Google without being present in the code at all. This behavior is also prominently featured in AMP Featured Snippets, for which Google has the same scrolling behavior, but also includes Google’s colored highlighting — which is superimposed on the page — to show the part of the page that was displayed in the Featured Snippet, which allows the searcher to see it in context. I write about this more in the article: What the Heck are Fraggles.

How Fraggles & Fraggle-based indexing works with JavaScript

Google’s desire to index Native Apps and Web Apps, including single-page apps, has necessitated Google’s switch to indexing based on Fragments and Fraggles, rather than pages. In JavaScript, as well as in Native Apps, a “Fragment” is a piece of content or information that is not necessarily a full page. 

The easiest way for an SEO to think about a Fragment is within the example of an AJAX expansion box: The piece of text or information that is fetched from the server to populate the AJAX expander when clicked could be described as a Fragment. Alternatively, if it is indexed for Mobile-First Indexing, it is a Fraggle. 

It is no coincidence that Google announced the launch of Deferred JavaScript Rendering at roughly the same time as the public roll-out of Mobile-First Indexing without drawing-out the connection, but here it is: When Google can index fragments of information from web pages, web apps and native apps, all organized around the Knowledge Graph, the data itself becomes “portable” or “mobile-first.”

We have also recently discovered that Google has begun to index URLs with a # jump-link, after years of not doing so, and is reporting on them separately from the primary URL in Search Console. As you can see below from our data, they aren’t getting a lot of clicks, but they are getting impressions. This is likely because of the low average position. 

Before Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing, indexing # URLs would have just resulted in a massive duplicate content problem and extra work indexing for Google. Now that Fraggle-based Indexing is in-place, it makes sense to index and report on # URLs in Search Console — especially for breaking up long, drawn-out JavaScript experiences like PWA’s and Single-Page-Apps that don’t have separate URLs, databases, or in the long-run, possibly even for indexing native apps without Deep Links. 

Why index fragments & Fraggles?

If you’re used to thinking of rankings with the smallest increment being a URL, this idea can be hard to wrap your brain around. To help, consider this thought experiment: How useful would it be for Google to rank a page that gave detailed information about all different kinds of fruits and vegetables? It would be easy for a query like “fruits and vegetables,” that’s for sure. But if the query is changed to “lettuce” or “types of lettuce,” then the page would struggle to rank, even if it had the best, most authoritative information. 

This is because the “lettuce” keywords would be diluted by all the other fruit and vegetable content. It would be more useful for Google to rank the part of the page that is about lettuce for queries related to lettuce, and the part of the page about radishes well for queries about radishes. But since users don’t want to scroll through the entire page of fruits and vegetables to find the information about the particular vegetable they searched for, Google prioritizes pages with keyword focus and density, as they relate to the query. Google will rarely rank long pages that covered multiple topics, even if they were more authoritative.

With featured snippets, AMP featured snippets, and Fraggles, it’s clear that Google can already find the important parts of a page that answers a specific question — they’ve actually been able to do this for a while. So, if Google can organize and index content like that, what would the benefit be in maintaining an index that was based only on per-pages statistics and ranking? Why would Google want to rank entire pages when they could rank just the best parts of pages that are most related to the query?

To address these concerns, historically, SEO’s have worked to break individual topics out into separate pages, with one page focused on each topic or keyword cluster. So, with our vegetable example, this would ensure that the lettuce page could rank for lettuce queries and the radish page could rank for radish queries. With each website creating a new page for every possible topic that they would like to rank for, there’s lot of redundant and repetitive work for webmasters. It also likely adds a lot of low-quality, unnecessary pages to the index. Realistically, how many individual pages on lettuce does the internet really need, and how would Google determine which one is the best? The fact is, Google wanted to shift to an algorithm that focused less on links and more on topical authority to surface only the best content — and Google circumvents this with the scrolling feature in Fraggles.

Even though the effort to switch to Fraggle-based indexing, and organize the information around the Knowledge Graph, was massive, the long-term benefits of the switch far out-pace the costs to Google because they make Google’s system for flexible, monetizable and sustainable, especially as the amount of information and the number of connected devices expands exponentially. It also helps Google identify, serve and monetize new cross-device search opportunities, as they continue to expand. This includes search results on TV’s, connected screens, and spoken results from connected speakers. A few relevant costs and benefits are outlined below for you to contemplate, keeping Google’s long-term perspective in mind:

Why Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing are important for PWAs

What also makes the shift to Fraggle-based Indexing relevant to SEOs is how it fits in with Google’s championing of Progressive Web Apps or AMP Progressive Web Apps, (aka PWAs and PWA-AMP websites/web apps). These types of sites have become the core focus of Google’s Chrome Developer summits and other smaller Google conferences.

From the perspective of traditional crawling and indexing, Google’s focus on PWAs is confusing. PWAs often feature heavy JavaScript and are still frequently built as Single-Page Apps (SPA’s), with only one or only a few URLs. Both of these ideas would make PWAs especially difficult and resource-intensive for Google to index in a traditional way — so, why would Google be so enthusiastic about PWAs? 

The answer is because PWA’s require ServiceWorkers, which uses Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing to take the burden off crawling and indexing of complex web content.

In case you need a quick refresher: ServiceWorker is a JavaScript file — it instructs a device (mobile or computer) to create a local cache of content to be used just for the operation of the PWA. It is meant to make the loading of content much faster (because the content is stored locally) instead of just left on a server or CDN somewhere on the internet and it does so by saving copies of text and images associated with certain screens in the PWA. Once a user accesses content in a PWA, the content doesn’t need to be fetched again from the server. It’s a bit like browser caching, but faster — the ServiceWorker stores the information about when content expires, rather than storing it on the web. This is what makes PWAs seem to work offline, but it is also why content that has not been visited yet is not stored in the ServiceWorker.

ServiceWorkers and SEO

Most SEOs who understand PWAs understand that a ServiceWorker is for caching and load time, but they may not understand that it is likely also for indexing. If you think about it, ServiceWorkers mostly store the text and images of a site, which is exactly what the crawler wants. A crawler that uses Deferred JavaScript Rendering could go through a PWA and simulate clicking on all the links and store static content using the framework set forth in the ServiceWorker. And it could do this without always having to crawl all the JavaScript on the site, as long as it understood how the site was organized, and that organization stayed consistent. 

Google would also know exactly how often to re-crawl, and therefore could only crawl certain items when they were set to expire in the ServiceWorker cache. This saves Google a lot of time and effort, allowing them to get through or possibly skip complex code and JavaScript.

For a PWA to be indexed, Google requires webmasters to ‘register their app in Firebase,’ but they used to require webmasters to “register their ServiceWorker.” Firebase is the Google platform that allows webmasters to set up and manage indexing and deep linking for their native apps, chat-bots and, now, PWA’s

Direct communication with a PWA specialist at Google a few years ago revealed that Google didn’t crawl the ServiceWorker itself, but crawled the API to the ServiceWorker. It’s likely that when webmasters register their ServiceWorker with Google, Google is actually creating an API to the ServiceWorker, so that the content can be quickly and easily indexed and cached on Google’s servers. Since Google has already launched an Indexing API and appears to now favor API’s over traditional crawling, we believe Google will begin pushing the use of ServiceWorkers to improve page speed, since they can be used on non-PWA sites, but this will actually be to help ease the burden on Google to crawl and index the content manually.

Flat HTML may still be the fastest way to get web information crawled and indexed with Google. For now, JavaScript still has to be deferred for rendering, but it is important to recognize that this could change and crawling and indexing is not the only way to get your information to Google. Google’s Indexing API, which was launched for indexing time-sensitive information like job postings and live-streaming video, will likely be expanded to include different types of content. 

It’s important to remember that this is how AMP, Schema, and many other types of powerful SEO functionalities have started with a limited launch; beyond that, some great SEO’s have already tested submitting other types of content in the API and seen success. Submitting to APIs skips Google’s process of blindly crawling the web for new content and allows webmasters to feed the information to them directly.

It is possible that the new Indexing API follows a similar structure or process to PWA indexing. Submitted URLs can already get some kinds of content indexed or removed from Google’s index, usually in about an hour, and while it is only currently officially available for the two kinds of content, we expect it to be expanded broadly.

How will this impact SEO strategy?

Of course, every SEO wants to know how to leverage this speculative theory — how can we make the changes in Google to our benefit? 

The first thing to do is take a good, long, honest look at a mobile search result. Position #1 in the organic rankings is just not what it used to be. There’s a ton of engaging content that is often pushing it down, but not counting as an organic ranking position in Search Console. This means that you may be maintaining all your organic rankings while also losing a massive amount of traffic to SERP features like Knowledge Graph results, Featured Snippets, Google My Business, maps, apps, Found on the Web, and other similar items that rank outside of the normal organic results. 

These results, as well as Pay-per-Click results (PPC), are more impactful on mobile because they are stacked above organic rankings. Rather than being off to the side, as they might be in a desktop view of the search, they push organic rankings further down the results page. There has been some great reporting recently about the statistical and large-scale impact of changes to the SERP and how these changes have resulted in changes to user-behavior in search, especially from Dr. Pete Meyers, Rand Fishkin, and JumpTap.

Dr. Pete has focused on the increasing number of changes to the Google Algorithm recorded in his MozCast, which heated up at the end of 2016 when Google started working on Mobile-First Indexing, and again after it launched the Medic update in 2018. 

Rand, on the other hand, focused on how the new types of rankings are pushing traditional organic results down, resulting in less traffic to websites, especially on mobile. All this great data from these two really set the stage for a fundamental shift in SEO strategy as it relates to Mobile-First Indexing.

The research shows that Google re-organized its index to suit a different presentation of information — especially if they are able to index that information around an entity-concept in the Knowledge Graph. Fraggle-based Indexing makes all of the information that Google crawls even more portable because it is intelligently nested among related Knowledge Graph nodes, which can be surfaced in a variety of different ways. Since Fraggle-based Indexing focuses more on the meaningful organization of data than it does on pages and URLs, the results are a more “windowed” presentation of the information in the SERP. SEOs need to understand that search results are now based on entities and use-cases (think micro-moments), instead of pages and domains.

Google’s Knowledge Graph

To really grasp how this new method of indexing will impact your SEO strategy, you first have to understand how Google’s Knowledge Graph works. 

Since it is an actual “graph,” all Knowledge Graph entries (nodes) include both vertical and lateral relationships. For instance, an entry for “bread” can include lateral relationships to related topics like cheese, butter, and cake, but may also include vertical relationships like “standard ingredients in bread” or “types of bread.” 

Lateral relationships can be thought of as related nodes on the Knowledge Graph, and hint at “Related Topics” whereas vertical relationships point to a broadening or narrowing of the topic; which hints at the most likely filters within a topic. In the case of bread, a vertical relationship-up would be topics like “baking,” and down would include topics like “flour” and other ingredients used to make bread, or “sourdough” and other specific types of bread.

SEOs should note that Knowledge Graph entries can now include an increasingly wide variety of filters and tabs that narrow the topic information to benefit different types of searcher intent. This includes things like helping searchers find videos, books, images, quotes, locations, but in the case of filters, it can be topic-specific and unpredictable (informed by active machine learning). This is the crux of Google’s goal with Fraggle-based Indexing: To be able to organize the information of the web-based on Knowledge Graph entries or nodes, otherwise discussed in SEO circles as “entities.” 

Since the relationships of one entity to another remain the same, regardless of the language a person is speaking or searching in, the Knowledge Graph information is language-agnostic, and thus easily used for aggregation and machine learning in all languages at the same time. Using the Knowledge Graph as a cornerstone for indexing is, therefore, a much more useful and efficient means for Google to access and serve information in multiple languages for consumption and ranking around the world. In the long-term, it’s far superior to the previous method of indexing.

Examples of Fraggle-based indexing in the SERPs 

Knowledge Graph

Google has dramatically increased the number of Knowledge Graph entries and the categories and relationships within them. The build-out is especially prominent for topics for which Google has a high amount of structured data and information already. This includes topics like:

  • TV and Movies — from Google Play
  • Food and Recipe — from Recipe Schema, recipe AMP pages, and external food and nutrition databases 
  • Science and medicine — from trusted sources (like WebMD) 
  • Businesses — from Google My Business. 

Google is adding more and more nodes and relationships to their graph and existing entries are also being built-out with more tabs and carousels to break a single topic into smaller, more granular topics or type of information.

As you can see below, the build-out of the Knowledge Graph has also added to the number of filters and drill-down options within many queries, even outside of the Knowledge Graph. This increase can be seen throughout all of the Google properties, including Google My Business and Shopping, both of which we believe are now sections of the Knowledge Graph:


Google Search for ‘Blazers’ with Visual Filters at the Top for Shopping Oriented Queries

Google My Business (Business Knowledge Graph) with Filters for Information about Googleplex

Other similar examples include the additional filters and “Related Topics” results in Google Images, which we also believe to represent nodes on the Knowledge Graph:

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Google Images Increase in Filters & Inclusion of Related Topics Means that These Are Also Nodes on the Knowledge Graph

The Knowedge Graph is also being presented in a variety of different ways. Sometimes there’s a sticky navigation that persists at the top of the SERP, as seen in many media-oriented queries, and sometimes it’s broken up to show different information throughout the SERP, as you may have noticed in many of the local business-oriented search results, both shown below.


Media Knowledge Graph with Sticky Top Nav (Query for ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’)

Local Business Knowledge Graph (GMB) With Information Split-up Throughout the SERP

Since the launch of Fraggle-based indexing is essentially a major Knowledge Graph build-out, Knowledge Graph results have also begun including more engaging content which makes it even less likely that users will click through to a website. Assets like playable video and audio, live sports scores, and location-specific information such as transportation information and TV time-tables can all be accessed directly in the search results. There’s more to the story, though. 

Increasingly, Google is also building out their own proprietary content by re-mixing existing information that they have indexed to create unique, engaging content like animated ‘AMP Stories’ which webmasters are also encouraged to build-out on their own. They have also started building a zoo of AR animals that can show as part of a Knowledge Graph result, all while encouraging developers to use their AR kit to build their own AR assets that will, no doubt, eventually be selectively incorporated into the Knowledge Graph too.


Google AR Animals in Knowledge Graph

Google AMP Stories Now Called ‘Life in Images’

SEO Strategy for Knowledge Graphs

Companies who want to leverage the Knowledge Graph should take every opportunity to create your own assets, like AR models and AMP Stories, so that Google will have no reason to do it. Beyond that, companies should submit accurate information directly to Google whenever they can. The easiest way to do this is through Google My Business (GMB). Whatever types of information are requested in GMB should be added or uploaded. If Google Posts are available in your business category, you should be doing Posts regularly, and making sure that they link back to your site with a call to action. If you have videos or photos that are relevant for your company, upload them to GMB. Start to think of GMB as a social network or newsletter — any assets that are shared on Facebook or Twitter can also be shared on Google Posts, or at least uploaded to the GMB account.

You should also investigate the current Knowledge Graph entries that are related to your industry, and work to become associated with recognized companies or entities in that industry. This could be from links or citations on the entity websites, but it can also include being linked by third-party lists that give industry-specific advice and recommendations, such as being listed among the top competitors in your industry (“Best Plumbers in Denver,” “Best Shoe Deals on the Web,” or “Top 15 Best Reality TV Shows”). Links from these posts also help but are not required — especially if you can get your company name on enough lists with the other top players. Verify that any links or citations from authoritative third-party sites like Wikipedia, Better Business Bureau, industry directories, and lists are all pointing to live, active, relevant pages on the site, and not going through a 301 redirect.

While this is just speculation and not a proven SEO strategy, you might also want to make sure that your domain is correctly classified in Google’s records by checking the industries that it is associated with. You can do so in Google’s MarketFinder tool. Make updates or recommend new categories as necessary. Then, look into the filters and relationships that are given as part of Knowledge Graph entries and make sure you are using the topic and filter words as keywords on your site.

Featured snippets 

Featured Snippets or “Answers” first surfaced in 2014 and have also expanded quite a bit, as shown in the graph below. It is useful to think of Featured Snippets as rogue facts, ideas or concepts that don’t have a full Knowledge Graph result, though they might actually be associated with certain existing nodes on the Knowledge Graph (or they could be in the vetting process for eventual Knowledge Graph build-out). 

Featured Snippets seem to surface when the information comes from a source that Google does not have an incredibly high level of trust for, like it does for Wikipedia, and often they come from third party sites that may or may not have a monetary interest in the topic — something that makes Google want to vet the information more thoroughly and may prevent Google from using it, if a less bias option is available.

Like the Knowledge Graph, Featured Snippets results have grown very rapidly in the past year or so, and have also begun to include carousels — something that Rob Bucci writes about extensively here. We believe that these carousels represent potentially related topics that Google knows about from the Knowledge Graph. Featured Snippets now look even more like mini-Knowledge Graph entries: Carousels appear to include both lateral and vertically related topics, and their appearance and maintenance seem to be driven by click volume and subsequent searches. However, this may also be influenced by aggregated engagement data for People Also Ask and Related Search data.

The build-out of Featured Snippets has been so aggressive that sometimes the answers that Google lifts are obviously wrong, as you can see in the example image below. It is also important to understand that Featured Snippet results can change from location to location and are not language-agnostic, and thus, are not translated to match the Search Language or the Phone Language settings. Google also does not hold themselves to any standard of consistency, so one Featured Snippet for one query might present an answer one way, and a similar query for the same fact could present a Featured Snippet with slightly different information. For instance, a query for “how long to boil an egg” could result in an answer that says “5 minutes” and a different query for “how to make a hard-boiled egg” could result in an answer that says “boil for 1 minute, and leave the egg in the water until it is back to room temperature.”


Featured Snippet with Carousel Featured

Snippet that is Wrong

The data below was collected by Moz and represents an average of roughly 10,000 that skews slightly towards ‘head’ terms.


This Data Was Collected by Moz & represents an average of roughly 10,000 that skews slightly towards ‘head’ terms

SEO strategy for featured snippets

All of the standard recommendations for driving Featured Snippets apply here. This includes making sure that you keep the information that you are trying to get ranked in a Featured Snippet clear, direct, and within the recommended character count. It also includes using simple tables, ordered lists, and bullets to make the data easier to consume, as well as modeling your content after existing Featured Snippet results in your industry.

This is still speculative, but it seems likely that the inclusion of Speakable Schema markup for things like “How To,” “FAQ,” and “Q&A” may also drive Featured Snippets. These kinds of results are specially designated as content that works well in a voice-search. Since Google has been adamant that there is not more than one index, and Google is heavily focused on improving voice-results from Google Assistant devices, anything that could be a good result in the Google Assistant, and ranks well, might also have a stronger chance at ranking in a Featured Snippet.

People Also Ask & Related Searches

Finally, the increased occurrence of “Related Searches” as well as the inclusion of People Also Ask (PAA) questions, just below most Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippet results, is undeniable. The Earl Tea screenshot shows that PAA’s along with Interesting Finds are both part of the Knowledge Graph too.

The graph below shows the steady increase in PAA’s. PAA results appear to be an expansion of Featured Snippets because once expanded, the answer to the question is displayed, with the citation below it. Similarly, some Related Search results also now include a result that looks like a Featured Snippet, instead of simply linking over to a different search result. You can now find ‘Related Searches’ throughout the SERP, often as part of a Knowledge Graph results, but sometimes also in a carousel in the middle of the SERP, and always at the bottom of the SERP — sometimes with images and expansion buttons to surface Featured Snippets within the Related Search results directly in the existing SERP.

Boxes with Related Searches are now also included with Image Search results. It’s interesting to note that Related Search results in Google Images started surfacing at the same time that Google began translating image Title Tags and Alt Tags. It coincides well with the concept that Entity-First Indexing, that Entities and Knowledge Graph are language-agnostic, and that Related Searches are somehow related to the Knowledge Graph.


This data was collected by Moz and represents an average of roughly 10,000 that skews slightly towards ‘head’ terms.


People Also Ask

Related Searches

SEO STRATEGY for PAA and related searches

Since PAAs and some Related Searches now appear to simply include Featured Snippets, driving Featured Snippet results for your site is also a strong strategy here. It often appears that PAA results include at least two versions of the same question, re-stated with a different language, before including questions that are more related to lateral and vertical nodes on the Knowledge Graph. If you include information on your site that Google thinks is related to the topic, based on Related Searches and PAA questions, it could help make your site appear relevant and authoritative.

Finally, it is crucial to remember that you don’t have a website to rank in Google now and SEO’s should consider non-website rankings as part of their job too. 

If a business doesn’t have a website, or if you just want to cover all the bases, you can let Google host your content directly — in as many places as possible. We have seen that Google-hosted content generally seems to get preferential treatment in Google search results and Google Discover, especially when compared to the decreasing traffic from traditional organic results. Google is now heavily focused on surfacing multimedia content, so anything that you might have previously created a new page on your website for should now be considered for a video.

Google My Business (GMB) is great for companies that don’t have websites, or that want to host their websites directly with Google. YouTube is great for videos, TV, video-podcasts, clips, animations, and tutorials. If you have an app, a book, an audio-book, a podcast, a movie, TV show, class or music, or PWA, you can submit that directly to GooglePlay (much of the video content in GooglePlay is now cross-populated in YouTube and YouTube TV, but this is not necessarily true of the other assets). This strategy could also include books in Google Books, flights in Google Flights, Hotels in Google Hotel listings, and attractions in Google Explore. It also includes having valid AMP code, since Google hosts AMP content, and includes Google News if your site is an approved provider of news.

Changes to SEO tracking for Fraggle-based indexing

The biggest problem for SEOs is the missing organic traffic, but it is also the fact that current methods of tracking organic results generally don’t show whether things like Knowledge Graph, Featured Snippets, PAA, Found on the Web, or other types of results are appearing at the top of the query or somewhere above your organic result. Position one in organic results is not what it used to be, nor is anything below it, so you can’t expect those rankings to drive the same traffic. If Google is going to be lifting and representing everyone’s content, the traffic will never arrive at the site and SEOs won’t know if their efforts are still returning the same monetary value. This problem is especially poignant for publishers, who have only been able to sell advertising on their websites based on the expected traffic that the website could drive.

The other thing to remember is that results differ — especially on mobile, which varies from device to device (generally based on screen size) but also can vary based on the phone IOS. They can also change significantly based on the location or the language settings of the phone, and they definitely do not always match with desktop results for the same query. Most SEO’s don’t know much about the reality of their mobile search results because most SEO reporting tools still focus heavily on desktop results, even though Google has switched to Mobile-First. 

As well, SEO tools generally only report on rankings from one location — the location of their servers — rather than being able to test from different locations. 

The only thing that good SEO’s can do to address this problem is to use tools like the MobileMoxie SERP Test to check what rankings look like on top keywords from all the locations where their users may be searching. While the free tool only provides results with one location at a time, subscribers can test search results in multiple locations, based on a service-area radius or based on an uploaded CSV of addresses. The tool has integrations with Google Sheets, and a connector with Data Studio, to help with SEO reporting, but APIs are also available, for deeper integrations in content editing tools, dashboards and for use within other SEO tools.

Conclusion

At MozCon 2017, I expressed my belief that the impact of Mobile-First Indexing requires a re-interpretation of the words “Mobile,” “First,” and “Indexing.” Re-defined in the context of Mobile-First Indexing, the words should be understood to mean “portable,” “preferred,” and “organization of information.” The potential of a shift to Fraggle-based indexing and the recent changes to the SERPs, especially in the past year, certainly seems to prove the accuracy of this theory. And though they have been in the works for more than two years, the changes to the SERP now seem to be rolling-out faster and are making the SERP unrecognizable from what it was only three or four years ago.

In this post, we described Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing for SEO as a theory that speculates the true nature of the change to Mobile-First Indexing, how the index itself — and the units of indexing — may have changed to accommodate faster and more nuanced organization of information based on the Knowledge Graph, rather than simply links and URLs. We covered how Fraggles and Fraggle-based Indexing works, how it is related to JavaScript and PWA’s and what strategies SEOs can take to leverage it for additional exposure in the search results as well as how they can update their success tracking to account for all the variabilities that impact mobile search results.

SEOs need to consider the opportunities and change the way we view our overall indexing strategy, and our jobs as a whole. If Google is organizing the index around the Knowledge Graph, that makes it much easier for Google to constantly mention near-by nodes of the Knowledge Graph in “Related Searches” carousels, links from the Knowledge Graph, and topics in PAAs. It might also make it easier to believe that featured snippets are simply pieces of information being vetted (via Google’s click-crowdsourcing) for inclusion or reference in the Knowledge Graph.

Fraggles and Fraggled indexing re-frames the switch to Mobile-First Indexing, which means that SEOs and SEO tool companies need to start thinking mobile-first — i.e. the portability of their information. While it is likely that pages and domains still carry strong ranking signals, the changes in the SERP all seem to focus less on entire pages, and more on pieces of pages, similar to the ones surfaced in Featured Snippets, PAAs, and some Related Searches. If Google focuses more on windowing content and being an “answer engine” instead of a “search engine,” then this fits well with their stated identity, and their desire to build a more efficient, sustainable, international engine.

SEOs also need to find ways to serve their users better, by focusing more on the reality of the mobile SERP, and how much it can vary for real users. While Google may not call the smallest rankable units Fraggles, it is what we call them, and we think they are critical to the future of SEO.

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Millions of fake Google Maps listings hurt real business and consumers

Google says it is working on it, but is still positioned to profit as local businesses claw back visibility with paid ads.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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Huge Volume of IoT Data Managed via AI Creates Real Value, Says Oracle VP

“What’s interesting is that IoT has been around for a long time but as companies start to enable it and start to leverage it more and more there’s just huge volumes of data that have to be managed and be able to analyze and be able to execute from,” says John Barcus, Vice President Manufacturing Industries at Oracle. “One of the technologies that is really exciting is this whole concept of AI. It really allows you to use that information and correlate it with a lot of different pieces of information.”

John Barcus, Vice President Manufacturing Industries at Oracle, discusses how technologies such as AI and blockchain are now helping companies manage huge volumes of IoT data in an interview with technology influencer Ronald van Loon:

Companies Are Moving Toward Selling Products as a Service

I think that (manufacturers connecting all the processes digitally) is the way that will differentiate them. It’s really the only way the companies will be able to survive into the future. There are all these business models and it has become significantly more competitive than it has been in the past. Companies have to work faster and they have to be more responsive to what their customer needs are. The only way really of doing that is to connect the various aspects of the business. They can’t work in silos anymore. That really will give you the whole value of the business.

One area that companies are moving away from is selling products. They’re going into selling more services which we’ve actually seen for some time. But what they’re now getting into is these new models where they might be selling products as a service. If you think about how do you sell a product as a service and the ability to support that it is a lot different than it was before. Connecting to that product and being able to anticipate activities, anticipate needs, anticipate failures, and to be able to monitor how it’s performing, how the customers use it and are able to expand on that to be able to provide a better outcome for the customer are important components.

Huge Volume of IoT Data Managed via AI Creates Real Value

What’s interesting is that IoT has been around for a long time but as companies start to enable it and start to leverage it more and more there’s just huge volumes of data that have to be managed and be able to analyze and be able to execute from. One of the technologies that is really exciting is this whole concept of AI. It really allows you to use that information and correlate it with a lot of different pieces of information. You can correlate with the data that might be in your ERP and your MES and other sources of information and actually provide some real value and provide the real outcomes. It can now do some predictions where it would be actually physically impossible for people to do the same type of calculations that they’ve been doing in the past with this huge volume today.

The second area where there seems to be a little hesitation at the moment is around blockchain. But the technology is there and people have been trying to identify how best to use it. Some of the use cases that are coming out now are going to be quite impressive. I think the little bit of a lull was deserved. People who looked at it anticipate a little bit more than what was possible and now they’re really starting to develop some good use cases. I think there’s a lot of opportunities in that area.

Huge Volume of IoT Data Managed via AI Creates Real Value, Says Oracle VP John Barcus

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5 Real Examples of Advanced Content Promotion Strategies

Posted by bsmarketer

Content promotion isn’t tweeting or upvoting. Those tiny, one-off tactics are fine for beginners. They might make a dent, but they definitely won’t move the needle. Companies that want to grow big and grow fast need to grow differently.

Here’s how Kissmetrics, Sourcify, Sales Hacker, Kinsta, and BuildFire have used advanced content promotion tips like newsjacking and paid social to elevate their brands above the competition.

1. Use content to fuel social media distribution (and not the other way around)

Prior to selling the brand and blog to Neil Patel, Kissmetrics had no dedicated social media manager at the height of their success. The Kissmetrics blog received nearly 85% of its traffic from organic search. The second biggest traffic-driver was the newsletter.

Social media did drive traffic to their posts. However, former blog editor Zach Buylgo’s research showed that these traffic segments often had the lowest engagement (like time on site) and the least conversions (like trial or demo opt-ins) — so they didn’t prioritize it. The bulk of Zach’s day was instead focused on editing posts, making changes himself, adding comments and suggestions for the author to fix, and checking for regurgitated content. Stellar, long-form content was priority number one. And two. And three.

So Zach wasn’t just looking for technically-correct content. He was optimizing for uniqueness: the exact same area where most cheap content falls short. That’s an issue because many times, a simple SERP analysis would reveal that one submission:

benefits of content marketing (crowd content)

(image source)

…Looked exactly like the number-one result from Content Marketing Institute:

benefits of content marketing CMI

(image source)

Today’s plagiarism tools can catch the obvious stuff, but these derivatives often slip through the cracks. Recurring paid writers contributed the bulk of the TOFU content, which would free Zach up to focus more on MOFU use cases and case studies to help visitors understand how to get the most out of their product set (from the in-house person who knows it best).

They produced marketing guides and weekly webinars to transform initial attention into new leads:

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They also created free marketing tools to give prospects an interactive way to continue engaging with their brand:

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In other words, they focused on doing the things that matter most — the 20% that would generate the biggest bang for their buck. They won’t ignore social networks completely, though. They still had hundreds of thousands of followers across each network. Instead, their intern would take the frontlines. That person would watch out for anything critical, like a customer question, which will then be passed off to the Customer Success Manager that will get back to them within a few hours.

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New blog posts would get the obligatory push to Twitter and LinkedIn. (Facebook is used primarily for their weekly webinar updates.) Zach used Pablo from Buffer to design and create featured images for the blog posts.

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Then he’d use an Open Graph Protocol WordPress plugin to automatically add all appropriate tags for each network. That way, all he had to do was add the file and basic post meta data. The plugin would then customize how it shows up on each network afterward. Instead of using Buffer to promote new posts, though, Zach likes MeetEdgar.

Why? Doesn’t that seem like an extra step at first glance? Like Buffer, MeetEdgar allows you to select when you’d like to schedule content. You can just load up the queue with content, and the tool will manage the rest. The difference is that Buffer constantly requires new content — you need to keep topping it off, whereas MeetEdgar will automatically recycle the old stuff you’ve previously added. This saved a blog like Kissmetrics, with thousands of content pieces, TONS of time.

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(image source)

He would then use Sleeknote to build forms tailored to each blog category to transform blog readers into top-of-the-funnel leads:

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But that’s about it. Zach didn’t do a ton of custom tweets. There weren’t a lot of personal replies. It’s not that they didn’t care. They just preferred to focus on what drives the most results for their particular business. They focused on building a brand that people recognize and trust. That means others would do the social sharing for them.

Respected industry vets like Avinash Kaushik, for example, would often share their blog posts. And Avinash was the perfect fit, because he already has a loyal, data-driven audience following him.

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So that single tweet brings in a ton of highly-qualified traffic — traffic that turns into leads and customers, not just fans.

2. Combine original research and newsjacking to go viral

Sourcify has grown almost exclusively through content marketing. Founder Nathan Resnick speaks, attends, and hosts everything from webinars to live events and meetups. Most of their events are brand-building efforts to connect face-to-face with other entrepreneurs. But what’s put them on the map has been leveraging their own experience and platform to fuel viral stories.

Last summer, the record-breaking Mayweather vs. McGregor fight was gaining steam. McGregor was already infamous for his legendary trash-talking and shade-throwing abilities. He also liked to indulge in attention-grabbing sartorial splendor. But the suit he wore to the very first press conference somehow managed to combine the best of both personality quirks:

(image source)

This was no off-the-shelf suit. He had it custom made. Nathan recalls seeing this press conference suit fondly: “Literally, the team came in after the press conference, thinking, ‘Man, this is an epic suit.’” So they did what any other rational human being did after seeing it on TV: they tried to buy it online.

“Except, the dude was charging like $ 10,000 to cover it and taking six weeks to produce.” That gave Nathan an idea. “I think we can produce this way faster.”

They “used their own platform, had samples done in less than a week, and had a site up the same day.”

(image source)

“We took photos, sent them to different factories, and took guesstimates on letter sizing, colors, fonts, etc. You can often manufacture products based on images if it’s within certain product categories.” The goal all along was to use the suit as a case study. They partnered with a local marketing firm to help split the promotion, work, and costs.

“The next day we signed a contract with a few marketers based in San Francisco to split the profits 50–50 after we both covered our costs. They cover the ad spend and setup; we cover the inventory and logistics cost,” Nathan wrote in an article for The Hustle. When they were ready to go, the marketing company began running ad campaigns and pushing out stories. They went viral on BroBible quickly after launch and pulled in over $ 23,000 in sales within the first week.

The only problem is that they used some images of Conor in the process. And apparently, his attorney’s didn’t love the IP infringement. A cease and desist letter wasn’t far behind:

(image source)

This result wasn’t completely unexpected. Both Nathan and the marketing partner knew they were skirting a thin line. But either way, Nathan got what he wanted out of it.

3. Drive targeted, bottom-of-the-funnel leads with Quora

Quora packs another punch that often elevates it over the other social channels: higher-quality traffic. Site visitors are asking detailed questions, expecting to comb through in-depth answers to each query. In other words, they’re invested. They’re smart. And if they’re expressing interest in managed WordPress hosting, it means they’ve got dough, too.

Both Sales Hacker and Kinsta take full advantage. Today, Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva. But before that, he lead marketing at Sales Hacker before they were acquired. There, content was central to their stratospheric growth. With Quora, Gaetano would take his latest content pieces and use them to solve customer problems and address pain points in the general sales and marketing space:

By using Quora as a research tool, he would find new topics that he can create content around to drive new traffic and connect with their current audience:

He found questions that they already had content for and used it as a chance to engage users and provide value. He can drive tons of relevant traffic for free by linking back to the Sales Hacker blog:

Kinsta, a managed WordPress hosting company out of Europe, also uses uses relevant threads and Quora ads. CMO Brian Jackson jumps into conversations directly, lending his experience and expertise where appropriate. His technical background makes it easy to talk shop with others looking for a sophisticated conversation about performance (beyond the standard, PR-speak most marketers offer up):

Brian targets different WordPress-related categories, questions, or interests. Technically, the units are “display ads, but they look like text.” The ad copy is short and to the point. Usually something like, “Premium hosting plans starting at $ XX/month” to fit within their length requirements.

4. Rank faster with paid (not organic) social promotion

Kinsta co-founder Tom Zsomborgi wrote about their journey in a bootstrapping blog post that went live last November. It instantly hit the top of Hacker News, resulting in their website getting a consistent 400+ concurrent visitors all day:

Within hours their post was also ranking on the first page for the term “bootstrapping,” which receives around 256,000 monthly searches.

How did that happen?

“There’s a direct correlation between social proof and increased search traffic. It’s more than people think,” said Brian. Essentially, you’re paying Facebook to increase organic rankings. You take good content, add paid syndication, and watch keyword rankings go up.

Kinsta’s big goal with content promotion is to build traffic and get as many eyeballs as possible. Then they’ll use AdRoll for display retargeting messages, targeting the people who just visited with lead gen offers to start a free trial. (“But I don’t use AdRoll for Facebook because it tags on their middleman fee.”)

Brian uses the “Click Campaigns” objective on Facebook Ads for both lead gen and content promotion. “It’s the best for getting traffic.”

Facebook’s organic reach fell by 52% in 2016 alone. That means your ability to promote content to your own page fans is quickly approaching zero.

Screen Shot 2017 06 29 at 12.52.27 PM

(image source)

“It’s almost not even worth posting if you’re not paying,” confirms Brian. Kinsta will promote new posts to make sure it comes across their fans’ News Feed. Anecdotally, that reach number with a paid assist might jump up around 30%.

If they don’t see it, Brian will “turn it into an ad and run it separately.” It’s “re-written a second time to target a broader audience.”

In addition to new post promotion, Brian has an evergreen campaign that’s constantly delivering the “best posts ever written” on their site. It’s “never-ending” because it gives Brian a steady-stream of new site visitors — or new potential prospects to target with lead gen ads further down the funnel. That’s why Brian asserts that today’s social managers need to understand PPC and lead gen. “A lot of people hire social media managers and just do organic promotion. But Facebook organic just sucks anyway. It’s becoming “pay to play.’”

“Organic reach is just going to get worse and worse and worse. It’s never going to get better.” Also, advertising gets you “more data for targeting,” which then enables you to create more in-depth A/B tests.

We confirmed this through a series of promoted content tests, where different ad types (custom images vs. videos) would perform better based on the campaign objectives and placements.

(image source)

That’s why “best practices” are past practices — or BS practices. You don’t know what’s going to perform best until you actually do it for yourself. And advertising accelerates that feedback loop.

5. Constantly refresh your retargeting ad creative to keep engagement high

Almost every single stat shows that remarketing is one of the most efficient ways to close more customers. The more ad remarketing impressions someone sees, the higher the conversion rate. Remarketing ads are also incredibly cheap compared to your standard AdWords search ad when trying to reach new cold traffic.

(image source)

There’s only one problem to watch out for: ad fatigue. The image creative plays a massive role in Facebook ad success. But over time (a few days to a few weeks), the performance of that ad will decline. The image becomes stale. The audience has seen it too many times. The trick is to continually cycle through similar, but different, ad examples.

Here’s how David Zheng does it for BuildFire:

His team will either (a) create the ad creative image directly inside Canva, or (b) have their designers create a background ‘template’ that they can use to manipulate quickly. That way, they can make fast adjustments on the fly, A/B testing small elements like background color to keep ads fresh and conversions as high as possible.

(image source)

All retargeting or remarketing campaigns will be sent to a tightly controlled audience. For example, let’s say you have leads who’ve downloaded an eBook and ones who’ve participated in a consultation call. You can just lump those two types into the same campaign, right? I mean, they’re both technically ‘leads.’

But that’s a mistake. Sure, they’re both leads. However, they’re at different levels of interest. Your goal with the first group is to get them on a free consultation call, while your goal with the second is to get them to sign up for a free trial. That means two campaigns, which means two audiences.

Facebook’s custom audiences makes this easy, as does LinkedIn’s new-ish Matched Audiences feature. Like with Facebook, you can pick people who’ve visited certain pages on your site, belong to specific lists in your CRM, or whose email address is on a custom .CSV file:

If both of these leads fall off after a few weeks and fail to follow up, you can go back to the beginning to re-engage them. You can use content-based ads all over again to hit back at the primary pain points behind the product or service that you sell.

This seems like a lot of detailed work — largely because it is. But it’s worth it because of scale. You can set these campaigns up, once, and then simply monitor or tweak performance as you go. That means technology is largely running each individual campaign. You don’t need as many people internally to manage each hands-on.

And best of all, it forces you to create a logical system. You’re taking people through a step-by-step process, one tiny commitment at a time, until they seamlessly move from stranger into customer.

Conclusion

Sending out a few tweets won’t make an impact at the end of the day. There’s more competition (read: noise) than ever before, while organic reach has never been lower. The trick isn’t to follow some faux influencer who talks the loudest, but rather the practitioners who are doing it day-in, day-out, with the KPIs to prove it.

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How to get real followers for Instagram in 2018

With 25 million business profiles on Instagram, we’re living in a time where it is not enough to simply have a social media presence to get real followers on Instagram. You have to attract the right kind of Instagram users to gain that crucial social proof to help your brand stand out.

This is a sponsored post

Whether we like to admit it or not, you could have the best product in the world, but if you only have a few followers on Instagram people will immediately begin to discredit it.

At the same time, your competitor could have a mediocre product, but be driving more sales than you because of the social validation they’ve gotten from their followers on Instagram.

Don’t worry, we get it 💪

Growing your account can feel like a tedious and time-consuming task. But with 60% of users finding products via Instagram, your brand simply CANNOT afford to ignore Instagram as a marketing channel. You need to attract the right Instagram users that are going to convert into more likes, comments, clicks, and most importantly, fans of your brand.

Today, we’re breaking down the 7 crucial categories you need to focus on to simplify using Instagram for business and get real followers on Instagram in 2018. Here’s what we’ll cover:

 

  1. Optimizing Your Instagram Bio
  2. Creating Quality Instagram Content
  3. Crafting Instagram Captions
  4. How to Hashtag on Instagram
  5. Using Instagram Stories
  6. Instagram Giveaways
  7. Instagram Influencer Marketing

 

1. Optimizing Your Instagram Bio

First impressions are everything. When it comes to Instagram, impressions are made in two-tenths of a second. To grow your Instagram organically and gain the right kind of followers, your potential followers need to know exactly who you are, what you do, and why they should care.

Your Instagram bio is the first thing people see when they land on your page, so make sure your bio section captures your visitors’ attention from the get-go. Do this right and you’ll be ahead of 95% of brands out there on IG.

Here’s what you’ll want to include in your Instagram bio:

Headline & Keyword

Clearly state your brand name and then add a keyword that describes who you are. Adding a particular niche, job title, or interest to your headline helps your users get to know you and understand what you do.

@Planoly uses the keywords “Planner for Insta” to clearly showcase their scheduler tool and drive traffic from anyone that might be searching for their type of service via the Instagram app.

 

The headline is also searchable, so make sure you choose a keyword that your followers would associate with your page to increase organic traffic.

Body section

The body section is the bulk of your Instagram bio and should contain the majority of your description. Keep it clean and organized with a bullet point format, while clearly describing who you are in your brand’s voice.

About you

First, include a condensed version of your mission statement or company slogan to let people know what you’re all about. Remember, you’re limited to 150 characters here, so be short & precise.

You can also add anything that gives your page some personality – like your location or a branded hashtag. (Don’t forget to throw in some 🔥🤩🌹)

Call to action 📢

Most importantly, include a call-to-action statement that entices your followers to click on the URL provided. Adding phrases like “Click below for 10% off” or “Check out our new arrivals” can help convert your followers into real customers.

 

Entice the click

Try adding some emojis like @Puravidabraceltets to really catch the eye of your followers and drive them to your link!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social proof

Be sure to include a line that gives your page credibility. This can be a feature in a publication, a certification you’ve achieved, or a social cause your brand gives back to.

The body section of @Sugarbearhair’s bio clearly states exactly what their product is, while speaking to their audience and showing social proof.

 

 

URL

This is the only section you have to place a link on Instagram, so use it wisely. Typically, you’ll want to provide a direct link to your website, blog, or specific landing page that coordinates with your call-to-action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Creating Quality Instagram Content

 

 

With now over one billion users, Instagram is THE visual platform. Every post you share on Instagram should be high-quality and complement your brand image. Never sacrifice quality for quantity (just save those for Instagram stories 😉).

Nowadays however, it isn’t as simple as posting an “Insta-worthy” photo. Because new potential followers are going to get their first impression of your brand from your Instagram’s aesthetic, the quality of your individual posts have to reflect throughout your entire grid consistently.

To get real followers on Instagram, keep these two key concepts in mind:

 

Signature style

First and foremost, your brand should be the focus of your page. Whether you are a business or an influencer, you’ll want to make sure that each and every image you post reflects the purpose of your page. Even one random image can ruin a grid.

Once you pinpoint your focus, take your page to the next level by centralizing around a theme with at least one consistent element that links all of your photos together.

“Engaging photos and video is absolutely essential on Instagram. Not only should your content be high quality but it should also communicate something interesting and important to you. When you create content that you are excited about you will naturally find an audience that is excited about it too.”

Emma Chapman, Color Story Co-Founder

Digital design kit and mobile application

 

 

 

Filters

Apply the same filter to all of your photos for a quick and easy way to create flow and cohesion. We love the apps A Color Story and VSCO.

Color scheme

Find a distinct color scheme that works for you and sprinkle it in throughout your grid.

Is your brand bright and colorful? Minimalistic with lots of negative space? Outdoorsy with beautiful sceneries? Pick a style and consistently stick to it in every post.

 

 

 

 

Variety of content

With Instagram, you want to create a sense of community and lifestyle around your brand so that new followers can easily identify and picture themselves using what you have to offer. No one wants to look at a product catalog, so be sure to mix it up with both lifestyle and product photos!

 

Creating Your Content

Variety is KEY! You’ll want to create different types of photos like detail shots, flatlays, and lifestyle images to keep each post feeling new and exciting. Any opportunity you get to show your product on a model or in action, take it!

Adding to Your Mix

Once you have gathered all of your own original content, enhance your grid by cycling in stock photos, relatable quotes, and user-generated content. These can be a lifesaver for making your content last much longer, especially if you have a non-visual brand or service.

 

 

 

 

Instagram is a platform for visual storytelling. Instead of trying to stand out, just be authentic. We shoot the photography in-house and hand-curate what we post; we don’t recycle content from our Facebook or Twitter feeds. Instagram should be its own, unique channel.

Laura Casanova, VP, Creative at ONTRAPORT

Business automation software

 

 

Organizing Your Grid

Ensure that all of your high-quality images will look #flawless together on your feed by using a scheduling app like Planoly or Later. These apps give you a preview of how all your photos will look before you post them! Mix and match until you get a well-balanced grid.

 

Creating a cohesive Instagram brand is one of the best ways to attract your target audience and get more followers. Pre-planning your Instagram aesthetic with a visual Instagram planner like Later is key, it helps you make sure your feed flows by allowing you to see all of your upcoming content at-a-glance.

Taylor Loren, Head of Marketing at Later

A far-famed Instagram Posts Scheduler

 

 

 

60 / 40 rule

At least 60% of your grid should include your product or service directly. The other 40% can be lifestyle shots, stock images, or quotes that all speak to your community.

@originalgrain built their community of “the travel seaking gentleman” by complimenting their product shots with scenic stock images and user generated content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Crafting Instagram Captions

 

 

The money is made in the captions.

Your Instagram captions should enhance your post by giving more context, value, and insight into what is happening beyond the image. Let your audience get to know your brand on a higher level.

Rather than describing what is in the picture, try telling the story behind it, why is it you do what you do, or news regarding your brand.

 

Brand Personality

Show some personality behind those captions! The more your brand’s voice shines through, the easier it will be for your followers to connect with your post.

Call-to-action

Include some type of call-to-action to entice users to comment and get the conversation started! Comments are weighed heavily in the new Instagram algorithm, so the more comments the better.

Try asking a question or having users tag a friend to get even more traffic and engagement back to your page.

@Toneitup has the right idea! They speak to their fitness community in a laid-back, yet personal tone and ask users to tag a friend to join their workout.

 

 

4. How to Hashtag on Instagram

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.

The best way to expand your reach on Instagram: HASHTAGS. We know hashtag research can seem a little daunting, but stick to these easy steps and you’ll have a perfect set of hashtags in no time!

Brainstorm

Think of words your customers would use to describe your product or service. Since they are the ones that will be searching these hashtags, it is important to get into the mind of your audience.

Is there a certain community you are trying to tap into?

Using hashtags like #brooklynlife or #mommystyle are great niche specific hashtags that will link you directly to your ideal target audience.

If you’re really stuck, check out what your direct competitors are using to generate some ideas.

Qualify

The biggest mistake with hashtags is using ones that have way too much or far too little traffic. You’ll want to find hashtags that have about 4K-800K posts associated with them to get the optimal amount of exposure.

The more specific a hashtag is to your industry the better. You want the hashtags to be big enough that people are actually searching for it, but not so big that your post will be lost in the clutter.

 

Keep in mind that users can now follow a hashtags, similar to following a brand’s Instagram account, making hashtags even more essential to get real followers on Instagram.

 

Store & Save

Once you start compiling your qualified hashtags, break them up into 5-7 sets of about 10-20 niche specific tags. Store them in the note section of your phone for easy access and be sure to switch them out every so often.

Post

When it comes time to post, copy and paste your list of hashtags into the first comment of your image. This helps to keep your post looking clean while still tagging the picture and getting you more exposure. Although we recommend around 10-20, you can include up to 30 hashtags per post, so add a few more hashtags specific to this image and hit share. And that’s it! Easy enough, right?

 

5. Using Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are quickly becoming one of the best marketing tools for brands. From behind the scenes check-ins to exclusive sales, you can use this feature to build brand identity and connect in real-time with updates beyond the scope of your IG Grid.

 

Features

Just like your Instagram grid, your IG stories should be cohesive with your brand imagery and voice, but with a “live view” feel. This is your chance to be sporadic and authentic with your followers. Since stories only stay up on your page for 24-hours, you have a little more wiggle room to play around with.

Exposure

Using the Stickers Feature, tag your story at a certain location or include a relevant hashtag. This allows your story to pop up on the corresponding explore page, giving you another opportunity to increase your story’s reach!

 

 

 

 

@Socialstatic interacts with their followers by utilizing the question feature and maximizes exposure using the location sticker. Win-win!

 

Highlights

Instagram Highlights are collections of Stories that give new potential followers an idea of what your page is all about. Rather than disappearing after 24-hours, Highlights are saved right under your bio and act as a more interactive “about you” description.

The possibilities for Instagram Highlights are truly endless, but some commonly used categories include: how it works, new products, and behind-the-scenes.

 

Take it up a level by adding matching covers to all of your Instagram Highlights to ensure your page stays organized and on brand!

 

Not much of a designer? Go to Fiverr.com and pay $ 5 for a professional designer to get your Instagram Highlights looking fresh.

 

6. Instagram Giveaways

Instagram accounts that hold contests can achieve 70% faster follower growth compared to those that don’t hold contests.

Hosting an Instagram contest is a tried and true method to not only reward your loyal followers, but also gain exposure and get new real followers on Instagram.

There is a lot of planning that goes into running a successful Instagram giveaway. You’ll want to consider things like budget, picking the right incentive, and most importantly the goal of your Instagram contest.

If your goal is to grow your following with an Instagram giveaway, these are the four best entry methods.

Comment-to-Win

These contests require your followers to comment on your contest photo. Then, winners are chosen from the pool of commenters.

To increase exposure, have the requirement be to tag a friend (or two) in their comment. Voila: double the Instagram exposure. You can even go as far as counting each tag as an entry, further incentivizing your followers to tag more friends for a better chance to win.

Follow-to-Win

For this type of contest, consider collaborating with another complimentary brand (or group of brands) in your niche. Contest participants can enter by following all of the accounts involved in the giveaway.

Because your page will be exposed to the followers of the brands you are collaborating with, you’ll want to make sure you pick a brand that has your ideal target audience. This will help ensure that these new followers will have a genuine connection to your page and stick around long after your contest is over.

 

Double up on a couple of tactics like @nenaandco to maximize engagement.

 

Post to win

Participants re-post a picture that you provide or share their own original content showcasing your brand to their feed. By sharing these pictures, your fans are grabbing the attention of their own followers to give you a mini-shoutout.

This gives your followers a chance to get creative and gives you lots of free user-generated content.

However, you’ll want to make sure you already receive high engagement on your page to confirm there is enough brand loyalty to ensure participation.

 

“When you collect media via a contest you shouldn’t leave it sitting on Instagram for no-one to see. You can build a Gallery and embed it on your site so users can see the content and engage with it. This is more likely to drive sales of your products. Gleam offers a beautiful UGC Gallery app to allow you to do just this.”

Stuart Mackeown, Gleam Co-Founder

Business Growth Platform

 

Remember this? In 2017, Sunny Clothing Co hosted a post-to-win contest where users had to repost this now infamous red bikini picture to receive a free swimsuit. Soon enough, everyone’s feed was flooded with this picture, which exponentially increased their brand awareness.

Unfortunately, the brand received far more entries than expected and did not have enough inventory to handle the high volume of participants.

Take Away: Post-to-win giveaways can do tremendous things for your brand awareness, but make sure you have the right requirements and are prepared to live up to your promise.

 

Hashtag-to-Win

Similar to post-to-win, participants post their own image or an image you provide on their feed, but also include a certain branded hashtag.

While this can be the toughest type of giveaway to pull off, if the hashtag trends, the exposure can be pretty substantial. You’ll want to make sure you pick a unique hashtag specific to your contest, ideally centralized around your contest theme.

Tracking the success of your giveaway is almost as important as the giveaway itself. Save yourself some time and get clear insights from Gleam’s Instagram contest tool that simplifies the entry process and make tracking participant an breeze.

 

7. Instagram Influencer Marketing

More than 90% of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy today believe it’s effective for increasing customer engagement.

Here’s our go-to-guide for how to find influencers:

Set your budget

Determine your budget and what level influencer you want to target. A general rate is $ 1,000 per 100,000 followers, but can vary depending on industry. If you have a lower budget, you may consider going after a micro-influencer who may have a bit of a smaller following, but who’s audience is very niche specific and value said influencer’s opinion highly.

Define your niche

Figure out who has a voice in the community. When in doubt, a simple Google search of the top Instagram accounts in your field can be a great place to start. Platforms like Famebit and Tribe Group help you discover and connect with influencers by interest or category.

Qualify your list

Once you have your list of prospective influencers, make sure they are going to be a good fit. Note how many followers they have, their average likes & comments, and what social platforms they are on to pick the best influencer to collaborate with.

 

Build your community

Engage with their content so they are familiar with your name. Once a bit of a relationship is established, reach out with a genuine message that states why you both would work well together.

And that’s it! Seven easy steps to optimize your business’ Instagram account for growth. Implement even just a few of these tips and you’ll be well on your way to getting more real followers on Instagram and becoming an Instagram marketing expert.

For more daily marketing tips, be sure to follow us on Instagram @Kicksta.co.

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3 Reasons Why Good Ideas Are a Real Threat to Good Writing

Ahh, the elusive “good idea.” Writers spend a large amount of time thinking about them and looking for them. It’s an undeniable part of the creative process. So why would I consider them such a pervasive threat to good writing? The answer is simple. Good ideas are just part of what it takes to produce
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Real Talk about Moving Forward with Your Big Idea

Great to see you again! This week on Copyblogger, we looked at how to make progress on projects and opportunities that might seem intimidating at first. Stefanie Flaxman showed us how to take that Big Idea (exciting, challenging, scary) and break it down until you discover your first (or next) move. She shared a process
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Mozilla Launches Firefox Quantum, Poses Real Threat to Google Chrome

Mozilla has been quietly sitting on the sidelines for a while now, content to slowly work on improving Firefox. But the release of the Firefox Quantum shows that the company is now ready to join the big league once again and take on Google’s Chrome.

Mozilla unveiled the new and improved version 57 of Firefox on Tuesday, claiming that the browser is now twice as fast as before. The company also revealed a new user interface (UI) that looks decidedly minimalist.

According to Mozilla executive Mark Mayo, the latest update is the biggest one they’ve rolled out since the company launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004. It’s also the apex of six years worth of research and development, as well as engineering work that ran for about a year and a half.

The Firefox Quantum touts a revamped rendering engine along with a new CSS layout engine. The engine and other components are written in Rust, a programming language developed by Mozilla’s own research group with the goal of increasing speed. Mozilla also claims that Quantum uses 30% less memory than Chrome and that it has been designed to meet the needs of people who surf the internet by switching from various tabs.

Firefox’s release notes also listed changes in active tab prioritization, a switch-over from legacy add-ons to those developed via the WebAssembly API, and Pocket integration. The reworked browser is also sporting a new UI, its first redesign since Firefox 4. The changes in the browser’s UI and UX (user experience) puts significant emphasis on giving it a speed boost.

It’s clear that the new UI compliments the austere look that rivals Edge and Chrome sport. Firefox Quantum integrates the search and address bars in a bid to reduce the clutter usually found on top of the window. A revamped new tab page was also revealed.  

Users in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S, also quickly noticed that Mozilla has foregone using Yahoo as its default search engine. Instead, the company has reverted back to using Google, its partner and main financier before the two companies had a falling out in 2014. However, Firefox will continue using its default search engine in other countries. For instance, China will still be using Baidu while Belarus and Russia will continue using Yandex.

Mozilla is hoping that the changes Firefox Quantum carries will be more than enough to challenge Chrome and other browsers. But it’s admittedly an uphill battle at the moment. However, Firefox’s stance to be tech neutral and the groundwork it has laid down can make Mozilla’s bid to return to the top easier.

[Featured image via Mozilla]

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