Artificial Intelligence and SEO – How Google’s AI Affects Your Business

The following post was written by Kellen Kautzman. Please read his bio after the post.

What most of us don’t realize is that machine learning is also incorporated into every stroke of our keyboard when it comes to studying internet traffic and searching for content online.

In 2015, Google introduced its own AI program, which leverages machine learning to decide where websites rank. Google refers to it as RankBrain, and this moniker alone should be a clue as to its purpose and intention – a pseudo-mind that determines which websites get traffic and which could easily become the major economic force behind who ultimately becomes wealthy and who doesn’t.

Because of the complexity required to understanding the nuances and depth of machine learning, many small business owners simply gloss over it. Let’s dive into the real world, dollars-and-cents ramifications of machine learning, its impact on small businesses and how companies can easily take advantage of its superior-level abilities.

Assume Google Measures Everything

From the amount of time a visitor spends on your site, how many pages they visit and whether or not they come back, assume that Google knows all of it and that these factors will play into your ranking. Old school SEO tactics like, “make sure to include an <h1> tag with your keyword in it!” only still apply if they positively impact user engagement on the site. The easiest way to make RankBrain happy, is to make your customer happy. As an example, your Google My Business page most likely contains your phone number, and Google is measuring how many phone calls are generated from searches to your business. If you treat your customers right, and they continue to search online for your business and call you directly from that link, you are effectively leveraging Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) in order to rank better, even though you aren’t link building or blogging.

It Sees Everything

Google’s capacity to see images has greatly improved in recent years. This means that the stock photo you chose for your homepage is not only understood by Google, but Google also knows that same image has been used thousands of times on other sites. That’s not original. When possible, use imagery that is unique to your business so that when Google “sees” your photos, it sees your original content, has to process what the images are, and then rewards you for it.

It Hears Everything

When you create a YouTube video, moments after it’s uploaded to YouTube, if you click on the closed captions, you will see the words you just spoke appear. Because of this, we know that Google’s technology is transcribing our video content with automatic captioning. If you want to increase your rankings in Google, YouTube videos are becoming an essential piece of the puzzle. The more you position yourself as an expert with video, the higher the likelihood that your content will boost your rankings. You can think of RankBrain as a judge who is measuring you up against all of your competitors and the videos are your testimony. They are extremely important for boosting your online awareness.

As you move forward in your ongoing quest to rank #1 across the board and become a ludicrously wealthy multi-billionaire, remember that Google’s machine learning technology is going to play a pivotal role in your online exposure and that it’s job is to measure everything you create online. It’s your job to provide as much evidence as possible as to why you should be given the coveted top ranked spot.

-Post by Kellen Kautzman-

Kellen Kautzman is the founder and operator of Send It Rising Internet Marketing, a Las Vegas-based internet marketing agency. Kautzman is a well-regarded expert on growing small business with digital marketing and SEO, a public speaker, and published author of the book, “Everybody’s Doing It – Advertising Redefined by SEO Expert Kellen Kautzman”, which initially launched as the #1 New Release on Amazon.com in the SEO category.

 

 

AI stock image by Tatiana Shepeleva/Shutterstock

Why Segmentation is Marketing 101

Good looking adult woman working at the office. Probably waiting for lunch...The basics of marketing are to establish the benefits of the product you are trying to sell and to communicate those benefits. But a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it. Your customers and audience are as unique as your friends—each has different goals, problems, and interests. And each person will use your product in a different way, for their own reasons. So, it’s important to segment your audience by their differences and communicate benefits in a way that speaks to them as individuals.

Today there are any number of ad and email tools that help marketers segment and target different audience groups for better results. But before you dive into execution, there’s some legwork to do. Here’s my broad checklist on how to segment your audience for the best results.

  • Before you can understand the differences within your target audience, first identify what commonalities they share. Who is your audience: where do they live, what do they like to do, what brands and products do they like? Identifying the key problem that your product solves on a high-level is also important. For example, Postmates might identify their main benefit as “We enable busy people to have anything delivered on-demand,” therefore solving the problem that people don’t have time to go to the store. The target audience is people who don’t have time. (Note: I’m using Postmates solely as an example; I don’t have any insider knowledge of their marketing strategy.)
  • Next, gather information about your current and prospective customers. You can do this through surveys, collecting information at registration to build your own database, or use built-in targeting options through your email-service provider or ad platform. For example, many ESPs will offer geo-targeting based on IP address and or Wifi/GPS data. Facebook is the best platform when it comes to data, because you can target by dozens of categories and data points.
  • Once you’ve established your high-level benefit and target audience, build out segments. If we look at the “people who don’t have time” audience, there are a hundred ways to break down this very broad definition depending on the information available to you. For example, you could segment by age group, urban/suburban dwellers, high-tech/low-tech users, parents, singles, etc. Overlap is inevitable, so try not to get bogged down with creating dozens of super-minute segments. Start with the basics.
  • Last one: think about the messages that might work best for each individual group, and how they like to receive information. Come up with a hypothesis and then test and reiterate to find the combination that works best. Here’s a (very simplified) example of how you might approach the Postmates case with a Facebook ad campaign:
    1. In Facebook Campaign A, use an ad with the same message and photo “You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime.” (image of individual outside jogging in park)
    2. In Facebook Campaign B, change the image depending on whether the individual is single or married:
      • Single Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of singles at bar scene)
      • Married Ad Group: You have better things to do than run errands this weekend. Try Postmates to get what you need, delivered anytime. (image of couple at home having romantic dinner)

Let’s say your hypothesis is that Campaign B is more efficient. If you’re correct, you can continue to refine the image/message for better results, or segment even further. Also, you may find out that certain segments respond better on different platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Partner Marketing, etc.) or via different mediums (email, push notification, SMS, desktop notifications etc). Pay attention to the data and continuously test your hypotheses.

For retention-based campaigns, it’s important to segment messaging based on how your users interact with your product. For example, at Reuters TV we segmented users into super users, medium users, and low users and built email campaigns based on how often a user was watching our content. This strategy is very common with e-commerce sites. Ever gotten the “We miss you, Person! Come back and receive 15% off your next order” email? If this tactic feels like a no-brainer, it’s because it works.

The bottom line: if you’re not segmenting your marketing campaigns, you’re behind the times. It’s important to build a segmentation strategy for customer acquisition and retention, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can start with the simplest tests to gather valuable data and become more sophisticated as you learn.

Read more on this topic:

-Posted by Elizabeth Donovan (Pace)-

Highlights from Facebook’s F8 2016 Conference: What Marketers Need to Know

hands-woman-laptop-notebookThis year’s annual Facebook developer conference was full of exciting announcements pertaining to marketers. Here’s a rundown of the most important takeaways:

 

  • Messenger Platform: Facebook introduced new APIs that allow brands to create custom experiences on Messenger. These APIs allow brands to build their own Messenger bots, such as automated on-demand content like weather or traffic updates, or customized messages such as receipts and shipping notifications.This API is currently open to a select few partners, and will broaden to everyone at a later unspecified date. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/facebook-tips-messaging-for-page-admins and check out this video from F8.
  • Branded Content: Facebook updated their branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook.  They also launched a new tool for brands/pages to “tag” a marketer when they publish branded content, allowing the marketer to see data from the tagged post and have the option to share and boost the post.  For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/branded-content-update.
  • Rights Manager: Facebook launched a new tool to help media companies monitor and protect intellectual property on Facebook. Publishers can upload their full library of videos to Rights Manager, monitor them, and use rules to tell us about how each video can be used. Learn more: https://media.fb.com/2016/04/12/introducing-rights-manager/.
  • Facebook Analytics for Apps Improvements:  Improvements to Facebook Analytics for Apps include deeper audience insights, push and in-app notifications (beta), powerful breakdowns, and an App Events Export API to analyze data offline.Most interesting for app marketers is the push and in-app notifications beta. You can now set up, create, send and measure push and in-app notification campaigns directly through Facebook. Request access to the beta by going to the Push Campaigns screen in Analytics for Apps.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Instagram’s Success & Why Marketers Love It

unnamedSince Instagram rolled out self-serve ads last year, marketers have been flocking to engage potential customers on the photo-sharing app. It’s no surprise, given the success of its parent company, Facebook.

Instagram ads became successful so quickly because it’s easy for advertisers to get up and running. Advertisers can set up Instagram campaigns from Facebook’s ad interface, and the same targeting options and ad formats are available. Most advertisers are already familiar with and comfortable with Facebook Ads, and since Instagram is an extension rather than an entirely new ad product, advertisers are more eager to give it a try.

Another important success factor is the ad format. Instagram is a full-screen mobile experience, and the ads follow suit. Rather than getting stuck in a sidebar or in a tiny mobile banner, brands get enough real estate to capture attention and tell a story. Instagram is a mobile product, and its ad experience lends itself well to mobile devices, unlike some other sites and apps that try to squeeze entire desktop web experiences (and ads) into a tiny screen.

Instagram has been quick to give advertisers what they want, particularly with mobile video ad opportunities. Most recently, Instagram rolled out 60-second video ads. The previous max was 15 seconds, which is pretty limiting, and advertisers were keen for more time in front of viewers.

However, there are still some issues preventing Instagram from becoming pure gold for advertisers. Because Instagram is traditionally a non-click environment, the platform has been cautious about rolling out links beyond the call-to-action buttons in its ads. That’s why you see so many brands and promoters referring to the links in their profile – users still can’t post clickable links along with their images. The only way to drive Instagram users to a website is through click-to-web ads, which are far more expensive than Facebook or Twitter. But even though Instagram is only pay-to-play, advertisers seem to be willing to pay up.

Instagram is in growth mode and has captured advertisers’ attention. It will be interesting to see what they roll out to keep advertisers happy in 2016.

Further Reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Ad Blocking and the Way Forward for Publishers

adsThere’s been a lot of chatter recently in the media world about ad blocking. While consumers may be rejoicing over the increasing opportunity to ad block, publishers are panicking about the imminent devastation to traditional online ad revenue models. In many cases, both sides agree that a solution is needed to eliminate obnoxious banner ads. But the question remains how publishers will make up for lost revenue in the face of an already-declining banner ad business.

Ad blocking has been alive and well on desktop for some time. However, the introduction of Apple’s iOS 9 reignited the debate, as one of the new features will allow users to block ads on Safari. Besides offering a better user experience on the mobile web, the feature will also allow users save on data costs since it will block things like auto-play video.

The least effective solutions, in my opinion, would be if publishers either A) ignore the obvious consequences of ad blocking or B) try to fight it. Especially on mobile, traditional display banner ads are not effective. Muriel McDonald said it best in her TINT article: “Humans – internet users – your customers – are smart. They learn quickly what is an ad and what isn’t, and they don’t want to click on your banner ad. The market is unbelievably saturated – the average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month… Do you remember any of the 1,700 banners you’ve seen in the past four weeks? Neither do we.”

Promoted and sponsored posts across social networks provide a much better alternative to banner ads for both marketers and consumers. The skyrocket of Facebook’s mobile ad revenue demonstrates that its ad units simply provide better ROI. People are more likely to click on content that’s integrated into their News Feed and seamlessly part of their experience.

Publishers may be able to get a piece of the social ad revenue pie through Facebook’s Instant Articles. Snapchat, Twitter, Google and Apple are all jumping onboard the train with a model that shares—or hands over, completely—revenue with publishers in exchange for content. This model is not without its negatives and concerns, as it gives more power to the giant tech companies and is considered by some to be “selling out.” And yet, I would argue this type of “selling out” is better than “going out”– of business, that is.

Ultimately good content will drive revenue for publishers, whether through syndication, partnerships, subscriptions, or entirely custom experiences. Ad blocking will force content creators to be more thoughtful and more creative. There’s no doubt it’s a challenging and disrupted space, but publishers need to adjust to how the Internet is changing. Banner ads haven’t worked for a longtime, and the latest in ad blocking is confirmation that it’s time to move on.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Big Changes Coming with iOS 9, and What it Means for Marketers

apple_wwdc_news_thumbnailEarlier this month at its annual developer conference, Apple announced some big changes coming with the next operating system. Now that we’ve had some time to digest, here are the some of the new features that will impact marketers:

  1. Apple’s “News” app
    Apple introduced a new magazine-like news experience with its news app, simply called “News.” News content from third party publishes will be curated based on a user’s preferences, allowing readers to choose topics, similarly to the popular news curation app, Flipboard. This is a big opportunity for publishers to get content in front of more readers and monetize via ads: publishers will get 100% of revenue from ads they sell and 70% from ads sold by Apple’s iAd. For marketers, it’s another channel to reach engaged audience on their iOS devices.
  2. New & improved search features
    Apple announced a number of updates related to search, including upgrades to Siri and in-app deep-linking. Siri will be enhanced with better voice-recognition technology, which Apple claims will improve by 40%. Users will swipe right to access to new Search tool offering personalized suggestions from Siri, who will learn a user’s preferences over time. Suggestions will be based on the time, location and user’s previous behavior. With deep-linking to third party apps, users will be able to search for content inside their apps – which is a great feature for app publishers and marketers looking to improve discoverability and engagement for their in-app content.
  3. Ability to block adds on Safari
    iOS 9 will give developers an easy way to develop mobile ad blockers, which could spell trouble for ad networks like Google. According to 9to5mac.com, “When users download an app with an ad blocker extension, it shows up in Settings. Users can keep the app installed and disable the content blocker independently by using the toggle switches.” Only time well tell when and how developers will utilize this feature in their apps, and what impact it will have on ad networks.
  4. iOS Apps Won’t See User’s other Installed Apps
    In an effort to beef up its privacy promise, Apple will prevent apps from getting data on what other apps users have installed in iOS 9. Twitter and Facebook have typically accessed this data to help with ad targeting. We’ll be seeing more like this from Apple, who is not going to monetize its users’ personal data, per Tim Cook’s recent comments: “Some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

The battle between the largest tech players, Facebook, Google and Apple, is as interesting as ever. Some of Apple’s updates and new features are obvious digs at their competitors. But ultimately, Apple’s direction simply makes sense. Consumers today expect a personalized, simple experience where their privacy is not compromised. Apple is smart to develop features and products that enhance the experience without compromising personal data. As users become more savvy, sketchy data practices will become more scrutinized and even made illegal, so business models that support customer privacy will come out on top (not that Apple isn’t on top, already!).

Further reading:

 

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace-

How Ads Can Be Targeted on Facebook

The following post was written by guest blogger David Neuman. Please read his bio after the post.

bullseye2Why You’re Being Targeted on Facebook

Regardless of how often you log into Facebook, chances are you’ve been “creeped out” by at least one post or advertisement that has been shown on your news feed. How did Travelocity know I was looking up hotels in San Francisco this morning? Why does Amazon.com keep showing me sales for products I regularly purchase? Many Facebook advertisers can answer these questions easily, but the majority of users are likely unaware about why they are being served a particular advertisement. To answer the question of “why am I seeing this ad”, it is important to understand the following: there are thousands of different ways a user can be targeted on Facebook and not all of them are based on your profile information. I bring up the fact that targeting isn’t just inclusive of your Facebook profile because this used to be the only way you could be targeted. However, over the past couple of years, Facebook has significantly revamped their advertising offerings by partnering with a bunch of different 3rd parties and expanding their own functionality. The next time you see a Facebook advertisement and aren’t sure why, it could be due to one of the below ad options.

Facebook Retargeting

Retargeting isn’t unique to Facebook. It exists practically everywhere on the web due to Google and other display companies offering it as an advertising option. Specific to Facebook, it’s based on your browsing behavior on an advertiser’s website. If you take the “desired action” on the company’s website, you might see a retargeting advertisement the next time you log into Facebook. A lot of e-commerce businesses will use this as an opportunity to try and get you to you purchase product. Say, for example, you add a product to Amazon.com’s shopping cart, but do not end up completing the transaction. Amazon.com might serve you an advertisement for an additional 10% off of that product the next time you log into Facebook to try and get you to complete your purchase. These ad units are not actually run on Facebook’s ad platform, but through 3rd party platforms that have a partnership with Facebook’s Exchange product.

Partner Categories

Facebook has partnered with Axiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon to allow advertisers to reach users through behavioral targeting methods. This is based on various data points including loyalty card data, transactional data, the U.S. Census, the DMV, and more. With Facebook’s behavioral targeting, you’re not reaching people based on what pages they “like”, but based on their actual purchasing / offline behavior. If you own a store in NYC selling vitamins and other health products, for example, originally you might promote to new customers on Facebook by targeting users who are in NYC who “like” pages related to health and wellness. With behavioral targeting, you can now target users who are in NYC that actually buy health and wellness products above the national average.

Custom Audiences

Custom audiences allow advertisers to upload a list of emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs to Facebook. Facebook will then match up that data to people on Facebook to create a custom audience. If you have a list of 400,000 e-mails, for example, and upload it to the network; Facebook will create a custom audience list for you to target as long as those individuals are using the same e-mail address to access Facebook. If you are a frequent customer of a brand, you might see an advertisement for a new product on Facebook because that brand created a custom audience list of their most loyal customers. Custom audiences can also be created based on website traffic and Facebook app activity.

Look-A-Like Audiences

Look-A-Like audiences are a list of Facebook users who are similar to a Custom Audience that you have uploaded to Facebook. If you upload a list of your most loyal customers’ e-mail addresses to Facebook, for example, Look-A-Like audiences can generate a list of the top 1% of users who are similar to these customers based on their likes and interests.  If advertisers want to expand their reach, they can generate a list of the top 10% of users who are similar to these customers.

 

-Post by guest blogger David Neuman-

david-neumanDavid Neuman, Guest Blogger
David is the Director of Social Media Services at Prime Visibility. He has been with Prime Visibility for over 7 years and has over 9 years’ experience in Digital Marketing. He manages Social Media initiatives for the company where he creates and executes Social Media strategies for the agency’s clients. David was also the recipient of two LISTNet awards for developing an algorithm to measure the virality of Social Media campaigns and has appeared on CNBC and WSJ Live.