Author: Louis Henderson

Fact Checking is Being Built into Google’s UX: What You Need to Know

Google is constantly updating and modifying to provide the best user experience possible. But because users and their behaviors are evolving all the time, it creates a constantly moving target. More recently, we’ve seen applications and search engines take efforts to address the amount of false information on the internet. In the past year or so, a flux of fake news and slander has circulated online. Following the 2016 presidential election, users and producers of content had a heightened awareness of just how detrimental and impactful popular, widely circulated falsehoods can be. As a result, many online leaders, including Google, have placed an emphasis on fact checking to provide the highest quality information to users.

The Fact Check Tag

The actual fact checking is not done by Google, but rather by reputable fact checking sources including Snopes and Politifact.  Per Google’s statement about fact checking, “Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree.”

Publishers must first meet the guidelines to be included in this fact check feature, including usage of the Schema.org ClaimReview markup, and that’s assuming the publishers are already algorithmically considered an authoritative source by Google. Also, Google says, “Content must adhere to the general policies that apply to all structured data markup, the Google News Publisher criteria for fact checks, and the standards for accountability and transparency, readability or proper site representation as articulated in our Google News General Guidelines.”

It’s worth noting that Google is not paying the fact-checking organizations for participating in this tag, nor are the article with fact checked labels ranked any differently in search results. This development is mostly about Google’s ongoing commitment to providing the best results possible for users. The fact check tag will help users more easily identify reliable content and information from unreliable to better satisfy user intent.

Shifts in User Behavior

This adaptation is indicative of a much larger shift in user behavior, attitudes, and needs. Today, when two people disagree on information or users want to know something, it usually ends in a web search. The internet is intimately ingrained into modern society, and the information found online clearly can have massive impacts on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Users are impressionable beings and gravitate towards popular content, sometimes regardless of whether or not it’s true. The development of this fact check tag directly addresses this particular evolution in user behavior and will hopefully help everyone find better quality results that are factual, productive, and actually worthy of being widely shared.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Google is Launching a Job Search Service: What You Need to Know

In a constantly changing employment landscape, job sites are their own kind of wonderful. The top dogs, like Indeed, Monster, and Career Builder, connect millions of employees with job candidates in every field you can think of. Job sites are a booming and highly profitable industry, so it should come as no surprise that like most services that can be monetized, Google is jumping on board.

The home page of Google’s employment service, Google Hire, is active now:

Entry to the job site is currently locked, but it looks like future users will be able to make an account or log in using their gmail. In the meantime, the option of being placed on an email list to stay in the loop about Google hire does exist. In response to chatter and speculation surrounding this product, Google released the following statement:

“Google Hire is a product under development that will help G Suite customers manage their hiring process more effectively. The product will allow employers to collect candidate applications online. Only information that a candidate voluntarily provides would be passed to a prospective employer as part of their online application. Private information will not be shared.”

Google’s moves towards this particular vertical could pose a serious threat to the recruitment industry because job listings generate a lot of money from search results. Annually, the recruitment industry is worth around $491 billion and with Google taking the reins, there isn’t much existing job sites can do besides wait.

How will it work?

Based off of what’s been shared so far, it looks like Google Jobs will be structured similarly to Google Shop and the local listings pack. A job pack will show users job listings from multiple recruiters online that they can click through in one place. And, per a tweet from Dan Shure, the job pack will include information about when the job listing was posted:

Will it affect organic listings?

If and when Google Jobs fully rolls out, probably. Just as local listings, Google shop, and advertisements have slightly cut down the number of organic listings on the first page, Google Jobs will more likely than not have similar effects. It’s not yet totally clear if Google’s developing job recruitment site is directly linked or separate from Google Jobs. What is clear is that sites within the recruitment industry should poise themselves for a changing landscape across the industry and brace themselves to pay more for future listings.

Why is Google doing this?

This is yet another example of Google’s commitment to providing a top-notch user experience. Rather than it being about dominating every profitable industry that exists, it’s really just Google’s way of getting users all the content they need in front of them at once. Recruiters within this industry should follow suit and also focus on providing the best job content and listings possible, as that will be the best way to ensure relevance with Google.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Spam, Ad Blocking, and How to Adapt

In recent user experience buzz, Google is reportedly working on a new Chrome feature that would block “bad ad types” by default. For this particular feature, bad ad types are being defined as:

”Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

While it may seem strange that a leader in digital ad sales, Google, would develop an ad blocking feature, this development isn’t all that unexpected given current user trends. On average, users are exposed to some 5,000 ads per day-a number that has steadily grown over the past decade. That high level of exposure to ads is likely the main reason that nearly half of online customers used ad block technology in 2015. The consensus is pretty clear: users are already exposed to an overwhelming number of ads on a daily basis and have little patience for ads that hinder and/or interrupt their online experience.

There’s some speculation that this is a strategic move by Google to prevent users from blocking ads entirely:

“Google would essentially have ‘more control’ over the state of ad blocking. Perhaps there’s a feeling within the company that if bad ads are filtered out, internet users will be more receptive to good ads and less inclined to block them.”

While there’s no concrete explanation for it at this time, what remains clear is that spam, digital advertisements, and the nature of ad blocking has been and will continue to change the competition and visibility landscape for advertisers.

In order to remain relevant-and unblocked-digital advertisers should target and optimize in a manner that aligns with the preferences and patterns of current user behavior. Here’s a quick guide on what that entails.

Digital Advertising in an Ad-Blocking World

  • Mobile-Ready, Multi-Device Ads: Responsible use of mobile advertising that adheres to Google’s permitted formats including interstitials that appear in response to legal obligation, login dialogs, and banners that use an appropriate amount of screen space. As shown below:

  • Avoiding Intrusive Interstitial Ads: In January, Google introduced penalties and a search engine wide crackdown on intrusive interstitial ads. These include popups that cover main content, standalone ads that have to be dismissed before accessing the main content, and layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold. As shown below:

  • High Quality Ads: General adherence to Google’s best practices for digital advertisements and formats are more important than ever. Since this is how Google makes money, Google is likely to protect ads/advertisers that follow their guidelines correctly and create high-quality advertisements.
  • More Native Advertising: Advertisers should channel some of their advertising efforts into more organic forms of reaching people, such as influencer marketing, online reviews, or customer loyalty programs. By reaching an audience/customer on a natural level, brands are better able to advertise their products, services, or content on a peer-to-peer level.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

How to Use the Best Keyword Research Methods to Create Blog Topics

Any blogger or content writer knows that coming up with blog topics can be a royal pain. After a while it starts to feel like everything there is to say has already been said, and hunting through pages of news and articles looking for inspiration begins to feel more like aimlessly wandering. But the nice thing about SEO and digital strategy is that there’s always some overlap in how you can use best practices and online tactics.

For blog topic generation especially, you can use the tools and practices you use for keyword research to get ideas and inspiration that will stock your editorial calendar. The best part? Using keyword research methods to source blog topics takes the guesswork out of content ideation. You can see what questions people are searching for, check out keywords and phrases that are similar to your original topic idea, and base your blog topics off of the information users are actively trying to find. In doing so, you’re more likely to get the traffic and value you want most out of your content while also easing the difficulty of coming up with blog topics.

More likely than not, your keyword research practices are largely dependent on which keyword research tools you’re using. Regardless of which keyword tools you have access to, you can use them to quickly generate blog topics that are highly relevant to your audience. Below, we’ll cover some easy ways to start doing this and revisit some popular keyword research tools to try out.

Tips for Keywords, Titles, & Blog Posts

A quick word on why keywords should really play a big role in how you put together your content:

Keywords are the organizers of the internet. They’re what users build their search queries with to find what they’re looking for and help put the right content in the right place so they can find it. So, if you haven’t already, start by building out a list of keywords for your brand, business, or website. You’ll want to include broad keywords, narrowed keywords, and everything in between to target different levels of user intent and interest. This graphic from Kissmetrics illustrates different keyword types well:

Knowing your keywords for all of these categories will help you quickly determine which best applies to your blog titles and topics.

Using Keyword Research Methods & Tools to Create Blog Topics

The topic generation process for most keyword research tools is pretty straightforward:

  • Step One: Run a search for a keyword you want to develop blog topics around in the tool.
  • Step Two: Browse the keyword suggestions the tool retrieves to refine your search.
  • Step Three: Use the suggested keywords in a blog topic generator, like HubSpot’s.
  • Step Four: If offered, filter the results of your keyword search to show specific questions users searched for.

This simple process can help you quickly come up with highly relevant, heavy-hitting blog topics to fill your editorial calendar. While there are plenty of keyword research tools out there, my favorites for blog topic generation are Moz Keyword Explorer and Buzzsumo. Here’s why.

Moz Keyword Explorer

All of Moz’s tools are super easy to navigate and really thorough in terms of the information they retrieve. The Keyword Explorer pulls tons of information on keyword suggestions, questions users searched for, and keyword opportunity grades in just seconds for every search. Plus, they have this awesome guide on how you can use it to create hundreds of blog topic ideas in seconds.

Buzzsumo

Though not technically a keyword research tool, Buzzsumo is a great way to get a complete picture of what content exists around your keywords. By simply searching for a specific phrase or keyword, such as content marketing, you can see the top performing content within the past year, filtered by language, country, trending, content format, and more. It’s a good place to get ideas and see what kind of blog topics users gravitate towards most in relevance to your keywords.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

A Deeper Look at Evergreen Content and How to Optimize It

Somewhere along the line, people started interpreting “content is king” as a green light for flooding their online space with as much content as possible, sometimes at the expense of quality. There are few things as frustrating as investing time, energy, and resources into cranking out lots and lots of content and having little to show for it, and yet that’s exactly the situation so many content marketers find themselves in. So, if the problem is creating too much of the wrong kind of content, then what exactly is the right kind of content? The answer to that question and the solution to the problem of wasted content creation is, in part, evergreen content.

Why Evergreen Content Should Be a Focus of Your Strategy

If you were to analyze the top results in response to search queries, you’d find that most of them are a couple of years old, 2-3 to be exact. This shows that users gravitate towards the same pieces of content that most adequately answer their questions and provides the information they need. The creators/owners of those top ranked pages have created an evergreen piece of content that lasts long after the date it was published on. From there, they can periodically update the page for accuracy and comprehensiveness and stretch the utility of just one high performing piece of content for years.

This is exactly why creating evergreen pieces should be a focus of your content strategy. When “content is king” became the mantra of SEOs/content marketers, there was a tendency among people to interpret that as “create tons of content all the time.” But because users already have access to so much information, it’s not really about having more content as much as it’s about having the right kind of content. This ends up being better for content marketers as well because it requires them to work smarter, not harder. If you’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into constantly cranking out articles with minimal return, then it’s probably time to shift your focus to producing evergreen content.

Making and Optimizing Evergreen Content

Even though creating evergreen content typically requires more work on the front end than just any old piece of content, you’ll ultimately get way more out of it in terms of value and shelf-life. Even so, it can be hard to know what ideas will make for a really great piece of evergreen content and what the production process will look like.

A little brainstorming and inspiration is always the best place to get started on content ideation and a great resource for that is this article:

The article is full of ideas and examples of evergreen content and different formatting, topic, and production ideas. Different content styles may perform differently across industries, so in reviewing this resource be sure to keep an open mind about what kind of format/topic your audience will find most useful for the long haul.

It’s good to start focusing on producing content with a longer shelf-life and bigger ROI, but what if you already have some pieces of evergreen content? If you monitor the performance of your content, then it’s likely you’ve already identified some of your existing pieces as being high performing or constant traffic generators. In that case, you want to optimize that existing evergreen content to get as much value out of it as you possibly can.

Reposting and upcycling old content are things we’ve covered before and are considered best practices for any blog’s top performing content, ideas, and formats. Another great resource for optimizing evergreen content is this article:

It’s a thorough guide with ideas, tips, and spreadsheets to help you analyze and optimize your best content pieces. Remember, the goal is not to flood the internet with content produced at a spam-like rate, but rather to produce lasting content that your brand can continue to benefit from long after it’s created and published.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

What Google’s New Verified Reviews Update Means for You

Reviews have become one of the most important components of optimization, especially for businesses that primarily interact with their customers online. As I’ve said before, the data shows the importance of reviews with the majority (88%) of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, 40% of buyers forming an opinion after reading just 1-3 reviews, and 72% of buyers taking action only after reading a positive review.

But as businesses became more aware of the importance and efficacy of reviews in recent years, they began looking for ways to shortcut and obtain more of them, not always in the most honest ways. Fake reviews have become more and more prevalent, and some studies even claim that up to 15% of all online reviews are fake. This is a problem because user-generated content (UGC), like reviews, is an enormous part of what motivates user action and contributes to overall user experience. In light of the fraudulence infecting online reviews (Yelp, Amazon, Google, etc.), many platforms began taking actions to prevent fake reviews and ensure honest and trustworthy reviews for users.

Reviews on Google

In the past, Google has used its Trusted Stores program, which is essentially just “Google Reviews.” It allows pretty much anyone to leave a review on a business’s Google listing, regardless of whether or not they’re a real customer. But with shady business practices and fake reviews becoming more of a problem, Google has retired its Trusted Stores review program and replaced it with Verified Customer Reviews.

What’s new about Verified Customer Reviews?

Rather than just anyone being able to leave a review, Customer Reviews are verified as being written by customers who have made a purchase from a business’s website. This also means that Customer Reviews are exclusive to businesses that have an online store as opposed to just having a business listing on Google.

Some other new features to this type of review include customizable options that businesses can use, include how their review badge looks to users and where seller ratings from these reviews appear through AdWords and Google Shopping.

How can I participate in Google’s Verified Customer Reviews?

Using this new review feature is totally free and easy to implement. Per Google’s blog post about Customer Reviews, here’s how to implement it:

  • Sign in to yourMerchant Center account (or sign up if you do not have an account).
    2) Select “Merchant Center programs” from the dropdown in the upper right-hand corner.
    3) Click “Get Started” in the Google Customer Reviews card and accept the Program Agreement.
    4) Add the survey opt-in code to your website.
    5) [Optional] Add the badge code to your site wherever you want. This will make the badge appear on your site, allowing you to display your seller rating and show customers that you’re integrated with Google Customer Reviews.

A quick word about best practices for customer reviews…

If you haven’t been already, now is a good time to make reviews part of your online marketing and optimization efforts. UGC is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive original and unique content for your website and more likely than not, your audience wants to see honest reviews from previous customers. You can get ideas about different ways to get reviews here and learn about the importance of having reviews across multiple platforms here.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Why You Should Use Social Listening (and Tips on How to do it)

Since its early development, social media has become an increasingly important and constantly evolving component of online behavior. What used to be platforms for connecting with friends have expanded to include features that integrate everything users need and do online. That overlap includes everything from reporting features and live video sharing to news publications and e-commerce transactions, all streamlined in a way that makes social media platforms the watering hole for modern users. Users now turn to social media platforms to stay informed, post reviews, buy things, and more, and the data that shows just how many users do that is staggering:

  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
  • More than 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform
  • 79% of American internet users are on Facebook
  • 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases

This is exactly why brands have a vested interest in not just securing their presence on different social media platforms, but in using the prevalence of it to track their brand. To miss out on what’s being said about a brand or industry online is to willfully bypass an opportunity for business growth and improvement. This is where social listening comes in.

Social Listening is when brands monitor what’s being said about them or their industry in conversations online. Whether a brand follows a set of keywords relevant to their industry or their specific brand name, monitoring what’s being mentioned about them can provide useful information that can provide huge insights. For example, if a brand using social listening began observing several mentions about one of their product’s shortcomings, they could take how their audience is responding to it and use it to address problems. Or if an industry’s customers are buzzing over a specific trend or topic, brands would know what to weigh in on and how to engage their audience.

The idea behind social listening is for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of their own business and industry so they can perform better, and it’s not hard to do. Here’s how you can get started.

Tools for Social Listening

First, you’ll need to use a tool that helps you track the brand name or industry keywords you want to monitor. One of the best tools for this is Google Alerts, because it’s free and is convenient if you’re already using Google Analytics. Other options for social listening tools are Mention, Social Mention, Brand Watch, or Who’s Talkin.

For these tools, all you have to do is input the brands, phrases, or keywords you want to monitor. The tools will return the queries and mentions of them online, and from there you can decide how you want to use them.

How to Use Social Listening for Your Brand

You can use the information you gather from social listening however you see fit for you brand, but here are some ideas on how to get started.

  1. Get Content Inspiration

Anyone with a blog knows that constantly coming up with fresh content ideas can be challenging, and social listening can help with that. By reading the mentions and conversations happening around keywords pertaining to your industry, you can see what questions people are asking or what they’re excited and/or talking about to generate ideas for your website or blog. Or, at the very least, you can see what your audience is talking about so your brand can better participate in conversations and engage in relevant discussion.

  1. Identify Problems

If you’re monitoring a specific product, topic, service, or otherwise, you can use social listening to potentially identify problems that need addressing. Maybe there’s a glitch in a product that people are talking about or a snag in an online service. By finding the problems through your social listening tools and seeing what people have to say about it, you can use that information to identify and correct problems related to your brand.

  1. Reputation Management

Similarly to how social listening can be used to identify problems, it can also be used to manage brand reputations. Monitoring what’s being said about your brand can reveal damaging mentions or reviews that could contribute to a negative image. By having a tool and process in place for tracking those kinds of mentions, your brand can stay on top of its reputation and know what’s being said online.

  1. Crowdsourced Campaign Ideas

A lot of research goes into social media or marketing campaigns, and social listening is a great way to enhance that research. Brands can review mentions to get ideas on what type of campaign/content will be successful with their audience, see what the brand is doing that users like or dislike, and use those brand mentions to crowdsource marketing ideas.

  1. Find Influencers

Influencer marketing has become one of the most effective ways for brands to communicate with their audience, but sometimes finding the right influencers can be difficult. With social listening, brands can potentially find users that are saying a lot about their products or services online and recruit them to advocate on behalf of the brand.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com