Logan Hochstetler

Logan Hochstetler

Friday, 31 March 2017 07:58

How Yandex Search Works

The Yandex search engine responds to user queries with relevant web documents it finds on the internet. However, the size of the internet is currently calculated in terms of exabytes – quintillions, or billions of billions, of bytes of information. Needless to say, Yandex Search does not trawl through this enormous pile of data every time it responds to a new search query. The system, so to say, does its homework.
To perform a search, Yandex uses a search index, which is basically a database of all the words and their locations known to the search engine. A word’s location is a combination of its position on a web page and the web page’s address on the internet. A search index is like a glossary or a telephone directory. Unlike a glossary, which only contains selected terms, a search index registers every word the search engine has ever come across. And, unlike a phonebook, which lists names and addresses, a search index has more than one ‘registered address’ for every word.


A web search engine operates in two stages. First, it crawls the web, saving its ‘copy’ on its servers. Second, it responds to a user’s search query by retrieving an answer from its servers.

Background work

Before a search engine can start the search, it needs to prepare the information it finds on the internet for searching. This process is called indexing. A special computer system – web crawler – browses the internet regularly, downloads new web pages and processes them. It creates a kind of ‘carbon copy’ of the internet, which is stored on the search engine’s servers and is updated after every crawl.
Yandex has two crawlers – one of them, the main crawler, indexes all the web pages it comes across, while the other one, known as Orange, performs express indexing to ensure that the most recent documents, including those that appeared on the web minutes or even seconds before the crawl, are available in the search engine’s index. Both crawlers have ‘waiting lists’ of web pages that need to be indexed. The lists continually add new links that the crawlers find on the pages they visit. New links can also appear on the waiting lists after website owners add their pages to the index using the Yandex.Webmaster service. Website administrators can also provide the additional details such as, for instance, how often their website is updated etc.
Before the crawling process can start, a special program – scheduler – creates a schedule, the order according to which web pages will be visited. Scheduling is based on a number of factors necessary for information retrieval, such as link popularity or page update frequency. After a schedule has been made, the other component of the search engine – spider – takes over. The spider regularly visits pages according to the schedule. If a website is accessible to the spider and is functioning, the program downloads the website’s pages as scheduled. It identifies the format (html, pdf, swf etc.), code and language of the downloaded document and then sends this information to the servers for storage.

On the storage server, another program clears the web document of the html-markup leaving only text. It then extracts information about each word’s location and adds all the words in this web document to the index.
The original document is also stored on the server until the next crawl. This allows Yandex to offer its users the opportunity to view web documents even if the website is temporarily unavailable. If a website shuts down or a web document gets deleted or updated, Yandex removes it from its servers or replaces it with a newer version.

The search index, together with copies of all the indexed documents, including their type, code and language, forms the search database. To keep up with the ever-changing nature of internet content and make sure that the search engine can find the latest and the most relevant information in response to user search queries, the search database needs to be updated regularly. Before the search engine can find and return results to end users, each new database update first goes to the ‘basic search’ servers. The basic search servers contain only the essential part of the search database – free from spam, mirror sites or other irrelevant documents. This is the part of the search database that responds to user queries directly.
The search database updates are sent from the main crawler’s storage servers to the basic search servers in ‘packages’ once every few days. This is a very resource intensive process. To reduce the load on servers, the data is transferred at night – when search traffic on Yandex is at its lowest. The new portions of the database are compared using a number of parameters against the latest version available from the previous crawl to ensure that the update does not spoil the quality of search results. After a successful quality control check, the old version is replaced with the latest update.
The Orange crawler is designed for real time searches. Both its scheduler and spider are tuned to finding the latest web documents and picking from a vast number of pages those that might be of some interest. These documents are processed instantly and sent straight to the basic search servers. As the number of these documents is relatively low, the update can happen in real time even during the day without the risk of overloading the servers.
A web search engine, roughly, operates in two stages. The first one is crawling the web, indexing pages preparing them to be searched. The other is searching for an answer to a specific user query in the previously created search database.

Source : Yandex.com

A computer algorithm that determines credibility may help in the fight against fake news

Looking to hone your powers of persuasion? Turns out there may be some specific words that can aid in that endeavor.

Science has now suggested that certain phrases lend themselves to an air of authenticity. Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology pored over 66 million tweets about 1,400 real-world events (including Ebola in West Africa, the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, and the death of Eric Garner in New York City) to determine just what it was that people said that made them sound so … right.

After aggregating these tweets, study participants were asked to judge how credible tweets sounded by calling them “certainly accurate,” “certainly inaccurate,” or somewhere in between. Results were then modeled and divided into 15 linguistic categories including positive and negative emotions, hedges and boosters, and anxiety, The New Web explained.

As Georgia Tech PhD candidate and research lead Tanushree Mitra noted, “There have been many studies about social media credibility in recent years, but very little is known about what types of words or phrases create credibility perceptions during rapidly unfolding events.” But that’s changing. “Tweets with booster words, such as ‘undeniable,’ and positive emotion terms, such as ‘eager’ and ‘terrific,’ were viewed as highly credible,” Mitra said. Conversely, words that are generally linked to jesting and joking — like ‘ha,’ ‘grins,’ or ‘joking,’ made tweets seem less credible.

Curiously, tweets that were retweeted more frequently were often seen as less credible, whereas longer messages were deemed more credible. “It could be that longer message lengths provide more information or reasoning, so they’re viewed as more trustworthy,” Mitra said. “On the other hand, a higher number of retweets, which was scored lower on credibility, might represent an attempt to elicit collective reasoning during times of crisis or uncertainty.”

So what are the implications of these findings? While still in need of some refining, this research could help combat the spread of fake news via social media platforms, a topic that seems increasingly relevant. And if nothing else, well, it’ll make you sound more believable.

Source : http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/twitter-credible-tweets/


Google Brain, the company’s deep learning research center, just unveiled a major breakthrough in sharpening pixelated images. What’s that, you ask? Well, think of it as the “zoom and enhance” technique you’ve seen in so many movies. A security camera picks up a blurry image and some computer genius clears it up. Google developed it, sort of, and called it “pixel recursive super resolution.”

Google basically tried to enlarge low resolution photographs to recover a plausible high resolution version of it. But because the input image does’t really contain that much information, there are usually a lot of plausible high resolution images.

A super resolution model must account for the complex variations of objects, viewpoints, illumination, and occlusions, especially as the zoom factor increases.


Realistic, high resolution images are only possible when hard decisions are made about the type of textures, shapes, and patterns present at different parts of an image. Google just had to figure out a way how to make those decisions, and neural networks were their way to go.


Google’s new upscaling method (NN) versus the previously existing one (Bicubic).

If you feel like diving into every little detail of this reasearch: by all means. But thanks to some talented science translators at Ars Technica, we’re able to give you a comprehensible summary.

First, Google had a conditioning network map 8×8 source images against other high resolution images. It downsized them to 8×8, and tried to make a match. Then, Google had a prior networkuse an implementation of PixelCNN, to add realistic high resolution details to the 8×8 source image. The prior network therefore contained a lot of information of a large number of real high-res images, and therefore was able to add new pixels to the image it wanted to “blow up,” based on what it “knows” about that type of image.

Still with us? Here’s an example by Ars Technica:

If there’s a brown pixel towards the top of the image, the prior network might identify that as an eyebrow: so, when the image is scaled up, it might fill in the gaps with an eyebrow-shaped collection of brown pixels.

Not every image eventually resembled the actual ground image, but they did look like realistic images, and that is the actual breakthrough. Researchers showed a test panel enlarged images versus real images and they asked them which one they thought had not been artificially altered. Ten percent guessed it wrong when comparing pictures of human beings, while 28 percent got it wrong when comparing pictures of bedrooms. To put that in perspective: 50 percent would be perfect, but… up until now, existing upscaling techniques (bicubic scaling) had zero percent fooled.

The best and worst images in the panel study. Fractions below the images denote how many times a person choose that image over the ground truth.

According to a security research firm, over 60,000 websites that haven’t been updated to the most recent WordPress version 4.7.2 are under attack in a mass defacement campaign.

WordPress 4.7.2 was released two weeks ago fixing a vulnerability in the WordPress REST API. “An unauthenticated privilege escalation vulnerability was discovered in a REST API endpoint,” WordPress had noted in its security bulletin. The bug, reported by Marc-Alexandre Montpas of Sucuri Security, allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to modify the content of any post or page within a WordPress site.

WordPress REST API was added and enabled by default on version 4.7.0 or 4.7.1. Sucuri, a web security firm, warned that any website that is on these versions of WordPress is currently vulnerable to this privilege escalation vulnerability.

Mass defacement campaign uses WordPress exploit

Sucuri researchers, who have been following this exploit, have reported that the bug is being exploited by four different hacking groups. Sucuri said websites that haven’t been upgraded to the latest WordPress version are under attack in this mass defacement campaign. These attacks are slowly growing, reaching to nearly 3,000 defacements a day. 

“In less than 48 hours after the vulnerability was disclosed, we saw multiple public exploits being shared and posted online,” Daniel B Cid, the founder and CTO of Sucuri, wrote. “With that information easily available, the internet-wide probing and exploit attempts began.”

Researchers noted that even though WordPress has an auto-update feature enabled by default, along with an easy 1-click manual update process, not every site has been updated to the latest version. “Based on data collected from Sucuri’s honeypot test servers, four attackers have been busy in the past week trying to exploit the flaw,” researchers wrote.


These defacement campaigns are increasing by the day, and researchers believe it will lead to SEO spam (Search Engine Poisoning) attempts moving forward. Attackers will use targeted sites to promote their own products or sites and will likely use popular websites to post malware through links and images abusing this vulnerability. Researchers added that the sites suffering from SEO-targeted defacements also have their SERP (Search Engine Result Page) indicator affected and risk losing their ranking on search engines, which in turn drives down their traffic.

To avoid being one of those 65,000 websites, Sucuri advises to update to WordPress v4.7.2 to avoid being a target of this ongoing campaign.

Source : http://wccftech.com/spammers-deface-60000-sites-wordpress-flaw/

Sunday, 29 January 2017 07:13

Five awesome Android tips and tricks

If you use a smartphone, chances are it’s an Android.

Not only are there multiple phone makers that embrace the operating system – including the likes of 

SamsungHTC, LG, Moto, Sony, and so on – but it’s by far the world’s no. 1 mobile platform with a whopping 88 percent market share, according to Strategy Analytics.

As with most of your gadgets, however, you’re probably only scratching the surface of what your ‘droid can do.  And so we’ve compiled a list of five useful tips and tricks to help you get more out of your device.

Note: Most of these will work with all makes and models -- running the newest version, Nougat, or previous versions like Marshmallow, Lollipop, or KitKat  -- but some of the following step-by-step instructions may vary a bit depending on which smartphone you own.

At home? Have your phone automatically unlock

It’s a necessary evil, but we all know it’s a pain to type in a PIN or passcode, draw a pattern or use a thumbprint to unlock your phone each and every time. After all, if it’s lost or stolen, we don’t want our info falling into the wrong hands.

But you shouldn’t have to do this at home, right? Good news: Built into Android is a “Smart Lock” feature. Enabling it means when you’re at home – or another location of your choice – your phone won’t be locked.

Go to Settings > Security (or Secure lock settings) > Smart Lock > Trusted places, and then type in the address where you don’t want to be locked out of your phone. Alternatively, let your phone identify your current location on a map.

There are other “smart lock” settings, too, like when it’s in your hand or in your pocket, when you’re near another device (like a Bluetooth watch), and more.

Learn how to take a fast screen grab, have your phone

Plug in a mouse or keyboard. Or run Android on a PC

Don’t try this with an iPhone.

Some Android applications simply work better with a mouse (including productivity-killing strategy and role-playing games), and you can indeed plug in a USB mouse into your Android phone and it’ll work right away. Yes, whether it’s microUSB or USB Type-C, you’ll immediately see the little cursor on your screen. You could also use a Bluetooth enabled mouse. Keyboards work, too, by the way.

On the flipside, you can run Android on your computer at home or at the office. Simply install the free BlueStacks emulator on your PC or Mac, and you can play Clash Royale as if it were on your phone.

Download Google Maps directions for offline use

When you’re navigating unfamiliar roads, chances are you launch Google Maps on your Android. But using this app eats up data – and if you’re roaming in another country, you might come home to a surprise on your mobile phone bill.

While it’s not widely known, Google Maps now lets you download and use Google Maps on your device, without using up any data.

To do so, when you’re in a free Wi-Fi hotspot, type a destination into the search window and the app will pull up an overhead map. Now tap the three lines in the top left of the screen to open some options, one of which will be “Offline areas.” Tap this and select to download the map to your device, but be aware it will take up some storage (Google Maps will tell you how much).

: Learn how to take a fast screen grab, have your phone

There’s a hidden game.

Bored at work? In line at the supermarket? Need to keep the kids entertained? Android has a hidden video game.

Go to Settings > System > About Phone (or Software info), and when you see the words “Android version,” tap on it multiple times and you’ll see a logo for Nougat or Marshmallow. Tap a few times again and now press and hold on the screen. A secret minigame will appear.

Tap the triangle to start. See how long you can keep the Android character alive by tapping the screen to jump, and without hitting any obstacles. It’s not as easy as it looks!

Unlock a hidden minigame on any new Android device.

Spit-screen mode

Once reserved only for high-end Samsung devices, Android Nougat offers a split-screen mode, natively, and it works like a charm. As the name suggests, this split-screen feature lets you view and/or access two different apps on the screen at the same time.

To use it, launch an app and then press and hold the Recent Apps button (usually to the left or right of the Home button). This will snap your open app onto the top of the screen, and allow you to open another app on the bottom. Or turn your phone sideways, for a landscape view, to access the side-by-side apps.

For example, you can watch a movie while flicking through some emails. Or play a podcast while browsing the web in another window.

Not every app works with split-screen, but many of them do.

Master your smartphone with these little-known tips

And a few more tips.

  • To quickly access some Settings and Notifications, swipe one finger down from the very top of your phone (start above the screen). To access many more Settings and options, use two fingers to swipe down instead. Cool, no?
  • Hopefully you’re using your voice to access info while on the go, as it’s super easy, fast, and convenient. To enable the “OK Google” feature, tap on the Google app from within your Google folder (or on your home screen), and then tap the top left Options tab (three horizontal lines) and under Settings, tap Voice and then enable “OK Google” detection from any screen. Now you can simply say “OK Google,” followed by a command or question tied to a web search, destination address, texting a contact, and more.
  • To take a screenshot of a website, message, or anything else, Android users can simply press the power and volume-down buttons at the same time. The screen will flash white, you'll hear a camera shutter sound, and the image be saved in your photo gallery. Some phones, like Samsung devices, let you slide the side of your hand (left or right) to quickly screen grab what you’re looking at.

Author: Marc Saltzman
Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/01/28/five-awesome-android-tips-and-tricks/97140982

Ten years ago, Steve Jobs went on stage and told an audience, ‘Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along and changes everything.’

That product was iPhone – and its 2007 launch kick-started the whole app economy, not to mention turning Apple into one of the wealthiest companies in history.

But with a billion iPhones sold, Apple is planning big changes this year.

Multiple reports from respected analysts and industry sources have suggested this year’s iPhone 8 – expected in September, as is traditional from Apple – will be a near-complete overhaul.

Here’s what to expect.

It’ll be nearly all screen – and slightly curved

Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – who has a long track record of accurate predictions of upcoming iPhone models – said that Apple is going to shake things up with a new ‘curved’ look in 2017.

The prediction has been echoed with rumours from within Apple’s supply chain.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian review earlier this year, source predicted that the next phone would be ‘equipped with a screen bent on the two sides’.

It’ll charge wirelessly

Picture Rex
Other smartphone brands such as Samsung already offer wireless charging – and Apple uses it in Apple Watch – so analysts believe the new iPhone will charge wirelessly.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicted wireless charging in at least one of the models on sale this year.


Instead of plugging phones into a cable, users will sit them on a dedicated charging pad to power them up.

It’ll ditch the Home button

As well as a larger screen dominating the front of the device, Apple may well ditch the Home button entirely – echoing rival Google, whose Pixel phone has no physical buttons on the front.

Manufacturing documents from Apple’s Asian supply chain suggest it’ll have a new ‘invisible’ home button, according to leaked documents seen by Apple Insider.

It’ll have a glass back

Citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, Japanese business publication NIkkei said the new phone will come in three models – and all will have glass backs.

The look will be similar to the old ‘glass sandwich’ look on iPhone 4, analysts believe.

All three phones will have glass backs supplied by Biel Crystal Manufactory and Lens Technology in China.

‘Apple has tentatively decided that all the 5.5-inch, 5-inch and 4.7-inch models will have glass backs, departing from metal casings adopted by current iPhones, and Biel and Lens are likely to be providing all the glass backs for the new iPhones next year,’ the source said.

There might be a new, bigger model

Next year’s crop of iPhones could contain a mysterious high-powered new model – codenamed ‘Ferrari’ – according to leaked documents from Chinese manufacturers.

Apple Insider says that the leaked document hints at three handsets – titled D20, D21 and D22 – and that D20 and D21 will be the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus.

The third handset will be, ‘A completely redesigned high-end variant,’ according to the site.
They wrote, ‘Our idea was that if we could put people in a situation illustrating the possibility of their consciousness being outside of their body, then this would provide implicit evidence (but not necessarily explicit belief) that survival beyond the body is possible, and hence produce a reduction in fear of death.

Author : Rob Waugh

Source : https://ca.news.yahoo.com/five-big-surprises-to-expect-from-apples-total-redesign-of-iphone-this-year-171007863.html

Search engines digest and rank websites differently each year. Thanks to machine learning, Google algorithms are becoming more intelligent, humanlike, and will soon surpass human intelligence in more than one way.

Google is also gaining greater access to big data through the search results, Google Analytic accounts, and Androids. Google can now easily reformulate its ranking factors in order to monitor even the most subtle signs of user satisfaction.

In the past, we could see the universally applicable ranking factors that referred to all kinds of websites, and these factors indeed were crucial for formulating the final ranking positions. We could also read plenty of articles about Google’s ranking factors: 30 Most Important Google Ranking Factors A Beginner Should Know, or 6 Current Google Ranking Factors You Should Keep Up With. However, ranking factors were never officially revealed by the Googlers, and Google search experts only vaguely mentioned some of them. Now there are no universally applicable ranking factors.

SEO has been taken to the next level

Each business niche today has its individual standards of a high-quality site, and different requirements need to be met to boost visibility. We can observe various SEO best practices among the different industries, and the best part is, sometimes it’s not a matter of industry but a specific query.

For example, a local business needs a well-optimized Google My Business listing, local citations, plenty of positive local reviews, consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone), a geotag to show a business’s exact location with directions, business-related rich snippets, well optimized title tags, descriptions for local keywords, etc.

On the other hand, an e-commerce business that operates globally needs optimizations on a different scale. Global companies need diligent – human – translations, a user-friendly website structure for each location and straightforward navi. They also need to host site versions on a local IP, link to local content relevant to the specific country, build links from local resources and connect with local search engines – Baidu if China, Yandex if Russia, etc.

Most of the known (revealed) ranking factors, which can be found in Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List, for instance, are still up to date; but their level of importance has already changed or is currently changing.

Some ranking factors, like technical standards, make up the necessary foundation and help your website achieve at least some traction, but they won’t guarantee top rankings anymore.

Other factors, like links, still carry the most weight, but according to this Searchmetrics’ white paper, the importance of backlinks is on the decline. A website ranking won’t be determined primarily by backlinks. Links are still considered an important factor, but they’re not the leading one.

The correlations for backlinks remain high, but their importance for a page’s ranking will continue to decline. – Searchmetrics

Google increasingly relies on user intention, content relevancy and behavioral factors – such as how a user interacts with a page – to rank its search results. The search engine is slowly and consequently rolling out the “customer-first” approach.

Google is trying to make its algorithms a mirror image of the heart, mind, soul, and needs of a customer.


Moreover, real-time indexing intended for the ‘search live coverage carousel’ is predicted to be an important part of the SEO future. It lets publishers surface breaking news more quickly than is currently possible with standard crawling. Also, Google Penguin is real-time. In the past, Penguin was updated periodically, so sites had to wait for the next update to get recrawled and reindexed again to recover finally. Now Penguin’s data is refreshed quickly, and changes are visible faster. It aims to make search results capable of adjusting to the freshly published assets and their enhancements fast.

Content marketing and SEO goals are aligned, and these two specializations are meshing with each other. What can we state for sure? Let’s dive into the deets and specify the top search ranking factors for Google.

1. Content Relevancy

A customer’s journey starts with performing the search, and since the web is noisy with information, ranking high is seriously tricky. It’s not possible to write a mediocre, 500-word article wrapped around a high volume keyword, and expect that it will stand out.


Today’s content strategy should be directed strictly at your marketing personas and delivering accurate content forms and types that meet search intentions. It’s also essential to provide users with the best resource available for a given topic, also known as 10 x content.

You should look at the content writing process holistically by choosing a search term that includes a complete subject area and adjust it to the user intent effectively. Tailor content to your buyer personas, and remember to come up with comprehensive and engaging writing to inspire and educate.

This is a strategy that will win you brand advocates and regular readers who will eagerly await your next release. And having (many) devoted users eventually, translates to ranking high in search results for many related keywords.

*Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. Google does rank some resources higher even though they don’t have the most relevant content. This is because Google also counts in a brand factor that enables some brands to preserve a more trustworthy and recognizable image than others.

2. User Signals

The approach to content is changing as well. More value is put on user signals determined by the click-through rate, bounce rate and time on site. User behavior can tell a lot about your content.

Click-through rate refers to the average percentage of users that click on a specific result on a search page. This indicates how a particular result compares to other records.



Although the top three results in the search statistically reap the most engagement, people usually read titles and descriptions before they click. So click-through rate also expresses how well-written your title tags and meta descriptions are.


Bounce rate confirms whether your content indeed provides the initially promised benefits (in the title and description) to a searcher who lands on your landing page.

If a page’s text is messy, the design is dated, the user experience is poor, the content isn’t readable, or the page happens to be something completely different than expected, users will inevitably go back to the search results, indicating that there was something wrong with the page. That’s a big fail. Bounce rate reflects single page session where a user leaves a page without any interaction. It also helps with evaluating URL relevance when it’s combined with other quality indicators.

The third measure, the length of time a user spends on a site, shows Google your ability to engage with your resources. Of course, the type of query and its intention is crucial for determining whether time on site is a relevant indicator.

The impact of CTR, bounce rate and time on site has significantly risen in the overall ranking since 2014, according to Searchmetrics.

3. Mobile friendliness

Mobile has a special place in Google’s heart – perhaps because there are reportedly more searches performed on mobile devices than on desktop. Investing in mobile is now imperative. According to Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, most CMOs are embracing mobile, but “there is a knowing versus doing gap. They know they need to do it, but how do they do it?”

Mobile friendliness is a highly important ranking factor, so it’s about “time to take action and not just do mobile, but do mobile right.”

Mobile traffic is regularly growing. What’s more, Google recently announced that it’s been experimenting with mobile-first indexing. Although it’s still in the testing phase, this clearly indicates in what direction SEO is heading. Google is about to make the mobile version the main index for ranking websites. Check out this Mobile SEO advice by Barry Schwarz

This is the very last warning call to all those whose sites still perform poorly on mobile to fix this issue before their overall rankings start to decline in the SERPs. If your mobile version isn’t flawless, do something about it, or at least make the mobile experience up to par with the desktop standards.

If you aren’t sure whether your website meets the criteria for being mobile friendly, login to your Search Console account, and view the Mobile Usability section. Google reports any mobile related issues.

Key Takeaway

Google started to update its search algorithms more imperceptibly; the changes are getting more flexible. Review what you know about search ranking factors and put this SEO advice at the top of your 2017 priority list.

This piece is devoted to the top three ranking factors, but of course, there is always more to add. There are many different ranking signals to consider as well like user experience, social media, backlinks and technical issues. All ranking factors combined contribute to your final keywords positions; what is different is the effect each factor has on your rank.

Author : Kasia Perzyńska

Source : http://www.business2community.com/seo/googles-top-3-search-ranking-factors-today-nutshell-01756951#zBDsRIrxqF22Z4qU.97

Any good marketer knows to keep an eye on the future to stay ahead of the curve on new trends, emerging marketing channels, and other fresh ideas to deliver brand messages. With 2016 in the rear-view mirror and 2017 flying down the pipeline, now is the time to start examining what the New Year is going to mean for marketing.

Here are six marketing growth strategies to help your small business succeed in 2017.

Marketing Growth Strategies for Small Businesses

1. Mobile-Centric is the Name of the Game

Over the past couple years, we’ve seen mobile overtake desktop in usage and search. As a result, there was a big push in 2016 for small businesses to ensure that their web pages were optimized for mobile browsing. This mobile friendly attitude was the first step towards being mobile-centric, but that journey is not over.

Mobile-centric involves a lot of technologies and platforms, some of which are still emerging and only now being utilized for small business marketing purposes. The following are all mobile technologies that a small business should begin implementing into their content-based strategies.


Mobile Apps: If you do anything mobile-related in 2017, then get a mobile app. If you don’t already have one, check out this list for detailed reviews of affordable DIY app builders. Small businesses have been slow to build apps for their brands because of the high price point of mobile development. However, there are now a lot of inexpensive, yet effective, options that can allow your company to propel itself into the mobile-centric world of 2017.

Mobile Payment Services: Consumers are increasingly adopting mobile pay services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. They want to be able to pay with a simple tap on their mobile device, whether they are in your store or shopping online. From a marketing standpoint, you not only want to offer this service (or risk missing out on possible revenue), but also advertise that it is a viable payment option.

Mobile Only Apps: Many of the top downloaded apps are what are known as mobile only apps, meaning they aren’t available on desktop computers like Facebook and Twitter. Apps like Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat and others are rapidly growing in popularity. They present an exciting and new channels for small and large businesses alike to market themselves on. 2017 will undoubtedly offer more of these mobile-only apps, so keep an eye out.

2. Email Marketing

Email marketing is by no means a new trend, but it makes the list because of the severely misguided viewpoint that it is an “old school” tactic and no longer relevant. The data shows the exact opposite; email marketing is one of the most ROI-positive strategies out there.

The people that make the false claim that email marketing isn’t effective are the ones that aren’t using it correctly. This tactic is all about providing audiences with relevant, valuable and helpful information (think DIY guides, links to blog content, industry news, etc.). It is not designed for jamming sales pitches down consumers’ throats.

3. Data Informed Decision Making

A lot of people refer to this trend as a push to become data-driven. But, there is a lot wrong with that concept. It suggests that companies should plop their big data / analytics tools at the helm of the ship and let it steer all of the decisions. Most organizations, especially small ones, lack the high-end, sophisticated big data tools and existing data culture that make a real data-driven approach possible.

Even with these tools, the risks are very high. Data doesn’t always know best. Companies should be pairing their data-born insights with the existing knowledge and opinions of their team members. This approach yields the safety and best results that doesn’t require you to overhaul your IT department.

4. Video Content

It is easy to understand why consumers prefer to receive content-based marketing messages over ad-based ones. Advertisements are often interruptive while marketing through content is informational, entertaining and engaging. When you consider that approximately 60 percent of consumers prefer to watch content, instead of reading it, then the power of video marketing becomes immediately apparent. Video content will continue to build momentum and audiences will be looking for it more in 2017.

5. Expert Blogging

Your small business may already have blog content that is regularly published, but how good is that content? Blog content for marketing became a popular means to get noticed on search engines thanks to SEO practices. In this quest to be seen, a lot of organizations became more concerned with their SEO than the actual quality of their content.

Now, audiences are starting to take notice that there is a difference between valuable blog content and not so important writing. If your content isn’t informative and exciting to read, people aren’t going to stick around. 2017 is poised to be the year that brands invest in bringing their digital writing to the next level, which may mean hiring an “industry expert” to create higher caliber blogs.

6. Better Social Media Practices

This trend is in the same realm as blogging in that it is something that almost everyone is doing, but very few are doing well. Specifically, they aren’t getting the most out of their social media data. Even if you are creating high-quality content and regularly responding to comments, questions and complaints, you may be missing out on a lot of valuable information.

Social media platforms are a significant contributor to big data because there are a lot of engagements on these services. Customers are practically handing you a road map to running your business more efficiently and providing a better customer experience. Thus, you should be actively listening and collecting social media based data.


There’s a reason that the biggest section is about becoming mobile-centric. That’s the premier trend for 2017; everything that comes after mobile is just icing on the small business marketing cake. Not to mention that many of the following patterns are hugely affected by mobile (think about how often you check your email, watch videos and check social media on your phone). When it comes to providing value to consumers and retaining them as long-term, brand loyal customers, it all starts with how mobile-centric your small business is.

Author: Andrew Gazdecki
Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/12/small-business-marketing-growth-strategies.html

Every once in a while, people find strange contraptions that can be used inside the iPhone’s messaging app to crash the recipient’s device. Some of them are serious bugs, while others will only freeze your iPhone for a few minutes. In either case, they’re seriously annoying. And guess what? There’s a new iPhone-crashing text message in town that people will keep sending to their iPhone-carrying buddies.

However, it can all be easily fixed.

First explained on YouTube channel EverythingApplePro and Preston159.com, the bug relies on sending a string of images and characters to a target: a white flag emoji, a zero, and the rainbow emoji. The issue affects any iOS device that’s on iOS 10.x, but if you’re still running earlier iOS versions, you’re safe.

However, the actual sending of the message isn’t completely hassle-free, as the same string can also freeze the sender’s phone. The trick involves either using the Notes app on iCloud.com or iCloud Drive to share the characters.

Once the message hits the targeted iPhone, the device stops working for a few minutes regardless of whether the recipient reads it or not. You won’t be able to do anything once the freeze is in effect. The buttons won’t work, and you’ll have to wait for the phone to reboot by itself.


“What you see in the text is the waving white flag emoji, a zero, and the rainbow emoji,” a technical explanation on vincedes3.com reads. “The rainbow flag emoji isn’t an emoji in itself, it’s made of three characters: waving white flag, a character called variation sector 16 (VS16 for short), and the rainbow. What VS16 does in this case essentially is tells the device to combine the two surrounding characters into one emoji, yielding the rainbow flag (this is similar to how skin tone modifiers work, but not exactly the same).

“The text you’re copying is actually waving white flag, VS16, zero, rainbow emoji. What I’m assuming is happening is that the phone tries to combine the waving white flag and the zero into an emoji, but this obviously can’t be done. Usually, the phone wouldn’t try to do this, but it notices that the rainbow emoji is also there, and knows that it can combine the white flag and rainbow emoji, so it tries.”

There’s one thing you need to do in case the Messages app keeps crashing. You’ll have to head to this link on the phone so that the Messages is restored.

To prevent this from happening again until Apple fixes it, you can also consider blocking on the iPhone the persons who’re using it against you and maybe even reassess those friendships.

Interestingly, the bug also affects Android handsets, but they’ll be slow down significantly rather than freezing completely — the video below explains it all.

Author: Chris Smith
Source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/one-emoji-message-crash-iphone-not-careful-192713160.html

Competitive analysis can be helpful, but columnist Dianna Huff explains why it's important not to get too focused on your competitors' performance.

Website traffic is one of those metrics small business owners use to determine if their website is “working” — along with the number of inquiries, leads or sales they get from it. Traffic is also a metric that gets a lot of hype; you can find millions of articles explaining how to increase website traffic.

In addition to looking at your own traffic, you can use tools that tell you how much traffic your competitors are getting. When small business owners see this information, they get concerned because generally, the traffic numbers are sometimes very high — or at least higher than what they’re getting.

As one business owner said, when an agency presented competitor traffic data to him, “All I could think, when I saw the data, was, ‘They’re eating our lunch’ in terms of sales.”

As I explained to him, however, these tools don’t tell you the full story. They don’t tell you, for example, whether the traffic is the right kind of traffic or if the traffic is resulting in inquiries. And, they certainly don’t tell you if the business is meeting its sales and marketing KPIs.

Not all traffic is created equal

Back around 2003 or 2004, Nickelodeon, the TV network, created this ingenious marketing campaign for the animated show, “Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius” (which my then 6-year old son watched faithfully).


The marketing campaign, which reached kids through the TV show, told them to look for special game codes on product packaging. These codes could then be used in the games featured on the show’s website. Then each week, players’ activities would be featured on the TV show.

I found this campaign, and my son’s active participation with it, so remarkable, I wrote an article about it for my newsletter and then posted the article to my website.

Although this was back in the day before social media, blogs and so on, traffic to my website skyrocketed within a couple of weeks. Why? That article was showing up in searches for “Jimmy Neutron game codes.” For a couple of months, I watched this traffic pour in — but ultimately, I made the decision to take the article down.

Why? This was back in the day before Google’s “Not Set / Not Provided,” so I could see exactly which search queries were driving traffic to my site. The search phrase “Jimmy Neutron game codes” didn’t exactly align with the keywords used by people looking for a B2B marketing consultant.

I can list lots of other examples like this, but I think you get the picture. High traffic doesn’t necessarily mean the right kind of traffic.

High traffic doesn’t always translate into inquiries

Last year, my company conducted a website and marketing audit for a small business owner concerned about the lack of inquiries. Traffic to the website was healthy — over 9,800 sessions a month — because the company was very diligent about creating content.

One of the problems, however, was that 65 percent of the traffic was due to blog posts, and of the hundreds of posts created over the years, four were responsible for 36 percent of overall traffic. While these posts were related to the service offerings of the business, they were also the type of “how to” post where a person could use the information without taking any further action with the company.

Hence, the content wasn’t helping with real inquiries — except the occasional newsletter subscription.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again with small business websites — and even with the Huff Industrial Marketing (my company) website, too. One year, for example, I wrote a blog post listing over 50 ways to drive traffic to a website. That post was picked up by numerous SEO practitioners and marketers, and over time, it became the number one traffic generator to the website — accounting for over 50 percent of traffic.

The problem, however, was it didn’t result in one inquiry, and all that non-targeted traffic was skewing the data in Analytics. We finally deleted it in early 2016, and at the same time, began creating content more in line with our client base. Yep, we took a huge hit initially, but it was the right decision. Traffic is up again — as are inquiries.

You have no idea what your competitors’ marketing strategy and business goals are

Because we provide marketing strategy for our small industrial manufacturing clients, we’re often privy to their business plans. These plans typically have a main objective: to grow the business to X number of dollars in five or seven years. To reach this objective, the plan will list various things the company will do: improve quality, enter a new market, introduce new products, replace antiquated equipment with automation and so on.

Thus, we base recommended marketing strategies on our clients’ business goals.

When you run reports using the tools available and then see your competitors and their (higher than yours) traffic numbers, what you’re viewing is data that is absolutely meaningless. Unless you have the company’s business and marketing strategy in front of you, you have no idea what the company’s KPIs or targets are, or if the traffic is meeting them or not.

And, since this data lacks context, basing your marketing strategy on it is a sure recipe for marketing disaster.

In conclusion…

Viewing metrics about your competitors’ website traffic shouldn’t be used as an indicator for deciding how to proceed with your marketing strategy. One, you have no idea if this traffic is “working” or not; two, you don’t know the reasons why the traffic might be higher than yours; and three, the traffic number itself is meaningless because it’s taken out of context.

Instead of focusing on your competitors and their traffic numbers, focus instead on your marketing. Rigorously track and measure your marketing tactics to determine what works — that is, which tactics result in inquiries that become sales — and then let go of the stuff that doesn’t work (even if everyone else is doing it). You’ll be much happier, and you’ll look really smart, too.

Author: Dianna Huff
Source: http://searchengineland.com/3-reasons-can-safely-ignore-competitors-traffic-metrics-267241


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