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Joshua Simon

Joshua Simon

One of the most ambitious endeavors in quantum physics right now is to build a large-scale quantum network that could one day span the entire globe. In a new study, physicists have shown that describing quantum networks in a new way—as mathematical graphs—can help increase the distance that quantum information can be transmitted. Compared to classical networks, quantum networks have potential advantages such as better security and being faster under certain circumstances. 

"A worldwide quantum network may appear quite similar to the internet—a huge number of devices connected in a way that allows the exchange of information between any of them," coauthor Michael Epping, a physicist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, told Phys.org. "But the crucial difference is that the laws of quantum theory will be dominant for the description of that information.

For example, the state of the fundamental information carrier can be a superposition of the basis states 0 and 1. By now, several advantages in comparison to classical information are known, such as prime number factorization and secret communication. However, the biggest benefit of quantum networks might well be discovered by future research in the rapidly developing field of quantum information theory."

Quantum networks involve sending entangled particles across long distances, which is challenging because particle loss and decoherence tend to scale exponentially with the distance.


In their study published in the New Journal of Physics, Epping and coauthors Hermann Kampermann and Dagmar Bruß at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf in Germany have shown that describing physical quantum networks as abstract mathematical graphs offers a way to optimize the architecture of quantum networks and achieve entanglement across the longest possible distances.

"A network is a physical system," Epping explained. "Examples of a network are the internet and labs at different buildings connected by optical fibers. These networks may be described by mathematical graphs at an abstract level, where the network structure—which consists of nodes that exchange quantum information via links—is represented graphically by vertices connected by edges. An important task for quantum networks is to distribute entangled states amongst the nodes, which are used as a resource for various information protocols afterwards. In our approach, the graph description of the network, which might come to your mind quite naturally, is related to the distributed quantum state."

In the language of graphs, this distributed quantum state becomes a quantum graph state. The main advantage of the graph state description is that it allows researchers to compare different quantum networks that produce the same quantum state, and to see which network is better at distributing entanglement across large distances.

Quantum networks differ mainly in how they use quantum repeaters—devices that offer a way to distribute entanglement across large distances by subdividing the long-distance transmission channels into shorter channels.

Here, the researchers produced an entangled graph state for a quantum network by initially defining vertices with both nodes and quantum repeaters. Then they described how measurements at the repeater stations modify this graph state. Due to these modifications, the vertices associated with quantum repeaters are removed so that only the network nodes serve as vertices in the final quantum state, while the connecting quantum repeater lines become edges.

In the final graph state, the weights of the edges correspond to the number of quantum repeaters and how far apart they are. Consequently, by changing the weights of the edges, the new approach can optimize a given performance metric, such as security or speed. In other words, the method can determine the best way to use quantum repeaters to achieve long-distance entanglement for large-scale quantum networks.

In the future, the researchers plan to investigate the demands for practical implementation. They also want to extend these results to a newer research field called "quantum network coding" by generalizing the quantum repeater concept to quantum routers, which can make quantum networks more secure against macroscopic errors. 

Source:  http://phys.org/news/2016-06-worldwide-quantum-web-graphs.html

 

When it comes to startups, if you’re not growing…you’re moving backwards. No matter how good of a product or idea it might have , a business will not succeed without sales. While investing in Facebook ads, capitalizing on SEO trends and writing great content can help bring in sales, your revenue comes from closing big deals.

Closing large deals requires much more than a few cold calls and sales tactics. The deals are bigger, and therefore the requirements and scrutiny are also higher process.

So how does a startup position itself to close deals with the biggest companies in their space? Here is a list of factors that will help you quickly improve your business development efforts and close B2B deals with big companies.

1. Reach out by every means possible.

A warm introduction is the best way to reach a contact but we don’t always have that luxury. Luckily, social media searches can help you get in front of your contact.

Use LinkedIn to search the name of the company and the words that describe the title, role or division of the person you need to meet. Include words like “venture”, “innovations” and “new technologies,” as those teams can be responsible for onboarding new technology. Send a personalized invitation.

Another successful trick is to search for alumni from your university who work at the same company. Ask them for an introduction to the right person or department.

2. Build a product they can trust with their brand.

The best companies cannot afford to tarnish their brand. They avoid taking chances on a product that they don’t trust. You need to pass the “trust” test.

To do this, start with a product of superior quality and value. There’s no way around this. Do not compromise on any part of the production quality or user experience while developing your product.

My friend Andrew Thomas, co-founder of SkyBell and one of the top entrepreneurs in the Internet of Things industry, has closed deals with the biggest brands in their space, including Honeywell, Amazon, Nest and Alarm.com. While positioning their video doorbell product, Thomas found success by over-sharing a commitment to their brand.

“We explicitly stated how serious we regarded their brand and worked with their quality control teams to affirm our product quality.” His advice, “prove to them them that they can trust you with their brand.”

Related: PageRank Is Dead. What Marketers Need Now Is Trust Flow.

3. Ask questions and listen.

Sales boils down to our ability to quickly gain information about the prospective partner and their needs. The best way to do this is by asking good questions and letting your prospect do most of the talking. Asking questions leads your prospect to tell you what they want, how they want it and when they need it. Then you can frame your responses to accurately address their needs. It’s far better than trying to “pitch” them on your product.

It sounds simple, yet produces results. The key is to truly listen to them. Resist the urge to always focus on what you’ll say next. Also, don’t interrupt or speak for them. This helps you build strong rapport based on trust and respect – and helps you be more likable. 

4. Create a vision built on mutual purpose.

At big companies, decisions are made by many people of various authority levels in multiple divisions. Success requires that you not only sell your contact on your product – but that you are so clear in defining a value proposition that your contact can then sell the idea to other key people in their organization.

How do you do this? Co-create a vision built on mutual purpose. Work with your contact to define the value proposition in the present and future – with the most amount of clarity possible. Business partnerships work best when your contact owns the solution as much as you do. 

5. Don’t sign a deal that harms you.

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re working with the biggest companies in your space. The volumes are bigger, there are more users and the orders tend to have more zeroes. It’s harder to say, “No.” This is something that hurt our company badly. We are in the credit card payments space. We landed a major client in our first few weeks of launching our company. We eneded up losing money because we weren't sure of everything we were doing. It almost dragged us under.

Resist the temptation to say “yes” to everything. It will do you no good to over-extend yourself and go out of business, which is common with these types of deals. Sometimes it’s the deals you don’t do that are the best decisions you’ll make. 

Here are some common land mines to consider:

Exclusivity – Unless 1+1 = 3, avoid granting a partner with exclusivity for certain markets, timing, features or product.

Ramp-ups and lead times – Define a ramp-up schedule to pace your delivery of product and define lead times to properly manage your manufacturing. Big companies can “kill you with kindness” by ordering large amounts of product that you can’t fulfill in time.

Consignment – If you have hardware, consignment is rarely a good idea. You want firm purchase orders before you go build large volumes of product.
Profitability – Unless you are funded as a high-growth customer acquisition model, don’t take a loss on product sales just to placate a big partner.

6. Be patient.

Closing deals with big companies can take a long time. There will be many times when the deal loses momentum. Remain patient and keep a long-term outlook. “We all think we're persuasive, but sometimes there isn’t much you can do for a deal except be patient, polite and present,” says Thomas.

While times are slow, you should reach out every four to six weeks to provide an update. Send emails with news, press coverage, awards and anything else that will keep them excited about your product. While this may seem annoying, it keeps them in contact and aware of everything you're doing.

Effective business development efforts bring in the revenue and strategic positioning you need for long-term success. A business development leader must be willing to prospect, handle rejection and keep going. They must create trust with their counterparts and create a vision that results in profitable outcomes for both sides – and then get both sides to act on it. The success of the business depends on it. 

Source:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277144

Twenty-seven years ago, Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web as a way for scientists to easily find information. It has since become the world's most powerful medium for knowledge, communications and commerce — but that doesn't mean Mr. Berners-Lee is happy with all of the consequences.

 

''It controls what people see, creates mechanisms for how people interact,'' he said of the modern day web. ''It's been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people's content, taking you to the wrong websites — hat completely undermines the spirit of helping people create.''

 

So on Tuesday, Mr. Berners-Lee gathered in San Francisco with other top computer scientists — including Brewster Kahle, head of the nonprofit Internet Archive and an internet activist — to discuss a new phase for the web.

 

Today, the World Wide Web has become a system that is often subject to control by governments and corporations. Countries like China can block certain web pages from their citizens, and cloud services like Amazon Web Services hold powerful sway. So what might happen, the computer scientists posited, if they could harness newer technologies — like the software used for digital currencies, or the technology of peer-to-peer music sharing — to create a more decentralized web with more privacy, less government and corporate control, and a level of permanence and reliability?

 

''National histories, the story of a country, now happen on the web,'' said Vinton G. Cerf, another founder of the internet and chief internet evangelist at Google, in a phone interview ahead of a speech to the group scheduled for Wednesday. ''People think making things digital means they'll last forever, but that isn't true now.''

 

The project is in its early days, but the discussions — and caliber of the people involved — underscored how the World Wide Web's direction in recent years has stirred a deep anxiety among some technologists. The revelations by Edward J. Snowden that the web has been used by governments for spying and the realization that companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google have become gatekeepers to our digital lives have added to concerns.

 

On Tuesday, Mr. Berners-Lee and Mr. Kahle and others brainstormed at the event, called the Decentralized Web Summit, over new ways that web pages could be distributed broadly without the standard control of a web server computer, as well as ways of storing scientific data without having to pay storage fees to companies like Amazon, Dropbox or Google.

 

 

Efforts at creating greater amounts of privacy and accountability, by adding more encryption to various parts of the web and archiving all versions of a web page, also came up. Such efforts would make it harder to censor content.

 

''Edward Snowden showed we've inadvertently built the world's largest surveillance network with the web,'' said Mr. Kahle, whose group organized the conference. ''China can make it impossible for people there to read things, and just a few big service providers are the de facto organizers of your experience. We have the ability to change all that.''

 

Many people conflate the internet's online services and the web as one and the same — yet they are technically quite different. The internet is a networking infrastructure, where any two machines can communicate over a variety of paths, and one local network of computers can connect with other networks.

 

The web, on the other hand, is a popular means to access that network of networks. But because of the way web pages are created, managed and named, the web is not fully decentralized. Take down a certain server and a certain web page becomes unavailable. Links to pages can corrode over time. Censorship systems like China's Great Firewall eliminate access to much information for most of its people. By looking at internet addresses, it is possible for governments and companies to get a good idea of who is reading which web pages.

 

In some ways, the efforts to change the technology of creating the web are a kind of coming-of-age story. Mr. Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as a tool for scientists. Today, the web still runs on technologies of the older world.

 

Consider payments. In many cases, people pay for things online by entering credit card information, not much different from handing a card to a merchant for an imprint.

 

At the session on Tuesday, computer scientists talked about how new payment technologies could increase individual control over money. For example, if people adapted the so-called ledger system by which digital currencies are used, a musician might potentially be able to sell records without intermediaries like Apple's iTunes. News sites might be able to have a system of micropayments for reading a single article, instead of counting on web ads for money.

 

''Ad revenue is the only model for too many people on the web now,'' Mr. Berners-Lee said. ''People assume today's consumer has to make a deal with a marketing machine to get stuff for 'free,' even if they're horrified by what happens with their data. Imagine a world where paying for things was easy on both sides.''

 

Mr. Kahle's Internet Archive, which exists on a combination of grants and fees from digitizing books for libraries, operates the Wayback Machine, which serves as a record of discontinued websites or early versions of pages.

 

To make that work now, Mr. Kahle has to search and capture a page, then give it a brand new web address. With the right kind of distributed system, he said, ''the archive can have all of the versions, because there would be a permanent record located across many sites.''

 

The movement to change how the web is built, like a surprising number of technology discussions, has an almost religious dimension.

 

Some of the participants are extreme privacy advocates who have created methods of building sites that can't be censored, using cryptography. Mr. Cerf said he was wary of extreme anonymity, but thought the ways that digital currencies permanently record transactions could be used to make the web more accountable.

 

Still, not all the major players agree on whether the web needs decentralizing.

 

''The web is already decentralized,'' Mr. Berners-Lee said. ''The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don't have a technology problem, we have a social problem.''

 

One that can, perhaps, be solved by more technology.

 

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/08/new-york-times-digital-world-wide-webs-creator-looks-to-reinvent-it.html

 

 

Monday, 13 June 2016 03:14

The science behind shareable content

In a presentation at CMA’s Digital Breakfast, StoryScience founder Kohlben Vodden gave some fascinating insights into the science of what makes content shareable.

What is a ‘share’? Many marketers, says Vodden, think of it as just a click. But inside the reader’s brain, there’s actually a series of very rapid decisions taking place inside which lead to them sharing a piece of content.

Whether or not something is shareable can ultimately determine the success or failure of a piece of content online. So of course everyone from marketers to business owners to publishers wants to know exactly what makes their audience share content, so that they can tap into that when creating and planning.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in this area, some recent studies have shed begun to shed light on exactly what goes on in our brains as we share content, and how content creators can turn this to their advantage.

How ideas spread

A 2013 study by psychologists at UCLA set out to discover what makes ideas and messages shareable. The researchers used MRI scans to monitor activity in different regions of the brain as the participants were deciding whether or not to recommend an idea, the concept for a television pilot, to a ‘producer’.

Matthew Lieberman, the senior author of the study, said,

“We’re constantly being exposed to information on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Some of it we pass on, and a lot of it we don’t. Is there something that happens in the moment we first see it — maybe before we even realize we might pass it on — that is different for those things that we will pass on successfully versus those that we won’t?”

A picture of the human brain with different regions coloured in blue, yellow, green and red.

The researchers discovered that there is a region of the brain which is much more heavily involved in this kind of decision-making. When participants were seeing and hearing about the ideas they would later recommend, they showed significantly more activity in a region known as the Temporoparietal Junction, or TPJ.

The study also showed that the strongest determinant in what makes something shareable is whether the sharer thinks others will enjoy that content.

“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves but to other people,” said Leiberman. “At the first encounter with information, people are already using the brain network involved in thinking about how this can be interesting to other people. We’re wired to want to share information with other people. I think that is a profound statement about the social nature of our minds.”

Motivations for sharing content

Another study, released by the New York Times, tested subjects’ motivations for sharing content. It found that there are five key motivators in people’s decisions to share content, all linked to their relationships with others.

Bringing valuable and entertaining content to others. An overwhelming 94% of the NYT study’s participants said they considered how the information they shared would be useful to the recipient, while 49% said they shared “to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.” Vodden referred to this motivator in his presentation as “network value” – the impulse to add value to others’ lives.

Defining ourselves to others. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who spends time on social media that a lot of sharing is motivated by the way we want others to perceive us. 68% of the study’s participants said they shared “to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about”.

Feeding personal relationships. Many people share content as a form of social connection, especially with people they might otherwise have lost touch with. 73% of those taking part in the study said that they share information because it helps them to connect with others who share their interests.

Self-fulfilment: to feel good about themselves and to feel involved. 69% of participants said that they share information because it makes them feel more involved in the world.

Cause or issue awareness. This was the second-highest motivator when sharing content, with 84% of participants saying that they share as a way to support causes or issues that they care about – hence why activism often gains so much traction on social media channels.

Influencing the sharing decision

So now that we know more about what leads an audience to share content, how can content creators influence this decision? Behavioural science, that is the science of decision-making, has some light to shed on this question.

Another study, this time conducted by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman, set out to find what makes online content go viral, and role emotions have to play in this phenomenon.

They discovered that content with an overall positive sentiment will always win in the shareability stakes – contrary to the popular belief that bad news spreads faster or further than anything positive. And unsurprisingly, high-intensity emotions like awe, anger or anxiety would also make a piece of content more likely to be shared.

To an extent, newspaper headline writers have always known this as they headline their articles for maximum impact, aiming to invoke shock, sadness or indignation in their audience with their choice of headline. The same principle that sells newspapers still holds true online – and Berger and Milkman found that these emotions will influence sharing no matter how surprising, interesting or practically useful the content is, as well as external drivers of attention like how prominent the content is.

So the emotions aroused by a piece of content can be far more important even than the way it is laid out on a site, or what the content happens to be.

Another important influencer of sharing is cognitive bias. Cognitive biases are inherent ‘thinking errors’ that humans make when processing information. They’re the limitations of human judgement, and impossible to avoid – so savvy content creators can exploit them to their advantage if they want to.

An old newspaper excerpt with the readline "Verdict in Rotoma Tragedy". Underneath a subheading reads, "Man Did the Firing". Then beneath this, "Shot the Girl and Then Committed Suicide". The line underneath asks, "Did he shorten the barrel in order that the act of self-killing might be more easy?"

Vodden talked about a client of StoryScience whose content they analysed to discover what was doing well and why. StoryScience found that the three most shared articles by this client all used the same three principles:

Affect heuristic – This posh-sounding term is a mental shortcut that focuses consumers’ attention on content that comes attached with emotion, allowing them to quickly make decisions by prioritising emotion above all else.

Information overload – As it sounds, this is a phenomenon where the amount of information the consumer is trying to process is too much, resulting in choice deferral (“I’ll decide about this later”) and decision fatigue.

Memory effects – These are a set of biases which impact our ability to process and remember information. Information must be noticeable, important and emotional in order to enter into our permanent memory.

Adhering to these three principles made a whopping difference in the amount that the client’s content was shared: the top three articles had 990% more shares than those which didn’t adhere to these principles.

Vodden also highlighted the importance of bearing in mind cultural context: anyone working in the international space (which, given the global nature of the internet, is almost all of us) mustn’t forget about cultural norms and sensitivity, and how these can affect how an audience receives content.

Writing emotional headlines

All digital content creators know the value of a good, impactful headline – and anyone who works with SEO will know how important it is to optimise your headlines and titles to do well in search. The problem is, these two things aren’t always compatible.

Vodden recommended a tool called CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, which helps you to work out the best headlines for your content to make an impact on the audience. It looks at word balance, length, and the emotion invoked by the headline, giving extra credit if the headline type is a how-to, a question or a list.

A screenshot from CoSchedule Headline Analyzer showing the word balance analysis of a headline. On the left is a doughnut chart showing that the headline contains roughly 2/3 "emotional" words, represented in blue, with the remaining portion of the chart grey. In the middle the analyzer gives the headline a C- grade. To the right it lists the headline's word breakdown by Common, Uncommon, Emotional and Power words. The headline contains 67% emotional language, with 0% of the other word types.

During the panel discussion at the end of the Digital Breakfast, Vodden and fellow speakers Adam Tinworth and Mike Burgess discussed the difficulty in knowing whether you should focus on emotion in your headline, or gear your headline towards maximum SEO. Sometimes both are possible, of course, but often you have to sacrifice one in order to succeed with the other.

Adam Tinworth remarked that “intellectual” headlines tend to have more success in SEO, that is those which are geared towards answering a question. Google has become more of an “answer engine” nowadays, he said, as social sharing has taken away its role of finding something to read. Now, people go to Google when they need a specific question addressed.

So whether you make your headline ‘intellectual’ or ‘emotional’ depends on what you want to achieve with that particular piece of content. Do you want to answer a question that your reader has, or arouse an emotion in them that will make them share the content with their friends? Choosing one or the other could determine whether readers will find your content through search, or through social media.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/08/the-science-behind-shareable-content/

The rules of the SEO game have changed over the years, but columnist Pratik Dholakiya has some solid strategies for increasing search visibility and authority that you can safely use in 2016.

Improving your rankings isn’t as simple as it used to be. As businesses have become more invested in SEO, search ranking algorithms have grown smarter and more sophisticated. The result is that many techniques that used to be acceptable are now considered gray-hat or black-hat — and in some cases, can even earn you a traffic-throttling Google penalty.

Still, the challenge remains: We need links, we need traffic, and we need rankings. How do we achieve this in an ethical manner?

Luckily, there are still powerful white-hat strategies you can leverage to improve rankings. Here are five of the best that we at E2M use successfully to this day.

1. Guest posts

Guest posting has been contested territory for some time. Back in 2014, Google’s then-head of webspam, Matt Cutts, advised that guest posting was increasingly ineffective at building links. If you’re doing a lot of guest posting, he warned, “you’re hanging out with some really bad company.”

It’s easy to see why guest posting has come under fire in recent years. After all, guest blogs used to be a really easy way to get backlinks — maybe a little too easy. All too often, the standard guest post is 500 words long, includes no links to sources (other than the author’s own website) and presents no thoughtful commentary or new insight.

I’m not saying you can’t have a worthwhile 500-word post. Of course you can. But the majority of guest bloggers aren’t looking at readers’ concerns. They don’t care whether you derive value from the post or not. They care about getting a link, and they’ve nailed the absolute bare minimum required to achieve that end.

That drags the name of the “guest blogger” into the mud. But it also gives you an opportunity.

Rather than focus on acquiring links, guest blogging can help with SEO in other, less direct ways. By consistently posting excellent, in-depth content on relevant blogs, you’ll drive up authority and get more social shares, along with signs of quality that Google takes seriously. You’re also more likely to get actual traffic to your website from high-quality content — which is what link building is supposed to be about anyway.

Stuffing low-quality posts with links to your site — or paid third-party links — may be a thing of the past. But guest blogging is still a powerful tool to increase authority and search visibility.

2. Infographics

Infographics are a powerful way of getting a point across quickly and intuitively. That’s one reason why they’re so popular. But they’re also an effective way of getting high-quality backlinks quickly.

The trick to getting that to happen is in the embed code. After you create your infographic, you can use a tool like the SeigeMedia Embed Code Generator to build the code. This is the code that people who want to post your infographic to their own site will use.

So include a request to link back to your site, and make it easy by bundling exactly the URL you want them to use into the infographic’s embed code. That way, they can’t avoid seeing it. Sure, some people will ignore it, but most people will attribute your infographic when they post it — and make the attribution a hyperlink back to your site. Bingo!

To get your infographic in front of more people, use infographic publishers (Visual.ly is one). Most will want a 70-or-so-word description of the infographic; then they’ll store it, and when other content marketers and bloggers want a graphic, they’ll be more likely to find yours. The free infographic publisher landscape changes quite quickly, so to make sure you’re not putting your content on dead sites.

Want some extra juice? On those sites, you can search for infographics on the same subject as yours, then reach out to users who have accessed those infographics and ask if they’d be interested in yours. Our annual infographic on Google’s algorithm updates (now in its fourth year) was picked up by Entrepreneur, Social Media Today, Marketing Land and more!

E2M Infographic

All in all, infographics are a great way to get quality backlinks from a range of relevant sites.

3. Personal blogs of the CEO & other employees

Blogging lets you connect with your readers. Most blogs are written in an informal, conversational style that’s a long way from what you’d see in a newspaper or magazine. And that’s true of professional blogs, too.

Using personal blogs at work — the CEO’s blog, for instance — can be a way to generate content that feels natural and personal. These people can blog about their own interests, and those interests are bound to overlap with the company’s targeting.

Blogs like this are also a way to offer specific insights, because certain employees will know things no one else on your team knows. For example, what are the legal implications of the product you’re developing? Get someone from legal to blog about it. Suddenly, readers in a similar position at other companies suddenly have a reason to read this content.

Personal professional blogs can be done one of two ways. You can offer a multi-voice blog on your company website, either as posts within the larger company blog or as separate sections with their own visual branding. Or you can have team members blog on their own domains and occasionally refer back to the company blog when it’s appropriate.

4. Beat the champ

How do you become the champ? By beating hundreds of could-have-been-a-contenders? No. You have to seize the top spot from the person who’s already there.

You can do the same thing with link building and SEO content marketing. Look at content that’s already performing well in your vertical. Find a piece of content that a) you think is awesome, and b) is performing well in organic search. Drop the URL into the usual suspects — like Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer — and see which sites are linking to it. Download all the linking sites into a spreadsheet.

Then, pick the post apart.

Would it work better if it were longer? If you’re looking at the “10 best ways to get more traffic with your blog,” maybe you should write the 20 best ways, or the 100 best ways.

Would it work better if it were more detailed? Maybe do the same number of methods, but in crazy, inch-by-inch detail.

Remember that content is content. Your content doesn’t have to be a blog post. It could be an infographic, or a YouTube video, or a Vine. It could be a stand-alone resource page.

But that’s only going to be a winner for you if you’re getting your content seen. Once you’ve created your super-linkworthy content, you have to reach out to the right people.

All too often, reaching out to people is a stab in the dark. “You might be interested in something along these lines… ” Yeah, but probably not. The success rate of these attempts is often very low.

But you already have the lowdown on the people who would be interested in content like this. Remember when you used Ahrefs, Open Site Explorer or the tool of your choice to find out who was linking to the content you just improved upon? Check the spreadsheet you put together earlier, and then do a quick sanity check. Pages that don’t make sense, like article directories and forums (Yes, they still exist) can go.

What are you left with? A list of people who are actually very likely to be interested your content.

5. Giving interviews

CXOs and other employees are great subjects for interviews. Everyone else has to produce content, too, and the word of someone in the field (especially an expert) is worth a lot. So if you’re a high-level company spokesperson or an extremely knowledgeable subject matter expert, you’re likely to be approached more often than you’d actually prefer.

You can’t take up an offer for an interview and sit there like a stereotypical used car salesman, hard-selling your own product. But you can sell your brand.

When you’re in front of the camera, or on the page, you are your brand. If you’re confident, insightful and open, viewers relate. Remember, even in B2B, the buying decision isn’t made by highly sophisticated algorithms. You’re still selling to human beings.

Viewers or readers need to see you as someone who understands the problems they’re trying to solve. That’s partly competence and partly a hard-to-define “she gets it” factor.

Interviews also offer the opportunity to talk directly about your company’s offerings. You can mention new initiatives, updates, new products or ventures. Talking about these in interviews gets them exposure. Add a link to the interview text if you’re being interviewed by email, or spell the URL out in a video interview.

Recently, my colleague, Rohan Ayyar, who knows a lot about remote work best practices from his project management days, was interviewed along with other experts by the guys at Proofhub, from which he managed to get a link to our executive branding service, Preceptist, all the while keeping it relevant and non-promotional. See what I mean?

Conclusion

It’s still possible to improve your rankings with careful strategy. Increasingly, it’s about leveraging content marketing to improve linkability. That can be done by targeted outreach, by encouraging social sharing or by using content itself to encourage linking. But it all helps drive up ranking.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/5-contemporary-strategies-help-improve-rankings-250902

Expanded Text Ads are coming to Google AdWords. Are you excited? But more importantly, are you ready?

 

Expanded Text Ads were one of several huge AdWords changes Google announced recently – if not the biggest. I still can’t believe that Google will soon actually increase its ad text limits by 2x!

 

So what exactly is changing? Here are 10 things advertisers need to know about Expanded Text Ads.

 

1. What are Expanded Text Ads?

 

Expanded Text Ads are 2x bigger than current text ads. The new ads are designed to maximize your presence and performance on mobile search results with a bigger headline and an extra long description. (And with a mobile-first mindset, whatever works on mobile is going to get applied to desktop too.)

 

Expanded Text ads will show across all devices – desktop and mobile – and will wrap automatically based on device size.

Google began testing Expanded Text ads in Q2 of 2016.

 

2. Why is Google making this change?

 

Google is calling this the biggest change to text ads since AdWords launched 15 years ago.

 

Several months ago, Google began thinking about what an AdWords ad would look like if they created AdWords in today’s mobile-first world, where more than half of the trillions of searches conducted on Google per year are done via a mobile device.

 

Google’s first move toward creating a unified experience across devices came in February when it killed off right side ads on desktop. Now with the constraints of desktop right-side ads gone, this change seems like a natural progression from the super-sized headlines introduced in 2011.

 

3. How much bigger are these expanded ads?

 

Expanded text ads are 2x bigger (math nerd alert: technically 47 percent bigger) from today’s AdWords text ads.

 

You now have a total of 140 characters of ad copy space to use, marking the end of the current 25-35-35 limits. No comment from Twitter as yet about their thoughts on Google adopting a 140-character limit. Here’s a little more info on the changes from the AdWords blog:

 

expanded text ads details

 

 

 

So make all those extra characters count. Create eye-catching and emotional ads that searchers can’t resist clicking on.

 

4. What do the new Expanded Text Ads look like?

 

Here’s a before and after of what the ads will look like on mobile and desktop:

 

Expanded Text Ad example

 

 

And here’s what Expanded Text Ads will look like in the AdWords interface:

 

Expanded Text Ad example

 

 

 

5. How much are headlines expanding?

 

Advertisers will have two 30-character headlines when Expanded Text Ads become available later this year.

Advertisers currently are limited to a 25-character headline.

That’s means our headlines will soon increase by 140 percent!

 

6. How much will descriptions expand?

 

Advertisers will have one 80-character description line.

Advertisers currently are limited to two 35-character description lines.

That means descriptions will increase by 14 percent.

 

7. What’s changing with display URLs?

 

AdWords will automatically extract the domain from the final URL.

Advertisers can then add up to two paths to enhance the display URL (using up to 15 characters).

 

8. Will this improve CTR?

 

Yes! More text means greater visibility. Early reports indicate that Expanded Text Ads are seeing CTR increase by as much as 20 percent.

 

At WordStream, we’ve observed CTR increase by around 12 percent by adding ad or call extensions to mobile text ads – so we expect increasing the character counts of headlines and description should result in more clicks.

 

Regardless, you can bet we’ll be closely tracking the performance of this new ad format as it becomes more widely available.

 

9. When will the new ads roll out?

 

Google hasn’t officially revealed when all advertisers will have access to Expanded Text Ads. Keep an eye out and we’ll update when we know more details.

 

10. What should you do to prepare for Expanded Text Ads?

 

Raise your Quality Scores now! Quality Score is already the most important metric in your AdWords account, but it’s about to become even more important.

 

Businesses that occupy the top spots will take up the most valuable SERP real estate – especially for commercial queries. It could make anything below position 2 or 3 on mobile devices irrelevant!

 

Additionally, you’ve got a lot of ad text optimization ahead of you. You’ll need to make sure your text ads are all rewritten to take advantage of this new format. Google is giving you 2x more space with Expanded Text Ads – so be ready to use it to your advantage!

 

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/06/google-expanded-text-ads-10-things-you-need-to-know/

Mary Meeker published her Internet Trends of 2016 last week and among others, there were very interesting stats regarding the increase of visual content and most importantly, how this affects communication, marketing, broadcasting and ecommerce.

There is a new generation coming up after millennials, the so-called Generation Z, which seems to be even more digital aware, comparing to the previous ones, evolving the idea of communication and content consumption, preferring visual content over written text.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 14.48.22

As millennials are growing older, trends also focus on the next generation and it’s interesting to see how visual content will affect their digital habits over the next years.

Visual social networks are more engaging

It’s not a coincidence that the most popular social networks rely on visual content, with the right type of content affecting users’ engagement. Facebook is the clear winner both in popularity and engagement among millennials, with Snapchat and Instagram following it.

Snapchat seems to be the second most engaging social platform, while Instagram seems to appeal to a bigger target group.

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Communication through visual content, whether it’s an image or a video, has been very popular and it forms a new method of interaction among users, as it’s quick, direct and more appealing.

However, visual content cannot guarantee the success of a social platform, as engagement can be challenging, and Vine’s (decreasing) engagement is the proof of it.

The evolution of video viewing

Video viewing has changed over the years, starting with the traditional live content through television to on-demand video with DVR and streaming, heading then to semi-live content with Snapchat Stories and experiencing today real live content, as more social networks embrace the power of live broadcasting.

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Timing, personalisation and relevance are more important than ever, while users appreciate the ability to broadcast their own content through their favourite social networks, feeling part of a community, contributing with their content to a relevant story.

Social media turns to video content

The rise of visual content has been affected by the growing popularity of social media and the latest stats from Facebook and Snapchat indicate the increase of video views on both social networks.

Native videos in social media seem to be preferred both by users and publishers and this led to an increase in video views during the past year.

Video advertising on Facebook is now offering many creative options for brands and this makes it very appealing, while users enjoy consuming short and engaging videos. Buzzfeed’s Tasty and its successful video content proves how effective a short video may be.

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Snapchat’s success with visual content

Snapchat has been one of the most engaging platforms lately and visual content contributed to its success.

The idea of splitting the use of content to Stories, Live and Discover, with each one serving a different goal, allowed Snapchat to guide users on the way they can use visual content, always in a casual and visually appealing way, full of colours and filters.

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This was very exciting for early influencers, skyrocketing the popularity of the platform, while brands recently realised how this new type of vertical content may be used for the promotion of their products and the highly desired conversion.

Snapchat’s advertising plan relies on 3Vs, vertical, video, and viewing and it’s the combination of these that creates effective ads, measuring both the number of views, but also the completion rate of each video.

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What’s more, the popularity of Snapchat’s filters helped brands use their creativity and produce their own branded filters to promote their products and users seemed to love this idea.

Up to now, many brands have tried to create their own branded filters, with Taco Bell’s being among the best uses that we’ve recently seen.

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The case of live broadcasting

Live broadcasting has been in high demand lately and this can also be attributed to Periscope’s success, turning all the big social networks to the trend of live videos.

It’s not just about promoting live broadcasting, it’s about turning users into broadcasters, creating their own live videos that lead to an impressive amount of available video content worldwide in real time.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat have significantly benefited from live broadcasting, with each one of them promoting it accordingly.

Facebook for example seems willing to fill our news feeds with live videos, which seems very useful for brands that wants to use live content for their marketing strategy.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 14.53.39

Twitter on the other hand, decided to acquire Periscope, hoping to mix live broadcasting with real-time hashtags, in order to create a powerful suite of tools for live streaming and popular events all over the world.

What’s more, Twitter has sealed a collaboration with NFL to live stream live video, in another attempt to change digital broadcasting.

As for Snapchat, the idea of Live Stories blends user-generated content with a professional curator, in order to showcase the best local and global stories. This helps users feel included, while the platform may showcase a great amount of content.

Image growth remains strong

Despite the rise of video content, image growth remains strong, with Facebook-owned platforms taking the lead. Snapchat seems to be the only big competitor for Facebook and they both encourage users to upload new photos with their own unique incentives.

As for the brands’ point of view, images are still very effective and that’s why the are an integral part of their social strategy, especially when there’s no time, or budget, to create a video.

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How visual content leads to purchase conversion

Pinterest is the best example for brands on how visual content can increase purchase intent, as it is both engaging and effective.

Pinterest users love browsing for their favourite content, but they are also prepared to buy what they like, which brings out a new type of social platform that is not just about raising awareness about a brand, but also about motivating consumers to proceed to a purchase.

In fact, 55% of Pinterest users seem to use the platform to find and shop products, leaving Facebook and Instagram way behind with just 12% of purchase intent.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 15.01.33

Pinterest is not always considered the first option for brands looking to increase their social impact and increase sales, but the stats above indicate its success in driving sales, having an aware audience of online consumers who browse the site for current or future purchases.

It’s the power of visual content, the large size of the images, the popularity of infographics and the various types of pins that enhance the shopping experience that make Pinterest so appealing, reminding brands not to overlook it when trying to lead traffic to their site and increase sales.

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Although Pinterest may serve as the right example on how to use a platform to increase sales, most of the popular social networks can be used by a brand to increase sales, provided that the content is optimised in order to convey the right message.

The future of visual content

There’s no indication that visual content will be reduced any time soon. In fact, we are expecting an even greater increase, with Cisco predicting that by 2019, online video will be responsible for four-fifths of global internet traffic.

There’s a psychological trigger on why users find visual content appealing and its impact is also present in communication, creating a new form of self-expression. From the first type-based emojis up to the latest Snapchat filters, visual content was always fascinating as an additional form of communication, although it might even replace written texts in many occasions.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 15.13.25

Users love communicating with visual content through instant messaging, with emojis also being used by brands nowadays as an additional element of a casual tone.

Thus, it’s time for brands to discover all the new forms of visual content, in order to use them as part of their content marketing strategy, combining authenticity with a modern appeal, enhancing their message in the most appropriate way.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/08/meeker-report-what-you-should-know-about-the-rise-of-visual-content/

The application backlogs in nearly every organization are expanding exponentially as companies try to keep pace with competitors and their own internal needs. How can you improve the time-to-market of your applications so they can be inserted into production quicker? Here are some suggestions.

1: Collaborate

Agile development methodologies, like scrum, encourage ongoing collaboration in application requirements definition and development between end users and IT. The more you can keep end users actively engaged in the application development process, the less you will have to worry about the application drifting from what the business expected. When you meet business expectations dead-on the first time, your applications can be placed into production without delay.

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2: Prototype often

Application developers now have app prototyping tools that enable users and developers to see the flows and the looks of applications as the apps are being built. This is important in terms of user acceptance and ultimate app readiness. Every time you incorporate a new application element, create a working prototype for end users to test drive and comment on. It is easier to make adjustments in earlier stages of app development than right before the app is scheduled to be moved into production.

3: Virtualize development and test environments

It takes time to configure physical hardware and software for application testing and development. A better approach is to use a cloud service or to virtualize your own development and test environments so that your developers can have dedicated test and development systems. With virtualization, the strain on your DBA and system programmers will also be reduced, since configuration and deployment of virtual systems is quicker.

4: Hold users accountable

Users get busy, too—so there is always a tendency for them to walk away from the development and testing process after they feel they have given IT all their app requirements. Don't let this happen. Ensuring that applications stay on course with requirements during development should be as much of an end-business responsibility as it is an IT responsibility.

5: Work on usability as much as you work on features and functions

You'd be surprised at how many data errors and end user trouble reports are generated because of poor navigation and screen or report design. Giving equal time to usability as well as to technical design can go a long way toward ensuring that apps are accepted and placed into production the first time.

6: Implement a standard library of routines you can reuse

The easiest way to ensure app compatibility with other software you use is to standardize routines (e.g., a date routine) so that they can be pulled from a common library and used over and over again.

7: Don't forget quality assurance

It is important to thoroughly QA an application—from both a usability and a technical performance standpoint. Organizations are still seeing 50% of IT's programming time being committed to software maintenance—which happens because apps fail or don't do what they are supposed to do. You can help prevent this by designing apps that work correctly the first time and every time, thereby freeing up maintenance staff so you can redirect those resources into more new development.

8: Regression test for performance

Organizations continue to unit test applications and then try to rush them into production without performing a full regression test to ensure that the new app will handle the transaction load it is supposed to be able to handle—or that it is compatible with all the other software it must run with. When an app breakdown occurs in production because regression testing wasn't done, it can become a major embarrassment for a company.

9: Train your support staff and your users

User training should be a project task for any new application. If business users aren't trained in how to use an app, they will get frustrated and end up calling your support staff. Before any app goes live, the IT support staff should also be thoroughly trained. If they're not knowledgeable and can't respond to user questions quickly, it could reflect negatively on an application to the point where it must be pulled from production.

10: Design for simplicity

Applications should always use a modular design structure. This enables developers to test and debug individual routines without having to read through an entire program.

Source:  http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-ways-to-improve-time-to-market-for-your-applications/

Thursday, 09 June 2016 04:01

Content is More Than Just Marketing

In case you haven’t noticed, the internet has fundamentally changed the way companies communicate with their customers. It’s gone from a one-way, broadcast communication (“It’s our Memorial Day Sale!”) to a two-way conversation (“What do you need, and how can we help?”). In this new paradigm, companies have to be authentic, and they have to be helpful—and increasingly, marketing departments are finding that creating great content is the best way to accomplish both.

But as it turns out, this paradigm applies to more than just marketing. It affects the way enterprise companies communicate and build relationships with all of their stakeholders, including investors, the press, employees, and the talent they’re trying to recruit. The internet has introduced a new level of choice and transparency into every one of those relationships. As a result, the content movement has become about more than just marketing; it’s about an evolution in the way brands share information.

We’re already seeing this with our clientele at Contently.

While marketers led the charge in adopting our technology, the past 18 months have seen myriad other departments leverage our content solution. Coca-Cola spreads stories internally and externally about their employees’ inspiring charitable work. Raymond James built an entire site to educate their financial advisors and turn them into thought leaders. Genpact has used content to transform their company culture. “The moment we started having strong stories, the CEOs, the CFOs, the investors—they loved it,” CMO Gianni Giocamelli explained at our Contently Summit last fall.

In the big picture, though, far too few enterprises are fully leveraging content across their organization, and they’re missing out on a big opportunity. It’s time for that to change.

In turn, we’re focused on helping modern brands in three big ways:

1. Tell Better Stories

Great stories build relationships. They make us care, and they teach us lessons we’d never learn otherwise. The same can’t be said, however, about memos, press releases, and product-pushing advertisements dressed in editorial content. Modern enterprises need to focus on creating content that serves the needs of all of their audiences, not their own self-interests.

2. Personalized Experiences for Every Stakeholder

Everyone across the organization needs access to content in a way that’s meaningful and empowering to them. Over the past decade, a wave of content management systems have tried to solve this problem, but they’ve largely just been a repository for generic content. Everyone—marketing, sales, HR, PR, etc.—is handed the same solution, despite having vastly different needs. The next wave of enterprise content solutions needs to create a unique experience for each content stakeholder in terms of content access and collaboration, audience targeting, distribution, and metrics of success. If that happens, adoption will follow.

3. A Centralized Experience

Organizational silos are poisonous to a content program. While the experience of every stakeholder should be personalized, content, data, and brand guidelines should be centralized, ensuring that large enterprises can tell a cohesive brand story across departments, products, and regions.

Launching a blog is easy, but when it comes to the future of enterprise content, these are the hard problems to solve. Brands and content vendors are making progress, but there’s still a long way to go.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/content-transforming-enterprise/163572/

Building effective links has become a struggle in the last few years, as Google continues to crack down on manipulative link practices, including web directories. Does this mean web directories are never a good idea?

No, but there are a lot of precautions that need to be taken.

For example, never list on any low-quality directories or websites. Instead, choose fewer directory listings with better quality. Look for niche directories that are more likely to be valuable to users. And, make sure any directory you submit to has some sort of parameters for sites they will and won’t accept.

Good directories have editorial teams that review submissions and edit listings, titles and descriptions. Directories that accept any and all links will not be valuable.

Directories are Also Good for Local SEO

Directories have changed – they are no longer good for getting thousands of links to your site so you can game Google. Today, directories are valuable when used carefully and most often for local SEO. Sites like Yelp will almost always rank higher than branded sites for, say, ‘pizza Jacksonville’. Getting listed on directories can be highly valuable for local search in particular.

“I have seen many SEO examples of how these top-quality directories help improve direct traffic and also search engine ranking results. The Directories listed in this article are an outstanding value and provide long term SEO benefits.” -Tom Forrest
There is so much confusion around whether directories are still a good idea and which ones website owners should utilize.

The truth is, high-quality links will never go out of style — whether those links are from directories or not.

Links from high-quality, niche directories are still considered ‘good’ links by Google and will help a site generate more organic traffic.

shutterstock_383590303

High-Quality Directories

The directories listed below are valuable when used correctly, particularly when it comes to local SEO.

Yelp
Clasione
All Business Now
Yellow Pages.com
Better Business Bureau
Vlib
411.COM
Seek On
Pick N Buy
Best of The Web
Joe Ant
DMOZ
Map Quest
City Data.com
Health Fitness Nutrition
MedlinePlus
Starting Point
Hotfrog.com
Search Pure

Final Note: Do Not Automate Directory Submissions
Do not automate directory submissions. Why? Because web searchers are looking fo unique content, not the same exact listings on tons of different directories. This will yield the best results with the search engines, and prevent penalties.

More importantly, writing unique descriptions creates a better quality directory that visitors will actually find useful. Google does not want to see hundreds or thousands of free low-quality directory listings with the same word-for-word descriptions. That isn’t useful. And that approach is exactly what Google penalizes.

Please sign up for SEOWA.com to use our SEO tools and for Expert online SEO Advice.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/directory-submission-sites-google-likes-162689-2/162689/

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