I often remember, with mixed feelings, the commercials of my youth where a guy in a lab coat and a clipboard advised women just what detergent to buy. We may laugh at the stereotype which is loaded with enough cultural signifiers (yep, it’s gonna be that kind of post) to write an entire book about, but in our hip and knowing, ad-resistant and social-media-aware times we have still not managed to get past the stereotypes, ourselves.
When, in 1958, Alvin, Simon and Theodore released their Christmas special song few expected a trio of singing chipmunks to get very far. Yet, as a succession of cartoons, songs, albums and movies have shown the talented trio had stumbled onto a magic formula whose impact was big, so big, in fact that its importance would be barely understood, half a century later. But first, so we know what we are talking about, the song:
I have, of late, been putting out posts that take us down to the very fundamentals of who we are and what we do. I know, you know that I know you need a “three steps that help me do this” content because you’re busy, are juggling things and really, if you give me your trust (which I value) you want me to tell you to do three, four, five (a number, anyhow) of actionable things that will deliver what you want.
SEO Help: 20 Practical Steps to power your content creation, marketing and branding in the new AI world of Google search.
The digital space is now pervasive, noisy and fragmented. Being noticed by those who should be your customers has become really hard.
Search is a constantly changing activity. Yet its primary focus is always the same: How to serve content to online searchers that is accurate and relevant. That is also the ‘secret’ to success in search. If the content you have created can be indexed well enough to accurately gauge its relevance then its chances to be seen by those who are looking for it are really good. If the content itself is also considered to somehow be “better” than similar content, then its chances of being seen rise exponentially.
Great content that is accurate and relevant enjoys a higher visibility in search. Just how to make sure that the content you create is considered “better” and it is both accurate and relevant in terms of your branding is exactly what this book is about.
The very first edition of “SEO Help” came out in 2010. Since that time, in three updated iterations “SEO Help” has won Book Authority’s “Best SEO Book of All Time” award and it has become a search engine optimization classic that’s helped countless webmasters understand what they need to do in order to increase the online success of their business.
This edition is no different. While it is true that search and search behavior are changing rapidly in response to technological innovation the fundamentals that drive an online surfer to use a search engine to look for something haven’t changed. While it is also true that search technology has changed drastically since 2010 the fundamentals that make a search engine deliver a particular result in response to a search query have also remained steadfast.
SEO Help: 20 Practical Steps to power your content creation, marketing and branding in the new AI world of Google Search is a detailed guide to those fundamentals. It tells you what to do, when and how in order to make sure that every item of content you create, whether that is text, video, podcast or graphic; works in your favor.
In this edition you will also learn:
- How the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning affects search, marketing and branding (and how to take advantage of it all).
- What the fragmentation of search means to your brand and your business and how to make the most of what you currently do.
- What to do to make your brand stand out from the crowd without increasing the output of your content creation efforts.
- What to do to increase trust in your brand and the content you create in a time of negative news stories and fake news.
- How to better use Google’s Knowledge Graph (KG) to increase the trustworthiness of your digital presence.
- Why marketing and branding cannot be separated from search and your business’ SEO practices.
- How to leverage the fragmented social media landscape to your advantage.
- How to future-proof your business against constant changes in search.
- The true impact of Google’s mobile index on your digital business.
- What feasible shortcuts exist in search marketing and branding.
Like before, each chapter is thin on theory and heavy on practical steps you need to take. Like before, each chapter ends with a full practical-steps guide you should be implementing to make sure your business stays viable.
The title is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and every good bookshop. If you can consider ordering it from your local independent store. It helps spread the wealth and it supports independent bookshops that help their local communities be viable and vibrant:
Where you can get the latest edition of SEO Help:
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In a world where everything is data, navigating to the right place, finding the right answer or matching the right pair (of anything) is always a search problem. Data only makes sense when it is networked, connected, indexed, analyzed, assessed, abstracted, categorized, organized and presented in relation to other data.
The process is an endless rinse-and-repeat cycle where the metadata surfaced becomes semantically dense enough to become data in its own right, allowing further metadata to be extracted from it.
Let’s get practical. Apply all the theoretical abstraction I’ve written above to the usual “Morning!” Greeting between neighbors. The depth of the relational connection between them (are they good friends, or are they being civil to each other?) will reveal itself in the warmth of the candour of that one, single word, exchanged. Is one distracted, lost in thought? Depressed? Angry? Clipped tones, trailing endings, a pitch that’s so low as to be barely audible or too high and sounds like a whine can be used to analyze emotions. Is the sound harsh? The word spoken fast, like an expletive almost, or are the syllables, long-drawn out? The difference could spell out whether there is enmity in the relationship, hidden aggression or it’s a casual, social connection with no other overtones.
We’ve only used one word and that’s before we begin to analyze whether there is a male/female interaction involved or whether a regional or national accent comes into play.
This is exactly the kind of semantic analysis Google does with speech in order to help improve its understanding of spoken queries in search. Because speech is data, possessing it also allows the accumulation of knowledge which stems from a sense of how speech is broken down into discrete units, analyzed for content, context and importance and classified. This allows Google the ability to reverse-engineer the process and create human-like speech using a computer that can now use inflexion, pitch, rhythm and speed to denote warmth, friendliness and openness.
There are several important takeaways here:
- In a data-centric world search is everywhere, even if we do not actively call it search or have a sense of it as such.
- Everything that has an effect is information. Information is data. Data is subject to analysis and classification. That includes relatively ethereal things like emotion and intent.
- Once metadata accumulates it becomes substantial enough to be subject to further analysis and classification so it becomes data which gives rise to further metadata.
- The process of labelling, classification and refinement can be continued ad infinitum unless there are clear boundaries marked by benefits vs costs which do not fully justify the reiteration.
- Data always has value. Its value is always contextual.
As Google’s machine learning gets better and better its voice recognition and voice synthesis capabilities will exponentially improve. Machine learning is closely linked to exponential growth because of the way training sets of data are sampled and the algorithms are then recalibrated. Exponential growth, as the graph below illustrates, has a latency period after which change accelerates dramatically. In practical terms this means that once machine learning gets past a tipping point it begins to produce good results at an accelerated rate.
Getting to the Very Core of Reality
Marketing has never quite been about being real. It has always been seen as the means through which a stimulus is created which is then satisfied by the product or service that is being marketed. But that is, to put it mildly, manipulation. It plays on desires, needs and fears to create a false sense of urgency that will lead to a purchase before the potential buyer has had the chance to research anything, think things through or change her mind.
Machine learning makes all of this faster and less costly which means that more and more can be done without increasing operating costs.
Search queries posed in natural language can be processed and matched against real world concepts and objects without going through the traditional ‘translation’ phase where we try to think what specific search terms might possibly describe those objects. The search query “Red cylindrical object used to fight fire” returns, without any hesitation, “fire hydrant” on Voice Search.
One of the most specific areas where this takes place is voice search and voice interaction. Without a keyboard to input a search query we have no drop-down autosuggestions from Google. We also cannot always remember what we searched for two queries earlier so the very concept of search terms (or even keywords) becomes redundant.
The approach has two very significant effects:
- Natural language description frequently supplants exact search terms and, even a search methodology.
- It often does not feel like search. (Google Now, Waze, Google Maps, YouTube, GMail and Google Photos) are examples where search technology is active in the background.
The video below on Google Voice and how it is put together beautifully explains some of the concepts:
What it really means is that everything a business, a brand or a person does online and offline now really matters. This concept of “data density” was first broached in SEO Help designed, very specifically to address issues of identity, brand values and entity formation as part of a business’ or a brand’s day-to-day activities.
Because everything is data and everything is beginning to be understood and indexed, creating the necessary semantically rich data density required to succeed in search has to be part of an incremental, sustained and sustainable process that weds brand identity and core values with brand marketing activities and brand voice. Of course, in a semantic web, from a presence point of view everyone and everything is, from a practical point of view, a brand.
I started this morning with a TED talk by Brene Brown if you do not know who she is or what she does I would recommend clicking on the link and seeing the video for yourself, even if it means that then you won’t have time to read what I have written next.
Every business understands the value in branding, but few get the values of branding. In presentations I’ve often discussed how branding now cannot be separated from other business considerations like search, content creation, a social media presence and the core values that make a business what it is.