Author Archive

How Brand Monitoring Can Support Your Search Optimization Strategy

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

SEO isn’t just about optimizing your own content to be easily found by people performing search queries directly in search engines or social media platforms. More sweat is involved to ensure your brand is facing its audience correctly and competently.

As many know, social media plays a significant role in how consumers perceive brands and even in how easily they can find them. Because of this it is more important than ever to include brand monitoring as part of a comprehensive SEO plan. Here is how to do it.

Where to Start

To effectively implement brand monitoring you will need a tool. Relying on Google Alerts is a good start but there are far more effective apps available which provide detailed information and analysis.

Connecting with Influencers

People care about what other people say. Especially if the ones saying it are public figures. Or influencers for that matter. Now, it’s important to understand there are three types of influencers:

  • Local Influencers – their opinion impacts the local industry.
  • Industry-Specific Influencers – these are people that have high authority over specific topics, skills, and industries.
  • General Influencers – people who are public figures, have often hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers on social media.

Five years later, and this post from Copyblogger still outlines the best way to connect with influencers. A few ideas, besides social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram, include:

  • Signing up for their program, product, service – putting some money in before asking for "free" stuff.
  • Joining their on-site events or meetups: hey, if you have an opportunity to connect 1-on-1, do it!
  • Asking the right relevant questions: One smart question can open many doors for you. Prove that you are smart, and that you know what you want from other people in terms of information.

Using Brand Monitoring Tools: Introducing Brand24

Brand24 is one of the newest faces on the brand monitoring tools scene, and has gained a lot of popularity among brands. The tool provides real-time insight into what is being said about your brand and your competition.

Membership plans start at $49 and can go up to as much as $399, plus customer plan for larger brands. However, a $49 plan is sufficient enough for an early-stage startup to monitor their brand successfully. Bonus: this is a pay-as-you-go type of service, which offers the user more flexibility and doesn’t force him into a 12-months contract or an automated payment scheme. The tool is fully automated, offers Slack integration, and has a mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.

The analytics section provides unique factoring such as advanced search queries, interactivity analytics, estimated social reach, and so on. A demo is available for testing if you need more time to think about it.

If you’ve read my recent article on customer journey mapping examples, then you should understand why knowing how people find you matters in the evolution of your services/products.

How Brand24 Works

Signing up for a free Brand24 account can be done with an email or using their Facebook integration.

Brand 24

Once you sign up, you will be asked to type in your target keywords or phrases. You can also specify what language you want results to be targeting.

Add keywords

The menu is located on the left of the dashboard and offers intuitive controls.

Controls

The overview portion of the dashboard is equally intuitive. It allows users to sort information by days, weeks, or months and to view by the most popular mentions or the most popular authors.

Overview

The bottom of the dashboard is especially valuable for identifiying the influencers who dominate the converstaion for your project’s keywords. Users can view the most influential profiles or sites and view associated statistical information.

Dashboard

The free version of Brand24 is robust. Those who want additional features can also choose to upgrade the service to one of the paid subscriptions.

 

Now What?

Once you are monitoring brand mentions there are two powerful ways to use this knowledge to support your SEO efforts.

Request Mentions beyond Citations

Just because someone has cited a brand somewhere doesn’t mean they have linked to the website. Inbound links from authoritative websites are a valuable portion for your marketing efforts.

If a person is already citing a brand by name, they are more likely to be willing to include a proper mention with a link to their website, social media, or email address. You can use services such as HARO, or simply go the old fashion "blogger outreach" way.

Control the Narrative

If people are talking about your brand on social media, you need to be part of the conversation. Brand monitoring makes it possible to take action and instantly reshape the narrative if the brand is being mentioned in a negative light.

Alternatively, if the brand being complained about is a competitor why not swoop in and save the day? Monitoring your brand is a powerful tool but monitoring the competition can offer even wider perspective into what potential customers are happy with and what need has yet to be fulfilled.

Market Research

Brand monitoring can maximize marketing efforts by providing direct consumer insight from those consumers who are already invested in your service or product. This allows you to learn exactly what they want so you can provide it and gain greater brand loyalty.

It will make it easier to identify the platforms on which they are most active so marketing efforts can be directed toward the right locations. If you know more people are mentioning your brand on Snapchat suddenly, it makes sense to invest the resources into developing a presence there. This is true for the reverse as well. You can avoid those platforms that have limited brand engagement to maximize marketing resources.

Important Takeaway

Any tool will work to a certain degree, whether you choose to pay $500+ a month or settle for $49. But people make the difference – and Brand24 excels in helping you reach those whose opinion counts. Other than that, you should make sure to have behind every brand monitoring tool, a sharp, detail-oriented employee or contractor who knows what they’re doing. The human factor should also be part of your marketing efforts, not just from a customer perspective, but also from an "in-house" operational point of view.

The post How Brand Monitoring Can Support Your Search Optimization Strategy appeared first on SEO Chat.

How to use demand generation channels to effectively expand your reach

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

As Q4 approaches, it’s crucial that you plan to capitalize on all the traffic that comes with it.

We all know how effective search is, but it’s also limited to those already in the hunt for what you’re offering.

To continue to scale, you need to effectively get in front of audiences that aren’t yet interested – but could be! – in your service/product. That’s where demand generation comes in, and marketers have more (and better) options for demand generation than ever.

As we head full-steam into Q4, here’s a list of demand generation channels, considerations of when to make use of them to expand your reach, and best practices we’ve honed across clients of all budgets.

Google Display Network

Once rather maligned, the GDN provides a number of targeting options that allow you to leverage the thousands of data points they collect on users across the web. Among the most effective targeting options when it comes to both demand generation and direct response are:

Keyword contextual targeting

Choose your top 10-15 keywords and let Google place ads accordingly.

My strong recommendation is to start off with content-based keyword targeting first; this gives you more control over what is being targeted (websites relevant to your keywords). When you select “audience”-based keyword contextual targeting, you end up targeting a significantly larger group of users where the targeting is not only websites relevant to your keywords but also audiences who may be interested.

This gives Google a lot of power to find users – but it also opens you up to more risk. By starting out with content, you are taking a low-risk approach to GDN. As you see success and build up conversion history, feel free to experiment with audience targeting.

In-market audiences

Based on audience behavior, Google determines users who are currently shopping for different products/categories. The feature combines search intent with display’s reach, and it’s definitely worth testing.

Custom affinity audiences

If you provide Google with competitor websites or industry-relevant domains, CAA will analyze the types of audiences visiting those sites (demographics, interests, website topics) and target audiences similar to them. I recommend that you test by starting off with your top 5 competitors.

As you build conversions – about 40+ conversions is a good benchmark – I would strongly recommend switching your bidding style to CPA optimizer and allowing Google to leverage its thousands of data points and optimize towards your target CPA. We’ve had a lot of success with this option.

Facebook/Instagram

The Facebook/Instagram duo offers powerful audience targeting capabilities. We’ve seen two strategies work consistently:

Make use of lookalike targeting and base your seed lists off your customers

Rather than taking your full customer list, however, segment by identifiable characteristics. I typically recommend high LTV or high AOV, or segmenting by category/type depending on the product or business. If you have a big enough seed list, start by testing a 1% audience, as those users will be most similar to your existing customers.

Use interest/behavior targeting and insights from the platform’s Audience Insights tool

Upload your top customers to Audience Insights and analyze the valuable demographic, interest-based data. Now begin building various personas of audiences you want to target (each ad set should represent a different persona).

When selecting your targeting options within Facebook, layer in demographic data from the Insights tool to make these audiences more relevant.

Pinterest

I recommend this fast-growing channel more for ecommerce than B2B. Remember that Pinterest is somewhat intent-driven, as users are typing in keywords to look for relevant pins. Start off with your top keyword list and test from there, and focus on strong creative that can stand out among the many other pins.

Your Pinterest creative should be eye-catching, high quality, and include compelling images of the product. Write detailed descriptions highlighting the most compelling aspects of the product and inviting users to click on ad, and leverage text overlays on your pins to help any core message stand out.

Twitter

Twitter tends to perform well for B2B or more technical businesses. I recommend that you leverage lookalike targeting on your top-performing customer segments; you can also try targeting followers of certain influencers who may be core to your brand or followers of competitors in the industry.

Last general recommendation: begin leveraging these options ASAP so you can build up a retargeting audience to engage when purchase motivation is higher. Cast a wide net now, and you’ll have more fish to land in the holiday season.

Google Allocates $5M to Battle Online Extremism

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Google is dipping into its coffers to help counter extremism and the recruiting of terrorists online.

The tech titan is sinking $5 million into an innovation fund run by Google.org that will supply grants to researchers and organizations that are creating solutions to the seemingly ever-growing online issue.

“Our efforts to disrupt terrorists’ ability to use the Internet focus on three areas: leveraging technology, conducting and sharing research, and sharing best practices and encouraging affirmative efforts against dangerous radicalization. Today we’re announcing a new effort to build on that third pillar,” said Kent Walker, senior vice-president of Policy, Legal, Trust & Safety, and Google.org.

“Today we’re expanding that effort and launching a $5-million Google.org innovation fund to counter hate and extremism. Over the next two years, this funding will support technology-driven solutions, as well as grassroots efforts like community youth projects that help build communities and promote resistance to radicalization.”

The first grant, which comes in at $1.3 million, will go to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), an expert counter-extremist organization in the U.K. The money will be used by the ISD to help leaders from the U.K.’s technology, academic and charity sectors create solutions that counter extremism.

The project is the largest of its kind, other than those run by government agencies, and “aims to produce innovative, effective and data-driven solutions that can undermine and overcome radicalization propaganda.”

Walker said Google is hoping the grants it doles out will help lessen extremist posts online but also hateful actions offline.

“We don’t have all the answers, but we’re committed to playing our part,” he said.


avatar

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

The post Google Allocates $5M to Battle Online Extremism appeared first on SiteProNews.

Facebook to Face Senate Committee on Russian Probe

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Facebook representatives will appear before the Senate to answer questions about Russia’s use of ads social networks to meddle in the U.S. presidential election last year.

By Дмитрий-5-Аверин (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Дмитрий-5-Аверин (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A report from Bloomberg has revealed that Facebook may just be social media firm called to testify. Others, including Twitter, may also be on the list.

Facebook has already handed over details on Russian political ad spending to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a federal investigation into alleged meddling by Russia in the U.S.’s last federal election.

Mueller has been asked to discover if there are any links between Russian groups and President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

It is likely Facebook will be questioned about the ads it sold to bogus news rings. The social media company has already conceded that it sold at least $100,000 worth of ads that led to fake news pages during the election but said it was not equipped to deal with those types of sneaky ads. That’s because its contractors focus on weeding out violent and sexually explicit content rather than political fodder.

The chairman of the Senate Committee, Richard Burr, told Bloomberg that “Facebook has been less than forthcoming on potentially how they were used.”


avatar

The post Facebook to Face Senate Committee on Russian Probe appeared first on SiteProNews.

Top Ways To Implement Long-Tail Keywords For SEO

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Keyword research is the most valuable and high-return activity in the search marketing spectrum. The right set of keywords can make a big difference in the performance of any domain and you will be able to learn what terms and phrases need to be targeted to get the desired traffic.

Search engine optimization is not only a way to get visitors to your website but also to grab the right people. It makes it easy to respond to the changing market conditions as well as generate the products and services that Web searchers are actively seeking.

The effectiveness of a keyword comes down to competition. It is better to use terms with less competition than the basic head keywords. This is where long-tail come in handy.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

Long-tail keywords can be understood as the combination of terms that are very specific in nature and have low search volume as compared to popular keywords of a domain.

Long-Tail Keywords-17

These keywords are comprised of more than three words and are expected to rank much more easily than general keywords, also known as head keywords.

If you are running a fresh website, it might take years to get a visible ranking for a head keyword, but a less frequent search term (probably a long-tail keyword) can be seen on the top of search results very easily.

The concept of a long-tail keyword can be learned with an example where ‘coffee’ is a head keyword but ‘prepare instant coffee in minutes’ is a long-tail keyword that is less frequently searched but easily ranked.

Long-Tail Keywords: An Easy Way to Elevate Your Conversion Rate

Long-tail keywords are more likely to bring visitors to your website instead of a general keyword. There are couple of reasons for that.

  • These keywords are easy to rank due to less competition in the digital world in comparison to common head keywords.
  • Long-tail keywords are very specific and searched only by targeted audiences whose want to make a purchase instead perform preliminary research with a general keyword.
  • The long-tail keywords are supposed to be less expensive for advertising via Google AdWords because of having low search volume but a wide target area.

How to Find Perfect Keywords for Your Website

There is no fixed formula to find an exact keyword that can drive good traffic and conversion, but there are few principles that can help:

1. Determine Your USP

For profitable business results, you should start by considering every minute details of your business, like what makes you unique, what type of audiences you are offering services to or why people should opt for you against your rivals.

The long-tail keyword should be created by including a term or quality that makes you unique. This will certainly help your searchers reach you in the safest manner.

2.  Make Use of Several Tools to Find Potential Keywords

There are plenty of tools available to find the list of long-tail keywords. One good example is Google AdWords Keyword Planner where you have to login to your AdWords account and switch to ‘Keyword Planner’ in the Tools tab.

Keyword Planner tool-19

Along with generating a sorted list of keywords, this tool also tells the level of competition for each keyword and the amount you want to pay per click.

It is not always mandatory to run an AdWords campaign. You can also use this tool to get an idea about how much worth a keyword holds and how tough it is to rank in organic results.

There are several other tools as well that can help in generating keywords for your domain. Some of them are:

3. Focus On User’s Intent

Once you have prepared a list of your best keywords, the next task is to scrutinize them as per the user’s interest and to answer on your own why people should search for these terms.

Ensure that your content provides the exact information that searchers are looking for. It will offer a negative impression to the visitors if they reach your website and do not get what you are pretending to offer them.

4. Apart From Tools, Follow Ideas To Expand Your Keyword Lists

Keyword tools are a good way to generate smart ideas, but there are also plenty of other methods to come up with reliable long-tail keywords.

Here are some examples:

Google’s Autocomplete Feature

When you start typing anything into the search box of Google, you will see a drop-down list of the terms that people are searching.

You can add some extra words to your search term to capture more options or insert an additional letter after your search term to find varied set of autocompleted keywords.

Just look at one example. When you are looking for any keyword suggestion related to psd to html conversion and you have typed ‘psd to html c’, you will get following results-

Google Autocomplete Feature-21

Keywordtool.io is a free tool to generate autocomplete keywords for you.

Related Search Terms

When you search for any head or a long-tail keyword, related searches will surface at the bottom of the page.

Related Search Terms-23

For example, if you check ‘app marketing for business,’ you might get related keywords like ‘best marketing apps 2017’ and ‘marketing apps for Android.’

Thorough Research for Long-Tail Keywords

When users type a particular keyword into the search box, Google looks for several factors to check how relevant your content is, and then rank it accordingly.

There are distinctive elements that work together to accelerate long-tail keywords in the search engines.

1. Internal Linking

Internal links can be considered as a strong tool for keyword targeting and point to the webpages of same domain. Whatever happens at your website is completely under your control and this makes it crucial that you pay attention to what is occurring within it.

Linking to quality pages of the same domain actually heats up the page and passes more value to it. Google also keeps a keen eye on the links that point to your internal and archive pages.

By linking to your already published blogs, you are engaging the users and meeting their expectations. The number of clicks you get on your links is proportional to the time they spend on your website.

You can also add breadcrumbs to make internal navigation easy for the user.

2. Social Engagement

These days people spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels and thus it is necessary to use them wisely in your content to jump your search volume.

These social signals help to improve the search rankings, reduce bounce rate, forward quality links to internal webpages and pass link juice to your website.

3. Keyword-Rich Headlines

It is a beneficial approach to front-load your headline with relevant keywords. Experts believe that people will scan only two words of your headline and then identify its relevancy as per their requisites.

Keyword-rich and keyword-stuffed are two distinct but important parameters to look upon. Make sure to limit the usage of a keyword when you are adding it in a headline.

Your primary goal must be to provide informative content and, after that, focus on search engine rankings.

4. Trusted Links

Links are undoubtedly the currency of the Web and there are two major factors that we should look for when building links:

  • Domain authority
  • Page authority

While page authority describes the probability of a specific page of a website being found on a search engine, the domain authority depicts how well a site ranks on the search engine result pages.

Effective Use of a Long-Tail Keyword

Finding a relevant range of long-tail keywords is just part of the process. After picking the right keywords, it is necessary to utilize them in the correct manner.

Below are tips for making good use of keywords:

• Use keywords naturally by making some adjustments or follow creative punctuation although it might seem daunting trying to fix a tricky keyword into a sentence.

• Try to use your long-tail keyword and its variations in the title, headers and sub-headers of the page. You are more likely to gain weightage if your keyword set appears in the first paragraph (the first sentence is like icing on the cake).

• It’s not a do-or-die situation if you can’t add your keyword into the header of the page. Just focus on the usefulness and readability of every keyword that you use.

Sum Up

Keywords are not everything in the SEO spectrum, but they do play a big role in the sustainable growth of your business. If you are not ranking well with basic keywords, it is high time to switch your focus to long-tail keywords.


avatar

This blog post is a writing specimen of David Meyer, who is a skilled Web developer and blogger at CSSChopper, top PSD to HTML service provider company. His writing skills are pertinent to the efficient promotion of a website by using smart SEO tips.

The post Top Ways To Implement Long-Tail Keywords For SEO appeared first on SiteProNews.

LinkedIn Trends You Need to Know and Use

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

You’re on the top social media networks. You’ve got spots eked out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

That’s enough. Right?

No – you’re forgetting something.

You need to be posting and sharing on LinkedIn, too. Here’s why:

  • LinkedIn has more than half a billion users, according to Fortune – and it’s steadily growing.
  • Hundreds of millions of users are active every month.
  • It’s the ultimate social network to grab B2B leads. About 50 percent of B2B buyers use the platform before making final purchasing decisions, according to HootSuite.

To get the most out of this unique platform, though, you have to stay on top of trends. You have to know how to post, what to post, and when to do it.

Easier said than done, right? Don’t worry – we’ve combed through the trends for you and laid it all out.

image1

6 LinkedIn Trends and How to Use Them in Content Marketing Right Now

Here are some of the top LinkedIn trends (according to data BuzzSumo collected and Content Marketing Institute [CMI] analyzed). We’ll show you how to post to take advantage of them with content marketing.

1. There’s No Posting Over-Saturation (Yet)

So far, there are no signs that the amount of content posted on LinkedIn is more than users can handle or keep up with.

When this does happen, CMI calls it “content shock.” Posts suffer because there’s less interaction due to content overload.

With content shock nowhere in sight, you can take advantage and post more content on the network. You’ll still have a good chance your followers will both see and notice your posts, which can shoot it to the top for engagement.

No content fatigue, to see, here.

2. B2B Link-Sharing Is Going Strong

When it comes to B2B content, LinkedIn is where you should share it.

Recently, users have been sharing these types of posts far more than they have on Twitter or Facebook. In particular, BuzzSumo noted that shares for topics like SEO marketing and leadership were higher on LinkedIn.

Follow suit for good results.

3. Long-Form, Original Content Is Shared More

If you do publish original content on LinkedIn, make it long-form.

Most users don’t publish articles of more than 1,000 words. But, the content that’s shared most often is always at least 1,000 words long, and can be as long as 3,000 words.

image2
This is a big opportunity for you to stand out with your posts and get the engagement you need. Just make sure to hit the sweet spot of 1,000 – 3,000 words.

4. You Don’t Need Images

When you post content on LinkedIn, don’t feel pressured to litter your articles with images and graphics.

CMI did a review of long-form posts on the platform that were successful. None of them included images besides a post banner at the top.

This frees you up to go with text-heavy posts, but make sure they’re structured and organized well. Use headlines, sub-headers, bullet-points, and lists so they’re readable.

5. Professional, Practical Topics Are Tops

If you want your LinkedIn content to perform well, stick to proven topics for the network.

According to BuzzSumo, the most popular posts have been how-to guides. Other topics that enticed: practical advice about professional issues, experience-driven learning experiences, and personal posts centered on the world of work.

For your content, there are lots of different ways to take advantage of popular topics. You could post about challenges you overcame on the job, key takeaways from an important conference, or your experience climbing the corporate ladder.

These are just a few ideas. Anything under the umbrella of what CMI calls “the five P’s” will work. For reference, they steer you toward these types of posts:

  • Professional – They’re all about the working life.
  • Practical – They’re helpful and useful.
  • Personal – They’re framed as stories, not lists of facts.
  • Portray a path to change – They’re illuminating and show how you can achieve positive change or improve in some way.
  • Point toward peak experiences – They tell readers how you reached a career-oriented pinnacle, no matter the scale of the endeavor.

6. You Don’t Have to Be a LinkedIn Influencer to Win Engagement

LinkedIn regularly designates many of its top users and posters as “LinkedIn Influencers.” These elite people get an official stamp next to their name and lots of exposure on main pages of the site.

image3

For scope, the people at the very top of this group include names like Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

However, those of us on the lower rungs of influence don’t have to worry. The stuff you post can win plenty of engagement without any fancy status attached to your name.

In fact, according to CMI, influencers only wrote six percent of the 10,000 top posts in the last five years.

This means you have as good a chance as anybody to do well on LinkedIn, which can spell great gains for your content marketing.

Use LinkedIn Trends to Your Advantage for Content Marketing Success

LinkedIn has steadily climbed the ranks to become one of the most powerful social networks for content marketing. The content you post there has the potential to soar, but only if you understand how to do it to best advantage.

Take note of the trends listed here and post accordingly. This social network is ripe for your content marketing efforts and could help you take root in your industry.


avatar

Julia dropped out of college to follow her passion in tech and writing, and hasn’t looked back since. Today, she’s been named among the top 30 content marketers, is the founder and CEO of leading content agency Express Writers, hosts the Write Podcast and #ContentWritingChat, and is a published, best-selling author. She’s also the creator of a brand new, leading industry course, The Practical Content Strategist Certification Course.

The post LinkedIn Trends You Need to Know and Use appeared first on SiteProNews.

5 Tech Trends Impacting Small Businesses This Year

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

When any new technology is introduced into business circles, large firms — typically of the Fortune 500 level — are typically the first to adopt it. They have the adequate financial resources, and plenty of safety nets, to gamble on innovation that may or may succeed.

Small companies, on the other hand, have to be more cautious. A swing and a miss on a substantial technology investment could compromise the entire organization.

Nevertheless, the rapid speed of technological innovation and the scalability of new solutions often make it possible for small firms to join their bigger counterparts among the first adopters. This has clearly been the case in 2017.

Five Tech Trends Worth Monitoring

When the year started, a lot of speculation centered on which technologies would have the biggest impact on small businesses. Some have scored, while others have fizzled.

But now that we’re most of the way through 2017, it is a good time to analyze where things stand and  highlight a few of the tech trends that have had the greatest and most positive impact on small businesses and their operations.

1. Predictive Everything

It’s impossible to study small business trends and not be aware of predictive analytics technology and the role it’s playing. In terms of sales strategy, predictive analytics platforms are giving small companies the ability to improve the way they price their products.

“Using a single price is economically inefficient because part of the demand curve that could be profitably served is priced out of the market. As a consequence, firms regularly offer targeted discounts, promotions, and segment-based pricing to target different consumers,” economist Jacob LaRiviere notes.

Predictive pricing is especially helpful for eCommerce businesses that have lots of data on customer browsing behavior and past purchase choices. But it can also be used by offline retailers that have ways to collect data on shoppers.

Predictive analytics is also reshaping the way businesses handle SEO. In a typical SEO scenario, businesses make changes, wait a couple months to let search engines crawl, total their scores, and update results; then they analyze what happens (before rinsing and repeating the process).

At best, this approach is inefficient. New predictive analytics platforms, such as Market Brew, make it possible to reduce the SEO test-and-update process to just a couple of hours. This saves huge amounts of time while leading to more positive results.

As small firms become more conversant with predictive analytics, we will see even more growth in this area. As IBM’s Watson computer system has shown, the potential for machine learning and predictive technology is virtually unlimited.

2. Tech-Fueled Co-Creation

One of the more interesting trends that has caught the eye of business owners over the past few years is co-creation. The term refers to a management initiative that focuses on bringing different groups together — inside and outside of the company — in order to produce end products in a joint effort.

“Technology now allows companies to delegate substantial control to outsiders — co-creation — in essence by outsourcing innovation to business partners that work together in networks,” James M. Manyika wrote in a quarterly report for McKinsey & Company all the way back in 2007.

“By distributing innovation through the value chain, companies may reduce their costs and usher new products to market faster by eliminating the bottlenecks that come with total control.”

Manyika highlighted the rise of co-creation a decade ago, but it’s taken until this year for the technology to catch up and enable small businesses to partake in this unique and flexible supply change/management strategy that large organizations have used for much longer.

Thanks to the rise of the freelance economy and remote working capabilities, small companies can easily partner with skilled entrepreneurs and innovators to co-create with optimal efficiency. Moving forward, this may become the norm for small firms that lack the time or in-house resources to create independently.

3. Increased Focus on Mobile Apps for Sales

By 2020, IDC forecasts there will be 105 million mobile workers in the U.S. A hefty percentage of these workers will be salespeople who offer exceptional value to employers when they’re actually able to get out of the office and interact with prospects.

Historically, though, there’s been some friction between external sales reps and the companies. In 2017, the growth of mobile apps and advanced communication solutions has smoothed over some of these issues.

Take Zoho CRM as an example. The platform actually gives sales reps real-time insights into sales trends, inventory, customer engagement, and collaboration — all from the mobile app. This empowers salespeople and enables them to maximize each interaction they have with prospects and clients.

Another good example is Intuit’s sales tool, which allows for mobile invoicing, maps and analytics, estimates, and even sales route information. Finally, mobile salespeople can actually be 100 percent mobile.

4. Cloud Translation Opens Borders

We all operate in a global marketplace today, where goods and services are frequently exchanged across borders, continents, and oceans. Large organizations don’t have much trouble with this, since they can afford to employ translators and salespeople who understand different cultures.

Unfortunately, small businesses have been left in the dark, so to speak. Most can’t afford to hire translators or experts in international economics, but the situations appear to be changing.

There’s evidently still a need for skilled translators in many arenas, but tools like Xerox Easy Translator are making it possible for small businesses to get office documents automatically translated into different languages. This removes some of the challenges associated with signing contracts and processing information across international borders. In essence, it’s tearing down obstacles of distance and language, and creating a more frictionless global marketplace.

5. BYOD Continues to Grow

The growth of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has been staggering. What was all but impossible a decade ago is now accepted as mainstream.

There’s already been significant movement in this area this year, and experts in the industry suggest it’s only the tip of the iceberg. What can we expect over the final few months of 2017?

“BYOD and the Internet of Things (IoT) go hand-in-hand. Some employers will look to create internal company apps and project management systems, while others will mandate that certain security programs and external apps and management systems are installed on devices to maintain compliance,” Michael Lazar writes for Insight.

“In a likely scenario, devices would also be tethered to corporate cloud storage services (internal or external), alleviating any foreseeable storage issues while also helping to improve security at endpoints.”

Security is obviously the biggest concern. Businesses want their employees to be able to use their own devices, but can’t afford to put company data at risk. As the cloud grows and mobile device security improves, adoption should soar past current rates, at close to 100 percent.

Start Preparing for 2018

Before you know it, 2017 will be over. The fourth quarter is already upon us and it’s time to start thinking about next year.

As you prepare for 2018, keep the above tech trends in mind, and consider how you can align your business with innovation and push your company forward. Whether by predictive analytics, BYOD, or something else, the playing field between small and large businesses is becoming a little more level, and you want to be sure you’re putting your organization in a position to compete for the future.


avatar

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The post 5 Tech Trends Impacting Small Businesses This Year appeared first on SiteProNews.

How does Bing’s voice search compare to Google’s?

Written by: admin Date of published: . Posted in test

Google remains the dominant player in search marketing, but the industry is changing very rapidly and the old certainties may erode. Does voice search provide a platform for Microsoft to compete?

A study earlier this year revealed that Microsoft’s speech recognition technology demonstrated only a 5.1 percent word error rate in Switchboard, a conversational speech recognition task. This shows impressive development and shows that Microsoft is more than competitive in this domain, but it is only part of the picture.

Speech recognition and voice recognition are significantly different. The former extracts words and comprehends what is said; the latter also understand who said it. We could frame this as content and context.

Context will be the defining factor in who becomes the dominant player in voice search, with an increasing amount of internet-enabled devices providing the opportunity for a seamless, conversational experience.

No doubt, search is at the very heart of this battle.

Bing has positioned itself as simply a more effective search engine, with campaigns like Bing It On aimed at showing users the quality of its results compared to those of Google.

bing-it-on-1347020038

Occasionally we see stories of impressive user growth for Bing, but never quite enough to suggest a significant threat to Google’s totemic stature. Latest estimates from Smart Insights put Google’s global share of the search market at 77%, with Bing on about 8%.

The signs so far suggest that Google will remain the dominant search player in the West, but the sands are shifting and it is increasingly difficult to predict where the industry will go. With a newly-announced partnership with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft is clearly not going to give up the fight.

So, if search is the glue that holds this together, what is Microsoft’s strategy to compete with Google? We know Microsoft’s speech recognition technology is effective, but how do its voice search capabilities stack up?

Microsoft voice search: the key details

Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, is embedded into Windows-enabled devices and into Microsoft’s Edge internet browser. That provides access to over half a billion users, once we factor in Microsoft’s Xbox gaming consoles.

Cortana has a multitude of uses. It helps users navigate the Windows interface and can respond to a multitude of wider queries, powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, for example.

Of course, mobile is a core focus and therefore Cortana is available via a range of Microsoft mobile hardware and software.

Like other digital assistants, Cortana is always ready to answer queries on a Windows device. It now prompts users to test its broadening functionalities by pushing notifications like “Ask me to remind you to buy eggs next time you’re at the supermarket” or “Would you like to know which song is playing?”

It can be a bit creepy and intrusive, but for the most part users will only really notice Cortana when they need to use it. The list of prompts is quite formulaic and Cortana simply searches a query on Bing when it can’t understand what the user wants.

Cortana voice commands

All of this functionality is at its best when a user is logged in across a range of Microsoft devices, however. The same is true of any digital assistant, but the the respective cases of Apple and Google this is simply more likely to occur.

This means that Cortana misses out on vital context, not through any technological shortcoming, but rather through the lack of mass adoption of Microsoft’s hardware.

On the software front, Microsoft fares better. There are now over 100 million monthly users of Cortana via Windows 10, and the latest edition of the Edge browser continues to bring voice search to the fore.

This is still not quite enough to make a significant dent in Google’s lead, however. One of the most searched-for technology-based phrases on Bing is [google], after all.

Microsoft’s voice search strategy

The challenge for Microsoft has always been to gain enough of the valuable mobile software market to compete with Apple and Google.

Where Apple controls a very profitable section of both the hardware and software ecosystems, Google has historically focused on its Android OS as a Trojan horse to ensure continued use of its products on a wide range of devices.

With Google Home, the Google Pixel smartphone, and Google’s soon-to-be-completed purchase of Taiwanese smartphone company HTC, the focus has shifted to hardware as the Internet of Things comes of age.

Microsoft’s Invoke smart speaker ensures it has a seat at the table, but it is the partnership with Amazon’s highly successful Echo speakers that should increase usage numbers for Cortana.

Invoke

Microsoft has always fared well in the enterprise market (albeit under increasing competition from Apple and Google here, too), but the personal smartphone market has been harder to break.

Further integrations with popular platforms such as Spotify, to go along with Microsoft’s ownership of Skype, could start to position Cortana as an appealing alternative to the walled garden approach of Apple.

How does Microsoft voice search differ from Google voice search?

Although both function in similar ways, there are some core areas of differentiation:

  • Speech recognition: Cortana does this fantastically well and, although Google Assistant is still very accurate, small margins do matter in this arena. Although only a sample size of one, I can also attest that Cortana comprehends my Irish brogue much more accurately than Google Assistant.
  • Business task management: Cortana can be a huge timesaver with commands like “Pull up the latest version of my task tracker.” With full access to the Windows OS, it can locate documents quite easily and reduce time spent on laborious document searching.
  • Context: When a user is logged in across Windows products, Cortana can serve accurate contextual results. See below for an example of the same phrase searched by voice on a Windows laptop using Cortana and Google:

Cortana-Leeds

The differences are slight, but telling. Cortana knows that I am currently in Spain (I am using a Windows laptop), and therefore provides the kick-off in my local time. Google is not privy to this information and serves the result in Eastern Time, as my account is based in the US.

When results default to Bing, it all gets a little hairier.

I follow up by asking who will be in the starting lineup and receive a bizarre result about the USA soccer team, a news story about a Leeds starting lineup from three years ago, and some news about the Leeds music festival.

Leeds line-up

Google does a better job of this, but both lack the immediacy that integration with a social media feed would provide:
Google Leeds

This same pattern plays out across a wide range of travel, weather, and commercial queries. When Cortana can pull an immediate answer, it does so very capably; when it resorts to providing a list of search results from Bing, the quality varies. Google therefore represents a much more consistent, reliable option.

The new partnership with Amazon may open a range of avenues for Microsoft to reach a wider audience, which will only help to refine these recommendations. For the moment, Google’s superior search experience remains its trump card in the battle for digital assistant supremacy.

In summary

A graphic comparing the voice search capabilities of Microsoft and Google, respectively. Under the Microsoft section, the pros are listed as: speech recognition, ecommerce offering via Amazon, and Skype integration. The cons are listed as: voice recognition, lack of third-party integrations, and Bing search results. The devices which support Microsoft voice search are listed as: Microsoft devices, Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge. Under the Google section, the pros are listed as: context recognition, linked to all Google products, and Google search. The cons are listed as: speech recognition is flawed, shopping offering is a work in progress. The devices which support Google voice search are listed as: Android devices, Google Chrome and Chromebooks.

Image created by Clark Boyd