Traveling Content: What? No Border Control?

November 25, 2017

I read “Understanding the Content Journey.” Frankly I was left with a cold fish on my keyboard. I shoved the dead thing aside after I learned:

The next major disruption for marketers will be in the form of embedded machine learning capabilities that augment and automate the content journey — making content more intelligent.

Okay, marketers, how are you going to make content smarter, more intelligent. Indexing, manual tags, plugging into the IBM Watson smart thing, or following the precepts of search engine optimization.

Intelligent content comes from intelligent people. Machines can and do write about sports scores, financial reports, and other information which lends itself to relatively error free parsing.

None of these issues struck me as germane to the “content journey.” What I learned was that intelligent content has several facets; for instance:

  1. Content ideation and search. What is content ideation? Search is a buzzword which is less clear than words like “mother” and “semantics.” (At least for “mother”, everyone has one. For semantics, I am not sure marketers have the answer.
  2. Content creation. I think this means writing. Most writing is just okay. Most college students once received average grades. Today, everyone gets a blue ribbon. Unfortunately writing remains difficult for many. I assume that content creation is different and, therefore, easier. One needs “content ideation” and Bing or Google.
  3. Content management. Frankly I have zero idea what content management means. The organizations with which I am familiar often have one or maybe multiple content management systems. In my experience, these are expensive beasties, and they, like enterprise search, generate considerable user hostility. The idea is to slap a slice and dice system on top of whatever marketers “write” and reuse that content for many purposes. Each purpose requires less and less of the “writing” function I believe.
  4. Content personalization. Ah, ha. Now I think I understand. A person needs an answer. A customer facing online support system will answer the person’s questions with no humans involved. That’s a close cousin to Facebook and Google keeping track of what a user does and then using that behavior to deliver “more like that.” Yes, that’s true “content ideation.” Reduce costs and reinforce what the user believes is accurate.
  5. Content delivery. That’s easy for me to understand. One uses social media or search engines to get the fruits of “content ideation” to a user. The only hitch is that free mechanisms are not reliable. The solution, from my perspective, is to buy ads. Facebook, Google, and other online ad mechanisms match the words from the “content ideation” with what the systems perceive is the user’s information need. Yep, that works well for research, fact checking, and analyzing a particular issue.
  6. Content performance. Now we come to metrics, which means either clicks or sales. At this point we are quite far from “content ideation” because the main point of this write up is that one only writes what produces clicks or sales. Tough luck, Nietzsche.

Net net: I am not sure if this write up would have received a passing grade from my first English 101 professor, a wacky crank named Dr. Pearce. For me, “content ideation” is more than making up a listicle of buzzwords.

But what about the journey? Well, that trope was abandoned because silliness rarely gets from Point A to Point B.

Pretty remarkable analysis even in our era of fake news, made up facts, specious analysis, and lax border controls.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2017

The Power of Search: Forget Precision, Recall, and Accuracy of the Items in the Results List

November 3, 2017

Thank you, search engine optimization. I now have incontrovertible proof that search which is useful to the user is irrelevant. Maybe dead? Maybe buried?

Navigate to “70 SEO Statistics That Prove the Power of Search.” Prepare to be amazed. If you actually know about precision and recall, you will find that those methods for evaluating the efficacy of a search system belong in the grave.

The “power of search” is measured by statistics presented without silliness like sample size, date, confidence level, etc. Who needs these artifacts from Statistics 101?

Let’s look at four of the 70 statistics. Please, consult the original for the full listing which proves the power of search. I like that “proves” angle too.

First, users don’t do much research. Here’s the statistic which proves the assertion “Online users just take what the system serves up”:

75% of users never click past the first page of search results.

So if you, your product, your company, or your “fake news” item does not appear at the top of a search result list or an output determined by a black box algorithm, you, your product, your company, or your “fake news” item does not exist. How’s that grab you?

Second, users are not too swift when it comes to figuring out what’s content and what’s an ad. Amazing assertion, right?

55% of searchers don’t know which links in the Search Engine Results pages are PPC ads, according to a new survey. And up to 50% of users shown a Search engine Results page screenshot could not identify paid ads.

If one can’t figure out what’s an ad, how many users can figure out if a statistic, like those which prove search is powerful, can differentiate accurate information from hogwash?

Third, search results mean trust. Sound crazy to you? No. Well, it sure does to me. Here’s the statistic that proves search eats Wheaties:

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

I believe everything I read on the Internet, don’t you?

Third, if you blog, prepare to be inundated with sales calls and maybe money. Here’s the statistics which prove that search has power:

Companies who blog have 434% more indexed pages than those who don’t. That means more leads!

I would suggest that if you company engages in hate speech, certain product sales, or violates terms of use—you will have to chase customers on the Dark Web or via i2p. By the way, I think a company is a thing, so “which” not “who” seems more appropriate. Don’t y’all agree?

Fourth, using pictures is a good thing. Hey, who has time to read? This statistic conflicts with “longer articles are better” but I get the picture:

The Backlinko study also reported that using a single image within content will increase search engine rankings.

Here’s a picture to make this write up more compelling:

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Search has power. Really?

Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2017

Ask Me Anything by Google

August 7, 2017

In a recently released report by Google, the search engine giant says that out of billions of queries searched by its users, around 15% are unique or new queries.

Quartz in an article titled However Strange Your Search, Chances Are Google Has Seen It Before says:

His research shows that people turn to Google to learn about things prohibited by social norms: racist memes, self-induced abortions, and sexual fetishes of all kinds. In India, for example, the most popular query beginning “my husband wants…” is “…me to breastfeed him.

Google has become synonymous with the search for any kind of information, service or product all over the planet. Websites that can cater to audience demand for information thus have an opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity and monetize their websites.

A recent report suggests that SEO, the core of digital marketing is a $90 billion industry and soon will surpass $150 billion in revenues by 2020. It’s thus an excellent opportunity for anyone with niche audience to monetize the idea.

Vishal Ingole, August 7, 2017

A Wonky Analysis of Search Today: The SEO Wizard View

July 24, 2017

I read what one of my goslings described as a “wonky” discussion of search. You will have to judge for yourself, gentle reader. In an era of fake news, I am not sure what to make of a semi factual, incomplete write up with the title “How Search Reveals the World.” Search does not reveal “the world”; search provides some — note the word “some” — useful information about the behaviors of individuals who run queries or make use of systems like the oh, so friendly Amazon Alexa.

I learned that there are three types of search, and I have to tell you that these points were not particularly original. Here they are:

  • Navigational search queries. Don’t think about Endeca’s “guided navigation.” Think about Google Maps, which is going to morph into a publishing platform, a fact not included in the write up which triggered ruffled gosling feathers
  • Information search queries. Ah, now we’re talking. A human types 2.4 words in a search box and feels lucky or just looks at the first few hits on the first search page. Could these hits be ads unrelated or loosely related to the user’s query? Sure, absolutely.
  • Transactional search queries. I am not sure what this phrase “transactional search queries” means, but that’s not too surprising. The confusion rests with me when I think of looking for a product like a USB C plug on Amazon versus navigating to my bank’s fine, fine Web site and using a fine, fine interface to move money from Point A to Point B. Close enough for horseshoes.

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Skimming the surface is good for seaplanes but not a plus for an analysis of search and retrieval.

But the most egregious argument in the write up is that search becomes little more than a rather clumsy manipulative tool for “marketers, advertisers, and business owners.” Why clumsy? The write up is happily silent about Facebook’s alleged gaming of its system for various purposes. Filtering hate speech, for example, seems admirable until someone has to define “hate speech.” Filtering live streaming of a suicide or crime in progress is a bit more problematic. But search is a sissy compared with the alleged Facebook methods. With marketers looking to make a buck, Facebook seems to slip the pager mâché noose of the write up’s argument.

But there is a far larger omission. One of the most important types of search is “pervasive, predictive search.” The idea is a nifty one. Using various “signals” a system presents information automatically to a user who is online and looking at an output. No specific action on the part of the user is required. The user sees what he or she presumably wants. Search without search! The marketer’s Holy Grail.

There are some important components of this type of search.

Perhaps an SEO expert will explain them instead of recycling old information and failing to define 33 percent of the bedrock statements. But that may be a bridge to far for those who would try to manipulate the systems and methods of some of the providers of free, ad supported search systems. The longest journey begins with a single step. Didn’t an SEO expert say that too?

Stephen E Arnold, July 24, 2017

Scadarlia Refines Internet Search Results

June 27, 2017

You can add a touch of arts-and-crafts to your online searches with a third-party preview-and-notation app—“Scadarlia: New Approach to Search Engines Using.” The promo page includes a video and is full of illustrative screenshots. What interests us is the way Scadarlia evaluates the relevance of each result. The Softpedia download page goes into the tech behind the folksy-looking add-on:

The program prompts you with a main window that is split into two sections, which should reinterpret your approach to search engines. While the left section is dedicated to keywords as well as the list of results the search engine considers suitable for your inquiry, the right panel shows the URL you want to analyze in detail. While this may look like a program packing ordinary browser-like capability, it is not. In fact, the application differentiates itself through its ability to follow a series of rules when displaying the results of a Google or Bing search. It can analyze the position of your keywords within your page, making sure that they are as close to one another as possible, since this is what makes them more representative for what you have in mind.

Other features include the color-coding sites by usefulness and the abilities to blacklist sites and to create stop words. The full version can be downloaded for $9.95 from its Softpedia page.

Cynthia Murrell, June 27, 2017

Decoding SEO and Traffic Generation

June 12, 2017

Businesses are desperately trying to get noticed online. However, most businesses focus on generating traffic while sidelining the ultimate motive of generating sales.

According to an article published on Business 2 Community titled The Ugly Truth: Why SEO Isn’t Driving Better Website Sales, the author states:

Driving traffic to your website with SEO is only half the battle. It’s also important to make sure your website is designed in a way that converts those leads into sales. When you have a website that has a solid conversion rate, it ensures the investment you make in SEO will result in a guaranteed boost in sales.

What business owners fail to understand is that traffic is just one part of the equation in generating sales online. You need to keep your potential customers engaged, develop trust among them, and offer them incentives among many other things. With millions of websites being launched every day, these are some of the key factors that can set you apart from the herd. Focus on generating sales and not just driving traffic, or resort to Google AdWords Campaigns.

Vishal Ingole, June 12, 2017

Which Beyond Search? Text Processing or Meet Market?

April 3, 2017

In Madrid last week, a person showed me a link to Beyond Search. Nope, not this Beyond Search but to an executive recruitment firm based in London. This outfit owns the url beyondsearch.net and had the good sense to piggyback on the semantic value created by my Kentucky thoughts about search, content processing, text analytics and related subjects.

I took a quick look at the company’s Web site, which looks quite a bit like one of those Squarespace instant sites with sliders, large type, and zippy images. There were a couple of points I noted. Permit me to focus on the staff and the partners of the London-based “get you a new job, pal” store front.

First, the list of partners includes a link to a Brazilian executive recruitment company named Grupo Selpe. I used to live in Campinas, and I did a quick check of this company. The connection between Grupo Selpe and Beyond Search seems to be one of Beyond Search’s “directors.” There’s not much information about the executive directors, but we will continue to monitor the named entities. There was one link related to Grupo Selpe and Beyond Search, and it was dated 2005. Odd that in 12 years, there’s only one modest reference to the London shot house type company.

Second, we noted that the founder of Beyond Search is a person allegedly named James Davies. He too exists in a bit of an information vacuum. His LinkedIn page reports that he is a graduate of Keele University, and he has been the founder of two interesting Google-scale operations; specifically:

  • ScaleUp Works, a conference designed to raise investment funds
  • Walker Davies, an outfit described as “the UK’s pre-eminent startup and scale up hiring specialists”.

Walker Davies is interesting because it is listed as one of the “partners” of the Beyond Search recruitment outfit. It strikes me that Walker Davies and Beyond Search are in the same business: Headhunting, a colloquial terms popular in the US for moving a person to a new job.

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Headhunting refers to the practice of some indigenous people. Beyond Search, despite its aboriginal origins, consumes only geese. Beyond Search in London may consume the careers of certain individuals. Beyond Search is enjoyed by certain individuals familiar with our approach and work for certain government entities engaged in law enforcement. Beyond Search in London is familiar to the pay-to-play aspect of executive recruitment; for instance, this company, Not Actively Looking.

Third, one of the partners of the recruitment outfit is the Financial Times. It apparently had a Non Executive Directors’ Club. I clicked on the link to the Financial Times, a publication which I view as one which tries not to get embroiled in illegal, underhanded, and deceptive practices. (I could be incorrect of course.) What happens when I follow the link? I get a 404 error.

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This snippet from the headhunting Web site says that Beyond Search is proud to be partners with the Financial times Non Executive Director’s Club. Please, note the typographical error introduced between the logo and the executive placement service’s rendering of the identical text. Careless? No, just a bad link. I saw this when I clicked on the logo:

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It seems that the Financial Times does not want to be captured in the headhunters’ pot of boiling oil or the Beyond Search headhunting outfit does not have the ability to get details right. If that is indeed the case, I am not sure I would entrust my Beyond Search goose’s job search to those who might plop the dear bird into a pot and sit back and wait for goose with sauerkraut. “Sour” right?

Fourth, The OwenJames’s link is not active. But it seems to be given pride of place on the Beyond Search LinkedIn page. I find that interesting because even my LinkedIn page includes slightly more timely information. Compare the two entries and decide for yourself: The Arnold LinkedIn page vs. the James Davies’ page.

Beyond Search BeyondSearch
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Fifth, the Beyond Search partner Paradox is in the coaching business. No, not football in the Roman Abramovich school of management. (See “Ruthless Sacking Is the Hallmark of Roman Abramovich Empire.” The Paradox service strikes me as somewhat vague. As a former Booz, Allen & Hamilton lackey, I understand the value of vagueness. I did enjoy the quote from Niels Bohr: The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.” But is that what Paradox is about? False statements. I know that folks in Harrod’s Creek are not as sharp as those from more sophisticated cities like London, but the paradox is that I don’t understand how paradox is the heart of leadership.

An outfit with the same name as this beloved blog may have some good qualities. Granted, the punctuation errors, Financial Times’s link which isn’t, and the fascinating grab bag of partners suggests that the headhunter outfit is an interesting operation.

Rah, rah, to any company which wishes to hang on the webbed feet of the flying goose. Remember. When the Beyond Search goose lands, it can lay golden eggs. Sometimes, however, it can leave a deposit which can discolor paint with poo burn like this:

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The opposite of the truth is what again? Ah, right. The Beyond Search operation in the UK. Recruit on, I say.

Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2017

Chan and Zuckerberg Invest in Science Research Search Engine, Meta

March 1, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have dedicated a portion of their fortune to philanthropy issues through their own organization, the Chan Zuckerberg InitiativeTech Crunch shares that one of their first acquisitions is to support scientific research, “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Acquires And Will Free Up Science Search Engine Meta.”

Meta is a search engine dedicated to science research papers and it is powered by artificial intelligence.  Chan and Zuckerberg plan to make Meta free in a few months, but only after they have enhanced it.  Once released, Meta will help scientists find the latest papers in their study fields, which is awesome as these papers are usually blocked behind paywalls.  What is even better is that Meta will also assist funding organizations with research and areas with potential for investment/impact.  What makes Meta different from other search engines or databases is quite fantastic:

What’s special about Meta is that its AI recognizes authors and citations between papers so it can surface the most important research instead of just what has the best SEO. It also provides free full-text access to 18,000 journals and literature sources.

Meta co-founder and CEO Sam Molyneux writes that “Going forward, our intent is not to profit from Meta’s data and capabilities; instead we aim to ensure they get to those who need them most, across sectors and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of the world.

CZI invested $3 billion dedicated to curing all diseases and they already built the Biohub in San Francisco for medical research.  Meta works like this:

Meta, formerly known as Sciencescape, indexes entire repositories of papers like PubMed and crawls the web, identifying and building profiles for the authors while analyzing who cites or links to what. It’s effectively Google PageRank for science, making it simple to discover relevant papers and prioritize which to read. It even adapts to provide feeds of updates on newly published research related to your previous searches.

Meta is an ideal search engine, because it crawls the entire Web (supposedly) and returns verified information, not to mention potential research partnerships and breakthroughs.  This is the type of database researchers have dreamed of for years.  Would CZI be willing to fund something similar for fields other than science?  Will they run into trouble with other organizations less interested in philanthropy?

Whitney Grace, March 1, 2017

A Famed Author Talks about Semantic Search

February 24, 2017

I read “An Interview with Semantic Search and SEO Expert David Amerland.” Darned fascinating. I enjoyed the content marketing aspect of the write up. I also found the explanation of semantic search intriguing as well.

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This is the famed author. Note the biceps and the wrist gizmos.

The background of the “famed author” is, according to the write up:

David Amerland, a chemical engineer turned semantic search and SEO expert, is a famed author, speaker and business journalist. He has been instrumental in helping startups as well as multinational brands like Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, BOSCH, etc. create their SMM and SEO strategies. Davis writes for high-profile magazines and media organizations such as Forbes, Social Media Today, Imassera and journalism.co.uk. He is also part of the faculty in Rutgers University, and is a strategic advisor for Darebee.com.

Darebee.com is a workout site. Since I don’t workout, I was unaware of the site. You can explore it at Darebee.com. I think the name means that a person can “dare to be muscular” or “date to be physically imposing.” I ran a query for Darebee.com on Giburu, Mojeek, and Unbubble. I learned that the name “Darebee” does come up in the index. However, the pointers in Unbubble are interesting because the links identify other sites which are using the “darebee” string to get traffic. Here’s the Unbubble results screen for my query “darebee.”

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What I found interesting is the system administrator for Darebee.com is none other than David Amerland, whose email is listed in the Whois record as david@amerland.co.uk. Darebee is apparently a part of Amerland Enterprises Ltd. in Hertfordshire, UK. The traffic graph for Darebee.com is listed by Alexa. It shows about 26,000 “visitors” per month which is at variance with the monthly traffic data of 3.2 million on W3Snoop.com.

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When I see this type of search result, I wonder if the sites have been working overtime to spoof the relevance components of Web search and retrieval systems.

I noted these points in the interview which appeared in the prestigious site Kamkash.com.

On relevance: Data makes zero sense if you can’t find what you want very quickly and then understand what you are looking for.

On semantic search’s definition: Semantic search essentially is trying to understand at a very nuanced level, and then it is trying to give us the best possible answer to our query at that nuanced level of our demands or our intent.

On Boolean search: Boolean search essentially looks at something probabilistically.

On Google’s RankBrain: [Google RankBrain] has nothing to do with ranking.

On participating in Google Plus: Google+ actually allows you to be pervasively enough very real in a very digital environment where we are synchronously connected with lot of people from all over the world and yet the connection feels very…very real in terms of that.

I find these statements interesting.

Read more

Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

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