Keywords Are Dead – Long Live Concepts, Entities & Audiences! – #SMX London Day 1

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With the introduction of Hummingbird and Google’s extensive ongoing research (Research Areas & Publications) on natural language processing, AI and machine learning we should start looking further than just individual keywords. This session is presented by my SEO friends Dixon Jones, Mike King and Kirsty Hulse!

Kirsty is kicking off the session with an introduction to voice search. It currently a hot topic but not completely new: Google introduced it in 2007. In 2014 voice search in doubled, according to Google but exact numbers are not available unfortunately. 57% of the users use it when with friends, 59% during watching TV and 39% use it during cooking.

The interesting development is the evolution of the queries used during voice search. People are actually having conversations with their devices instead of entering a single, individual keyword. Search is fundamentally changing, talking to a device will be intuitive instead of embarrassing in a few year.

Each mobile search triggers two follow up actions. Are websites still useful? Google is using their Knowledge Graph to directly serve users with answers. But the Knowledge graph and structured data are difficult and sometimes costly to implement. Luckily for us, JSON-LD is making it a bit more easy and in combination with Google Tag Manager, you can add structured data without needing access to the source code. Simo Ahava wrote a clear guide about implementing: Enrich SERP results using GTM.

Make sure you start optimizing your local stores, business entities and websites or apps for the changing search behaviour through voice search because it is growing fast. Make sure Google understands your content, use structured data and stop looking at individual keywords since users aren’t doing that either.

How Search Engines analyze and define concepts, entities and audiences

Informational retrieval by search engines is not only about crawling and indexing content, but grouping that information is key. If you want to find a fact, you first search for a group of information and go deeper down the rabbit hole every step. Grouping and categorizing the web into topics prevent spam: you can categorize for country IP / TLD, images, videos, local listings, maps, travel or content type like a personal blog, news, company website etcetera.

Humans and Websites also do that, think about oldskool directories like DMOZ or directories 2.0 like Yelp, Tripadvisor. Approaching the web by defining topics is a real challenge if not done manually and it needs to be scalable. The way vocabulary and links connect content is a way of categorizing. The original concept of PageRank connected pages via links and determined specific value of specific nodes. The more links a document has, the higher the probability of that document being important or relevant. This system can also be used to map topical relevance.

topical-trustflow

Young-Ho Eom did research on determining the most influential person on Wikipedia. By using PageRank, he came to an obvious wrong conclusion: PageRank, TrustFlow and the Search Universe. The reason for this is the fact that every small signal is attributed. Instead of using plain relationships, like links are, topical relevance is more relevant and gives better results. On of the practical uses is Topical TrustFlow by Majestic: making it possible to group influential people according to topic.

Persona Driven keyword research

Bad keyword research is just a list of search volumes. Better keyword research accounts for possible outcome like revenue. Good keyword research includes intent. But that is not enough nowadays.

Start with mapping out the complete customer life cycle and develop personas. Identify the needs for every individual stage and persona and build the right content for it.

Some tools Mike mentioned to help you get the right data:
Adwords Keyword Planner gives an idea how Google sees entities
SEMRush for rankings and market data
Keywordtool.io
Bottlenose Sonar – Discover current trends on Twitter
Topsy – Twitter search & monitoring
Grepwords
Keyword Studio
Alchemy API – create smart apps, classify entities
nTopic – Content Relevancy scores
Searchmetrics Content optimization Tool
PostMan – Supercharge your API workflow

After collecting a lot of data you can built a data driven user journey. Mike wrote a complete guide on how to work with this data to develop a strategy: The Persona-Driven Keyword Research Process

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Jan-Willem Bobbink got addicted with online marketing in 2004, since he build his first international webshop when he was 16. He is currently working as Freelance SEO for global clients and is ambassador for Majestic. His blog can be found at Notprovided.eu.

State of Digital

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11 Simple Concepts To Become A Better Leader

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Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. Over on LinkedIn, Dave Kerpen interviewed dozens of successful business leaders in his last book, Likeable Business, to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader:

1. Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.

2. Storytelling

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video –storytelling wins customers.

3. Authenticity

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.

5. Team Playing

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.

7. Adaptability

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion

“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and Delight

“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

10. Simplicity

“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time if they got a hand-written note!

The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Social Media Week

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