Everything You Need to Know

Ever since its launch, the AMP Project has been surrounded by controversy.

It promises fast page speeds and additional visibility on Google result pages but demands submission to a stripped-down form of HTML.

Essentially, putting your website on a diet to make it more attractive to users.

While there are glowing case studies, for many, the implementation was haphazard and the results confusing.

Leaving the marketing industry with this question:

Is AMP important for SEO?

Today, we delve into whether AMP is worth it by looking at:

While the AMP framework extends beyond AMP pages with Web Stories (a.k.a., AMP Stories), AMP Email, and AMP Ads, these are all in the early stages. I won’t be covering those formats in this article.

What Is AMP?

AMP, formerly known as Accelerated Mobile Pages, are lightweight pages designed to give mobile users a lightning-fast, more engaging experience.

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It’s “an open-source HTML framework that provides a straightforward way to create webpages that are fast, smooth-loading and prioritize the user experience above all else.”

Their words, not mine.

For most sites, it involves creating a stripped-down, mobile-optimized AMP copy of existing HTML5 page content.

When such an AMP alternative is available, the user is served the AMP version, over the canonical page.

Not too dissimilar from Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News, which also have the stated goal of making mobile content faster and easier to consume.

The key difference between the formats?

AMP supports the distribution of content on the open web without going through a platform-specific app.

And This Is Where It Gets Political

Let’s start with “open source.”

This is technically true.

The project is backed by WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Bing, just to name a few.

But Google is the key code contributor and main promoter. So much so that people often refer to it as “Google AMP.”

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AMP “prioritizes the user experience” through the enforcement of restrictions on ads and user interface design.

  • Limiting CSS to 75KB.
  • Limiting JavaScript to 150KB.
  • Moving all the fluff out of the critical rendering path.

While these restrictions are already enough to create “webpages that are fast”, it’s not the secret sauce that makes them instant.

Here’s the Rather Technical Part

To achieve the lightning load speed, AMP pages are sent to be hosted on Google’s servers.

This allows Google to cache, preload, and prerender AMP content before a user clicks the link in the search results.

When users click AMP content in Google, it may be displayed in one of two ways.

  • Google AMP Viewer: Where the source of the content publisher is displayed at the top, but the URL remains a Google domain.
  • Signed exchange (SXG): Which allows the browser to treat the page as if it belongs to your domain. Signed AMP content is delivered in addition to, rather than instead of, regular AMP HTML. Out of the two, Google will prioritize linking to the signed content but only for browsers that support it, which is currently only Chrome, and only for standard results, not top stories carousel. This makes the scope of SXG rather limited.

Overall, by “forking” HTML, pre-rendering AMP content, and giving preferential treatment to AMP pages, Google can influence how websites are built and monetized to shape the internet in its favor.

So it’s unsurprising that all these actions have been criticized by many in the tech and SEO industries as an attempt by Google to exert further control over the web.

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Yet despite the condemnation, sites are drawn to AMP as it has some attractive benefits.

Advantages of AMP Pages

There are many potential advantages of AMP depending on your site – including less data consumption, improved server performance, a free CDN, and higher ad viewability.

But I want to focus on the two most commonly realized benefits of AMP for SEO.

Faster Page Load Times

While AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor, speed is.

It is especially for 2021 with core web vitals becoming a ranking factor.

If implemented correctly, the load time improvements are often sizeable.

Google claims the median load time for an AMP page is less than one second. This is well within the core web vital requirements.

Plus, speed often has a run-on effect of a more optimized user experience, witnessed by:

  • Lower bounce rates.
  • Higher time on site.
  • Increased conversion rates.

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Additional Visibility in Google Search Results

AMP pages are always accompanied by an enhanced appearance in Google SERPs on mobile.

The Lighting Bolt Icon in Google SERPs

At the most basic level, AMP pages are highlighted with the lightning bolt icon in the Google SERPs.

Some SEOs have argued this designation increases the click-through rate of pages as users will choose AMP results knowing it will lead them to a fast loading page.

While this may result in a marginal increase in select industries, I’ve not seen any statistically relevant data to back up that claim for the mass market.

AMP + Structured Data = More Changes of Getting Rich Results

Secondly, AMP in combination with valid structured data increases the likelihood to appear with a host carousel (shows for courses, movies, recipes, and restaurants) or with rich result features such as headline text and larger-than-thumbnail images.

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Although AMP is not compulsory for these enhanced features.

Swipe to Visit

Thirdly, there is an exclusive Swipe to Visit functionality for AMP pages in Google Images on mobile.

When a user has selected an image, they see a preview of the site header, which they can swipe up to visit the source page.

Yet, the main driver of additional visibility is that AMP is a requirement for inclusion in the coveted top stories carousel, with the exception of COVID-19 related content.

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But that is set to change in 2021 with the Core Web Vitals update to allow both AMP and non-AMP pages, with ranking focused on-page experience metrics.

And with that announcement many SEOs have begun to wonder if the remaining pros of AMP outweigh the cons.

Disadvantages of AMP

From a Developer’s Perspective

  • By design, it is a restrictive framework and will likely always be so in order to deliver on the promised speed.
  • It’s an extra burden to implement and subsequently remain valid with the ever-evolving AMP standard. Plugins can give a head start, but they rarely work perfectly out of the box.
  • It creates technical debt as both the AMP and canonical pages of the code need to be kept in-sync unless you go all in AMP native.
  • Light speed is not guaranteed without the AMP Cache. For sources that link to AMP pages without using an AMP Cache (for example, Twitter), additional performance optimizations are needed for optimal speed.

From a Sales Perspective

  • The mere presence of AMP inventory creates complexity as if you implement best practice with separate ad units for accurate reporting, you have double the ad units to manage.
  • The framework limits ad features. Notably, AMP doesn’t support “disruptive” ads, such as interstitials or expandables, and direct-sold ads can be complex to implement.

From a Marketer’s Perspective

  • It costs double the crawl for one piece of content as Google wants to ensure parity.
  • For many publishers, it drives impressions but not necessarily engagement metrics due to the top stories carousel ‘swipe’ functionality encouraging users to read more from other sources.
  • It’s an extra burden to optimize. Like a regular page, just because it’s live doesn’t mean it’s SEO-friendly. You will need to partner with your development team to get the most out of AMP.
  • Google’s AMP Viewer dilutes brand identity as a Google domain, not the publisher’s, is shown in the address bar. This can be rather confusing for users who have been trained that the URL in the address bar has significance. The fix of showing the actual site at the top of the AMP pages takes up precious space above the fold. Signed exchange is a step in the right direction, but isn’t available for most traffic.

How to Optimize AMP Pages

It’s not always the case that AMP adopters see results rise.

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When that’s not the case, there are two potential reasons.

  • Either wasn’t the right fit, we come to this in the next section.
  • Or it wasn’t implemented thoroughly and correctly. AMP is not often as simple as plugin and play.

So what is involved from an SEO perspective to achieve the visibility boost with AMP?

Outside of stating the obvious that AMP pages should be crawlable and indexable, here are the top optimization actions.

Ensure Discoverability

Add information about the AMP page to the non-AMP page and vice versa, in the form of rel=”amphtml” (on the AMP) and rel=”canonical” (on the non-AMP) versions as <link> tags in the <head>.

SEO-Friendly AMP URLs

There are many ways you could communicate the URL is AMP.

  • Parameter: ?amp
  • Subdomain: amp.domain.tld
  • Front-end language: domain/folder/article.amp.html
  • Subfolder: domain/folder/article/amp

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The subfolder option is generally the most SEO-friendly and flexible.

This option along with front-end language are also the only two recommended by Google.

Consistent User Interface

While there may need to be minor variations due to AMP restrictions, the user interface and design scheme should be materially similar when looking at AMP vs canonical versions of the same page.

Fully Functional

Personalization and interactive elements such as navigation menu, social media sharing icons, related content, forms, login, and – yes – even ads, should work the same way as the canonical version.

Verify SEO Element Parity

The code behind the scenes, such as hreflang, H1s, alt image text, and especially valid structured data should not only be present but the same on both the canonical and AMP pages as inconsistencies can hinder SEO visibility.

AMP-Friendly Logo

The logos used must meet the AMP guidelines, else it will be displayed poorly or not at all in the top stories carousel.

Don’t Add AMP URLs to XML Sitemap (Unless You’re Native AMP)

Only canonical URLs belong in XML sitemaps.

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The rel=”amphtml” provides enough signals for Google to discover the AMP pages.

When a correctly paired AMP page is indexed by Google, it will be the version served to the user.

This is no small effort and leaves many marketers wondering, is AMP worth the effort?

Which Sites Should Implement AMP?

The official AMP website is full of case studies demonstrating the framework’s positive impact on publishers, retailers, and other industries.

On the flip side, there are also scathing articles from industry experts and many case study fails.

The decision on AMP is not clear cut for all sites.

The cliche of “it depends” rings true.

However, there are clear decision factors for the optimal answer.

If your users are primarily from desktop, AMP is not for you.

While AMP pages do work on desktop, they don’t display with rich features and aren’t served from the AMP Cache. As such, both of the main benefits become unavailable.

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If you create “newsy” content and are already up and running on AMP, it’s worth keeping it optimized until AMP is no longer the gatekeeper of the top stories carousel.

At which time, check to see whether the top stories results in your sector are dominated by AMP pages or is there evidence non-AMP sites often rank right alongside them, and if so what are the requirements.

Only if conditions are favorable, test the impact of removing AMP (be sure to follow best practices) if your non-AMP pages can achieve the core web vitals requirement of largest contentful paint (LCP) within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.

For sites that are willing and skilled enough to get below the 2.5-second standard, the potential speed and organic session increases are unlikely to be a convincing case for converting to and/or maintaining AMP.

The time would likely be better invested in other opportunities.

For sites that can’t reach the 2.5-second standard alone, having key landing pages in the standardized solution from AMP can be a fast route for this SEO win.

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But check whether the functionality can be implemented with AMP components.

And remember, unless you plan to move the whole site to native AMP, the increased speed is not for all page views, only those who come from distributed sources that support AMP.

For sites that are yet to be developed or those going through a major overhaul such as a redesign or CMS change, ask yourself if native AMP is the best solution to provide all necessary functionality now and in the foreseeable future.

Spoiler alert, the answer is likely no.

Assessing the Impact of AMP

No matter whether you are embracing AMP, abandoning AMP or just an ongoing user, you should measure the true impact it has on user experience and site visibility.

Do this in four steps.

1. Confirm the AMP Code Validates on All Relevant Pages

Spot checking a couple of pages with the AMP Test Tool is a start, but not enough.

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Google Search Console has a dedicated AMP status report, alerting you to the reason your AMP URLs aren’t eligible to be indexed (errors) or may not perform in the SERPs (warnings).

2. Verify the Structured Data Parses Correctly

For applicable AMP content types, the Rich Results Test Tool is helpful for one-at-a-time spot checks – be sure to enter the AMP URL, not the canonical.

I find the relevant Enhancement reports in Google Search Console to also be useful, although the articles structured data isn’t covered.

A reputable SEO crawling tool is often the best option for scale.

3. Understand the AMP Drivers of Visibility on Google

In the Google Search Console Performance reports, there are a few dimensions to analyze:

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  • Search type: Web, Search appearance: AMP non-rich results: This report shows metrics for blue links with lightning bolts.
  • Search type: Web, Search appearance: AMP article: It shows metrics for visually decorated search results such as those in carousels or with an image. Do note, these are also counted in rich results, they are not mutually exclusive.
  • Search type: Image, Search appearance: AMP on Image result: This shows metrics for images search results hosted on AMP pages within Google Images tab.
  • Search type: Video, Search appearance: AMP article: The report shows metrics for video results hosted on AMP pages within Google Videos tab.
  • Search type: News, Search appearance: AMP article: Shows metrics for AMP pages within Google News tab in search results, not the Google News app.
  • Discover, Discover appearance: AMP article: This shows metrics for AMP pages within Google Discover.

When analyzing the data, remember that filtering by search appearance will aggregate data by page rather than by property in the table only and be limited to the dimensions available.

Data in the graph will still be grouped by property.

This can lead to some large discrepancies on the image, video, and news tabs.

4. Understand the Drivers & Performance of AMP Sessions

Search Console only shows the Google side of the picture, you can get many more insights from Google Analytics.

But before Google Analytics can be trusted to accurately report on AMP, you must implement “sessions stitching.”

Ensure your Google Analytics setup utilizes client IDs to unify sessions across AMP & Non-AMP versions.

Also, double-check event tracking or other such conversion integrations are firing correctly on AMP pages.

Then you can delve into the number of sessions, conversions, and other KPIs driven by AMP by filtering by data source as a secondary dimension.

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Some sessions may come from unexpected sources until you understand how various platforms link AMP.

Common sources and their explanations in relation to AMP sessions, excluding manual UTM tags:

While UTM tagging your own social posts and on-site share buttons can help clear up some of this confusion, there will always be some extraneous sources outside of Google properties, but they are unlikely to be significant.

What is often most actionable is to understand the impact on user experience KPIs such as bounce rates, pages per session, or conversion rate.

Be sure to compare apples to apples.

This entails creating a custom report to compare AMP (identified by the data source) to closest corresponding non-AMP (generally, device as mobile and source / medium as google / organic and regex landing path to all pages types have an AMP version) rather than the overall site performance.

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To Sum Things Up

AMP’s reception and case study outcomes have been a mixed bag.

What’s clear is that many publishers have been enjoying the AMP exclusive placement of the top stories carousel.

But as this feature is opened up to those who meet the page experience requirements, it’s likely the benefit of AMP for visibility will be much reduced. So much so, it may be hard to argue a case for it.

So that leaves us with speed – which will become even more important as Core Web Vitals become an SEO ranking factor.

If your mobile site is able to achieve a 2.5-second LCP for key landing pages, you’re unlikely to see a return on resource investment with AMP.

If hitting 2.5 seconds is not possible, supporting AMP for key landing pages is something to consider especially if you have a significant portion of mobile google / organic sessions that can subsequently enjoy the benefit of the AMP Cache prerendering.

via AMP & SEO: Everything You Need to Know via @jes_scholz

 

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How to Make Your Social Media Content More Accessible

As many people in the United States have shifted to remote work and remote learning in light of the global pandemic, internet accessibility is more important than ever. 53% of Americans go as far as to say that the internet is an “essential” service during this time. Additionally, social media usage has increased significantly as well. Twitter alone saw a 24% increase in daily active users in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This includes official government accounts that are increasingly using social media to announce guidelines in the time of Coronavirus virtually. For instance, the CDC’s Twitter account has grown to 2.9 Million followers as of July 2020.

Typically when we discuss accessibility concerns as digital marketers, we are referring to accessible website guidelines. This has been an area of focus for Portent for a while now, and recently we have been encouraging our clients to consider accessibility in their social media strategy as well. Social media platforms are still playing catch-up when it comes to accessibility features (including a lack of options for advertisers), but we have determined there are three key areas that businesses can immediately address.

ALT Text

At Portent, we talk about ALT attributes with our clients regularly. ALT text is read by screen readers in place of images, or displayed in place of images when the file is not loaded. ALT text on social media is similar, but executed on each platform vs. on-site. Most platforms have automatic ALT text functionality, but because it is written by AI, there are instances where the automatic ALT text does not accurately convey the meaning or emotion in the image. Also important to note, ALT text should not be confused with the link description, which is a standard field in most social media posts.

To ensure that your images are described appropriately to your entire audience, we recommend manually updating the ALT Text as part of your standard deployment process.

You can find the instructions for adding ALT text to each platform here:

Video Captions

Captions for social media videos have been a best practice for a few years, as more and more users engage with social media content with the sound off. Additionally, including captions ensures that those with accessibility concerns can consume the content as well. We always recommend including captions on both organic and paid videos.

via How to Make Your Social Media Content More Accessible

 

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Why SEO & Machine Learning Are Joining Forces

The global datasphere will grow from 33 zettabytes (each equal to a trillion gigabytes) in 2018 to 175 ZB by 2025.

In marketing, our role as the stewards of much of this data is growing, as well.

As of last year, more data is being stored in the enterprise core than in all the world’s existing endpoints, according to a report by IDC.

The great challenge for marketers and SEO professionals is activating and using that data.

In 2025, each connected person will have at least one data interaction every 18 seconds and nearly 30% of the world’s data will need real-time processing.

There’s no way human marketers can handle this processing on our own.

And more and more, as our machine-learning-enabled tools process and analyze search data, they’re learning and improving their understanding of it as they go.

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Machine Learning in Search

Perhaps the best-known use of machine learning in search is Google’s own RankBrain, an algorithm that helps the search engine better understand the relevance and context of – and the relationship between – words.

Machine learning enables Google to understand the idea behind the query.

Machine learning allows the algorithm to continuously expand that understanding as new words and queries are introduced.

And as algorithms get better at determining which content best meets the needs of each searcher, we are being challenged to create content that meets those needs – and to optimize it so that relevance is clear.

It’s no coincidence that as we’re experiencing this explosion in data, interest in SEO is growing, as well.

SEO & Data Science

SEO has grown to be a viable, respectable mainstream marketing career.

As I write this, there are 823,000 people on LinkedIn with “SEO” in their profile and 8,600 who specifically categorize their core service offerings as SEO.

Looking worldwide, those figures balloon to 3.2 million and 25,000, respectively.

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But this is just a small sampling of the SEO industry.

There are those in SEO who identify as content marketers, digital marketing strategists or practitioners, site developers, analytics pros, consultants, advisors, and more.

Our industry is massive in size and scope, as SEO now touches nearly every aspect of the business.

So much more is being asked of SEO professionals now, thanks to that massive increase in data we have to deal with.

Yet according to our research at BrightEdge, only 31.5% of organizations have a data scientist at their company.

Working alongside machine learning rather offers tech-savvy SEO professionals a number of important advantages.

1. Enhanced Performance in Your Field of Specialization

Employers and clients alike are driven by results.

Do you know how to use the machine-learning-powered tools in your area of specialization?

Whether in paid search, technical SEO, content creation and optimization, link building or some other facet of SEO, those who can prove superior performance through the use of machine-learning-enabled SEO tools are increasing their own value.

2. Start Ahead & Stay Ahead

Search is a live auction. If you’re waiting to see what customers think and only then getting ready to respond, you’re already behind.

Machine-learning-powered tools enable marketers to activate real-time insights, to personalize and optimize content in the moment for each users’ individual needs.

3. Economies of Scale

You are exponentially more valuable as an SEO practitioner and leader if you can demonstrate the ability to scale your efforts.

The real power of machine learning is in its ability to convert more data than we know what to do with into actionable insights and automated actions that marketers can use to really move the needle.

To do that is hard.

For example, to build BrightEdge Autopilot we had to process over 345 petabytes of data over the course of many years to help fine-tune machine learning and automated products.

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Machines aren’t angling for a promotion; they don’t harbor preconceptions or care about past mistakes.

They are entirely subjective, taking opinions and personalities and other potential bottlenecks out of the process of data evaluation.

What marketers are left with are pure, accurate data outputs that can then be activated at scale to improve search visibility and interactions with customers.

4. Room to Grow

Mastering your SEO toolset gives you more room to grow in your profession, and as a person who just so happens to love the work you do.

Machine learning, in particular, empowers us to reap insights from larger datasets and gives us access to far more intelligence than when we could only learn from that we manually analyzed ourselves.

It is your specialized insight and industry knowledge that determines which outputs are useful and how they should be applied.

Machine learning can tell you very quickly how your audience’s behaviors have changed during a major market disruption, such as our recent experience with COVID-19.

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But how you interpret and respond to those changes is still very much the domain of marketing and SEO professionals.

Machine learning can help you recognize patterns in visitor behavior that point to opportunities and areas in need of improvement.

What technology cannot do is replace the creative and analytical human thought process and experience that determines the best next steps to take in response to those insights.

The people of SEO cannot be replaced. In fact, they’re more important than ever.

The tools we use may be quite sophisticated; machine-learning-enabled tools can even make decisions and implement optimizations.

However, it is the people of SEO who drive the creative and analytical processes that machines simply cannot replace:

  • Creative analysts.
  • Data scientist (who control input into machines).
  • Analytics.
  • Content producers.
  • Culture builders and success evangelists.
  • Expert users who facilitate sales and help customers.
  • Strategic planning across digital channels.

And there are agile marketers who may do any combination of the above.

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They are key in facilitating collaboration with other digital departments to ensure a truly holistic SEO strategy.

In their HBR article Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI Are Joining Forces, H. James Wilson and Paul R. Daugherty explain the three key roles humans undertake in every interaction with machine-learning-powered technology:

  • Train: We need to teach the machine to perform certain tasks.
  • Explain: We must make sense of the outcome of the task, especially if it is unexpected or counterintuitive.
  • Sustain: It is up to us to ensure that the technology is used logically and responsibly.

Applying this lens to our SEO tech, we see these three tenets hold true.

We need to decide which SEO tasks to intelligently automate and give our tools the proper input.

We need to take the output and make sense of it, focusing only on those insights with business-building potential.

We are responsible for ensuring that searcher privacy is protected, that the value of the technology outweighs the cost, and that it is otherwise being made good use of.

You can build your value as an SEO and learn to work more effectively with machine-learning-powered tech by building these skills:

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  • Data proficiency: According to Stanford researchers, the share of AI jobs grew from 0.3% in 2012 to 0.8% of total jobs posted in the U.S. in 2019. AI labor demand is growing, especially in high-tech services and the manufacturing sector.
  • Communication: As the arbiter of so much customer data, it is critical that we communicate key insights and value in ways other department heads and decision-makers can understand.
  • Agility: More than a trait or quality, agility is a skill developed through constant experimentation.

Embracing machine learning and automation means building synergy with human creativity and skills.

It can make us more creative and effective by uncovering SEO insights and patterns we would never have recognized otherwise.

It can help us discover new topics, identify content gaps, optimize for specific types of queries and results, and more.

What’s more, it can save vital time on tasks that are too time-consuming, too repetitive and laborious, so we can scale performance.

And as that happens, we develop new skills and progress also as part of a symbiotic relationship between people and technology.

via Why SEO & Machine Learning Are Joining Forces

 

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How to Improve Customer Satisfaction

A business–what does it run on? Customer feedback is the primary metric that represents the entire business process, and it’s a success. 

If you want your business to grow, you need to grow your customer base. And how does one do that? Well, that’s simple–you tend to their needs and exceed their desires. 

In this article, we will cover how to improve customer satisfaction. 

So keep reading to learn more.

improve.jpg

Customer > Problem

Frustration is a natural part of business, and it’s sort of the notion for doing things right. However, emotional dissidence can often cloud our judgment, and prevent us from providing the best possible service to those who matter. 

Problems are bound to arise, but they should not be a propeller for your emotional lashing out upon your customer base.

If a customer used a product wrongly, damaged it, reviewed it honestly – this can still be a victory for you. Given that you react in a calm, mature, and respectable manner. 

If something can be replaced, don’t seek out compensation. Remorse leads to great changes. If anything, they might be eager to purchase other things or compensate you regardless. 

Carry out your interactions with a smile, and they shall smile back. IF somebody is using your service, they should enjoy it. And that’s your job.

Personalize

It is the day of automation, delegation, and simplification. It might seem that robotic integration is the way to go, and perhaps it is. But that should not sway us from providing a personalized experience for the customer. 

They love your products, but when do they get to feel that the products are theirs? Provide them with a personal touch. Welcome them when they visit, use data to target them specifically at a persona level. Invite them by their name. 

Show a human face behind the automated environment. Answer their queries with personalized responses. Your customers don’t want auto-generated responses, they want a human funnel that leads them to make the right decision on their own. 

Don’t force them. Show them that they already want to interact with you.

More for Less

Cutting costs is a given, but it can come at increased costs in other aspects of your business. If you can provide the best possible product at an affordable price, then why not do that? Not only will your customers reciprocate with purchase, but they will do it gladly. 

Discount your loyal customers, provide them with benefits for patronizing your business for many years before. Welcome-back offers might seem like a great idea to pull in dissatisfied customers, but the whole point is that they lost their satisfaction. 

You don’t want that. You want them to be satisfied all throughout. A satisfied customer is loyal, which means you leave on good terms and can interact once again in the near future.

Learn how a decoupling process helps in improving customer satisfaction.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers

It might seem irrelevant, but it’s really not. While focusing on only satisfying your customer, you need to understand how your employees play into this experience. An unsatisfied employee will lead to unsatisfied customers. If they are scaring away customers with their poor attitude, there’s a great issue at play. An issue that you have to resolve. 

Don’t let your employees give you an eye-candy, and only work when you’re around. It’s not your job to do everything, that’s why you have a team. So here are some ways to motivate your team:

  1. Be transparent, supportive, and respectful
  2. Pay well and on-time
  3. Support personal and professional growth
  4. Show them importance in the company, and seek opinions
  5. Provide perks and benefits to outstanding employees
  6. Change the environment to be more conducive to effective work
  7. Don’t bind employees to a single-mode of execution

When your employees are happy and motivated, the effects will naturally spread into the feeling for your customers. And if they can relate and communicate well, that’s the most important thing that can occur in your business. Capable and clear communication between your employees and your customers.

Round the Clock Support

In the consumer world, a fast response is a completely valid reason for choosing one company over the other. And the only way to achieve this is via round the clock support, especially if you tailor to a large customer base.

The simplest way to acquire this level of involvement is by hiring multiple customer reps and have them work shifts. If your budget does not allow that, delegate the customer support to freelancers or specialized agencies that uphold the greatest standards for support. 

You can also use a chatbot that will help you funnel customers into FAQs and other sections that they might find useful. But remember, a non-human approach is often diminished via the human interaction that a customer seeks.

If you can’t provide 24-hour support, think about live chat throughout your work hours. This way your customers don’t have to wait two days just to ask a simple question. Consumers love to live chat, and it will significantly increase your company revenue. In fact, companies that have live chat, outperform all other companies by a large margin.

How to Improve Customer Satisfaction? Simple.

Now that you know how to improve customer satisfaction, you can quickly ascertain that for customers to be satisfied, you need to satisfy their needs, and exceed their desires. 

Business is not passive in any shape or form. It’s a proactive relationship of multiple commercial parties, which can be tended to in a variety of ways. If you neglect customer satisfaction, you are neglecting your entire business. 

via Taking Care of the Customer: How to Improve Customer Satisfaction

 

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Augmented Search Queries Using Knowledge Graph Information

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What are Augmented Search Queries?

Last year, I wrote a post called Quality Scores for Queries: Structured Data, Synthetic Queries, and Augmentation Queries. It told us Google may look at query logs and structured data (table data and schema data) related to a site to create augmentation queries, and test information about searches for those queries by comparing them to original queries for pages from that site. If search results from the augmentation queries do well in evaluations compared to search results from original query results, searchers may see search results combine results from the original queries and the augmentation queries.

Around the time that patent was granted to Google another patent that talks about augmented search queries was also granted to Google, and is worth talking about at the same time with the patent I wrote about last year. It takes the concept of adding results from augmented search queries together with original search results, but it has a different way of coming up with augmented search queries, This newer patent that I am writing about starts by telling us what the patent is about:

This disclosure relates generally to providing search results in response to a search query containing an entity reference. Search engines receive search queries containing a reference to a person, such as a person’s name. Results to these queries are oftentimes not sufficiently organized, not comprehensive enough, or otherwise not presented in a useful way.

Augmentation from the first patent means possibly providing additional information in search results based upon additional query information from query logs or structured data from a site. Under this new patent, augmentation comes from recognizing that an entity exists in a query, and providing some additional information in search results based upon that entity.

This patent is interesting to me because it takes an older type of search – where a query returns pages in response to the keywords typed into a search box, with a newer type of search, where an entity is identified in a query, and knowledge information about that entity is reviewed to create possible augmentation queries that could be combined with the results of the original query.

The process behind this patent can be described in this way:

In some implementations, a system receives a search query containing an entity reference, such as a person’s name, that corresponds to one or more distinct entities. The system provides a set of results, where each result is associated with at least one of the distinct entities. The system uses the set of results to identify attributes of the entity and uses the identified attributes to generate additional, augmented search queries associated with the entity. The system updates the set of results based on one or more of these augmented search queries.

A summary of that process can be described as:

  1. Receiving a search query associated with an entity reference, wherein the entity reference corresponds to one or more distinct entities.
  2. Providing a set of results for the search query where the set of results distinguishes between distinct entities.
  3. Identifying one or more attributes of at least one entity of the one or more distinct entities based at least in part on the set of results.
  4. Generating one or more additional search queries based on the search query, the at least one entity, and the one or more attributes.
  5. Receiving an input selecting at least one of the one or more additional search queries and providing an updated set of results based on the selected one or more additional search queries, where the updated set of results comprises at least one result, not in the set of results.

The step of generating one or more additional search queries means ranking the identified one or more attributes and generating one or more additional search queries based on the search query, the at least one entity, the one or more attributes, and the ranking.

That ranking can be based on the frequency of occurrence.
The ranking can also be based on a location of each of the one or more attributes concerning at least one entity in the set of results.

augmented search queries matt damon

This process can identify two different entities in a query. For instance, there were two versions of the Movie, the Planet of the Apes. One was released in 1968, and the other was released in 2001. They had different actors in them, and the second was considered a reboot of the first.

When results are generated in instances where there may be more than one entity involved, the search queries provided may distinguish between the distinct entities. They may identify one or more attributes of at least one entity of the one or more distinct entities based at least in part on the set of results. Augmented search queries may be generated for “one or more additional search queries based on the search query, the at least one entity, and the one or more attributes.”

This patent can be found at:

Providing search results using augmented search queries
Inventors: Emily Moxley and Sean Liu
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,055,462
Granted: August 21, 2018
Filed: March 15, 2013

Abstract

Methods and systems are provided for updating a set of results. In some implementations, a search query associated with an entity reference is received. The entity reference corresponds to one or more distinct entities. A set of results for the search query is provided, and the set of results distinguishes between distinct entities. One or more attributes for at least one entity of the one or more distinct entities are identified based at least in part on the set of results. One or more additional search queries are identified based on the search query, the at least one entity, and the one or more attributes. An input selecting at least one of the additional search queries is received. An updated set of results is provided based on the selected additional search queries. The updated set of results comprises at least one result not in the set of results.

Some Additional Information About How Augmented Search Queries are Found and Used

A couple of quick definitions from the patent:

Entity Reference – refers to an identifier that corresponds to one or more distinct entities.

Entity – refers to a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well defined, and distinguishable.

This patent is all about augmenting a set of query results by providing more information about entities that may appear in a query:

An entity reference may correspond to more than one distinct entity. An entity reference may be a person’s name, and corresponding entities may include distinct people who share the referenced name.

This process is broader than queries involving people. We are given a list in the patent that it includes, and it covers, “a person, place, item, idea, topic, abstract concept, concrete element, another suitable thing, or any combination thereof.”

And when an entity reference appears in a query, it may cover a number of entities, for example, a query that refers to John Adams could be referring to:

  • John Adams the Second President
  • John Quincy Adams the Sixth President
  • John Adams the artist

Entity attributes

In addition to having an entity in an entity reference in a query, we may see a mention of an attribute for that entity, which is “any feature or characteristic associated with an entity that the system may identify based on the set of results.” For the John Adams entity reference, we may also see attributes included in search results, such as [second president], [Abigail Adams], and [Alien and Sedition Acts].

It sounds like an entity selection box could be shown that allows a searcher to identify which entity they might like to see results about, so when there is an entity in a query such as John Adams, and there are at least three different John Adams that could be included in augmented search results, there may be clickable hyperlinks for entities for a searcher to select or deselect which entity they might be interested in seeing more about.

Augmented Search Queries with Entities Process Takeaways

When an original query includes and entity reference in it, Google may allow searchers to identify which entity they are interested in, and possibly attributes associated with that entity. This brings the knowledge graph to search, using it to augment queries in such a manner. A flowchart from the patent illustrates this process in a way that was worth including in this post:

augmented search queries flowchart

The patent provides a very detailed example of how a search that includes entity information about a royal wedding in England might be surfaced using this augmented search query approach. That may not be a query that I might perform, but I could imagine some that I would like to try out. I could envision some queries involving sports and movies and business. If you own a business, and it is not in Google’s knowledge graph you may end up missing out on being included in results from augmented search queries.

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