Article Review: VEO is coming

Hey Siri,  what’s search engine optimization?

“Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results- often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.”

But how does Siri find that information? Search engine optimization (SEO), like every other technology, has evolved. SEO used to be simple… Okay, simple might not be the best word for that, but the point is there’s so much more to it now.

Think about it. How do you search for information? On a computer? Tablet? Do you use your phone? Do you ask Siri or Alexa? Research suggests that between 30 and 50 percent of all searches will be conducted using voice by 2020. That means SEO just got a lot more complicated.

I recently ran across a guide to SEO in 2019. The guide is split into nine different chapters, each outlining how to cultivate successful SEO in the coming year. All of the content is useful, but chapter seven holds the secret to SEO’s future: Voice Engine Optimization.  The guide broke down voice engine optimization in three easy (or at least kind of easy) parts:

  1. High ranking content wins.
  2. Featured snippets are your friend.
  3. Q & A’s mean business.

High ranking content wins.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that all optimization, including voice, should be geared towards Google. When it comes to SEO, Google writes the rule book… literally. Google used to just analyze five sections of a website for keywords: Title Tag, URL, Image ALT text, description tag and H1 tag.

Not anymore, folks. Now Google analyzes content and context. Google’s highest ranking content covers topics in-depth. What does that mean? The SEO in 2019 guide suggests that content is at least 2000 words. The content needs to be authoritative, and share everything there is to know about the topic.

But the key to high ranking content? Keywords. Keywords need to be repeated all across the page. It should be in the metadata, the article, the caption of the picture. If there is content on your page, the keyword should be in it.

Combined, all of these suggestions should rank your content higher on Google. Voice searches typically only list the top one to five search results. That means if you don’t have a high ranking, you’re out of luck. The higher your content ranks, the more visible it will be in voice searches.

Featured snippets are your friend.

Google has all of these fancy algorithms to determine what the best content on the internet is. One of these algorithms determines what will appear as a featured snippet. Featured snippets appear at the top of a search, even before the first link. A study of 10,000 Google home devices revealed that 40.7 percent of voice search results come from a featured snippet.

But how can you get your content to appear in a featured snippet? Well, the guide to SEO in 2019 covers that too. To put it simply, you need “snippet bait.”

“Snippet bait is a 40-60 word block of content specifically designed to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.”

If you look at the featured snippet, you’ll notice two things: its short and it gives you the answer to your question. The featured snippet section makes it easy for voice search engines to give you the answer you want without having to dig.

Q & A’s mean business.

Let’s pause for a minute, and think about how I started this article off. That’s right. I started it by asking Siri a question, as I assume most of you do when you conduct voice searches. Embedding questions and answers into your site makes it easier for voice engines to find your content.

The guide to SEO in 2019 suggest developing a FAQ page if you’re going to attempt to optimize your site for voice search. FAQ pages are typically easy to create, and it’s easier to find for your users. The questions on your FAQ page need to be simple and conversational. In other words, write it as someone would ask it. Don’t try to get fancy.

Answers should stay between 40 and 60 words, and capitalize on keywords. The answer shouldn’t be over-complicated. It should be easy for the voice engine to find. Wait… doesn’t that sound like something you just read about? Q & A’s are a great way to increase the odds of obtaining a featured snippet.

Voice search optimization is relatively simple, as long as you know a little bit about SEO. Keep in mind, between 30 and 50 percent of people will be using voice search by 2020. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you should start optimizing for voice now.

Twitter makes it easy to spark conversations

“What’s your favorite social media platform for business?”

The answer to this question is rather complicated. One organization may find success with Facebook, while another finds it on Twitter. The audience, message and goals of the organization all play a part in determining the appropriate social platform on which the organization should establish a presence.

Throughout every blog, I’ve remain constant in my values. Despite the growth of digital media, establishing and nourishing relationships is the key to success in business. Twitter is an engagement goldmine. From hashtag to photos and videos, there are so many tools and features businesses can utilize to connect with their clients.

As we all know, in order to engage with someone, the content you produce needs to be relevant to them. Twitter makes it easy to identify the users you should be targeting. Through Twitter Ads, businesses can target specific audiences based on gender, language, personal interests, followers, devices, behavior, keywords and geography.  However, the targeting capability that could be most useful when attempting to spark a conversation is tailored audience targeting. Tailored audience targeting allows businesses to target users who have already expressed interest in their brand or product.

Twitter-Tailored-Audiences-640x425

Not only is Twitter unique in that it allows for easy communication between business and client, it gives businesses creative freedom to establish their tone on social media. Twitter typically has more light-hearted and fun content, rather than the matter-of-fact content found on Facebook.

One of my favorite business accounts on Twitter is Wendy’s. Wendy’s isn’t afraid to make fun of themselves online… or their competition. Wendy’s, as they like to say, “roasts the competition.” By interacting with competitors and critics online, Wendy’s built a social media reputation. Many times these interactions have gone viral.

wendys

What else does Wendy’s do on Twitter? The company interacts with customers, news outlets and other random accounts. Imagine that. A business finding success by igniting conversation. Who would have thought?

Twitter is really unlike any platform. It’s features are built to encourage friendly, or in some cases not-so-friendly, conversation. If the main objective of a business is to build relationships, Twitter might be the platform to build a brand on. Just keep in mind that every business is different. The platform that might be perfect for one business could be a nightmare for another.

PR in the digital era

What comes to your mind when you think of public relations? Maybe you think of something as simple as a press release or brand reputation. Perhaps you think of a hashtag or sponsored campaign on social media. Neither of those answers are wrong. With the emergence of the digital era, public relations has evolved into a multifaceted tool consisting of both traditional and digital strategies.

Digital

We live in a world of instant gratification. As such, our clients want to see the results of their campaign almost as soon as it starts. Even just 15 years ago, that would have seem like an impossible feat. Now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, you name it, can measure impressions and other analytics in real time. Digital media caters to those who need quick action and results.

In addition, digital media allows for campaigns to reach a wider audience. People from around the world gravitate to Twitter and Facebook for their news and daily entertainment. These social media platform allow you to target specific demographics or geographical locations, making it easier for you to reach your intended audience on a larger scale.

Digital media has also promoted the inventions of various softwares that make executing traditional public relations tactics easier. Media relations softwares, like Cision and Meltwater, give professionals access to a vast database of influencers and journalists. By sifting through a collection of articles or publications, the professional can connect with the influencer who fits their target audience.

Balance

Inexperienced professionals or organizations tend to lean solely on digital public relations to drive a campaign or reach a goal. But those with knowledge of the field understand the importance of balance between traditional and digital. When brands rely exclusively on one side or the other, an entire section of the target audience is left out.

Relationships

But no matter how much the industry landscape changes, public relations will always hinge on the strength of relationships established with influencers, clients and publics. Digital and traditional public relations professionals both have to cultivate numerous relationships. Digital-focused professionals tend to focus on relationships with online influencers, like bloggers, while traditional-focused professionals develop relationships with journalists and broadcasters.

An open letter to my dogs:

Dear Trooper, Scout, Ace and Echo,

I don’t understand why you constantly pace back and forth or sporadically run through the house knocking down anything in your path. I don’t get why you feel the need to bark at the crack of dawn to get me out of bed. Most of all, I really don’t know why you insist on chewing on anything and everything.

But despite my greatest effort to stay mad at you, I just can’t. You can drive me up the wall, but as soon as I see your tails wag, a wave of happiness washes over me. I love you, all of you. I love your bad habits and your quirks. So, this blog is dedicated to each of you.

Trooper,

Sixteen years. Considering I barely remember the first ten or so years of my life, I can’t recall a day that you haven’t been there. As my first dog, you’re like my first child. You webp-net-resizeimage-2.jpgmay not necessarily like me the most, but I still love you. You’ve seen the best sides of me and the worst. But, through it all, you’ve never left my side.

Trooper, I’d really just like to say thank you. I know I’m not your favorite, but that doesn’t stop you from coming to say hi to me whenever I walk into Dad’s house. It didn’t stop you from coming to sit next to me. Thank you for showing me how special the bond between a girl and her dog can be. I know I probably don’t have much time left with you, so most of all, thank you for being such a good boy for the last 16 years.

 

 

Scout,

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever been through. You were unlike any dog I have ever met. There will truly never be another you. You were feisty, and honestly, you could really be a pain in the ass. But, whenever I was upset, you were there to lick my face or to just lay with me until I was okay again.

I miss taking you on random car rides with me. I miss watching your eyes light up every time you ate a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. I miss wrestling with you. Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpgI miss when 9 p.m. would hit and you’d instinctively know that it was time for you to crawl up into my lap.

I know that Mom, Jordan, Andy and I have welcomed two new dogs into our family since you passed. But, I want you to know, no dog will ever be able to replace you. You’re always going to have such a special place in my heart. I still keep a picture of you in my wallet. It’s the picture you took with Jacob and me before senior prom. That was really our last happy moment together. After that, your tumor became too much for you to handle. It was time for you to go, and as heartbroken as we were, we understood.

I don’t like to think about how bad things were the weeks before you left us. Instead, I like to focus on the happy moments, like that picture we took before prom. Scout, I hope that you’re enjoying as many cheeseburgers as your little heart desires up in Doggy Heaven. I miss you and I love you.

Ace and Echo,

You two drive me to the brink of insanity. It seems like the last couple of weeks, every morning I’ve come downstairs to find that you’ve chewed up something new. Please, I’m begging you, stop. You have like fifty different toys to choose from. Chew on one of those!

Even though you guys have probably taken a couple of years off of my life, you never Webp.net-resizeimage (3).jpgcease to be the highlight of my day. If you could talk, I’d tell you to ask anyone. I talk about you both constantly. Raising you has changed my life. Even on days where I struggle to find the motivation to get out of bed, you help me find the strength to get up. And it’s not just because you’re barking.

Ace, it’s crazy how much of Scout I can see in you. You’re spunky, but so loving. You’re stubborn as hell, but at then end of the day, all you want to do is cuddle. But there are so many things that make you, you. You groan every single time you don’t get what you want. Instead of wagging your tail, you wag your entire body. And as frustrating as it is, I still think it’s kind of cute that you make yourself dead body wait whenever you don’t want to go to bed.

Echo, buddy, where do I even start? You’re my best friend, my partner in crime, and as IWebp.net-resizeimage (5).jpg like to say, the only boy that will ever have my heart. Since the day I first met you, and you rolled into my arms and let me hold you like a baby, we have had an unbreakable bond.You get me like no person or dog every has. I’m your person, and you’re my boy. I know everyone likes to think that you like them more, but we both know they’re just kidding themselves. You don’t like to cuddle with most people, but you love to fall into my arms. You’re scared of almost everything, and I’m the one you run to every single time. But, you do more for me than you realize. You sense when I start to get stressed, and you lay your head on my leg, keeping my anxiety at bay. You would do anything for me, and I would do anything for you.

Guys, I know it’s going to be hard for you when I leave home next year, but I promise that doesn’t change anything. You’re still my babies and I will love you unconditionally, even if I am five hours away.

Book Review: “Known”

Whether it’s on social media, in the workplace, or at school, it seems like nearly every person has an innate desire to become known by their peers. As a society, we tend to define who we are based on the opinions of others. We mistakenly confuse this phenomenon of believing the world’s label for us as becoming known. Being known isn’t dependent on who has the most friends or the most followers. It’s not dependent on who’s the prettiest or funniest. Being known means utilizing digital media to building an actionable audience that respects your reputation and authority.

But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Take an expert’s. In “Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age,” Mark W. Schaefer breaks down how to build your personal brand in four easy parts: find your place, determine your space, find your fuel and create an actionable audience. Although these steps seem relatively simple, each one takes a tremendous amount of research, thought, patience and desire. Schaefer intends for these steps to be used specifically for building a personal brand, all four are applicable across different subject areas, including social media.

Step One: Find your place

Growing up, teachers, parents and other authority figures say, “Find your passion and run with it.” But, what if I told you that isn’t enough? According to Schaefer, discovering your passion is only half of the battle when it comes to find your place. Now, I won’t lie. It took a lot of convincing for me to believe that. In my last blog, I talked about social media’s influence on my life, and how it led me to my passion. My life, including my career choice, has been built around my passion for giving others a voice. But after 27 pages, Schaefer had me convinced.

Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean it will translate into a successful and enjoyable career. As much as it pains me to say this, passion just isn’t enough. Instead, Schaefer suggests finding a sustainable interest. “What does that mean?” you ask. Well, please, allow me to enlighten you because I find this topic extremely intriguing.

Explained simply, Schaefer defines a sustainable interest as a topic you love, but that you want to become known for. But, this definition didn’t differ from the definition of a passion to me. Let’s paint a picture:

I graduate in approximately eight months (but who’s counting?). Within the next eight months, I need to start thinking about what my sustainable interest might be. Now, if there is anything that anyone needs to know about me, it’s that I have an undying love for dogs. A cute video of a pup can turn even the darkest of days around for me. But, I can’t necessarily make a career based upon my love for dogs. Instead, I need to think about something I’m passionate about, but that I can also pave the path for me to achieve my long term goals.

Schaefer used his past experiences to identify his sustainable interest, but that’s only one of many ways you could find yours. In fact, Schaefer was nice enough to give you seven different exercises to find yours:

  1. The “Only I…”
  2. The 2 by 2
  3. The Core Mash-Up
  4. Strengths Finder
  5. The beautiful questions
  6. Visualize your future
  7. The 35 headlines

Now, I’m not going to go through explain all of these, but I did them all as I read through chapter three. They were all helpful and helped me identify my sustainable interest, but I found “The Core Mash-Up” the most helpful.

When you go through “The Core Mash-up,” you find your sustainable interest by combining a personal values or characteristics with something you love to do or that you’re passionate about. First, start with creating a list of your core characteristics and values. It could be as little as 10 words or up to fifty. My list consisted of about 20 words, which I narrowed down to three:

  1. Honesty
  2. Creativity
  3. Communication

The trick is to mix and match the different values to create a sustainable interest. It’s apparent to be that my sustainable interest is going to fall somewhere in the public relations field – good thing since I’m about to have a degree in it. Now, I still don’t know specifically what topic I want to base my sustainable interest on, but that’s okay. If there’s anything I learned by going through these steps, it’s that not everyone is going to know their sustainable interest right away. The more you experience in life, the more apparent your sustainable interest will become.

Step Two: Determine your space

About 600 words ago, I mentioned that these steps could be applied to pretty much anything, like social media. But, what I should have said is this:

“..all four are applicable across different subject areas, especially social media.”

I think it’s safe to say most of us know the importance of social media when it comes to building your personal brand- at least if you’ve read my blogs you would. Social media gives you the opportunity to share who you are with the world. It’s probably one of the most powerful tools ever invented. That’s why finding the correct space for your sustainable interest is so important.

But as Schaefer explains, finding your space doesn’t just mean you should create a Twitter account or blog. Determining what your space is takes research, and a lot of it.  So, once again, Schaefer, that sweet man, gave us more steps to follow:

  1. Develop a unique tone or point of view
  2. Move to a social platform within your niche
  3. Dominate a content type
  4. Try a new content form
  5. Focus on frequency
  6. Find a unique demographic or geographic niche
  7. Connect with industry influencers
  8. Use curation as a niche

Unlike the exercises Schaefer gave us in the previous step, all of these steps are equally important. If you haven’t inferred yet, this process involves quite a bit of trial and error. Just like writing the introduction paragraph to this blog, the first step is always the most difficult. Developing a unique tone or point of view sounds really easy, but once you dive into it, you find out otherwise. This step is easy to underthink, but its just as easy to over think. I truly cannot explain the best way to do this better than Schaefer:

“It might be tempting to try to sound funnier / nerdier / hipper / snarkier than you are in real life, but that is likely to get exhausting. Your tone has to be a natural extension of your personality.”

Now, I’m not an expert on this topic by any means, but I am going to use myself as an example. Take this blog for instance. You come into this thinking that this is going to be formal because most book reviews are. But that’s just not who I am. If I tried to make this completely formal, I’d be exhausted writing it and that would come through while you’re reading it. Instead, I let my naturally conversational tone flow through my writing, which hopefully makes this blog more unique and enjoyable.

Now that we’ve got step one of determining your space taken care of, we can shift our focus back to social media. The rest of the steps focus on selecting the platform to display your sustainable interest based on your content type, your lifestyle and your niche. Let’s skip down to step, five. Now, when you want to focus on frequency, you have to consider your personality and your lifestyle, as well as your readers’. If you want to create a social media account as your main content type, you need to be able to post to it multiple times a day, or you will inevitably lose the interest of your audience. Maybe you think you can only create content weekly or monthly. There’s nothing wrong with that, you just have to shift your space. Maybe your space isn’t a traditional social media. It could be Apple Podcasts.

At this point in the book, Schaefer has me convince that he is a personal branding genius. “Why?” you ask. Well, let me tell you. Step eight is an absolute game-changer. According to Schaefer, you can obtain first-mover advantage without even creating original content. Honestly, if you’re not convinced to pick up the book and read it yourself at this point, the snippet I’m about to share should sway you. Schaefer talked about the story of Christopher Korody, who established first-mover advantage when his interest in drones peaked during a client project. Korody didn’t create any original content. Instead, he curated content about drones and posted it to his site daily. Now, he’s considered an expert in the industry. Talk about working smarter and not harder.

Step Three: Find your fuel

According to Schaefer, your content is your fuel. In step two, you found your space. But like I mentioned, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error. This is the step where you can cut back on that. Schaefer starts to talk more about how your lifestyle and personality can lead you to selecting the right content type. Unlike the last two umbrella steps, he breaks this part down into only three subsets:

  1. Find the open space
  2. Figure out what you love to do
  3. Match content and personality type

Personally, I find that the first two steps are pretty self-explanatory. That could just be because psychology and personality type peak my interest, but oh well. You’re going to learn something new. Schaefer categorize personalities into two types: introverts and extroverts. Introverts would create content that is “slow and cerebral,” while extroverts development content that more on the spot. Schaefer gives the examples of blogging, interviews and visual social media content for introverts. Similarly, he says introverts will gravitate towards “quiet” platforms. On the other hand, Schaefer says extroverts create content on Snapchat, live-streams and Twitter chats. The platforms used by extroverts tend to involve more active engagement with audiences.

Which content type would you gravitate towards?

Step Four: Create an actionable audience

I know I’ve said this more than once throughout this blog, but I love this topic. Networking and building a following is so enjoyable for me. Creating an actionable audience is about building relationships with those who are interested in your niche. Schaefer touches base on a number of strategies that you could use to create an audience.

But we aren’t just talking about people who care about what you say. The keyword here is “actionable.” You want your audience to care about what you say, and then do something about it. Now, this next point I’m about to make Schaefer and I agree on without argument. Engaging with your audience is the most important thing you can do to retain their attention.

“Engagement is the glue that connects you to your fans and drives them to that “inner circle.”

Schaefer says that when your audience is engaging with you and your content, you’re moving in the right direction. But how you, as Schaefer says, activate your audience? Wow, I’m glad you asked. Building a personal brand is just like public relations and communications. It’s all about building relationships. Networking with your audience is the key to your success. They want to know who you are and what drives you. Once you establish that relationship, they’re more likely to engage with you.

I hate to break it to you, though. Activating your audience isn’t the end. Schaefer thinks you can take your brand to the next level. So do I. After you successfully complete Schaefer’s four steps, the options are limitless. You could write a book, become a public speaker, or start a whole new career. The only thing that could hold you back is you.

I really do recommend giving this book a read. Unlike other personal branding books I’ve attempted to read, Schaefer adds case studies, exercises and commentary to keep you engaged. I’m better off having this knowledge under my belt, and you will be to.

The moment the Internet called an audible.

I like to think of the Internet as a football team. One with history, like the Packers or Cowboys. When the Internet was first established, it didn’t really have a lot of plays. Every down was a run up the middle or a pass down the sideline. Don’t get me wrong, the playbook didn’t suck. It revolutionized the game… of communications. But it was just text, and eventually email and pictures followed. But like any good football team, the Internet’s playbook grew as the team matured.

Before you know it, the Internet could kick field goals, run trick plays and even call audibles. Just picture it: The Internet is up against the defending champs, Television. Television has captured the attention of fans every single year. While the Internet has come close, the team hasn’t been able to pull off a win. But, this time might just be different. The Internet has a new play. It’s third and 11, and the Internet is down six. The quarterback comes under center and he yells, “YouTube!”

That one audible changed the entire playbook. The establishment of Youtube brought about a new era in digital media. Now, I could sit here and talk about how the first video on YouTube was really the game-changer. But it wasn’t. And no, it wasn’t the first music video posted to the site, either.

Saturday Night Live likes to call this play, “Lazy Sunday.” Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell spend almost three minutes rapping about the Chronicles of Narnia and cupcakes (which is really the only kind of rap I can get down with.) This ridiculous, pointless video racked up over 5 million views in 2005.

But as we’ve learned over the years, funny videos catch the world’s attention. “Lazy Sunday” is the first time people really embraced their newfound ability to watch videos anywhere their hearts desired (as long as there was Internet access, of course.) Now, we have a phrase for that phenomenon: it went viral.

People go to extraordinary lengths in hopes of producing a video that goes viral. Sometimes they even try to make a career out of it. Many times they fail, but sometimes, they don’t even have to try. But speaking of viral, do you know who else tries to make videos that catch the attention of the public?

Ding! Ding Ding! We have a winner!

Oh yes, advertisers want your attention, and they want it desperately. In 2007, Ray Bans created a video dubbed, “Sunglasses Catch.” At first glance, there isn’t anything special about this video. Its a minute and 37 seconds of two guys throwing sunglasses onto each other’s faces. Harmless, right? Wrong. That was the first time a company meddled in digital advertising.

Fast forward to the 2018 season, digital ads are everywhere. I can’t even imagine going to a website without seeing at least five of them. I’m an advertising minor, and in every single advertising class I’ve taken, we’ve spent at least two weeks covering digital media. “Sunglasses Catch” brought about a “lightbulb moment” for advertisers. Through web video, marketers and advertisers realized they could reach a broader audience without paying for a TV spot or print ad.  

As the Internet continues to grow and develop, its playbook is only going to get bigger. Yes, YouTube changed the game, but now the Internet has other options. YouTube forged the path for streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. The rise of digital media and web video has only begun. Television is no longer the team to beat; it’s the Internet, and personally I think it will years down the road before any other team rises to the occasion.

Like the Cowboys and Packers, the Internet is building a dynasty. One where there is unlimited potential. One where the team has only scratched the surface of its digital media capabilities. One where the Internet is going to be raising Super Bowl banners for years and years to come.