Monthly Archives: January 2020
Let’s admit it, all of us are trying our best to please search engines (SE) and cracking Google’s algorithm. After all, who doesn’t want some extra visibility and revenue?
Naturally, billions of websites are adopting innovative practices to gain Google’s attention and approval. In order to rank high on the SERP, businesses should comply with the Google updates that are introduced on a regular basis. But this, in no way, means finding loopholes in these search engine algorithms or adopting strategies to trick them. In fact, businesses employing such empty SEO tricks have to face the music later. Many firms already have experienced Google’s wrath in the past.
Google has been regularly introducing algorithm updates to improve the quality of its search results. But it also penalizes sites that employ unethical or outdated practices to rank higher. This can adversely impact a brand’s reputation and bottom line. Ideally, these updates should be used as a guide for improving a site’s UX, ranking on SERPs is an end result that will follow.
Read on to know the ill-effects of chasing Google’s algorithms. There’s also a bonus involved! You will also learn some effective tips to stay on top of these updates while boosting your business reputation.
1. Google penalties
Google’s algorithm updates are a solution to reward good content and identify and penalize websites using unethical and outdated SEO practices. Google absolutely doesn’t approve of tactics like keyword stuffing, buying links, linking to penalized sites, unnatural links, and others. Algorithm updates, Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, RankBrain, Broad Core, and others aim at improving the quality of search results for users.
Source: Google Webmaster Guideline
Thus, web developers, digital marketers, bloggers, and online businesses messing with these updates are penalized, sending their website plummeting down the SERP.
Google can penalize such websites in two ways –
A. Algorithmic penalty
Several other factors can cause your ranking to go down. Yet, with the introduction of an update, there’s a fair chance that your website may be affected. This is especially true if your site doesn’t adhere to the specific parameters assessed by the update.
For instance, Google Panda assigns a quality score to your site after checking for duplicate content and keyword stuffing. If your site has duplicate content, its ranking is bound to suffer.
Similarly, the latest January 2020 Core Update will be checking websites for authoritative and relevant content with a healthy E-A-T rating. So, if your website violates any of the guidelines shared by Google, it will automatically be penalized or filtered.
Make sure you check for issues in your domain on Google Search Console at regular intervals.
B. Manual penalty
This is a direct result of your website being penalized by a Google employee for not complying with the search quality guidelines. Manual penalties are Google’s way of punishing websites with spammy behavior. The Manual Actions Report on Search Console allows you to check such penalties, offering an opportunity to resolve them.
Check out this infographic by DigitalThirdCoast that shares an analysis of the businesses that tried to cheat Google along with the repercussions they had to face later.
2. Loss of reputation and credibility
Businesses obsessed with algorithm updates not only attract penalties but also lose focus on improving their site’s UX. Either way, the business loses its reputation and credibility. Lost reputation means an immediate loss of potential revenue, benefiting no one else but the competition.
Check out what John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google has to say about cleaning up the mess after being slapped by a Google penalty.
Of course, there are ways to recover from Google penalties. But it takes a lot of effort to rebuild the business reputation and trustworthiness, let alone improving the firm’s online ranking and winning back the lost customers.
3. Marketing myopia
One of the gravest dangers of being preoccupied with Google algorithm updates is losing sight of the business vision and goals. Instead of focusing on the audience’s needs the firm tends to adopt an inward-looking approach only to satisfy Google.
Google will forever introduce these updates. There’s no end to their journey towards improving the quality of search results. Google is clearly focused on its vision. Are you?
Don’t lose sight of your vision. Use Google’s algorithm updates as a guide to steer closer to your business goals.
What can you do to rank better on Google?
1. Don’t perennially chase Google updates
Google makes minor changes in its algorithm almost every other day. In 2019 alone multiple updates were reported. Not all were confirmed as Google is less upfront about these updates.
The sole objective of these updates is to create a better user experience. Merely chasing them and going all over the place with execution will not only land you with a penalty but also affect your reputation in the long term.
Stop obsessing about these updates and focus on making your website and content better each day.
2. Focus on delivering first-rate digital experience
Google’s algorithms are constantly judging and rating sites based on the quality of experience they offer and their E-A-T rating. In a nutshell, you need to prioritize these pointers.
A. Serve quality content
“Quality” seems to be a subjective term but not for Google. The search giant clearly states that the content on a website should be in-depth, relevant, useful, and from a credible source. Simply put, it asks us to create E-A-T worthy content.
This is especially true for the YMYL websites that affect an individual’s health, happiness, safety, or financial stability.
(Source: Google’s Search Quality Guidelines)
Ask yourself these three questions when creating a piece of content:
- Is the content contributor an expert on the subject? (Expertise)
- Is the content contributor an influencer or an authority in the domain? (Authority)
- Is this content accurate and from a credible source? (Trustworthiness)
B. Work on your backlink profile
Backlinks are one of the top-ranking factors that help Google decide a website’s authority and credibility in its niche. Focus on getting quality backlinks from authority sites.
Well, authoritative sites will award links to websites serving relevant, useful, and shareable content. Build authority by creating great content in various forms like videos, podcasts, case studies, infographics, and others.
You should also collaborate with experts for content-creation projects. For instance, expert roundups can not only strengthen your network with influential people in a niche but also provide solid content for your upcoming posts.
Check out how RankWatch conducted an expert roundup involving 25 marketing experts like Rand Fishkin and Barry Adams to discuss the future of SEO. Such inbound link-building initiatives have earned the website a healthy number of backlinks from websites with healthy page authority (PA).
Here are the results as seen on MozBar.
Source: Moz Analytics
C. Improve your site speed
A website’s bounce rate is directly proportional to its load time. Google recommends having a site speed index of under three seconds.
Source: Think with Google
If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, be prepared to wear Google’s “Badge of Shame”. You read it right! Google’s planning to slap slow websites with this badge.
Source: Chromium blog
It’s best suggested to take effective steps to improve your site speed which will, in turn, boost your site’s UX and improve your ranking.
D. Avoid over-optimizing webpages
Google will see through any unscrupulous SEO hacks that are employed to game the system. Build sites to improve your audience’s online experience, not to trick Google. We will touch such unethical practices at the next point.
3. Play by the rules
Though Google isn’t transparent with its algorithm updates, it keeps sharing valuable tips for webmasters and content creators, encouraging them to serve quality content and boost their site’s UX. Use these tips to your advantage.
A. Take learnings from the search quality guidelines
Google wants webmasters to follow its guidelines when building sites and posting online content. So, it’s important to constantly stay updated about the current guidelines. Refer to the search quality guidelines when creating an SEO strategy for your business.
B. Avoid black and gray-hat SEO tactics
Avoid using black-hat SEO techniques and monetization schemes like keyword stuffing, private blog networks, spammy links, and affiliate links among others. Moreover, Google absolutely disapproves of gray-hat SEO tricks like buying expired domains, cloaking, dummy social accounts, and scraped content among others. These techniques normally go unnoticed but when used excessively are spotted by Google, attracting a penalty.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid both these unethical SEO tactics that only focus on tricking the algorithm. Make delivering value to users a priority!
4. Check for crawl errors
At times, your website isn’t featured in the top searched because Google’s spiders haven’t crawled it. One of the major reasons for this is a possible error in your code. Use Google’s Index Coverage report and URL Inspection tool to identify and fix the gaps in your code.
Also, remember to optimize your crawl budget to ensure that your important webpages in Robots.txt are crawled. Finally, watch out for 301 and 302 redirect chains that can hurt your crawl limit and cause the SE crawler to stop crawling your site.
A website doesn’t enjoy high visibility on Google, it practically doesn’t exist. Therefore, everyone’s bending over backward to crack Google’s algorithm updates. However, businesses adopting strategies merely to trick Google are headed for a slippery slope.
Google’s algorithms are smart enough to identify and punish websites that are up to no good. So, take my advice – instead of trying to crack Google’s algorithm updates, work towards creating awesome content and offering the best experience to users. The tips shared in this post will guide you in the process.
George Konidis is the co-founder of Growing Search, a Canadian based digital marketing agency providing optimal SEO and link building services worldwide. He can be found on Twitter @georgekonidis.
It’s a notable milestone. The blockchain as a business tool has certainly had a rocky road over the last few years, but there is still plenty to like about smart contracts that have automated compliance checks built in. Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 has lots of new features with that in mind.
The biggest updates involve forcing agreement among the parties before any new data can be added to the ledger, known as decentralized governance of the smart contracts. In practice, it means that the system will prevent any entity from writing to the ledger until there is consensus among the parties involved in the transaction, a basic blockchain tenet.
This is a requirement because the beauty and the curse of the distributed ledger is that it is an immutable record. Once you have written something in the ledger, it becomes very difficult to change it without the agreement of all those involved in the contract. You want to make sure you get it right before you commit something to the ledger.
Along those same lines, developers can build in automated checks along the way. As they say, this ensures the parties can “validate additional information before endorsing a transaction proposal.”
Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director at Hyperledger and a big advocate of open source distributed ledger technology, says this is a big milestone for the project and the organization as it looks to help organizations adopt distributed ledger technology.
“Fabric 2.0 is a new generation framework developed by and for the enterprises that are building distributed ledger capabilities into the core of their businesses. This new release reflects both the development and deployment experience of the Fabric community and confirms the arrival of the production era for enterprise blockchain,” Behlendorf said in a statement.
That remains to be seen. The rise of blockchain in business has moved at a slow pace, but this release shows that the open source community is still committed to building enterprise-grade distributed ledger technology. Today’s announcement is another step in that direction.
If you were the star of every show, would you watch more mobile television? Snapchat is betting that narcissism drives resonance for its new weekly videos that put you and your friends’ customizable Bitmoji avatars into a flurry of silly animated situations. Bitmoji TV premieres on Saturday morning, and it’s remarkably funny, exciting, and addictive. Think cartoon SNL on fast-forward with you playing a secret agent, a zombie president, or a Moonlympics athlete.
It’s a style of content only Snapchat could pull off that relies on ubiquitous personalized avatars only Snapchat owns. The company says 70% of its daily active users, or 147 million of its 210 million, have made themselves a Bitmoji. Snapchat bought Bitmoji’s parent company Bitstrips in 2016 for a steal at $ 62.5 million, and it’s paying off. Amidst a sea of premium video and haphazard Stories that blur together across streaming services and social apps, Snapchat finally found something Facebook can’t copy.
“We really believe that we have invented a new category of entertainment. It’s scripted but it’s personalized. You could take that in a million directions” says Bitmoji co-founder and CEO Ba Blackstock who wrote and directed Bitmoji TV. “First and foremost, I hope that everyone who watches this has kind of a mind blowing experience that they’ve never had before.”
Bitmoji TV, which TechCrunch was first to report Snapchat was building last month, will have its own Snapchat Show page where users can subscribe to get notifications and see new episodes on the Discover Page. Users can visit this page on mobile or tap and hold on the Snapcode below while pointing at it with the Snapchat camera to open Bitmoji TV.
The show is designed to be PG-13 with some bleeped out swearing and a little bloody violence. The shows are made out of Bitmoji’s Toronto office and are based on North American TV, film, and advertising. Each episode cuts away and back to a main story, with the first two centered around an America’s Best Bitmoji game show and a Mime Cops hostage negotiation. Interspersed are ‘channel flips’ between shorter single-gag clips that take your avatar into sit-coms, soap operas, action movies, and informercials.
The gags are ridiculous. At the basketball “Moonlympics”, a player jumps up for a dunk, but low gravity causes him to crash through the glass dome and suck all the other players into space. At Cannibal High, an school announcement says “Attention students, we’re all deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Vice Principal Schneider. To honor his legacy, today the cafeteria will be serving Vice Principal Schneider.”
You’re not alone it Bitmoji TV. There’ll be occassional celebrity guests like Randy Jackson, Andy Richter, and Jon Lovitz. But your co-star in these segments is the Bitmoji of whichever person you last interacted with on Snapchat. That lets you control whether you want your best friend, your significant other, or some rando alongside you. That decision will change the way you interpret the jokes and scenes. Your Bitmoji won’t talk, but their’s will.
Getting philosophical, Blackstock explains that “When you say words to me, it’s not just your words in a vacuum. They’re coming from you. You’re the medium . . . In any narrative fiction you learn about the characters, they have a back story, they have relationships that exist under the story that color it.” Who you make your supporting actor lends personal subtext that enriches each story. That’s one reason you can’t download or easily share clips of your version of Bitmoji TV, and Snap instead just lets you share a link to watch the real thing. Blackstock says it just doesn’t have the same effect if you’re not in the spotlight.
One thing you won’t find in Bitmoji TV, at least at first, are advertisements. The initial 10 episode season won’t have them. But that does seem to be the plan. When I asked Blackstock about monetizing the show, he said “You can imagine. Discover has a business model of showing ads.” Since it make Bitmoji TV, Snapchat would get to keep that ad money rather than paying it out with revenue shares to partners or by buying content. Just as we’ve seen music and video streaming apps move to cut royalty expenses by creating content in-house, Snap seems to have the same idea.
Snapchat has yet to monetize Bitmoji directly beyond its merchandise store where you can get yours on t-shirts and mugs. Surprisingly, it doesn’t sell premium or branded clothes and looks for Bitmoji, nor does it allow brands to pay to have their apparel featured.
Snap did recently start letting people mix-and-match clothes for their Bitmoji, and when asked if that could foreshadow a revenue opportunity, Blackstock said “You gotta build the store before you start selling the clothes . . . this was a foundational evolution designed to not only improve the experience for users but to set the stage for things to come.” You and your friends seeing your avatar’s fresh outfit on Bitmoji TV might make people care more about what their digital mini-mes wear.
Having watched the first three episodes, I’m pretty certain Bitmoji TV is going to be a hit. The show embodies the whimsy of Snapchat and the youth culture of the community who uses it. It’s rare to see something so premium but so unabashedly kooky. It’s remininscent of the Rick & Morty ‘Interdimensional Cable’ episodes that similarly feature rapid-fire snippets of fake and absurd TV shows.
Yet “the idea for Bitmoji TV actually precedes Bitmoji. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since those days [before Snapchat acquired it.] In a way it precedes Bitstrips. I’ve been making comics and cartoons since I was a little kid” Blackstock tells me. “How I met two of the co-founders of Bitstrips was passing them comics in class. Even after school when we had jobs I would draw comics of my co-founder that were very compromising and I would fax them to his office to try to get him fired” he recalls with a hearty laugh. Now he has the budget to make them TV-worthy but just as crazy.
Snapchat has a good hunch it’s going to work because it’s been testing a comic-stripped down version called Bitmoji Stories. These still or lightly-animated slide shows use the same idea of starring the avatars of you and your friends, but without full-motion video or constant audio. 130 million people have watched Bitmoji Stories since they launched in late 2018.
Blackstock tells me “They were easier to make at a high volume and release ongoingly, which we could put out as a prelude to get our audience ready for personalized content — but also for us to learn from and see how people responded and figure out our own processes in terms of production.” Snapchat had animators and engineers work hand in hand to build a rendering system for Bitmoji Stories and TV. That helps it rapidly produce the personalizable content that can flex to accomodate any shaped avatar without them clipping into their surroundings.
Tonight, Bitmoji TV will receive an in-person ‘silent disco-style’ premiere at Los Angeles’ Soho House. Guests will scan a code on the big screen, don headphones, and each watch on their own phone with themselves as the star.
Snapchat’s head of original content Sean Mills tells me that “New technology will unlock new kinds of storytelling” citing “the power of bringing a user into the experience with their best friends.” Bitmoji TV has certainly found a way to turn vanity into engagement. It’s more compelling than the mediocre originals on Facebook Watch. And it’s technologically innovative, unlike the planned lineup for Quibi.
If the modern era of visual communication began with the selfie, Snap honed it into a messaging tool. A few words were more interesting with a friend’s face behind it. The original Bitmoji chat stickers let your face say whatever you wanted even without having to get on camera. Snapchat’s new Cameo feature grafts your face into GIFs to express even more complex feelings. And now with Bitmoji TV, an animated version of your face can live out your wildest fantasies or weirdest dreams. That’s something worth tuning into.
International expansion is an expected ambition for progressive websites. The online nature of this global reach means that the uncertainties, legal dangers, and cultural hazards are minimized. The world is at your fingertips, and the costs in reaching it successfully are minimal. The rationale for reaching out to a new audience, readership, viewership or listenership, maybe one of opportunity, exciting new prospects, high growth potential, or to escape a domestic audience that has become too saturated or competitive.
With only some limitations, the internet is a global phenomenon that effectively ties us all together with invisible strings. Send a Tweet from Prague and reply to it in Illinois. Publish an ebook in Seattle and share it with your friends in Beirut. There are practically no boundaries when it comes to sharing content online.
When it comes to your WordPress website, the one you’ve dedicated time, money and energy building, I expect that you will want it to possess the maximum global reach possible. This doesn’t just happen by chance and requires some key features within your site to make this happen. The following tips and suggested plugins should set you and your website on the path to international influence.
Four tips to help make your site globally friendly
1. Globalize your content
The foundation of an internationally appealing website is its content transcreation. This does not focus on the mere translation of words but ensures the recreation of meaning, intent, and context.
It is important to make sure that the meaning of the content does not change when translated into another language and does not convey your message wrongly. Cultural hazards are rife when it comes to the international expansion of any kind. To be accepted and welcomed in a different geographical area, you cannot afford to display misunderstood and potentially offensive content.
Unsurprisingly, over 73% of the global market prefers websites with content in their native language. If people cannot understand the content on your website, you cannot hope to keep their interest. In the same vein, inaccurate translations just won’t cut it. The best option is to find a content writer who can craft the copy in a specific language for better quality content.
2. Avoid rigid localized options
Some websites choose the default website domain and language based on dynamic Geolocation IP tracking. Others do not have rigid local settings and allow their websites to be accessed by users from anywhere. If you are hoping to reach as many readers as possible, this option is best. No matter the country from which your website is browsed, it can be accessed without limitations of location.
3. Avoid using text on images
Google cannot translate text on images. This is the same for logos, headings, and other information. This can be majorly off-putting for readers who do not understand some parts of your website. Further, no translator or software that runs on your multilingual site can translate graphical text. Therefore, avoid it altogether for the best results, or keep it to a minimum for a more international audience.
4. Localize checkout and shipping factors
Whether your WordPress site is an online store or sells software as a service that doesn’t require any shipping at all, your checkout process should be appropriately localized. Currency options are fundamental to users taking that final step to make the purchase. There are WordPress plugins available to allow for multiple currencies to be displayed and chosen from.
If you are giving the option of international shipping then inform the buyer beforehand whether or not the product is available for shipping to his local address. Make the option to convert the currency clear and choose a suitable API tool for currency conversions. In order to keep on track of abandoned cart figures, allow the user to view the delivery charges and taxes prior to checking out. Finally, remember that people from different locations are more comfortable with different payment methods- so ensure to provide multiple options.
Plugins to help make your site globally friendly
This full-fledged WordPress multilingual plugin translates every aspect of your website. Its main feature is that it allows you to translate directly from the front-end. It allows you to easily switch languages during the translation- and the live preview is updated instantly. All translations of content, theme, plugins and even meta-data can be made without changing the interface.
It is ideal for manual translations. Do it yourself or assign a custom translator ‘user role’ to any user on your site. Users will then be able to translate as and when they want, without needing access to the admin area.
Lastly, the plugin creates SEO friendly URLs for all languages and boosts you up the local SEO results. Ranking well will make this extra effort to globalize your site worth all the while. Once you have established yourself as an authoritative and respectably ranking website abroad, you’re in and can continue the normal operation of your site.
2. Multi-currency for WooCommerce
As discussed, the need for multiple currencies on your international online store is unchallenged. This plugin allows users to easily switch to different currencies and make use of currency exchange rate converter with no limits. It can be used to accept only one currency or all currencies. Multi-currency for WooCommerce will enhance your site’s user experience and will do so for free. It’s a no brainer.
Implementing these can surely get you some good traction for your WordPress site on a global scale.
Feel free to share your thoughts and queries in the comments section.
The post Going international with SEO: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
The European parliament has voted overwhelmingly for tougher action to reduce e-waste, calling for the Commission to come up with beefed up rules by July 2020.
Specifically, the parliament wants the Commission to adopt the delegated act foreseen in the 2014 Radio Equipment Directive by that deadline — or else table a legislative measure by the same date, at the latest.
The resolution, which was approved by 582 votes to 40, points out that MEPs have been calling for a single charger for mobile devices for more than a decade now. But the Commission has repeatedly postponed taking steps to force an industry-wide shift. Subtext: We’re tired of the ongoing charging cable nightmare.
The parliament says there is now “an urgent need” for EU regulatory action on the issue — to shrink e-waste, empower consumers to make sustainable choices, and allow EU citizens to “fully participate in an efficient and well-functioning internal market”.
The resolution notes that around 50 million metric tons of e-waste is generated globally per year, with an average of more than 6 kg per person.
While, in Europe in 2016, the figure for total e-waste generated was 12.3 million metric tonnes, equivalent to 16.6 kg on average per inhabitant — with the parliament asserting this represents “an unnecessary environmental footprint that can be reduced”.
To date, the Commission’s approach to the charger e-waste issue has been to lean on industry to take voluntary steps to reduce unnecessary variety. Which has resulted in a reduction of the number of charger types on the market — down from 30+ in 2009 to just three today — but still no universal charger which works across brands and device types (phones, tablets, e-readers etc).
Most notably, Apple continues to use its own Lightning port charger standard — while other device makers have switched to USB-based charging (such as the newest, USB-C standard).
When news emerged earlier this month of the parliament’s intention to vote on tougher measures to standardize mobile chargers Apple attacked the plan — arguing that regulation would ‘stifle innovation’.
But the tech giant has had plenty of years to chew over clever ways to switch from the proprietary charging port only it uses to one of two USB standards used by everyone else. So the ‘innovation’ argument seems a pretty stale one.
Meanwhile Apple has worked around previous EU attempts to push device makers to standardize charging on Micro USB by expanding its revenue-generating dongle collection — and selling Europeans a Lighting to Micro USB adaptor. Thereby necessitating even more e-waste.
Perhaps picking up on Apple’s ‘innovation’ framing sidestep, i.e. to try to duck the e-waste issue, the parliament also writes:
… that the Commission, without hampering innovation, should ensure that the legislative framework for a common charger will be scrutinised regularly in order to take into account technical progress; reiterates the importance of research and innovation in this domain to improve existing technologies and come up with new ones;
It also wants the Commission to grapple with the issue of wireless chargers — and take steps to ensure interoperability there too, so that wireless chargers aren’t locked to only one brand or device type.
Consumers should not be obliged to buy new chargers with each new device, per the resolution, with the parliament calling on the Commission to introduce strategies to decouple the purchase of chargers from a new device alongside a common charger solution — while making sure any decoupling measures do not result in higher prices for consumers.
It also wants the Commission to look at legislative options for increasing the volume of cables and chargers that are collected and recycled in EU member states.
We’ve reached out to the Commission for comment.
Per Reuters, officials in the executive are in agreement that the voluntary approach is not working and have said they plan to introduce legislation for a common charger this year.
Here is how you effectively scale GTM tags across thousands of child sites utilizing the resources at hand.
Read more at PPCHero.com
RealityEngines.AI, an AI and machine learning startup founded by a number of former Google executives and engineers, is coming out of stealth today and announcing its first set of products.
When the company first announced its $ 5.25 million seed round last year, CEO Bindu Reddy wasn’t quite ready to disclose RealityEngines’ mission beyond saying that it planned to make machine learning easier for enterprises. With today’s launch, the team is putting this into practice by launching a set of tools that specifically tackle a number of standard enterprise use cases for ML, including user churn predictions, fraud detection, sales lead forecasting, security threat detection and cloud spend optimization. For use cases that don’t fit neatly into these buckets, the service also offers a more general predictive modeling service.
Before co-founding RealiyEngines, Reddy was the head of product for Google Apps and general manager for AI verticals at AWS. Her co-founders are Arvind Sundararajan (formerly at Google and Uber) and Siddartha Naidu (who founded BigQuery at Google). Investors in the company include Eric Schmidt, Ram Shriram, Khosla Ventures and Paul Buchheit.
As Reddy noted, the idea behind this first set of products from RealityEngines is to give businesses an easy entry into machine learning, even if they don’t have data scientists on staff.
Besides talent, another issue that businesses often face is that they don’t always have massive amounts of data to train their networks effectively. That has long been a roadblock for many companies that want to see what AI can do for them but that didn’t have the right resources to do so. RealityEngines overcomes this by creating realistic synthetic data that it can then use to augment a company’s existing data. In its tests, this creates models that are up to 15% more accurate than models that were trained without the synthetic data.
“The most prominent use of generative adversarial networks — GANS — has been to create deepfakes,” said Reddy. “Deepfakes have captured the public’s imagination by highlighting how easy it to spread misinformation with these doctored videos and images. However, GANS can also be applied to productive and good use. They can be used to create synthetic data sets which when then be combined with the original data, to produce robust AI models even when a business doesn’t have much training data.”
RealityEngines currently has about 20 employees, most of whom have a deep background in ML/AI, both as researchers and practitioners.
It’s interesting seeing patents from Google that focus on ecommerce topics. The last one I recall had Google distinguishing between products and accessories for those products in search results. I wrote about it in Ranking Search Results and Product Queries.
New Product Lines in Product Search
A new patent from Google is about when new products appear in existing product lines, like a laptop that comes with more Ram or a bigger hard drive, or a camera with a zoom lens that it didn’t have before.
This patent is about determining in product search whether a query is looking for a particular product line, from within a specific brand.
Searchers frequently search for products offered for sale. Google is trying to understand the intent behind shopping-related search queries.
For Google to be able to do that well, it has to understand different aspects of product categories. This can include such things as:
- Whether a product as an association with a brand
- Whether a product is in a specific product line
The patent tells us it is essential to detect terms designating product lines from within product queries from searchers.
That includes associating detected product line terms along with their corresponding brands, to let Google keep up with new product lines and retiring product lines soon after changes occur.
Under the new Google patent is a process aimed at determining product lines from product search queries:
- A product query might be classified to identify a product category
- A brand may be identified for the product query
- The brand may be chosen from a list of known brands for the product category
Unknown Product Lines
The patent tells us that unknown product line terms may be identified within a product query.
A metric may indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand.
The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric compares to the specified threshold.
A product search may be performed using the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.
This product lines patent can be found at:
Detecting product lines within product search queries
Inventors: Ritendra Datta
Assignee: GOOGLE LLC
US Patent: 10,394,816
Granted: August 27, 2019
Filed: December 27, 2012
Systems and methods can determine product lines product searches.
One or more computing devices can receive a product query of search terms. The product query may be classified to identify a product category. A brand may be identified for the product query. The brand may be selected from a list of known brands for the product category.
One or more unknown product line terms may be identified within the product query. A metric may be computed to indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand. The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric favorably compares to the specified threshold. A product search may be performed on the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.
High Precision Query Classifiers
This patent shows Google trying to identify new products and product lines, so it can distinguish them from older product lines.
Interestingly, Google is looking at search queries to identify products and product lines. As the patent tells us:
Product lines associated with product brands may be determined from analyzing the received product search queries.
The patent refers to a “high-precision query classifier,” which is the first time I have seen that mentioned anywhere at all.
How does a “high precision query classifier” work?
As described in this patent:
- A search query may be automatically mapped to a product category
- A list of known brands within the product category may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying the product brand
- Similarly, a list of known category attributes may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying attributes of the product being searched
Attributes of Products
The patent provides some examples of attributes for products:
- A number of megapixels for digital cameras
- An amount of RAM memory for laptop computers
- A number of cylinders for a motor vehicle
Product Query Forms
We are told that the forms that a product query may take may vary a bit, but we are provided with some examples.
A product query could take the form “[B] [PL] [A].”
In such a query form, one or more terms [B] may indicate a brand that is a known brand within a list of known product brands, and one or more terms [A] may indicate attributes that are known attributes of the category. One or more unknown terms [PL] may then be identified as a potential new product line. Such an identification may be strengthened where [PL] is in a form associated with product lines. The identification may also be strengthened where [PL] is found with brand [B] frequently over time within various product queries. The identification may be further strengthened where the terms [PL] are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand [B] throughout many product queries over time.
A metric is calculated by comparing what might be the attributes of products from a new product line, with attributes of a actual product line associated with a brand.
This metric may consider the number of unique product queries containing the terms [PL] having the correct structure and/or category along with the extent to which [B] dominates among every query that has a brand preceding [PL].
Why would Google be looking at Queries to learn about new product lines from brands instead of from product pages that describe the attributes of products?
Identifying Product Lines
How this identification process may work:
- Software for product line resolution may identify product lines associated with brands for product categories determined by the query classifier
- Product line resolution may use a category attribute dictionary and a product brand dictionary to establish pairings between brands and product lines
- The product query and the determined brands and product lines may then be provided to a product search engine
- The product search engine may then provide search results to the searcher
- The query classifier may map the product query to a product category
- Product line resolution can use product category information with the category attribute dictionary and the product brand dictionary to identify terms from the product query about specific product lines relate to product lines
- The unknown terms identified by the product line resolution module for a category may be fed back into the category attribute dictionary as attributes for that category
- Each identified product line may also be related to a particular brand listed in the product brand dictionary
- The product brand dictionary can provide a list of known brands within various product categories
- The known brands may be used to determine and resolve terms associated with product lines within each brand
- The product line terms may then be used to identify a potential new product line
The identification of a new product line may be strengthened:
- When unknown terms information is in a form associated with product lines
- Where the unknown terms are found with a brand frequently over time within various product queries
- Where the unknown terms are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand identified throughout many products queries over time
Identifying When Unknown Terms Maybe in a form associated with product lines
Here are some observations about the form of product lines:
- Product line terms generally start with a letter
- Product lines generally contain few or no numbers (differentiating product line terms from model numbers or serial numbers
- Product lines may be related to a category or a brand (One brand may generally have single word product lines while a second brand may use two word product lines where the first word relates to performance and the second word is a three-digit number
These kinds of patterns or forms about product lines could be used to associate unknown terms within a product query as product line terms.
Using a Category Attribute Dictionary to Resolve Product Line Terms within Product Queries
The category attribute dictionary can provide a dictionary of attributes associated with various product categories and brands.
Terms from the category attribute dictionary may be used to resolving product line terms within the product query.
When unknown terms are often found within product queries along with brand information, those unknown terms could be seen as product line terms associated with a specific brand. When known attribute terms are found in the category attribute dictionary to be consistent with brand [B] or the category associated with the product query by the query classifier.
Product Query Processing
The patent includes this flowchart to describe the process behind the product search patent:
Where does Google Learn about product lines?
The patent doesn’t mention product schema, or merchant product feeds. It does tell us that it is getting a lot of information about product lines from searcher’s queries.
Google also collects information about products and product attributes from web sites that sell those products, in addition to looking at product queries, as described in this patent.
Collecting such information from site owners may be the starting source of much information found in the product and category dictionaries and product attribute categories that are mentioned in this patent.
The process of updating information about products and product lines from product queries from searchers is a way to crowdsource information about products from searchers and get an idea of how much interest there might be in specific products.
It is quite possible that Google can learn a lot about products from product data feeds that merchants submit to Google. Google is trying to get merchants to submit product feeds even if they don’t use paid product search, to make those products visible in more places on Google in Surfaces across Google as described on this Google Support page: Show your products on Surfaces Across Google.
We saw that Google is using product feed information to help it distinguish between product pages and accessory pages for those products as I wrote about in the blog post I linked to at the start of this post.
Google also describes product markup on their developers page Product. Google tells site owners that they should include that markup for their products because:
Product markup enables a badge on the image in mobile image search results, which can encourage more users to click your content.
By collecting information about products from product feeds, Product Schema, product web pages, and product queries from searchers Google is collecting a lot of data about products, which could enable it to be pretty good at providing answers to product queries, and to understand when new product lines are launched.
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The team behind Product Hunt is launching a new social network called YourStack, a platform aiming to connect people that are passionate about products and help them discover what things their friends love.
“It’s super simple, you just search through and create a stack of products you love,” Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover tells TechCrunch. “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just software, but also games and books and beauty products, you name it.”
YourStack’s catalog doesn’t have every product under the sun, but if it’s a tech object, startup service, app or direct-to-consumer thing, chances are you can “stack” it. Once you add it to your profile, you can write a quick little descriptor and also share some tips and tricks you’ve learned about the product in question.
Product Hunt was acquired by AngelList just over three years ago, and since then Hoover and company have grown the platform into a go-to hub for makers looking to launch tech products. The team of 20 is now splitting their time between Product Hunt and YourStack, hoping that the new venture can lead to a platform that’s more centered on people and the products they use. While a social network based entirely around the multi-national brands that people love is something I’d love to hear Bernie Sanders’ thoughts on, it’s clear there’s an open opportunity here.
Social media platforms like Instagram have given influencers a huge platform for paid product endorsements, but because there’s so much schilling, consumers can’t put a ton of trust in the recommendations. Platforms like Twitter have been great for this inside the tech industry, but there’s no UI for it, so you sort of have to be at the right place at the right time, and, furthermore, the tech folks who have these great product insights are too busy being thought leaders.
If YourStack takes off, who knows what it could eventually become, but the goal seems to be to let users gain access to more personal product recommendations. On the product creator side, Hoover believes YourStack could give some great qualitative data that allows makers to understand how customers are using what they’ve built.
The product is in beta right now with a waitlist that’s already a few thousand users deep, but Hoover says the goal right now is to gather feedback.
“With a lot of social products, you don’t know how people are going to use them when they first start,” Hoover tells TechCrunch. “We actually had a very similar approach when we launched Product Hunt, where we let more and more people onto it each day and that was really effective in letting it slowly grow rather than leading people to a bad experience.”
The food industry may be the biggest industry in the world, but it’s also one of the least efficient. BCG says 1.6 billions tons of food, worth $ 1.2 trillion, is wasted in food every year, and those numbers are only expected to go up.
A number of players have stepped up to try to solve their own portion of the problem, and one such solution is Crisp. The company, which received $ 14 million in Series A funding last year led by FirstMark Capital, is today going live with its platform (which has been in beta).
Crisp aims to solve the global food waste problem via demand forecasts. Founder and CEO Are Traasdahl, a serial founder, believes that a lack of communication and data flow between the many players in the supply chain is a main cause for all this waste, a great deal of which happens long before the food reaches the consumer.
Right now, forecasting demand is nowhere close to a perfect science for many of these players. From food brands to distributors to grocery stores, the problem is usually solved by looking at a spreadsheet from last year’s sales to try to determine the signals that played into this or that SKU’s sales performance.
And then there was Crisp.
Integrated with almost any ERP software a company might have, Crisp ingests historical data from these food brands and combines that data with signals around other demand drivers, such as seasonality, holidays, price sensitivity and other pricing information, marketing campaigns, competitive landscape, weather that might affect the sale or shipment of certain produce or other ingredients.
Using these data points, and historical sales data, Crisp believes it can give a much more accurate picture of demand over the next day, week, month or year.
But Crisp isn’t just for food brands, such as Nounós Creamery, a Crisp customer that says its reduced scrapped inventory by 80% since switching to the platform. Crisp serves almost every player in the food supply chain, from retailers to distributors to brands to brokers.
And the more customers it gets, the better it is at predicting demand on a very specific level. For instance, the demand forecasting Crisp offers for a particular grocery store, based on external data, will obviously get much better once that grocery store is a customer on the platform.
Traasdahl was initially concerned that his customers would be reluctant to hand over this type of sensitive sales data, and also that players within the industry might be anxious to hand over such data to a platform that’s aggregating everyone’s data, including their competitors’. Turns out, the food industry has more of a “better together” mentality.
“Other industries are not as dependent on each other,” said Traasdahl. “If I am a creamery and need to buy blueberries for my yogurt, I may have five different vendors for those blueberries. And if they don’t get delivered on the right day, Costco will yell at me for being late with the yogurt. Everyone in the supply chain is somewhat dependent on each other.”
For that reason, it’s been easier than expected to attract clients to the platform. The prospect of a collaborative demand forecast platform, which is pulling signals from across the entire industry, is going to be more accurate than siloed demand forecasts produced by a single vendor or brand.
During the beta program, which launched in October, Crisp brought on more than 30 companies to the platform, including Gilbert’s Craft Sausages, SunFed Perfect Produce, Nounós Creamery, Hofseth, REMA and Superior Farms.
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