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martech.org

  • 27/04/2022 Google Play rolling out app data collection labels
    Users can find out what data is collected, if it is shared and the developer's security policies. The post Google Play rolling out app data collection labels appeared first on MarTech.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 27/04/2022 Good morning: Adapting to new customer paradigms
    When making sure it's the right time to engage a customer, it's best to abandon old ideas. The post Good morning: Adapting to new customer paradigms appeared first on MarTech.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 27/04/2022 Analytics software delivers data, standards deliver insights
    Only your team can determine which metrics mean the most for your business. The post Analytics software delivers data, standards deliver insights appeared first on MarTech.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 27/04/2022 Marketing analytics: What it is and why marketers should care
    We unpack marketing analytics: what it is, why it’s important, and how it can help marketers achieve brand success. The post Marketing analytics: What it is and why marketers should care appeared first on MarTech.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 26/04/2022 Samsung Ads launches full-service offering Total Media Solution
    Total Media Solution will manage and measure cross-platform campaigns through the Samsung DSP. The post Samsung Ads launches full-service offering Total Media Solution appeared first on MarTech.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

searchengineland.com

  • 04/05/2022 Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity
    Ryan Kellett, VP of Audience at Axios, shares how SEO helps this news site compete against the world's biggest news publishers. The post Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity appeared first on Search Engine Land.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
  • 04/05/2022 Google to use Customer Match lists for Smart Bidding, Optimized Targeting
    Google Ads automation is getting smarter with more ways to use Customer Match lists. The post Google to use Customer Match lists for Smart Bidding, Optimized Targeting appeared first on Search Engine Land.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
  • 04/05/2022 Google blocked 3.4 billion ads, suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021
    Google's 2021 Ads Safety Report details threats ranging from cloaking to abusive and inaccurate COVID-19 information. The post Google blocked 3.4 billion ads, suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
  • 04/05/2022 BlueConic named a leader in IDC MarketScape CDP Vendor Assessment
    CDP recognized for its efficient setup time and ability to help companies transform their business model to create new revenue streams. The post BlueConic named a leader in IDC MarketScape CDP Vendor Assessment appeared first on Search Engine Land.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
  • 03/05/2022 Twitter Circle: Limit who can view your tweets
    Find Twitter too toxic? Now you can limit who sees your tweets to 150 users of your choosing. The post Twitter Circle: Limit who can view your tweets appeared first on Search Engine Land.

    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

seroundtable.com

  • nieuw: 04/12/2022 Google Doodle For Seasonal Holidays 2022
    Google has posted its "Seasonal Holidays" Google Doodle for the month of December - the holiday month. Google did this last year as well, and while the past few days we had some other special Doodles on Google's home page, when those Doodles came off, Google put up this Season Holidays Doodle up.nieuw:
  • 02/12/2022 Daily Search Forum Recap: December 2, 2022

    Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

    Just saying today is the 19th year anniversary of this site...

  • 02/12/2022 Search News Buzz Video Recap: Google Thanksgiving Volatility, Links, Content & More SEO & 19 Years Covering Search
    Since Friday of Thanksgiving last week, we have been seeing a lot of chatter and volatility with Google Search. Google said they improved the accuracy of the Discover performance report in Google Search Console. Google said links...
  • 02/12/2022 19 Years Covering The Search Industry
    It has now been 19 years that I've been writing on this site, covering what you - the search marketers are talking about from within the search community. Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Search Engine Roundtable.
  • 02/12/2022 Google: If Your Most Important Page Is Terrible, Then That Is Not Good For SEO
    Google's John Mueller said it is a big deal if your most important page or pages are terrible but not such a big deal if your less important pages are terrible. So if your home page is terrible, that is really not good. But if your archived orphaned pages are not good, that is not such a big deal for Google SEO or ranking purposes.

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seoblackhat.com

  • 23/04/2016 What Happened with SEO Black Hat?
    It’s been 5 years since I wrote a post. I’ve been on lifecation for the last 3 and a half years (not working and living the dream). But there’s an exciting reason I’m back: A Yuuuuuge exploit that I’m going to share, but I’ll get to that in due time. First, let’s talk about the […]
  • 17/04/2016 Hello Again. World.
    Zombie SEO Black Hat and QuadsZilla about to become reanimated.
  • 05/02/2011 Google Lied about Manually Changes
    We Cannot Manually Change Results . . . But we did.
  • 03/02/2011 Clicksteam For Dummies: How The Ranking Factor Works
    Since the majority of people can’t seem to figure out how clickstream data could be used as a Search Engine Ranking Factor, without ever scraping the actual page, I’ll give you a hint.
  • 01/02/2011 Bing is Just Better
    Google is scared. They call Bing’s Results “a Cheap imitation”, but the fact is that Bing is now consistently delivering better results.

bluehatseo.com

  • 09/06/2011 Guest Post: How To Start Your First Media Buy
    This post was written by a good friend of mine and one of the best media buyers I know Max Teitelbaum. He owns WhatRunsWhere and has previously offered to write a guest post on the subject for you guys, but with all the buzz and relevancy of his new WhatRunsWhere tool I requested he write [...]
  • 12/07/2010 Open Questions: When To Never Do Article Submissions
    Got a question in my E-Commerce SEO Checklist post from Rania, who didn’t leave me a link for credit. “4. Steal your competitors articles and product reviews and do article distribution.” You recommend STEALING articles from competitors as an advanced SEO tactic?! Seriously?! How about recommending that users create their own unique content in order to increase their [...]
  • 09/07/2010 SEO Checklist for E-Commerce Sites
    Answering a question on Wickedfire here. If you own an Ecommerce site and don’t know where to begin on the SEO go through this check list. In total, it’ll cost less than $500. 1. Signup with all related forums. Put your site in the footer links and go through answering product related questions on a weekly basis. 2. [...]
  • 22/06/2010 How To Take Down A Competitors Website: Legally
    They stole your articles didn’t they? You didn’t even know until they outranked you. They jacked your $50 lander without a single thought to how you’d feel? Insensitive pricks They violated your salescopy with synonyms. Probably didn’t even use a rubber. They rank #8 and you rank #9 on EVERY KEYWORD! bastards! Listen, why don’t you just relax. Have a seat over there [...]
  • 11/11/2009 Addon Domain Spamming With Wordpress and Any Other CMS
    I got this question from Primal in regards to my post on Building Mininets Eli, I like the post and your entire site. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. One thing confuses me about this particular tactic. Where are you getting the content from? You mentioned Audioscrobbler and Youtube API but I am not focusing on a music [...]

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seroundtable.com

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seobook.com

  • 16/10/2022 New Google Ad Labeling

    TechCrunch recently highlighted how Google is changing their ad labeling on mobile devices.

    A few big changes include:

    • ad label removed from individual ad units
    • where the unit-level label was instead becomes a favicon
    • a "Sponsored" label above ads
    • the URL will show right of the favicon & now the site title will be in a slightly larger font above the URL

    An example of the new layout is here:
    2022 Google SERP layouts with new ad labeling

    Displaying a site title & the favicon will allow advertisers to get brand exposure, even if they don't get the click, while the extra emphasis on site name could lead to shifting of ad clicks away from unbranded sites toward branded sites. It may also cause a lift in clicks on precisely matching domains, though that remains to be seen & likely dependes upon many other factors. The favicon and site name in the ads likely impact consumer recall, which can bleed into organic rankings.

    After TechCrunch made the above post a Google spokesperson chimed in with an update

    Changes to the appearance of Search ads and ads labeling are the result of rigorous user testing across many different dimensions and methodologies, including user understanding and response, advertiser quality and effectiveness, and overall impact of the Search experience. We’ve been conducting these tests for more than a year to ensure that users can identify the source of their Search ads and where they are coming from, and that paid content is clearly labeled and distinguishable from search results as Google Search continues to evolve

    The fact it was pre-announced & tested for so long indicates it is both likely to last a while and will in aggregate shift clicks away from the organic result set to the paid ads.

  • 19/08/2022 Google Helpful Content Update

    Granular Panda

    Reading the tea leaves on the pre-announced Google "helpful content" update rolling out next week & over the next couple weeks in the English language, it sounds like a second and perhaps more granular version of Panda which can take in additional signals, including how unique the page level content is & the language structure on the pages.

    Like Panda, the algorithm will update periodically across time & impact websites on a sitewide basis.

    Cold Hot Takes

    The update hasn't even rolled out yet, but I have seen some write ups which conclude with telling people to use an on-page SEO tool, tweets where people complained about low end affiliate marketing, and gems like a guide suggesting empathy is important yet it has multiple links on how to do x or y "at scale."

    Trashing affiliates is a great sales angle for enterprise SEO consultants since the successful indy affiliate often knows more about SEO than they do, the successful affiliate would never become their client, and the corporation that is getting their asses handed to them by an affiliate would like to think this person has the key to re-balance the market in their own favor.

    My favorite pre-analysis was a person who specialized in ghostwriting books for CEOs Tweeting that SEO has made the web too inauthentic and too corporate. That guy earned a star & a warm spot in my heart.

    Profitable Publishing

    Of course everything in publishing is trade offs. That is why CEOs hire ghostwriters to write books for them, hire book launch specialists to manipulate the best seller lists, or even write messaging books in the first place. To some Dan Price was a hero advocating for greater equality and human dignity. To others he was a sort of male feminist superhero, with all the Harvey Weinstein that typically entails.

    Anyone who has done 100 interviews with journalists see ones that do their job by the book and aim to inform their readers to the best of their abilities (my experiences with the Wall Street Journal & PBS were aligned with this sort of ideal) and then total hatchet jobs where a journalist plants a quote they want & that they said, that they then attributes it to you (e.g. London Times freelance journalist).

    There are many dimensions to publishing:

    • depth
    • purpose
    • timing
    • audience
    • language
    • experience
    • format
    • passion
    • uniqueness
    • frequency

    Blogs to Feeds

    For a long time indy blogs punched well above their weight due to the incestuous nature of cross-referencing each other, the speed of publishing when breaking news, and how easy feed readers made it to subscribe to your favorite blogs. Google Reader then ate the feed reader market & shut down. And many bloggers who had unique things to say eventually started to repeat themselves. Or their passions & interests changed. Or their market niche disappeared as markets moved on. Starting over is hard & staying current after the passion fades is difficult. Plus if you were rather successful it is easy to become self absorbed and/or lose the hunger and drive that initially made you successful.

    Around the same time blogs started sliding people spent more and more time on various social networks which hyper-optimized the slot machine type dopamine rush people get from refreshing the feed. Social media largely replaced blogs, while legacy media publishers got faster at putting out incomplete news stories to be updated as they gather more news. TikTok is an obvious destination point for that dopamine rush - billions of short pieces of content which can be consumed quickly and shared - where the user engagement metrics for each user are tracked and aggregated across each snippet of media to drive further distribution.

    Burnout & Changing Priorities

    I know one of the reasons I blog less than I used to is a lot of the things I would write would be repeats. Another big reason was when my wife was pregnant I decided to shut down our membership site so I could take my wife for a decently long walk almost everyday so her health was great when it came time to give birth & ensure I had spare capacity for if anything went wrong with the pregnancy process. As a kid my dad was only around much for a few summers and I wanted to be better than that for my kid.

    The other reason I cut back on blogging is at some point search went from a endless blue water market to a zero sum game to a negative sum game (as ad clicks displaced organic clicks). And in such an environment if you have a sustainable competitive advantage it is best to lean into it yourself as hard as you can rather than sharing it with others. Like when we had an office here our link builders I trained were getting awesome unpaid links from high-trust sources for what backed out to about $25 of labor time (and no more than double that after factoring in office equipment, rent, etc.).

    If I share that script / process on the blog publicly I would move the economics against myself. At the end of the day business is margins, strategy, market, and efficiency. Any market worth being in is going to have competition, so you need to have some efficiency or strategic differentiators if you are going to have sustainable profit margins. I've paid others many multiples of that for link building for many years back when links were the primary thing driving rankings.

    I don't know the business model where sharing the above script earns more than it costs. Does one launch a Substack priced at like $500 or $1,000 a month where they offer a detailed guide a month? How many people adopt the script before the response rates fall & it offsets the costs by more than the revenues? My issue with consulting is I always wanted to over-deliver for clients & always ended up selling myself short when compared to publishing, so I just stick with a few great clients and a bit of this and that vs going too deep & scaling up there. Plus I had friends who went big and then some of their clients who were acquired had the acquirer brag about the SEO, that lead to a penalty, then the acquirer of the client threw the SEO under the bus and had their business torched.

    When you have a kid seeing them learn and seeing wonderment in their eyes is as good as life gets, but if you undermine your profit margins you'd also be directly undermining your own child's future ... often to help people who may not even like you anyhow. That is ultimately self defeating as it gets, particularly as politics grow more polarized & many begin to view retribution as a core function of government.

    I believe there are no limits to the retributive and malicious use of taxation as a political weapon. I believe there are no limits to the retributive and malicious use of spending as a political reward.

    Margins

    The role of search engines is to suck as much of the margins as they can out of publishing while trying to put some baseline floor on content quality so that people would still prefer to use a search engine rather than some other reference resource. Google sees memes like "add Reddit to the end of your search for real content" as an attack on their own brand. Google needs periodic large shake ups to reaffirm their importance, maintain narrative control around innovation, and to shake out players with excessive profit margins who were too well aligned with the current local maxima. Google needs aggressive SEO efforts with large profits to have an "or else" career risk to them to help reign in such efforts.

    You can see the intent for career risk in how the algorithm will wait months to clear the flag:

    Google said the helpful content update system is automated, regularly evaluating content. So the algorithm is constantly looking at your content and assigning scores to it. But that does not mean, that if you fix your content today, your site will recover tomorrow. Google told me there is this validation period, a waiting period, for Google to trust that you really are committed to updating your content and not just updating it today, Google then ranks you better and then you put your content back to the way it was. Google needs you to prove, over several months - yes - several months - that your content is actually helpful in the long run.

    If you thought a site were quality, had some issues, the issues were cleaned up, and you were still going to wait to rank it appropriately ... the sole and explicit purpose of that delay is career risk to others to prevent them flying to close to the sun - to drive self regulation out of fear.

    Brand counts for a lot in search & so does buying the default placement position - look at how much Google pays Apple to not compete in search, or look at how Google had that illegal ad auction bid rigging gentleman's agreement with Facebook to not compete with a header bidding solution so Google could maintain their outsized profit margins on ad serving on third party websites.

    Business ultimately is competition. Does Google serve your ads? What are the prices charged to players on each side of each auction & how much rake can the auctioneer capture for themselves?

    The Auctioneer's Shill Bid - Google Halverez (beta)

    That is why we see Google embedding more features directly in their search results where they force rank their vertical listings above the organic listings. Their vertical ads are almost always placed above organics & below the text AdWords ads. Such vertical results could be thought of as a category-based shill bid to try to drive attention back upward, or move traffic into a parallel page where there is another chance to show more ads.

    This post stated:

    Google runs its search engine partly on its internally developed Cloud TPU chips. The chips, which the company also makes available to other organizations through its cloud platform, are specifically optimized for artificial intelligence workloads. Google’s newest Cloud TPU can provide up to 275 teraflops of performance, which is equivalent to 275 trillion computing operations per second.

    Now that computing power can be run across:

    • millions of books Google has indexed
    • particular publishers Google considers "above board" like Reuters, AP, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, etc.
    • historically archived content from trusted publishers before "optimizing for search" was actually a thing

    ... and model language usage versus modeling the language usage of publishers known to have weak engagement / satisfaction metrics.

    Low end outsourced content & almost good enough AI content will likely tank. Similarly textually unique content which says nothing original or is just slapped together will likely get downranked as well.

    Expect Volatility

    They would not have pre-announced the update & gave some people some embargoed exclusives unless there was going to be a lot of volatility. As typical with the bigger updates, they will almost certainly roll out multiple other updates sandwiched together to help obfuscate what signals they are using & misdirect people reading too much in the winners and losers lists.

    Here are some questions Google asked:

    • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
    • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
    • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
    • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
    • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
    • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

    As a person who has ... erm ... put a thumb on the scale for a couple decades now, one can feel the algorithmic signals approximated by the above questions.

    To the above questions they added:

    • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
    • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
    • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
    • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
    • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you'd write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
    • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
    • Are you writing to a particular word count because you've heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don't).
    • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you'd get search traffic?
    • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there's a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn't confirmed?

    Some of those indicate where Google believes the boundaries of their own role as a publisher are & that you should stay out of their lane. :D

    Barrier to Entry vs Personality

    One of the interesting things about the broader scope of algorithm shifts is each thing that makes the algorithms more complex, increases barrier to entry, and increases cost ultimately increases the chunk size of competition. And when that is done what is happening is the macroparasite is being preference over the microparasite. Conceptually Google has a lot of reasons to have that bias or preference:

    • fewer entities to police (lower cost)
    • more data to use to police each entity (higher confidence)
    • easier to do direct deals with players which can move the needle (more scale)
    • if markets get too consolidated Google can always launch a vertical service & tip the scale back in the other direction (I see your Amazon ad revenue and I raise you free product listing ads, aggregated third party reviews, in-SERP product comparison features, and a "People Also Ask" unit)
    • the macroparasites have more "sameness" between them (making it easier for Google to create a competitive clone or copy)

    So long as Google maintains a monopoly on web search the bias toward macroparasites works for them. It gives Google the outsized margins which ensures healthy Alphabet profit margins even if the median of Google's 156,000+ employees pulls down nearly $300,000 a year. People can not see what has no distribution, people do not know what exist in invisibility, nor do they know which innovations were held back and what does not exist due to the current incentive structures in our monopoly-controlled publishing ecosystem.

    I think when people complain about the web being inauthentic what they are really complaining about is the algorithmic choices & publishing shifts that did away with the indy blogs and replaced them with the dopamine feed viral tricks and the same big box scaled players which operate multiple parallel sites to where you are getting the same machinery and content production house behind multiple consecutive listings. They are complaining about the efforts to snuff out the microparasite also scrubbing away personality, joy, love, quirkiness, weirdness, and the zany stuff you would not typically find on content by factory order websites.

    Let's Go With Consensus Here!

    The above leads you down well worn paths, rather than the magic of serendipity & a personality worn on your sleeve that turns some people on while turning other people off.

    Text which is roughly aligned with a backward looking consensus rather than at the forefront of a field.

    If you believe this effort will enhance info literacy, and that it represents evolved search, you're an idiot.

    Sharyl Attkisson gave us the head's up that they'd push censorship controls as "media literacy" several years ago.— john andrews (@johnandrews) August 13, 2022

    History is written by the victors. Consensus is politically driven, backward looking, and has key messages memory holed.

    Did he just say that? Yep. pic.twitter.com/gu9Fk7t1Sv— Kevin Sorbo (@ksorbs) August 18, 2022

    Some COVID-19 Fun to "Fact" Check

    I spent new years in China before the COVID-19 crisis hit & got sick when I got back. I used so much caffeine the day I moved over a half dozen computers between office buildings while sick. I week later when news on Twitter started leaking of the COVID-19 crisis hit I thought wow this looks even worse than what I just had. In the fullness of time I think I had it before it was a crisis. Everyone in my family got sick and multiple people from the office. Then that COVID-19 crisis news came out & only later when it was showed that comorbidities and the elderly had the worse outcomes did I realize they were likely the same. Then after the crisis had been announced someone else from the office building I was in got it & then one day it was illegal to go into the office. The lockdown where I lived was longer than the original lockdown in Wuhan. Those lockdowns destroyed millions of lives.

    The reason the response to the COVID-19 virus was so extreme was huge parts of politically interested parties wanted to stop at nothing to see orange man ejected from the White House. So early on when he blocked flights from China you had prominent people in political circles calling him xenophobic, and then the head of public health in New York City was telling you it was safe to ride the subway and go about your ordinary daily life. That turned out to be deadly partisan hackery & ignorance pitched as enlightenment, leading to her resignation.

    Then the virus spreads wildly as one would expect it to. And draconian lockdowns to tank the economy to ensure orange man was gone, mail in voting was widespread, and the election was secured.

    I actually appreciate Sam Harris for saying this out loud. This is what the vast majority of the anti Trump crowd believes, but most of them won’t say it. At least when it’s said, you can see it for what it is.pic.twitter.com/NmOqshoZlS— Dave Smith (@ComicDaveSmith) August 18, 2022

    Some of the most ridiculous heroes during this period wrote books about being a hero. Andrew "killer" Cuomo had time to write his "did you ever know that I'm your hero" book while he simultaneously ordered senior living homes to take in COVID-19 positive patients. Due to fecal-oral transmission and poor health outcomes for senior citizens sick enough to be in a senior living home his policies lead to the manslaughter of thousands of senior citizens.

    You couldn't go to a funeral and say goodbye because you might kill someone else's grandma, but if you were marching for social justice (and ONLY social justice) that stuff was immune to the virus.

    Ron DeSantis on public health experts making an exception to lockdowns for George Floyd protests: “That's when I knew these people are a bunch of frauds”

    pic.twitter.com/PzjPc80Q3g— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) August 5, 2022

    Suggesting looking at the root problems like no dad in the home is considered sexist, racist, or both. Meanwhile social justice organizations champion tearing down the nuclear family in spite of the fact that if you tear down the family all you are left with is the collective AND "mandatory collectivism has ended in misery wherever it’s been tried."

    Of course the social justice stuff embeds the false narrative of victimhood, which then turns many of the fake victims into monsters who destroy the lives of others - but we are all in this together.

    Absolutely nobody could have predicted the rise of murder & violent crime as we emptied the prisons & decriminalized large swaths of the penal code. Plus since many crimes are repeatedly ignored people stop reporting lesser crimes, so the New York Times can tell you not to worry overall crime is down.

    In Seattle if someone rapes you the police probably won't even take a report to investigate it unless (in some cases?) you are a child. What are police protecting society from if rape is a freebie that doesn't really matter? Why pay taxes or have government at all?

    What Google Wants

    The above sidebar is the sort of content Google would not want to rank in their search results. :D

    They want to rank text which is perhaps factually correct (even if it intentionally omits the sort of stuff included above), and maybe even current and informed, but done in such a way where you do not feel you know the author the way you might think you do if you read a great novel. Or hard biased content which purports to support some view and narrative, but is ultimately all just an act, where everything which could be of substance is ultimately subsumed by sales & marketing.

    "The best relevancy algorithm in the world is trumped by preferential placement of inferior results which bypasses the algorithm."

    I was a fool to dismiss Aaron for years as a cynic. He was an oracle, not a conspiracy theorist: https://t.co/V68vIXXNPI— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) November 20, 2019

    The Market for Something to Believe In is Infinite

    Each re-representation mash-up of content in the search results decontextualizes the in-depth experience & passion we crave. Each same "big box" content factory where a backed entity can withstand algorithmic volatility & buy up other publishers to carry learnings across to establish (and monetize) a consensus creates more of a bland sameness.

    That barrier to entry & bland sameness is likely part of the reason the recent growth of Substack, which sort of acts just like a blog did 15 or 20 years ago - you go direct to the source without all the layers of intermediaries & dumbing down you get as a side effect of the scaled & polished publishing process.

  • 23/05/2022 Automating Ourselves Out of Existence

    Time has grown more scarce after having a child, so I rarely blog anymore. Though I thought it probably made sense to make at least a quarterly(ish) post so people know I still exist.

    One of the big things I have been noticing over the past year or so is an increasing level of automation in ways that are not particularly brilliant. :D

    Just from this past week I've had 3 treat encounters on this front.

    One marketplace closed my account after I made a bunch of big purchases, likely presuming the purchases were fraudulent based on the volume, new account & an IP address in an emerging market economy. I never asked for a refund or anything like that, but when I believe in something I usually push pretty hard, so I bought a lot. What was dumb about that is they took a person who would have been a whale client & a person they were repeatedly targeting with ads & turned them into a person who would not recommend them ... after being a paying client who spent a lot and had zero specific customer interactions or requests ... an all profit margin client who spent big and then they discarded. Dumb.

    Similarly one ad network had my account automatically closed after I had not used it for a while. When I went to reactivate it the person in customer support told me it would be easier to just create a new account as reactivating it would take a half week or more. I said ok, went to set up a new account, and it was auto-banned and they did not disclose why. I asked feedback as to why and they said that they could not offer any but it was permanent and lifetime.

    A few months go by and I wondered what was up with that and I logged into my inactive account & set up a subaccount and it worked right away. Weird. But then even there they offer automated suggestions and feedback on improving your account performance and some of them were just not rooted in fact. Worse yet, if they set the default targeting options to overly broad it can cause account issues in a country like Vietnam to where if you click to approve (or even auto approve!) their automated suggestions you then get notifications about how you are violating some sort of ToS or guidelines ... if they can run that logic *after* you activate *their* suggestions, why wouldn't they instead run that logic earlier? How well do they think you will trust & believe in their automated optimization tips if after you follow them you get warning pop overs?

    Another big bonus recently was a client was mentioned in a stray spam email. The email wasn't from the client or me, but the fact that a random page on their site was mentioned in a stray spoofed email that got flagged as spam meant that when the ticket notification from the host sent wounded up in spam they never saw it and then the host simply took their site offline. Based on a single email sent from some other server.

    Upon calling the host with a friendly WTF they explained to the customer that they had so many customers they have to automate everything. At the same time when it came time to restoring hosting that the client was paying for they suggested the client boot in secure mode, run Apache commands x and y, etc. ... even though they knew the problem was not with the server, but an overmalicious automated response to a stray mention in a singular spam email sent by some third party.

    When the host tried to explain that they "have to" automate everything because they have so many customers the customer quickly cut them off with "No, that is a business choice. You could charge different prices or choose to reach out to people who have spent tens of thousands on hosting and have not had any issues in years." He also mentioned how emails can be sent to spam, or be sent to an inbox on the very web host that went offline & was then inaccessible. Then the lovely customer support person stated "I have heard that complaint before" meaning they are aware of the issue, but do not see it as an issue for them. When the customer said they should follow up any emails with an SMS for servers going offline the person said you could do it on your end & then later sent them a 14-page guide for how to integrate the Twillio API.

    Nothing in the world is fair. Nothing in the world is equal. But there are smart ways to run a business & dumb ways to run a business.

    If you have enough time to write a 14-page integration guide it probably makes sense to just incorporate the feature into the service so the guide is unneeded!

    Businesses should treat their heavy spenders or customers with a long history of a clean account with more care than a newly opened account. I had a big hedge fund as a client who would sometimes want rush work done & would do stuff like "hey good job there, throw in an extra $10,000 for yourself as a bonus" on the calls. Whenever they called or emailed they got a quick response. :D

    I sort of get that one small marketplace presuming my purchases might have been a scam based on how many I did, how new my account was, and how small they were, but the hosting companies & ad networks that are worth 9 to 12 figures should generally do a bit better. Though in many ways the market cap is a sign the entity is insulated from market pressures & can automate away customer service hoping that their existing base is big enough to offset the customer support horror stories that undermine their brand.

    It works.

    At least for a while.

    A parallel to the above is my Facebook ad account, which was closed about a half decade or so ago due to geographic mismatch. That got removed, but then sort of only half way. If I go to run ads it says that I can't, but then if I go to request an account review to once again explain the geographic difference I can't even get the form to submit unless I edit the HTML of the page on the fly to seed the correct data into the form field as by default it says I can not request a review since I have no ad account.

    The flip side of the above is if that level of automation can torch existing paid accounts you have to expect the big data search & social companies are taking a rather skeptical view of new sites or players wanting to rank freely in their organic search results or social feeds. With that being the case, it helps to seed what you can to provide many signals that may remove some of the risks of getting set in the bad pile.

    I have seen loads of people have their YouTube or Facebook or whatever such account get torched & only override the automated technocratic persona non grata policies by having followers in another channel who shared their dire situation so it could get flagged for human review and restoration. If that happens to established & widely followed players who have spent years investing into a platform the odds of it happening to most newer sites & players is quite high.

    You can play it safe and never say anything interesting, ensuring you are well within the Overtone Window in all aspects of life. That though also almost certainly guarantees failure as it is hard to catch up or build momentum if your defining attribute is being a conformist.

  • 19/01/2022 Engineering Search Outcomes

    Kent Walker promotes public policies which advantage the Google monopoly.

    His role doing that means he has to write some really bad hot takes that lack context or intentionally & dishonestly redirect attention away from core issues - that's his job.

    With that in mind, his most recent blog post defending the Google monopoly was exceptional.

    Force Ranking of Inferior Search Results

    "When you have an urgent question — like “stroke symptoms” — Google Search could be barred from giving you immediate and clear information, and instead be required to direct you to a mix of low quality results."

    On some search queries users get a wall of Google ads, the forced ranked Google insert (or sometimes multiple of them with local & ecommerce) and then there can even be a "people also ask" box above the first organic result.

    The idea that organic results must be low quality if not owned & operated indicates 1 of the following 3 must be true:

    • they should not be in search
    • their content scraping & various revenue shifting scams with their ad tech stack demonetized legit publishers
    • their forced rank of their own content is stripping them of the signals needed to rank websites & pages

    Whenever Google puts a "people also ask" box above the first organic result that is them saying they did not know what to rank, or they are just trying to create a visual block to push the organic result set down the page and user attention back up toward the ads.

    The solution to Google's claims is easy to solve. Either of the following would work.

    • Have an API that allows user choice (to set rich snippet or vertical defaults in various categories), or
    • If the vertical inserts remain Google-only then for Google to justify force ranking their own results above the organic result set Google should also be required to rank those same results above all of their ads, so that Google is demonetizing Google along with the rest of the ecosystem, rather than just demonetizing third parties.

    If the thesis that this information needs to be front and center & that is a matter of life or death, then asking searchers to first scroll past a page or two of ads is not particularly legitimate.

    Spam & Security

    "when you use Google Search or Google Play, we might have to give equal prominence to a raft of spammy and low-quality services."

    Many of the worst versions of spam that have repeatedly made news headlines like fake tech support, fake government document providers, and fake locksmiths were buying distribution through Google Ads or were featured in the search results through Google force ranking their own local search offering even though they knew the results were vastly inferior to Yelp.

    If Google did not force rank Google local results above the rest of the organic result set then the fake locksmiths would not have ranked.

    I have lost count of how many articles I have read about hundreds or thousands of fake apps in the Google Play store which existed to defraud advertisers or commit identity theft, but there have been literally thousands of such articles. I see a similar headline at least once a month without eve looking for them. Here is one this week for scammers monetizing the popularity of Wordle with fake apps.

    Making matters worse, some of the tech support scams showed the URL of a real business and rerouted the call through a Google number directly to a scammer. A searcher who trusted Google & sees Apple.com or Dell.com on Google Ads in the search results then got connected with a scammer who would commit identity theft or encrypt their computer then demand ransom cryptocurrency payments to decrypt it.

    After making the ads harder to run for scammers Google decided the problem was too hard & expensive to sort out so they also blocked legitimate computer repair shops.

    Sometimes Google considers something spam strictly due to financial considerations.

    Their old remote rater documents stated *HELPFUL* hotel affiliate websites should be labeled as spam.

    Years later the big OTAs are complaining about Google eating their lunch as well as Google is twice as big as the next player.

    At one point Google got busted for helping an advertiser route around the automated safety features built into their ad network so that they could pay Google to run ads promoting illegal steroids.

    With cartels, you can only buy illegal goods and services from the cartel if you don't want to suffer ill consequences. The same appears to be true here.

    The China Problem

    "Handicapping America’s technology leaders would threaten our leading sources of research and development spending — just as bipartisan voices in Congress are recognizing the need to increase American R&D investment to stay competitive in the global race for AI, quantum, and other advanced technologies."

    We are patriotic, and, but China... is a favorite misdirection of a tech monopolist.

    The problem with that is while Eric Schmidt warns it is a national emergency if China overtakes the US in AI tech, Google also operates an AI tech lab in China.

    In other words, Eric Schmidt is trying to warn you about himself and his business interests at Google.

    Duplicitous? Absolutely.

    Patriotic? Less than Chamath!

    Who the fuck did this? pic.twitter.com/BD4NKpila6— Girolamo Carlo Casio (Free Twatter) (@INArteCarloDoss) January 19, 2022

    Inflation

    "the online services targeted by these bills have reduced prices; these bills say nothing about sectors where prices have actually been rising and contributing to inflation."

    Technology is no doubt deflationary (moving bits on an optical line is cheaper than printing out a book and shipping it across the world) BUT some dominant channels have increased the cost of distribution by increasing the chunk size of information and withholding performance information.

    Before Google Analytics was "free" there was a rich and vibrant set of competition in web analytics software with lots of innovation from players like ClickTracks.

    Most competing solutions went away.

    Google moved away from an installed licensing model to a hosted service where they can change the price upon contract renewal.

    Search hid progressively more performance information over time, only sampled data from larger data sets, & now you can sign up for Google Analytics 360 starting at only $150,000 per year.

    The hidden search performance data also has many layers to that onion. Not only does Google not show keyword referrers on organic search, but they often don't show your paid search keywords either, and they keep extending out keyword targeting broader than advertisers intend.

    Yesterday's announcement on match type changes had me crawling through query data this morning. I'm staring at many 2-3 word exact match keywords that are matching to 8-word queries. G thinks 'deck paint' and 'how do i put paint on my deck' mean the exact same thing. CPA is 10x.— Brad Geddes (@bgtheory) February 5, 2021

    Google used to pay Brad Geddes to run official Google AdWords ad training seminars for advertisers, so the idea that *he* has to express his frustrations on Twitter is an indication of how little effort Google is putting into having open communications channels or caring about what their advertisers think.

    This is in accordance with the Google customer service philosophy:

    he told her that the whole idea of customer support was ridiculous. Rather than assuming the unscalable task of answering users one by one, Page said, Google should enable users to answer one another's questions.

    Those who were paying for ads get the above "serve yourself" treatment, all the while Google regularly resets user default ad settings to extend out ad distribution, automatically ad keywords, shift to enhanced AdWords ad campaigns, etc.

    Then there are other features which would be beneficial and offered in a competitive market that have been deprioritized. Many years ago eBay did a study which showed their branded Google AdWords ad buys were cannibalistic to eBay profits. Google maintained most advertisers could not conduct such a study because it would be too expensive and Google does not make the feature set available as part of their ad suite.

    Missing Information

    "When you search for local businesses, Google Search and Maps may be prohibited from highlighting information we gather about hours of operation, contact information, and reviews. That could hurt small businesses and local retailers, as well as their customers."

    Claiming reviews or an attempt to offer a comprehensive set of accurate review data as a strong point would be economical with the truth.

    Back when I had a local business page my only review was from a locksmith spammer / scammer who praised his own two businesses, trashed a dozen other local locksmiths, crapped on a couple local SEO services, and joked about how a local mover smashed the guts out of his dog. Scammer fake reviewer's name was rather sophisticated ... it was ... Loop Dee Loop

    About a decade back when Google was clearly losing Google took Yelp reviews wholesale (sometimes without even attributing them to Yelp!) and told Yelp that if they did not want Google stealing their work and displacing them with a copy of it then they should block GoogleBot. Google offered the same sort of advice / threat to TripAdvisor.

    A few years before that Google temporarily "forgot" to show phone numbers on local listings.

    After Yelp turned down an acquisition offer by Google & Yelp did a great job making some people aware of how Google was stealing their reviews wholesale without attribution Google bought Zagat & Fromer's to augment the Google local review data and then sold those businesses off.

    This is sort of the same playbook Google has run in the past elsewhere. After Groupon said no to Google's acquisition offer, Google quickly provided daily deal ads to over a dozen Groupon competitors to help commoditize the Groupon offering and market position.

    Ultimately with the above sort of stuff Google is primarily a volume aggregator or has lower editorial costs than pure plays due to the ability to force bundle their own distribution. And they use the ability to rank themselves above a neutral algorithmic position as a core part of their biz dev strategy. When shopping search engines were popular Google kept rewording the question set they sent remote raters to justify rank demotion for shopping search engines & Google also came up with innovative ranking "signals" like concurrent ranking of their own vertical search offering whenever competitors x or y are shown in the result set & rolled out a "diversity" algorithm to limit how many comparison shopping sites could appear in the search results. The intent of the change was strictly anti-competitive:

    "Although Google originally sought to demote all comparison shopping websites, after Google raters provided negative feedback to such a widespread demotion, Google implemented the current iteration of its so-called 'diversity' algorithm."

    As a matter of fact, part of one of many document dumps in recent years went further than the old concurrent ranking signal to a rank x above y feature which highlights how YouTube can be hard coded at a number 1 ranking position.

    Part of that guide highlighted how to hardcode ranking YouTube #1.

    If you re-represent content & can force rank yourself #1 (with larger listings) that can be used to force other players onto your platform on your terms. Back when YouTube was must less of a sure thing Google suggested they could threaten to change copyright.

    This same approach to "relevancy" is everywhere.

    Did you watermark your images? Well shame on you, as that is good for a rank demotion

    And if there are photos which are deemed illegal Google will make you file an endless series of DMCA removal requests even though they already had the image fingerprinted.

    Now there are some issues where there is missing information. These areas involve original reporting on local politics & are called news deserts. As the ad pie has consolidated around Google & Facebook that has left many newspapers high and dry.

    Private equity players like Alden Global Capital buy up newspapers, fire journalists, and monetize brand equity as they drive the papers into the ground.

    If you are sub-scale maybe Google steals your money or hits you with a false positive algorithm flag that has you seeking professional mental health help.

    Big players get a slower blood letting.

    Google has maintained they do not make any money from news search, but the states lawsuit around ad tech made it clear Google promoted AMP for anti-competitive purposes to block header bidding, lied to news publishers to get them to adopt AMP and eat the tech costs of implementation, did a deal with their biggest competitor in online advertising Facebook to maintain the status quo, charge over double what their competitors do for ad tech, and had a variety of bid rigging auction manipulation algorithms they used to keep funneling more money to themselves.

    Internally they had an OKR to make *most* search clicks land on AMP pages within a year of launch

    "AMP launched as an open source project in October 2015, with 26 publishers and over 40 publications already publishing AMP files for our preview demo. Our team built g.co/ampdemo and is now racing towards launching it for all of our users. We're responsible for the AMP @ Google integrations, particularly focusing on Search, our most visible product. We have a Google-wide 2016 OKR to deliver! By the end of 2016, our goal is that 50%+ of content consumed through Search is being consumed through AMP."

    You don't get over half the web to shift to a proprietary version of HTML in under a year without a lot of manipulation.

    So, when Google tells buyers an ad sold for one price and they tell sellers it sold for a lower price, isn't that just plain old fraud? I mean, on top of the anti-competitive tying and all that, fraud is illegal, isn't it?— Jerry Neumann (@ganeumann) January 14, 2022

  • 30/04/2021 Jasper.ai Review

    Background / Intro

    One of my longtime friends who was Internet marketing long before I was hit me up on Skype about a week ago praising Jasper.ai. I have to think long and hard about any other time he has really pitched or recommended something like that & really I just can't think of any other time where he did that. The following day my wife Giovanna mentioned something to me and I was like "oh you should check out this thing my buddy recommended yesterday" and then I looked and realized they were both talking about the same thing. :D

    I have a general heuristic that if people I trust recommend things I put them near the top of the "to do" list and if multiple people I trust do that I pull out the credit card and run at it.

    Unfortunately I have been a bit burned out recently and launched a new site which I have put a few hundred hours into, so I haven't had the time to do too much testing, BUT I have a writer who works for me who has a master's degree in writing, and figured she could do a solid review. And she did. :D

    She is maybe even a bit more cynical than I am (is that even possible?) and a certified cat lady who loves writing, reading, poetry and is more into a soft sell versus aggressive sales.

    Full disclosure...the above link and the one at the end of this post are affiliate links, but they had zero impact on the shape or format of the review. The reviewer was completely disconnected from the affiliate program and I pulled out my credit card to pay for the software for her to test it out.

    With that tiny bit of a micro-introduction, the rest of the post from here on out is hers. I may have made a couple minor edits for clarity (and probably introduced a few errors she will choke me for. :D) but otherwise the rest of this post is all her ...

    An In-depth Review of the Conversion.ai Writing Software

    Considering the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI), we picture robots doing tasks autonomously like humans. With a computer’s brain power, productivity is accelerated significantly. We also expect AI programs to have the capability to evolve intelligently the longer they are used. These types of AI employ “machine learning,” or deep learning to solve problems.

    AI technology can be leveraged by various industries, especially with writing. Recently, I learned about the Conversion.ai copywriting tool. It uses machine learning which claims to write “high converting copy” for websites, ads, landing pages, emails, etc. The software is geared towards writers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and agencies that benefit from creating engaging and effective copy. To date, companies such as Hubspot, Shopify, and Salesforce are known to use the software. Currently, it’s offering a 7-day free trial with 20,000-word credits.

    To give you the lowdown on Conversion.ai, I wrote an in-depth review of how this software works. I’ll go through its various features and show examples of how I used them. I’ll include the advantages of using Conversion.ai’s Jasper (that’s what it’s called) in writing scenarios. More importantly, I’ll discuss challenges and specific limitations this tool might present.

    Assistance in Creating High Conversion Copy

    As a writer doing web copy for 10 years, including the time I took a post-grad creative writing degree, I grabbed the opportunity to try this AI software. For starters, it struck me how Conversion.ai claims to provide “high converting copy” for increased conversion and higher ROI. Such claims are a tall order. If you’ve been in the marketing or sales industry, you’d know conversion depends on so many other factors, such as the quality of the actual product, customer support, price, etc. It’s not just how well copy is written, though it’s a vital part. But anyway, upon more research, I learned the app generates copy based on proven high conversion sales and marketing messages.

    To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this conversion strategy. I believe it’s a double-edged sword. This is not to undermine facts or measurable data. Basing content creation on “proven content” means you’re likely using the same phrases, techniques, and styles already used by successful competitors. This serves as a jumping board for ideas of course, so you know what’s already there. However, it can be an echo chamber. Marketers must not forget that execution must still be fresh. Otherwise, you’ll sound like everyone else.

    Next, while it seems sustainable, it also sounds pretty safe. If your product or service is not that distinct, you must put extra effort to create content that stands out. This applies to all aspects of the marketing strategy, not just in writing content. It’s a crucial principal I learned after reading Purple Cow by Seth Godin (thanks for the book suggestion, Aaron!).

    Depending on your product or service, Conversion.ai will generate copy that most consumers keep going back to. Based on the samples it generated, I’d say it really does come up with engaging copy, though it needs editing. If your business must rewrite product descriptions for extensive inventories, Conversion.ai can cut the time in half. It can help automate description rewriting without hiring more writers. That saves money and time, so businesses need fewer writers and editors.

    What did I learn? Conversion.ai can make writing and editing faster, yes, especially for low-level content focused on descriptions. It can also inform the strength of your ideas for more creative campaigns. However, it still takes solid direction and creativity to drive good marketing copy forward. That said, it’s only as good as the writer utilizing this app. As a content creator, you cannot rely on it solely for creativity. But as an enhancer, it will significantly help push ideas forward, organize campaigns, and structure engaging copy effectively.

    When you use this app, it offers many different features that help create and organize content. It also customizes copy for various media platforms. Beyond rewriting , it even has special brainstorming tools designed to help writers consider various idea angles. This can add more flavor and uniqueness into a campaign.

    At the end of the day, what will set your copy apart is the strength of your ideas and your communication strategy. How you customize content for a business is still entirely up to you. AI writing tools like Conversion.ai can only help enhance your content and the ideas behind it. It’s a far cry from creating truly unique concepts for your campaign, but it definitely helps.

    Conversion.ai Writing Features & How They Work

    This AI writing app comes with plenty of “writing templates” that are customized to help you write with a specific framework or media platform in mind. Currently, Conversion.ai offers 39 different writing templates or content building blocks that deliver results. We’ll provide details for how each one works.

    For company or product descriptions, Conversion.ai has a Start Here step by step guide, which says users should alternate between the Product Description and the Content Improver template until they have found the right mix they’re looking for. But for this review, I just focused on how to use the templates for different writing projects. The app comes with video instructions as well as a live training call if you need further assistance on how to use it.

    Each template asks you to input a description or what you want to write about. This is limited to 600 characters. Writing the description is the sole basis for how Jasper will generate ways to write or expand your content. It also helps you brainstorm and structure ideas for an article or campaign.

    But as an issue, I find the 600-character limit can hinder reposting the full content generated by the AI back into the template for improvement. Yes, it churns out marketing copy of more than 600 characters. If you want to post the improved copy again, you might have to do this in two batches. In any case, Jasper can generate as many improved writing samples as you need.

    To give you a better idea, here are different Conversion.ai templates and how they work. This is going to take a while, so have your coffee ready.

    Long-form Assistant

    This is for longer articles, emails, scripts, and stories. It’s also suggested for writing books. It has two modes, a blank document where you can start typing freely and an assistant workflow. The blank document also lets you access the rest of the other writing templates vertically. On the other hand, the long-form assistant workflow is where the app asks you to describe the content you want to create. Consider this carefully. The better you can articulate your topic, the higher quality content Jasper can help generate.

    For the example, suppose I want to write about what it took to finally release Zack Synder’s 2021 Justice League. I want to write this feature article for my film and culture website.

    Jasper asks for a maximum of three keywords. It’s optional, but I presume adding keywords will help Jasper generate more relevant content. Next, it prompts you to write a working title and start an introductory paragraph. Once you write your initial title, it will generate other title ideas.

    For the title, I wrote: The Challenges of Releasing Zach Snyder’s Justice League 2021
    It generated the following suggestions:

    Jasper generated a long list of appropriate and catchy titles. I personally liked “The Tumultuous Journey of Zack Snyder’s Justice League 2021,” though I’d shorten it a bit. I also liked “The Darkest, Toughest Production in Film History,” which basically tells audiences how hard it was to produce the version of the film. Though it’s an exaggeration, it can be qualified in the article. The other suggestions with “Behind the Scenes” and “Towards a Better Script” were more specific angles. I like that I could explore those topics too. Generally, I think it’s definitely a great tool to make title writing faster.

    So far, so good, right? But when I got to content suggestions, it got a bit messy. It was mainly because the suggested content was too general. It also tended toward suggesting expansions that were incoherent to the main topic. This did not sound very promising. Moreover, the AI added bits of information such as dates and other related information. I had to check if these details were used accurately. In a previous test I did (and even for this example), it completely got a date wrong. So I advise writers to always double check the details suggested by Jasper.

    Take a look below. The top paragraph was the one I wrote, while the ones below are suggested by Jasper.

    Content suggestions from Jasper:

    1) You might not be able to see Zack Snyder’s Justice League on the big screen, but you can catch it online in 2021. It was released digitally by Warner Bros. on November 27th 2020 and we’ve been watching it slowly climb the ranks of IMDB since then. The film had a troubled production between 2016 and 2017 with the script going through major changes before and during shooting. But now that all is said and done, what did people think? Let’s find out!

    2) Justice League is a film that was released on November 17, 2017. The movie had been preceded by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman. It’s also the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Despite being generally well-received by critics, it was considered to be a disappointment at the box office. In this blog post, we’ll take you behind the scenes and show you what went wrong with Zack Snyder’s 2021 Justice League film production!

    3) Director Zack Snyder’s Justice League film was one of the most anticipated films of 2017. Unfortunately, the film had a troubled production and was not released until 2021. That didn’t stop it from becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. What does this have to do with SEO? When you release content on your website, be sure to include keywords that are relevant to your business and industry!

    At first glance, the introduction actually looks appealing to Justice League fans. Many people have been anticipating it on the big screen. But upon further reading, compared to the paragraph I wrote, the AI content had so many problems. Besides being too general, it had issues with imprecise details. Though you can argue these problems are small and editable, it adds time to your work. It can even derail you from focusing on your topic.

    The first AI suggestion wrote that Snyder Cut was released digitally by Warner Bros. in November 27, 2020. Upon further research, I found no such confirmation of this. However, there was a YouTube video “speculating” it’s release in November 2020. But from the looks of it, this did not pan out. Officially, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released in March 18, 2021 by HBO Max via streaming platform, according to Rotten Tomatoes. And yes, it has been climbing the ranks since its digital release.

    If you’re not careful about fact-checking, you might end up with misleading information. And frankly, I feel as if some of the other suggestions may tend towards fluff. However, what you can do is choose the best suggestions and put them together into one coherent paragraph. The first suggestion ended the introduction with “But now that all is said and done, what did people think? Let’s find out!” While it’s something I want to touch on eventually, it is not the main focus of my introduction. The AI was not sensitive enough to sense this follow up was out of place. I’d rather get to the details of the challenging production. If I use this suggestion, I’ll have to edit it into “Let’s take a look at what it took to deliver the highly anticipated Snyder Cut,” or something to that effect.

    The second example, on the other hand, was quite a miss. It started by talking about the 2017 Justice League film. While it’s good to expound on the history of the project started, it got lost in discussing the 2017 version. Worse, it did not transition the topic smoothly into the 2021 Snyder Cut. If I read this introduction, I’d be confused into thinking the article was about the 2017 Justice League. Finally, it awkwardly ended the paragraph with “we’ll take you behind the scenes and show you what went wrong with Zack Snyder’s 2021 Justice League film production!” Besides the wordy sentence, suddenly it’s talking about the 2021 Justice League out of nowhere. I would not phrase the production’s challenges as something that went wrong. That’s unnecessary hype. It’s confusing, and just an example of bad writing. Again, while it can be fixed with editing, I feel better off writing on my own.

    Finally, the third example actually started okay. But then it started talking about SEO out of nowhere. I don’t know where that came from or why the AI did that, but I’ll count it as a totally unusable suggestion from the app. I reckon there might be more of those glitches if I generate more content suggestions from Jasper.

    SIDEBAR FROM AARON: COUGH. SEO IS EVERYTHING. HOW DO I REEEEECH DEZ KIDZ

    I noticed these were nuances the AI was not able to catch. It’s probably even based on trending articles at the time, which had a tendency towards hype and dated showbiz information. And though the suggestions were interesting, they were mostly too general or against the direction I needed. If the usage of the information is not accurate, imagine what that would mean for health or political articles. But too be fair, it did generate other usable suggestions with less serious edits. It’s worth looking into those.

    However, by this time, I felt I was better off writing the feature without the app, at least for this example. I guess it’s really a hit or miss. Even with so many content suggestions, I think you can still end up with inappropriate samples even if you find good ones. But at least you got a good title already. Personally, I’d rather go straight to researching on my own.

    Framework Templates

    Conversion.ai allows you to write copy based on marketing frameworks that have been used by professionals for years. It’s ideal for brands, products, and services you need to promote. This features includes the following templates:

    • AIDA Framework: The AIDA template stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This basically divides your copy into sections drawing attention from consumers and piquing their interest. The suggested copy also includes content that appeals to the consumer’s desire, then ends with a call to action.
    • PAS Framework: The PAS template is structured by generating copy which highlights the consumer’s Problem, Agitate, and Solution. It’s focused on how a particular product will help solve a consumer’s problem.
    • Bridge-After-Bridge Framework: Also known as BAB framework, this copywriting structure revolves around the idea of getting a consumer from a bad place to a better one. It shows the before and after scenario after benefitting from a product.

    For this example, I used the AIDA template for an imagined non-invasive weight loss service company. The new company promotes fitness and advocates against fad diets. It performs non-surgical weight loss procedures, such as wraps and thermomagnetic massages.

    Again, Jasper asks for a description. It also requires you to specify the tone of the copy. I placed “friendly” and “professional” under the box. See my input below.

    Here’s the first suggestion from Jasper:

    Based on this example, I’d say the AI-generated content is quite engaging. It tried to have a personal touch by letting the customer know they’re here to help. The writing empathizes with consumers who have a hard time losing weight. However, since this is for a new company, the introduction “We have helped thousands of people lose weight and get in shape,” does not apply. So as a writer, I simply have to remove it. This can be replaced with the intent to help more people lose weight and get in shape.

    I actually pulled out at least 6 different content suggestions. From these, writers could get the best parts and edit them into one strong copy description. On it’s own, the content would still benefit from a lot of editing. Here are some issues you might encounter while generating copy suggestions:

    • Hard Sell Copy. The sample content can be hard sell, even if you specify a professional tone of voice. It tends to use exclamation marks (!) per sample. I believe this depends on the product or service you are writing about. Certain products or services may sell more with the hard sell approach, so the AI suggests this strategy. It may also appear like the “proven” way to communicate to consumers. But if you’re going against this direction, it’s a nuance the AI tool might miss. If your business or client specifically avoids exclamation marks your copy, be ready to make the necessary edits.
    • Can be Wordy, Long, Redundant. In terms of style, here’s where you can’t rely on Jasper to write the entire thing. If you happen to input a long and detailed product description, the AI has a tendency to generate wordy variations of the copy. If you notice, some details are also redundant. In copywriting standards, this needs tightening. Conciseness can be an issue, most notably if you’re not used to brevity. Thus, I believe this tool will best benefit writers and editors who have considerable experience in crafting straightforward copy.

    Product Description

    The app comes with a special template for creating product descriptions. If you have a large inventory of product information for rewriting, this is the right tool to use. It even comes with an optional language output translation feature, which is available in other templates too.

    However, the language feature is limited. I tried putting Thai, Italian, and Japanese and it generated few suggestions, some mixed with English. Same thing with Punjabi and Vietnamese. In other templates, they just keep making English suggestions. Filipino is also not recognized by the AI, which likely means it cannot translate a bunch of other languages. This feature obviously needs development. But it’s not the main feature, so I doubt they’ll do a lot of improvements.

    For this example, I used an imagined tire center that offers products and services throughout the U.S. I specifically wrote that it’s the second most affordable tire center in the country. I asked for a professional and witty tone. I’m not at all fluent in Spanish, but I placed Spanish under the output language box.

    Below is the first suggested copy in Spanish:

    When translated through Google, it reads:

    “Don’t think twice, Adam’s Tire Center is your best option because it offers the largest range of products for cars and wagons. Join our satisfied customers and insure your tires with the Road Hazard Warranty service. Call or visit our sales center in Miami, FL, where we are honored to help you.”

    Obviously, I can’t comment much on the accuracy of the translation. Though certainly, I have doubts for how writing in another language can capture certain styles and tones. But right now, what I’m more concerned with is the tendency to use superlative descriptions that might not accurately fit the brand. Things like “we offer the largest range of products” should probably be tweaked to “we offer a wide range of products…” If your tire center does not offer the largest inventory, you should not be writing that. It also assumed a specific location, which prompts the writer to include the actual business location (this is a good suggestion). Again, the AI copy would benefit from fine-tuning to make it specific to your product or service.

    Now, back to English. Here are three other content samples generated by Jasper:

    The English AI-generated samples are not so bad. But in the last sample, there is a tendency for hard sell terms like “unmatched in quality,” that you need to watch out for. You can get the best parts and put them into one solid brand description. But again, these tend to be wordy and long. It would help to use the Hemingway app or Grammarly to make the descriptions tight and concise.

    Content Improver

    Using the Content Improver template will help you tweak the product or service descriptions you came up with. To show you how it works, I placed the content I wrote based on the edited tire center descriptions Jasper generated.

    For this example, I placed professional and witty under tone of voice.

    Suggested content from Jasper:

    Based on the sample suggestion, I’d say the first two can pretty much stand on their own. These are straightforward copies that address consumer needs with a direct call to action. Though the first one may sound a bit informal, it might fit the type of consumer demographic you are targeting. Finally, the last example gets a bit wordy but can be fixed with a couple of edits. The major issue is the number (555-5555), which the AI mistook for an address.

    Marketing Angles

    Besides churning out copy suggestions, Conversion.ai has a brainstorming tool. This basically takes your product or service and comes up with various campaign ideas to promote it. If you’re running out of concepts for promotion, Jasper leverages on your product’s features and strengths. I appreciate that it tried to come up with benefit-driven copy based on the example I put.

    For this example, the product I used is a gym management software. It helps gym owners manage activities, schedules, and handle payments. The software aims to run gyms more efficiently.

    I personally find the following suggestions helpful in pushing the strengths of a product. I would definitely use this tool for brainstorming ideas. Here’s what Jasper generated:

    Unique Value Propositions

    Another intriguing feature is the unique value propositions (UVP ) template. UVP is essentially a clear statement that describes the benefit your product offers. It also captures how you address your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.

    If you have a product or service, It claims to generate copy that describes your product’s unique advantage in a remarkable way. To test how this works, I used the previous example, which is the gym software. It came up with several statements that emphasized the product’s benefits. See Jasper’s suggestions below. Personally, I like the idea of software that helps me make more money with less work.

    Feature Benefit

    The feature benefit template comes up with a list of advantages offered by your product. For this example, the product is a camisole for plus size women. You’ll see how it took the paragraph details and made bulleted benefits based on those features. It’s a useful tool if you want to break down your product’s unique selling points so you can further emphasize them in your campaign.

    Persuasive Bullet Points

    Another related function is the persuasive bullet points template. This is very similar to the feature benefit template. Personally, I think it’s either you use this or the feature benefit template if you want to highlight product advantages in bullet points. On the other hand, this template doesn’t categorize benefits as emotional or standard advantages.

    Copy Headline and Sub-headline Templates

    Conversioan.ai also comes with copy headline and sub-headline templates. They claim the AI is “trained with formulas from the world’s best copywriters.” It also guaranteed to create “high-converting headlines” for businesses. At this point, the only way to know if it does have high conversion is to see actual results. Right now, my review can’t prove any of that. But it would be interesting to know from companies who have been using this software for results.

    • Perfect Headline: For this template, I used an earlier example that provides non-invasive weight loss services. You’ll see the product description I used, followed by the suggestions made by Jasper. I specifically liked the headline: Science-based approach to safe, effective fat loss. It’s right concept I was going for.

    • Website Sub-headline: I used the same product description for the sub-headline. I also used the suggested headline generated by Jasper, which is “Science-based approach to safe, effective fat loss.” Based on Jasper’s suggestions, I liked the last one, which emphasizes non-invasive slimming. It also tells consumers the procedure is safe. Though it tends to be wordy, I appreciate it provides different ways you can get your message across.

    Sentence Expander

    Another interesting feature is the sentence expander. It claims to make your sentence longer and more creative. I guess it should help you get to another thought if you caught writer’s block. But I’m wary what kind of suggestions it might give. When I tried it, it’s just another way to rewrite your sentence in a longer, more detailed way.

    In any case, see my sentence below.

    Here’s what Jasper generated:

    I’m actually not a fan of long-winded sentences. However, I do appreciate the extra details added by the AI. I can use these suggestions if I make further edits on them. But realistically, if I’m writing an article, I’d skip this and go directly to what I’m trying to say. That would save me time. If I want to talk about the negative psychological effects of social distancing, I’d write that point per point. My idea of expansion is moving an argument forward, not merely adding more details to what was already said.

    Creative Story

    Here’s an interesting template I was curious to try. I wonder how Jasper would develop a two sentence plot. It’s fascinating to see how an AI that uses “proven high conversion data” would suggest story development.

    For my example, I took a horror story plot inspired by the Bone Turner from a popular horror podcast called The Magnus Archives. See my plot description and the suggestions made by Jasper.

    Story suggestions by Jasper:

    I have to say, these are very interesting ideas for an introduction. It’s also funny how it used the name “Jonathon,” because the actual name of main character in the Magnus Archives is “Jonathan.” I kind of think that was on purpose, since the AI probably knows the Bone Turner is from a popular online show.

    In any case, I particularly liked the second suggestion. With some editing and fine-tuning, you could fix the details to fit the story in your head. On the other hand, I’m wary authors might rely too much on this to bridge plot gaps. While it’s amusing, it’s more compelling to read plot twists and resolutions that are not forced. At this stage, I’m still not convinced the AI can make a story without contrived plot twists.

    Email Subject Lines

    Besides creative writing tools, Coversion.ai also has templates for email marketing. This feature is made for businesses or individuals who want to promote products and services via email. The app claims to come up with catchy subject lines that draw consumers to open your email. In this example, I used an imaginary cake shop that delivers throughout LA. I thought Jasper came up with a long list of creative subject lines. These were spot on for the example. Since I am a cake person, I’d likely read this kind of email.

    Personal and Company Bio

    You can also generate creative personal and company bios through Jasper. If you’re running a personal blog or website, Jasper generates personal bios in first person or third person POV, whichever you are more comfortable with. I’m actually pleased with what the AI suggested. It’s a good start, because I find it hard writing about myself.

    The example below is not me, of course. I made up Jessica Ackerman as the founder of Mad Cakes in LA.

    Here’s what Jasper generated:

    It does sound like a personalized bio. Especially with the detail about cuddling with cats and dogs. Again, I’d edit it to be more particular about details. Other than that, I think it’s a good tool to use.

    Next, Jasper also generates company bios that sound professional. I put a three-sentence info about a company that boosts website conversion for businesses. I was surprised how long the suggestions were. It also presumed the names of clients the company has serviced (TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.). Again, for particular information like this, it’s important to edit or remove them. Otherwise, you might publish copy with misleading details.

    Suggestions from Jasper:

    Real Estate Listing – Residential

    You can utilize this template to create creative and descriptive residential listings. It’s helpful for real estate agents and people who are planning to sell their property. The following shows information about a house for sale, followed by listing suggestions by Jasper.

    Suggestions from Jasper:

    It’s interesting how the suggested content appeals to the consumer’s idea of a perfect home. It tries to paint a picture of affluent living just based on the golf course description I supplied. But again, for accuracy, these added details should be edited by the writer.

    Templates for Specific Online Platforms

    Besides articles and product or brand descriptions, expect Conversion.ai to provide special writing features for online platforms. This includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, and Amazon accounts. The AI’s content suggestions are based on posts and ads that have generated high traffic on these platforms. I think this a good tool to use if you want an edge over what already sells.

    • Facebook Ad Headline: Makes catchy headlines for FB ads, claims to increase chances of clicks that lead to sales.
    • Facebook Ad Primary Text: Claims to generate high converting copy for FB ad’s primary text section.

    For the Facebook ad headline, my example is a cake shop that delivers a wide assortment of cakes in Los Angeles. It specifically mentions delivering cakes “within an hour or your money back.” Here’s the example and Jasper’s suggested content.

    AI ad sample headlines:

    I must say these sound like fun and friendly FB headlines. I personally would like a last minute dessert. And if I don’t have time to pick up cake, I’d certainly like one delivered. Just not sure about “Get 500 Instagram Followers,” the suggestion is out-of-place. I’d use this tool for a fresh and exciting FB headline.

    Here’s the AI sample for Facebook ad primary text:

    Based on the FB text sample, the AI instantly suggested to give away free cake. Most of the generated samples headed toward this direction. It didn’t just generate engaging copy, it likely showed you what other cake shops do to draw more customers. I think it’s a great marketing strategy to have promos and free cake. I also like that it suggested catchy hashtags. But again, I’d fix the wordy and adjective-ridden descriptions. With a little editing, the samples should read more smoothly. Other than that, it’s a fast way to come up with social media copy.

    Photo Post Captions for Instagram

    You can use the app for a company or store’s IG accounts. Here are some samples based on a Mad Cakes Black Chocolate Indulgence photo. If you need ideas for your IG post, this tool can suggest copy that’s simple and straightforward for IG. Depending on your product or service, it suggests content that typically targets your customers base.

    Video Writing Templates for YouTube

    Next, Conversion.ai offers specialized templates for videos, specifically for platforms such as YouTube. But I also think you can use the content similarly if you’re posting on other video sites. However, the suggestions are based on content with high traffic on YouTube. It includes the following features:

    Video Topic Ideas: For brainstorming video content concepts that rank well on YouTube. For example, your initial topic is baking homemade cake. It’s a useful tool for letting you know what people are actually interested in. It gives you an idea what to work on right off the batt. Here are the AI’s suggestions. It mentions concepts for cake baking videos many people look for:

    Video Script Outline: Helps make script outlines for any topic. However, this works more suitably for how-to and listicle type videos, not the ones with a narrative. The example below for how to spot aurora borealis or Northern lights. From the AI suggestions, you can choose the best strategies to come up with your own outline. I noticed many suggestions can be too general, besides the more specific ones I posted below. It’s still best to do your own research to make your video content more nuanced and unique. Otherwise, you may just parrot what other content creators have already done.

    Video Titles: Like the other templates, there’s also a video title feature. As an example, many users on YouTube like to create content about shows or films. Suppose you want to write a feature about the anime Attack on Titan. For the suggestion, the AI actually came up with pretty awesome titles and topics you can start researching on. While this is based on high-traffic fan search, what you can do is watch what’s already there. This will help you come up with more unique insights about the show that has not been tackled. Again, try to focus on what would set your content apart from what’s already there.

    Blog Post Templates

    Conversion.ai provides templates that help you conceptual blog posts for your brands. It has tools to help you brainstorm topic ideas and outline your content. These suggestions are all based on high ranking topics on Google. It also comes with features that help compose blog post introductions and conclusions.

    • Blog Post Topic Ideas
    • Blog Post Outline
    • Blog Post Intro Paragraph
    • Blog Post Conclusion Paragraph

    For the example, let’s focus on the topic template. I used the earlier example, Best Shape, which is an imaginary non-invasive weight loss service. See the AI’s suggestions below.

    Jasper’s results show topics that trend around non-invasive weight loss methods. Trending topics around your market is always good to know. For ideas on blog topics, I think Conversion.ai will really be a useful tool. If you need help structuring your outline, I think it’s worth using it especially if you’re having trouble with organization.

    Personally, after getting different topics, you can start writing your post without the app. You won’t need it especially if you already have an idea what to write. It’s still better to do proper research than rely on the app to add information on your post. As you’ve noticed, it has a tendency to supply the incorrect information, which you must diligently edit.

    Would I Recommend This Software?

    After crash testing Conversion.ai, I would recommend this tool to agencies or individuals that deal with extensive online copywriting and product rewrites. They will benefit the most by eliminating the time-consuming process of doing product descriptions. I would also recommend it for businesses that run social media campaigns, including Google and Amazon ads. This will help generate and organize copy ideas faster, especially if you have a lot of products and services to promote. And because the AI suggestions are based on high-ranking topics, you have a better idea of what your client base is also looking for. It can also enhance messaging concepts and help brainstorm new campaign ideas for a product or brand. Just remember to always edit the content suggestions.

    On the other hand, I would not recommend this app for long-form writing. I do not think it is ideal for any writing that requires a lot of research. Because the AI suggestions tend towards incorrect information, you’re better off researching current data on your own. It’s an interesting tool for wring stories, but I also worry authors might be too reliant on the app for plot ideas. There is a difference between carefully worded prose versus long-winded sentences composed by this app. Human writing is still more precise with expression, which the AI has yet to learn.

    While it’s a good tool to have, the bottom line is, you still need to edit your content. It will help you structure your outline and compose your post. However, the impetus for writing and the direction it will take is still on you, the writer. My verdict? AI writing technology won’t fully replace humans anytime soon.

    Update: This article was updated in May of 2022 to reflect Conversion.ai's AI writing bot name changed from Jarvis to Jasper. No other changes have been made since the original publication of this article.

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