Google Search Engine Results Get New Look

Google Shuffles New Look With Card-Based Search Results

0 comments / May 21, 2016

Google is testing a new look for their desktop search results with Google card-based search results.

Though the change reflects the design of mobile results and may make it easier for people to tell the difference between paid results and organic results, some are worried the change may make it easier for Google to bury organic results below knowledge graph results.

Google Card-Based Search Results

The idea that people can Google can serve the same information you serve with your website is a scary thought, because it have a negative impact on how many people ultimately visit your site.

Google continuing to push organic results further down the front page is not a good sign.

– Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal

It makes sense.

However, I would argue that Google only displays information from the knowledge graph when it improves the user experience and makes sense.

For example, if you wanted to know who the CEO of Reddit was currently, Google would serve that information directly in the search results.

Google Knowledge Graph in the Search Results

These types of results wouldn’t occur for all queries.

Google is becoming increasingly able to understand your intent. This type of search tells them you want a quick answer. Adding “bio” to this query changes the results dramatically, because Google understands you’re interested in more information than they can provide in the results directly.

Still, the idea that Google is pushing organic results further down the page with the knowledge graph and Google card-based search results bothers people.

For some, it feels like Google is stealing content in effort to hoard visitors.

I view it as a good thing, because it avoid the frustration the search may encounter if they’re unable to find the information on the website … and that frustration may have an impact on your business. For example, if you owned a restaurant but Google didn’t serve your address upfront in the search results, people may become frustrated with how difficult it is to find your restaurant and opt to go with another restaurant in the area.

On top of that, this may help keep your bounce rate down, which is something search engines consider when ranking your website.

I’m curious to know what you think about this – please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

( cc ) Image by super bond1

Gboard features | Chris Rice

Gboard Is A New Keyboard for iOS and It’s Fucking Awesome

0 comments / May 18, 2016

Google just released a new app, called Gboard, and it’s only available to iOS right now … yeah, nobody knows.

The keyboard provides a sleek keyboard capable of Google Search, GIFs, emojis, and more. The coolest part about it is how it bridges the gap between whatever app you’re using and Google Search. So, instead of having to switch apps, you can now search wherever you are.

Gboard was designed to help people find information they want to share, like an address, song, and so on.

 

Gboard Demo | Chris Rice

If you handle your own search engine optimization, it may interest you to know Gboard search results are different from the results that appear while using a desktop or mobile device. I don’t think this will provide much of an opportunity for optimization, but you’ll want to make sure your phone number, address, and other important business information is correct to ensure mobile users can find, share, and make plans to visit you.

The engineers at Google designed the experience this way in effort to accommodate different situations. If you’re on your computer, you’re probably have more time to explore the results. If you’re on a mobile device, you’re probably more interested in quick answers and local information. And if you’re using Gboard, you’re probably looking for specific information to share with someone.

“You don’t actually view results within Gboard, but rather share them” –Rajan Patel, principal engineer at Google

Google says they don’t have plans for ads on Gboard at this time, but it’s pretty obvious this is how they roll – attract users to a free app, monetize it with AdWords later.

10 Basic Things that Improve A Blog Post

10 Basic Things that Improve A Blog Post

4 comments / March 26, 2016

Looking for things that improve a blog post?

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been blogging for a while, you may find these basic things helpful in improving your next blog post.

I’m not sure about you, but I usually pause before hitting publish and think about ways I can improve my work. The following list is basic stuff, but it’s good to get into the habit of incorporating them into your work as much as possible.

Let’s take a look.

1. A PROMISING HEADLINE

What makes a headline promising?

Information.

We crave information because it allows us to shortcut the learning curve. Instead of spending hours experimenting and gaining personal experience, we can read an article from someone who already did it and gain that insight.

For this reason, we’re attracted to content that promise some kind of information in the headline.

Data, news, personal insight – it’s all information.

Try using numbers, power words, and emotional triggers in your headline, then run them by the headline analyzer for tips on how to improve it.

Make a promise to your reader.

2. AN IMAGE PEOPLE WANT TO SHARE

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the web is pretty damn visual these days.

Do you know why?

It’s not because of social giants like Pinterest and Instagram – it’s because visual sensory accounts for 90% of information transmitted to the brain, and we process visuals 60,000x faster than text.

Including an image is a smart way to attract more attention, but it isn’t enough to generate next-level engagement … the type of engagement that amplifies your content further than your audience.

Your image has to be sexy.

You have to include an image people want to share … an image that looks so good, people want to be associated with it.

Try to mimic images you want to share.

Do they involve color, effects, or lack thereof? If so, take not of your observations and practice creating your own with tools like Canva.

If you’re not great at visual creation, lean toward minimalist.

Keep it simple.

3. A STRONG FIRST SENTENCE

If you know a little about copywriting, you know the first sentence only has one job – get the reader to read the second sentence.

That’s it.

The first sentence has to hook the reader’s interest.

So, how do you do this?

There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, but here are a few things that usually hook my attention.

  • Ask a question your reader wants answered.
  • Say something unexpected.
  • Start with a single word.

Writing a good first sentence is a lot like writing a good tweet – it’s not about finding a formula, it’s about identifying what works with your audience.

For example, we know tweets that include images and hashtags get more engagement.

4. A QUICK OPENING

Get to the point!

That’s what your readers are thinking when they start reading your content.

They’re not sitting down with a bag of popcorn excited to see where you take them in the next two hours. They just want the information you promised in your headline.

You don’t have to provide an overview of your entire content – you just need to identify their pain point, twist the knife, and offer a solution.

Keep it short.

Try some of these opening formulas if you’re having trouble getting to the point with your opening.

4. SUBHEADINGS

You already know people skim content, but do you know why?

It’s a way to find out whether or not the content actually delivers on the promise offered by the title. We look at subheadings before we commit our time and attention to reading content in its entirety.

But why?

Because we’re super-busy, super-distracted, or in most cases super-both.

We don’t want to dive into a 700 word block of text – we want to get to the information promised by the title as quickly as possible.

Subheadings help us achieve this.

In addition, subheadings also provide a summary of what your content is about. This is why search engines pay attention to subheadings, which, in turn, is why it’s important to optimize your subheadings.

Avoid the block.

Break your content into sections.

Then break your sections into paragraphs.

Then break your paragraphs into short sentences.

The style may not be aligned with traditional writing or whatever, but it makes it easier to read.

That’s all that matters.

5. PUNCH, NOT FLUFF

Fluff sucks.

No one wants to waste their time reading content that doesn’t actually say anything. One of the reasons I have so many unpublished drafts is because halfway through the writing I realized I didn’t actually have much to say on the topic.

I could have fluffed it up and published it, but it wouldn’t do anyone any good – especially not me.

A few things to avoid:

  • Striving for a specific word count goal
  • Adding content to make your article appear full
  • Writing out loud ( wandering through the topic without direction )

Focus on punch.

Give your readers the information they want quickly.

This isn’t to say you should strip your voice from your content. Your readers want to hear your voice. It’s what makes you different from others ( ideally ).

Try to create momentum by punching to the information your reader wants.

You could spend a lot of time trying to rewrite something so it’s more concise, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Write naturally, but be sure to re-read the content with the goal of cutting it into a leaner form.

6. BULLETS

Your content should be easy to skim.

Before we commit to reading an entire articles, we skim the surface to assess whether or not it looks like an article we want to read.

We’re not just looking for key points of information, as conveyed by subheadings and images, we’re also looking at the aesthetic of the content.

Bullet points help make content more aesthetically pleasing.

Similar to subheadings, bullet points break content up into smaller bite-size sections.

I’m not saying dense content isn’t valuable … I’m just saying no one wants to read it.

Skimmable content offers value with its convenience.

People want convenience.

They also offer a chance to create hooks more specific in their nature than subheadings. If your subheadings fail to hook the reader’s attention as they skim through your content, your bullets may do the trick by providing an interesting tip, statistic, or whatever.

Avoid overusing bullets throughout your content.

Use them where it makes sense.

7. LINKS

You don’t need to hoard your reader’s attention.

Be helpful.

The more helpful you are, the more likely your readers will think of you. Link out to content from around the web where it makes sense. You won’t get credit for the content you link to, but you’ll get credit for introducing it to them.

We enjoy when someone introduces us to new people. It’s a moment of opportunity to connect with new people, gain insight, have a laugh, or make new friends.

We love people who connect us with each other.

A link is no different.

Links connect us.

Links introduce readers to value beyond the scope of our own content, which scores points for helpfulness and even authority.

On top of that, linking to another blogger can be a great way to get on their radar if they’re paying attention to their backlinks ( we all are ).

Furthermore, search engines consider sites that link to related content more valuable.

Don’t be afraid to send your visitor away from your site.

Be generous with your fist bumps!

9. A POWERFUL CLOSING

This is where a lot of people fall short.

It takes practice, but writing strong closings can help generate a reaction.

In my opinion, the best closings provide a short summary of your article, suggest the next steps the reader can take, and ask a question.

These three things help form a powerful closing.

Let’s break these down.

SUMMARY

This quickly wraps up the content by reminding the reader why they started reading in the first place.

It reiterates the pain point they’re experiencing, sweeps through the major points of information you just covered, and gives them a reason why the information you just gave them will help remedy the problem.

NEXT STEPS

Providing the information promised in the headline is great, but providing readers will a plan of action is next-level helpful.

Suggesting the next step the reader can take to implement the information relieves them from having to interpret the content, which can be extremely helpful. It’s the difference between knowing the information and knowing how someone else is using the information.

Reveal how you use the information with your own work.

ASK AN EASY QUESTION

If you want to spark discussion around your content, consider asking an easy question in the closing.

Readers are more likely to jump into the comments section of your blog post if you ask questions. The trick is asking the right one.

Keep it simple, easy to answer, and relevant to your content.

10. DISCUSSION

We love discussion … maybe even more than Brick loves lamp.

Discussing information with others helps us discover additional value – it may be in the form of questions we didn’t think to ask, insight from those with additional tips, or simply connection with others experiencing the same problem.

Take the time to engage your readers in the discussion.

In addition to providing value beyond the initial information, the discussion also reveals social proof that others find your content helpful.

Getting more comments is a popular topic among bloggers, as people aren’t as eager to jump into the discussion section of an article these days.

Respond to every comment.

Be engaging.

If someone takes the time to post a comment, try to respond in a way that sparks further discussion. Ask additional questions, provide additional links, or let them know you just read a related article on their blog and recommend others take a look by providing a link.

When we discuss things offline, it often includes multiple exchanges. Strive for this in your discussion online and you may be able to spark an ongoing discussion.

CONCLUSION

Push yourself to publish the best work possible.

Next time you pause before publishing and ask yourself if your blog post could be better, take a look at this list for ten things that improve a blog post.

Try to include one or two of them to start, and gradually include more as it becomes more comfortable.

I hope these ten basic things help you improve your next blog post, but I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

What else improves a blog post?

10 Basic Tools I’m Using As A Blogger In 2016

0 comments / February 27, 2016

How long has it been?

You know … since you started looking for the magical tool of successfulness … the secret tool all the successful bloggers use.

The tool they use to magically grow their audiences, build their email lists, and create their revenue streams?

If only it were that simple.

Tools I’m Using As A Blogger

The magical tool of successfulness may not exist, but there are plenty of real tools that do. All you have to do is find the right combination that works for you.

I’ve tried a lot different combinations over the years, but find that keeping it simple works best for me – at least for now.

Here are the tools that work for me and why.

Organization

Evernote – I use this for general planning, taking notes on the go, free-writing, and drafting content in a distraction-free environment. It’s almost like a private digital journal, where you can dump all your ideas, works in progress, and to-do lists. I like that my account is always synced – no matter if I’m using my computer or phone, I can pick up where I left off.

Google Drive – I use this to share documents and collaborate with others. I like it because it eliminates the need to use email ( thanks #GoogleWave ).

Editorial

Editorial Calendar – I use this for content management and scheduling. It’s not CoSchedule, but it’s free and supports a bird’s eye view of your month, drag and drop re-arranging, and setting deadlines. If you’re serious about content, start here.

Visuals

Canva – I use this to create social media, infographic, and article visuals. I like it because it has a collection of presets available for popular social networks, so you don’t have to worry about the ideal dimensions for your social profiles or posts. It also offers a ton of great fonts, imagery, and pre-designed text styles. I used Canva to create the image above.

SEO

Google AdWords – I use a few other tools for long-tail and competitive keywords, but this is still my go-to for general keyword research.

Yoast – I use this to optimize my content for search engines. I like it because it offers several optimization measurements within WordPress, including keyword density, readability, and more.

Moz – I use this to track how well or poorly my content is ranking within search engines. I like it because it offers keyword insights, revealing where you need to improve.

EMAIL

MailChimp – I use this for subscriber management and email communication. Clean. Simple. I like it because it’s easy to use and I don’t have many subscribers so it’s still free lol.

Social

Buffer – I use this for scheduling social activity, monitoring follower reactions, and optimizing my social timing based on my following. I like it because it allows me to batch social activity for the week in one sitting, which in turn allows me to focus on creating new content.

ANALYTICS

Google Analytics – I use this for traffic insights. At times it feels pretty bulky, but I like it because it’s powerful and free.

Conclusion

It’s always a good idea to keep searching for tools that help you improve as a blogger, but don’t let yourself waste time searching for the magical tool of successfulness.

You already have it.

There’s only one way to grow an audience, build an email list, and create a revenue stream – you have to do the work.

You have to set your mind to it.

Because in the end, your mind is the magical tool of successfulness.

What Tools Are You Using this year?

I’d love to hear what tools you’re using to improve your blogging – let me know in the comment section below.

Reward Good Comments from Readers

2 comments / January 12, 2016

We love comments.

Especially now that it’s more difficult than ever to get high-quality comments that contribute to the ideas in our content.

So how do we encourage them?

“Drawing attention to your readers who use comments well affirms them but also draws attention of other readers to good use of your comments section.”

This is just one of 10 techniques shared by Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger, so be sure to check out the full post for more.

It’s still pretty early for me to put this into action here, but I’d like to try it on the blogs I visit as well.

Do you compliment fellow readers while visiting another blog?

A Simple Content Marketing Statement Template

3 comments / January 8, 2016

If you struggle to put your content marketing strategy into words, you may find this content marketing statement template helpful.

This was a popular topic among content marketers in 2015, as it became clear most of us were just winging it as we explored the latest trends.

Let’s make 2016 the year we actually do that.

Keep it simple

The best way to put your content marketing strategy into words is to keep it simple.

Featured over at Content Marketing Institute, this fun fill-in-the-blanks template from @meghscase makes it easier than ever to define your content marketing statement.

blank Content marketing statement template - Chris Rice

I like it because it doesn’t let your mind wander for too long, which means you won’t get distracted by the next content marketing trend that pops up tomorrow morning.

Just fill in the blanks and you’re done.