Category Archives: Analytics

Pursuing Informatics

There’s no doubt that finding meaning in the data your company has amassed is necessary to staying competitive. But, as you scan your available talent pool, you might be wondering, “Who?” Who will be able to make sense of it all?

Differences between Informatics and Computer Science

According to Charles P. Friedman in “What informatics is or isn’t”, “Sciences basic to informatics include, but are not limited to: information science, computer science, cognitive science, and organizational science (224).” He goes on to say that informatics is NOT “scientists or clinicians tinkering with computers (225).”

In “What is biomedical informatics,” Bernstam, Smith, and Johnson suggest “information technology-oriented definitions focus on technology and tools…These definitions usually emphasize computer-based technologies.” They reason that “clearly, computers are very important tools for biomedical informaticians. Many activities associated with biomedical informatics such as data mining or electronic medical records would not be meaningful without computers. However, by focusing on computers, technology-based definitions emphasize tools rather than the work itself. (105)”

If you want to find the “why” of a problem or even potential solutions, delve into informatics. Berstam, Smith, and Johnson define it as, “the science of information, where information is defined as data with meaning (106).”

Social Drivers for the use of Information Technology

At digital marketing conferences, you’ll hear speakers discuss the latest innovations in data gathering as key to having better “personalized” results. While the driving facade is always “we want to better meet customer needs,” there’s no doubt that banks, hospitals, search companies, and businesses in general are driven by economic gain.

An altruistic view of informatics could be applied to education. Educators use online testing and measurement companies to gather and plot data, so that our teachers can analyze and strategize to improve professional development reports, curriculum, and lesson plans. But, while the driver in any given district is to bring special needs students to the next benchmark or give AP students specific problem areas and resources needed to obtain higher test scores, third party testing companies could be using student information to develop a broader portfolio of data collection and problem-solving services for economic reasons. Data could be shared, in some cases, with partner vendors to develop services identified to address district needs. Additionally, the government could access data. In 2014, My Web Writers published “Do You Trust the Internet?” about how to protect children from data gathering.

Information is power.

According to an April 15, 2014 article entitled, Study Finds Big Data is the Driving Force Behind Growth in Public Cloud Services, “public cloud providers are using big data to drive their own operations, get new customers and expand product portfolios. According to the analysis, the turnover of the 50 leading public cloud providers increased by 47 percent to $6.2 billion in the fourth quarter compared with the same period last year.” The increase in the Cloud size indicates an increase in the public’s thirst for knowledge.

On the bright side, advancements in cures for diseases, delivery of food, water, and medicines to third world countries, or forging new technologies into space are closer than before because of advancements in this field.

Is Informatics a Science? 

Because the government and corporate world are thirsty for talent who can interpret data and knowledge into information, one suspects the question of whether or not informatics is a science can be waved in favor of it being a science. Companies enroll employees in college programs to develop talent because the potential pay-off for corporate profit is so great. College administrators know a money-making degree when they see one. Informatics may or may not be a science, but a degree in it will give one a competitive edge today.

According to a mini lecture by Josette Jones, Mayo says, “A science has:

  1. a theoretical foundation, a set of generally accepted principles and well-supported general hypotheses, termed a paradigm by Kuhn (1970).
  2. a set of well-validated methods and techniques that do not depend on the underlying paradigm, although interpretation of the results of these methods may depend on the current paradigm.
  3. the ability to directly test hypotheses through empiricism.
  4. the ability to attribute failures in testing to specific features of a hypothesis.
  5. the ability to question the underlying paradigm of the discipline (Week 1 p. 3).”

Bertam et al. suggest that “Defining the central study of informatics as data + meaning allows us to distinguish informatics as a science from computer science, mathematics, statistics, the biomedical sciences and other related fields. It also clarifies each of these fields in informatics” (107).

Validating methods, testing, and attribution can be answered by the Tower of Achievement model as presented by Friedman. The steps of model formation, system development, system deployment, and study of effects nicely address the above list of requirements to be a science.

Friedman's Tower of Achievement

 

Commonalities between all sub-disciplines of Informatics

Finding the meat of the matter unifies the various sub-disciplines of informatics. E.V. Bernstam et al. say that “Despite the lack of agreement, most definitions, regardless of their category, focus on data, information and knowledge as central objects of study in informatics (105).”

Lingering Questions about Informatics

How will the bar rise as artificial technology continues to better decipher meaning? To what extent would the field change if computers advance enough to determine significant meaning or question the underlying paradigms or disciplines? Deciding who determines meaning and how he or she determines it before programming AI or artificial intelligence requires attention. Courses in informatics ethics should be required.

The science of informatics is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on (and contributing to) a large number of other component fields, including computer science, decision science, information science, management science, cognitive science, and organizational theory. ~ AMIA.

Consider cross-training your staff in informatics to continue developing your company’s competitive edge.

~Jean

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What Have We Learned about Consumers from Parsing Big Data?

If you’ve shopped recently (whether in a store or online), you may have been asked for a phone number or email address, or maybe both. Have you ever wondered why you’re being asked for information more often than previous years? The answer is simple—companies are gathering data and watching buying patterns to learn more about consumers as a whole. Even if your information isn’t collected, your transaction is later analyzed to determine when certain items were bought and what to send to that store’s inventory for the following year, as most companies base their performance against last year’s (LY’s) numbers. This data that is collected is referred to as big data, a term that is essentially used to explain the large growth and quick availability of both structured and unstructured data and information (SAS).

Categories of Data

The SAS Institute explains three categories often looked at when analyzing this data: volume, velocity, and variety. While the volume of data being collected is growing higher all the time, storage of the collected data is not as big a problem as it previously was—data storage costs are decreasing. So, with the volume of data being collected at a fast pace, the question becomes how to determine the relevance of the data collected and how to make the data valuable. Data comes in a wide variety of both structured and unstructured formats—everything from structured numeric data (such as data gathered from transactions) to unstructured text documents such as emails or social media activity.

What Can the Analysis of Big Data Change?

In an article with Forbes, we learn from Kurt Abrahamson (CEO of ShareThis) exactly what can be done with data gathered. Data gathered by companies through social media is as simple as clicking a “like” button on something and then “sharing” it on with your friends and family on a social media network. Whether it’s an article, a blog post, a product, a video, or anything else you can think of, once it’s “liked,” analytics companies create a profile which is then given to advertisers. This is how major companies reach out and find new customers.

Once companies have data on potential customers, they must find a way to appeal to new customers while keeping current customers happy. Thinking about this from a content perspective, we must sell products (in a storefront or online) by making them appealing to customers. In a physical store, the story is told with the products themselves, through the way they are organized. However, as Internet Retailer points out, many more consumers are shopping online. This means that insightful content is going to continue to be valued on company websites.icons

Specific and detailed descriptions of products and services will make a huge difference when it comes to the success or failure of e-stores. Look at some product descriptions on an e-store. Are they clear and concise? Do they give you a reason to want the product? Is there a way for the product to be rated by the consumer? Perhaps they even suggest a use! For example:

  • These jeans are made with a stretch denim and come in a variety of sizes to fit everyone.
  • Our most-loved, boot-cut jeans feature the classic, 5-pocket design and are made with soft, stretch denim. All are available in sizes 0 to 13!

Which would you buy?

What Does Big Data Tell Us About Consumers?

Essentially, by watching and tracking what is bought and read online, we can learn a lot about consumers. There are some things that are bought a certain seasons, such as school supplies. However, when a family that buys the standard yearly school supplies also buys a new laundry hamper, shower caddy, storage totes, cleaning supplies, and a closet organizer, it’s an indication that they are either moving or their child is going away to college—that’s a major life change worth tracking. According to an article in the New York Times, the most common time of life for buying patterns to change is around the time a child is born. Not during the planning stages, but during the last few weeks leading up to the birth and the first few weeks after, when parents are exhausted and begin weighing options of cost, brand, and reviews. After the baby is born, parents are often hit with a massive flow of offers, deals, coupons, and other things pertaining to their new baby—content and reviews may play a part in which product parents will buy.

Analyzing big data can tell us a variety of things about consumers—what’s going on in their lives, what their favorite brands are, during what time of year they purchase certain items, and so on. Companies are also able to make data-driven decisions about what products to bring out at what part of the year, what products are in a higher demand with consumers, and even in what part of the country certain products sell better. By tracking and gathering data, companies will be able to watch where the traffic is going to better concentrate their marketing and content efforts. ~Holly

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Filed under Analytics, Business Strategy, Holiday Blog, Merchandising, Product Descriptions, Sales

From Blah to Fab, Freshen Up Your Web Copy Like These Sizzling Sites

By My Web Writers

The dreaded website.  You’ve been delaying that “website refresh” (for like, months now.)  Why is it so difficult to keep an online presence current? Most likely, it’s because writing website copy as a non-web writer can be very intimidating and time consuming. There are search engine optimization guidelines to garner the best possible results, flair to create, and brand enforcement guidelines. Sometimes, it’s easier to just leave the website alone.

But making (and updating) a great website doesn’t mean adding thousands of words of copy. You just have to choose the right words. Take apple.com, for example. Known for its minimalist style, this website doesn’t inundate you with words; in fact, you’ll be blown away by the size of the main image (usually an ad for its latest and greatest product) on its homepage. It utilizes perhaps the most important trick in website copywriting: succinct headlines and subtitles. If you’re looking for something other than its latest release, the navigation pane at the top is simple and clean. And Apple’s search tool is highly effective in helping you find specific information if you want to drill down further.

Another great, easy-to-read website is Groupon.com. With the flattering green background, easy-to-read details, and simple font, browsing through Groupon is better than a walk through a mall on any given day – and probably less expensive! Once you click on a deal, the copy is succinct, usually a bit entertaining, and easy-to-follow. Groupon speaks one-on-one with the customer, one of the most important tools in a web copywriter’s bag. The vendor site is also a breeze at grouponworks.com. Success stories in video form line the top half of the page, and navigation tools are just below.

Would you believe a public library’s annual report is one of our favorite sizzling sites? The St. Louis County Library District 2012 Annual Report is a unique presentation. It’s chock full of visuals (videos, pictures, graphs), easy-to-read content with great font choices, simple navigation tools, and links to its website when necessary. It’s a unique way to tell a story, from a library, the home of many stories.

Mailchimp.com subscribes to the belief that less is more. “Send better email,” it says on its homepage. By stating this one fact, there is no question about the sole purpose of MailChimp, which is yet another web writer’s trick. They even have compelling, well written success stories in their MailChimp at Work section.

In general, when freshening your web copy:

  • make sure that titles and subtitles include that page’s keywords,
  • check for grammar, spelling, and usage issues.
  • run questionable copy through Grammarly and Copyscape.
  • make sure sales, product, and seasonal information is up-to-date.
  • check analytics to see which pages visitors usually flow to before and after visiting the page you’re working.
  • update broken, old, or non-converting hyperlinks.
  • try writing to capture a new audience.  Add semantically relevant keywords to the copy.

There are many other factors to consider when writing your web copy, too. Font style and size, colors, images, accurate and concise page titles, use of white space, and killer headlines all count toward the legibility of your website. So tell us, what are your favorite websites? What makes yours easy to read?

~Joanne


Other Posts:

Ten Content Tips for the Zero Moment of Truth Marketing Plan

My Mother Had ALS

Fat Brain Toys and User-Generated Content

Guidelines for Writing E-Tail Category Content

Seven Local Angles to Address in Content

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Filed under Analytics, Audience, Blog Writing Tips, Capturing Audience, Content, E-Tail Category Content, Grammar, Revising & Proofreading, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Content Improved our Client’s Keyword Reach and Searchlight Mapped It

By My Web Writers

Today, I’m off to the 2013 Conductor C3 conference in New York to talk about actionable, content strategies and ideas.  As a sneak preview, huddle in for a snapshot of how adding and refreshing content was successful for one of My Web Writers’s clients. We used Searchlight to map the progress.

Before Content:

It amazes me how some Internet Marketers glibly preach, “content is king” and yet remove content fields at the tops and bottoms of their web pages.  Why?

Some e-tailers believe that words clutter a page’s look, while others lack the manpower, planning, and budget for content.  “Pictures are worth a thousand words,” right?

A year ago, one of My Web Writers’s clients embarked on a site redesign.  Two weeks before launch the redesign team informed us of the project and that they needed a lot of content quickly.  Unfortunately, this customer did not plan for content and thus didn’t have the budget until 2013 to add content to a significant number of blank pages.  Sales and SEO suffered during the wait.

Our team was able to put the final pages of content up by February 2013.  Then, we went back and attacked pages that hadn’t been touched in over a year.  Because we kept spreadsheets of what had been refreshed and when it had been refreshed and had the advantage of using Searchlight, Conductor’s keyword tool and Google Analytics, we were able to identify which urls needed new and improved content.For Slideshow- Where to start optimizing

What Kind of Content?

In 2012, I’d worked with Conductor’s Searchlight tool for about a year before attending the C3 conference as a participant.  During one of the evening socials, a camera crew interviewed me about my Searchlight experience.

This year, I’m going to touch on what content to add and where to add it on your website.  In general, deliver the content that your keywords promise, be mindful of spelling and grammar, show and don’t tell the story, and reach out to customers to help you with user-generated content.  Employ writers who combine product knowledge, category facts, and persona data with SEO, marketing, and customer-service savvy.

After Content

June- August 18, 2013 Conductor Keyword Pipeline Graph

By April we were beginning to see traction with not only the client’s most strategic keywords, but a plethora of other industry terms that had been under-performing, simply because picture-only pages now offered conversion-inspiring content.

Sales improved.

Do you have a similar story?

By all means, if you’ll be at #C3NY, please come over, say “hi,” and share your story!

~Jean


Other Posts:

Twenty-five Effective, Call-to-Action Phrases in E-commerce Content

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

Learn from Websites with Above-the-Fold Content

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Conferences, Content Marketing, E-Tail Category Content, Keywords, My Web Writers Introduction

What is Bing’s Subjectship and How does it Compare to Google’s Authorship?

UPDATE 2015: Google’s Authorship was scrapped by the end of 2013. We believe My Web Writers was a voice that contributed to this end. In an article, Forbes details the finale. Read My 2013 SMX Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship. About that time, Bing’s subjectship faded into an abyss, as well.

By Natalie

Authorship screen shot

Webmasters are always looking for the next great SEO boost. Google Authorship was launched this past year, so it was only natural that Bing would fire back with its own version, Bing Subjectship. Understanding the two and how they compare can help content writers and other authors and readers decide which they prefer from the world’s two favorite search engines.

Google Authorship

Although just a youngster, Google Authorship is proving itself as a successful tool to drive traffic to websites, especially blogs.  Look at the Google search to the right for “Google Authorship.” The photos you see are the authors of the articles.

Since Google added Authorship to its articles, the click-through rates are much higher than they were before.

Bing’s Subjectship

Bing decided to compete with Google via Bing Subjectship. Instead of seeing a picture of who wrote a specific article or blog post, you’ll see a picture of the subject matter.  If I wrote a popular blog post on a famous singer, my picture would show up next to the search result in Google, but Bing would show a picture of the famous singer and the picture might not be one I even used in my post.  Subjectship appears to be in an experimental stage.

This video further highlights some of the differences between Authorship and Subjectship:

After we contacted Bing for more information about Subjectship, we received the following reply.

It’s me again Docs from Bing Technical Support. We apologize for the delay of our response. We would like to provide you an update from our product group about your inquiry on Bing Subjectship. Allow me to discuss this with you.

Bing Support provides assistance for customers needing help with Bing and the features within Bing. We are unable to provide any additional information regarding Bing Subjectship nor any future plans and releases pertaining to Bing.

Thank you for your inquiry and interest in Bing.
Best Regards,

Docs
Bing Technical Support

So which do you find more appealing- a photo of who wrote the article or blog post, or a photo of who the post is about?

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Blog Writing Tips, Content Marketing, Holiday Blog, Pictures, Search Engine Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

What Would History Say About Google Authorship?

I know this association is going to tick off a few, but as one of the older people now in the Internet realm, my intent is to cause pause before running out and linking blogs or websites to Google Authorship profiles in order to secure better rankings on SERP’s for personal brands.  I’m a Mom, so I’m just going to say what Moms say, “If everyone were jumping off a cliff, would you jump off, too?”

Truth be told, I like Google and I’m all about being with the times.  I know it’s not going to seem that way, but I do understand the benefits of claiming your brand.  I’m just really wrestling with the herd mentality of doing something because Google says we have to do it. The industry reaction appears to be admiration and support through blog posts and conference panel discussions.  Get the writers on board and you can change the world.  If you control the content makers and their careers, you can control the content (to a degree).

I’m also old enough to know how fast what seems indestructible can change.  I have an uncle that spent his life in a nursing home after serving overseas in combat during WWII.  Forgetting history is not an option for me – really for any of us.  My (our) ancestors would be disappointed if I (we) did.

What if Google’s leadership and vision ever changed – forcibly or through death or sale?  Would you want your personal identity stored in a data base for the new owners?  Some of you are more skeptical of our current president or gun control then you are of handing over your identity and all linking to a search company’s data bases.  True, we’re already tracked in so many ways, that for most of us, our identities were compromised years ago when we first opened our Facebook accounts.  But, let’s just hand over more?

As a reminder, between 1939 and 1945, the below image was a reality.  Hitler would have really appreciated access to profiles that connected the dots to everything people did or thought, everyone they communicated with, and everything they liked or disliked.

It’s an awful association, but profiling happened.  It’s not a new idea.  People were identified and categorized, while scared onlookers stood by, watched, and participated because if they didn’t they might lose what they have. Those who spoke up were shunned or eliminated.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

While the hot talk is about securing your brand, just don’t forget what happened a few decades ago.  Prisoners from this era would probably shake their heads at our naivety.  I’m not so sure that I can completely dismiss their lives by saying, “Yeah, but this is a different time and place.”

I also don’t have a good answer for reconciling what was learned, while moving into today.  I’m signing this post with my first name knowing full well, that even without a profile, you can research who I am.  The best I can do is write to warn the writer, who hasn’t become public, to first carefully consider the potential consequences before publishing online.  ~Jean

UPDATE 2015: Google’s Authorship was scrapped by the end of 2013. We believe Jean was a voice that contributed to this end. In an article, Forbes details the finale. Jean was one of the few in the search industry bold enough to ask Google to consider another perspective. (Read My 2013 SMX Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship.) Thanks for listening, Google.

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Business Strategy, Conferences, Google Plus, Leadership, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

National Brands without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank for Local and other 2013 #SMX West Insights

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

By My Web Writers

How can You Rank for Local, if You’re a National Brand without Local Stores?

Good luck.  There are few alternatives to building physical stores.  When a user types in a qualifying term like “pants Toledo”, he or she is probably looking  for a Toledo clothing store that sells pants.  Often the user is located within 1.5 miles of the store at that time.  In many cases, it’s becoming the norm for national chains, that solely sell online, to fall below the local listings of brands with stores.

How do you get around the local problem if you’re a national chain without physical stores?  Some panelists suggested building local pages on your website, while others suggested empowering affiliates to drive traffic for local, long-tailed keywords. Local landing pages are required and must have phone tracking, pricing, transparency, an adoption plan, and ensured alignment with the national PPC campaign.

Balihoo.com, which offers a free download of going local ideas, suggested starting with 4 – 5 affiliates and empowering them with incentives in local markets.  My Web Writers also published a post on going local back in 2012.

For those businesses that do have physical stores, Scott Nickels of Home Depot shared a story of a map pin to a local store that ended up in the wrong place. Traffic kept flowing to a residential home before the resident finally called to complain about the headlights in her back yard. Store managers have to be aware of the postcard process required for validation of the physical addresses and Maps needs to better hone in on the locales.

Home Depot’s word for 2013 is “local.” Nickels suggests creating one page per store and localizing social, too. He somberly shook his head when an attendee asked, “Do you mean if I have 53 stores, I have to optimize 53 Facebook pages?”

“Yes, yes you do,” he replied.

2013 #SMX West Insights

There are already so many, insightful, #SMX West 2013 recaps floating around the web from various attendees, but here are a few more insights as well as a list of the recaps.

Random Notes from Watching Sites Get Critiqued:
  • Put Java Script and CSS in external script.
  • Don’t use disavow if possible. Don’t tell Google you have a problem unless you have a PhD in understanding linking. You don’t want to accidentally remove links that are actually working for you.
  • Submit articles to Reddit.
  • Canonicals- make sure all products are given credit.
  • PR can build legitimate page links.
  • Shopping cart pages should be optimized with what the latest coupon codes are. Remember to 301 redirect expired coupons.
  • Experiment with Google Plus to get juice for search-ability.
  • Don’t blog just to blog. Consider putting monies toward PR opportunities.
  • Schematag.org – a plugin for WordPress
  • Enrich your Google Places ranking.

Take-aways from other SMX West sessions are as follows:

  • Authorship and identity will matter more over time. False identities will be found.  Do authorities and brands have rank? Individuals have their own brands and should use authorship to maintain them.  Big brands are still struggling with this, which makes it a good time for small companies to utilize Authorship.
  • “Links still have many good years ahead of them.” ~Matt Cutts
  • Social interaction helps to determine SERP’s.
  • Mobile is going to surprise a lot of people. It’s a critical factor.  Isolate mobile in Analytics. There’s a web page test tool that @AnneCushing likes to use to watch a video of how long it takes to load a client’s page.  It helps clients to see the importance of improving site speed- http://www.webpagetest.org/.
  • “SEO is no longer about tactics, but more about strategy.”
  • “Keep the company focused on metrics that matter to the company and not ranking reports.”
  • Duane Forrester says the most important SEO factor for next year is “usability.  It’s more important than h-tags.”
  • Ann Cushing said to “focus less on keywords and more on landing pages.”
  • Matt Cutts reiterated that the “global view is the same as in other years. Give the user what they want.” Annotate your web pages with ‘about of’ markup for Chrome users. You can also disavow at a domain level.
  • Rae Hoffman encouraged SEO’s to “Let go of how easy it used to be.”
  • Greg Bowser said, “Embrace the big data.”

Looking for additional #SMX 2013 Recaps and Insights?  Read these excellent posts:

SEO Success in 2013 & beyond: Matt Cutts & others’ insights at #SMX

Matt Cutts, Duane Forrester talk ‘Adventures in SEO’ at SMX West

SMX West 2013: Top Tips, Tools & Takeaways

Insights from a Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Three

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Two

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day One

My SMX West 2013 Takeaways- Sugar Rae’s blog

What ideas do you have for national brands that want to rank for local search terms? Is there a #SMX 2013 blog post that I missed that you like?

~Jean

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Business Strategy, Conferences, Content Marketing, Facebook, Google Plus, Keywords, Marketing, Panda, Penguin, Queries & Articles, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Twitter, Website Linking