Archives for : May2016

First Public Working Draft: Semantic Sensor Network Ontology

The Spatial Data on the Web Working Group has published a Working Draft of Semantic Sensor Network Ontology. The Semantic Sensor Network Ontology (commonly known as “SSN” or sometimes “SSNO”) is an OWL-2 DL ontology for describing sensors and the observations they make of the physical world. SSN is published in a modular architecture that supports the judicious use of “just enough” ontology for diverse applications, including satellite imagery, large scale scientific monitoring, industrial and household infrastructure, citizen observers, and Web of Things. SSN is described and examples of its use are given.

First Public Working Draft: Web Authentication: A Web API for accessing scoped credentials

The Web Authentication Working Group has published a Working Draft of Web Authentication: A Web API for accessing scoped credentials. This specification defines an API that enables web pages to access WebAuthn compliant strong cryptographic credentials through browser script. Conceptually, one or more credentials are stored on an authenticator, and each credential is scoped to a single Relying Party. Authenticators are responsible for ensuring that no operation is performed without the user’s consent. The user agent mediates access to credentials in order to preserve user privacy. Authenticators use attestation to provide cryptographic proof of their properties to the relying party. This specification also describes a functional model of a WebAuthn compliant authenticator, including its signature and attestation functionality.

7 essential Google Analytics reports every marketer must know

You may be using Google Analytics, but are you using it to its full potential? Contributor Khalid Saleh lays out 7 key reports with which every marketer should be familiar. The post 7 essential Google Analytics reports every marketer must know appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Title Tag Length Guidelines: 2016 Edition

Posted by Dr-Pete

For the past couple of weeks, Google has been testing a major change to the width of the left-hand column, expanding containers from 512 pixels to 600 (a 17% increase). Along with this change, Google has increased the available length of result titles:

This naturally begs the question — how many characters can we fit into a display title now? When Google redesigned SERPs in 2014, I recommended a limit of 55 characters. Does a 17% bigger container mean we’ve got 9 more characters to work with?

Not so fast, my friend…

This is where things get messy. It’d be great if we could just count the characters and be done with it, but things are never quite that easy. We’ve got three complications to consider:

(1) Character widths vary

Google uses the Arial font for result titles, and Arial is proportional. In other words, different characters occupy different amounts of space. A lower- case ‘l’ is going to occupy much less space than an upper-case ‘W’. The total width is measured in pixels, not characters, and the maximum amount you can fit in that space depends on what you’re trying to say.

In our 10,000-keyword tracking set, the title below is the longest cut or uncut display title we measured, clocking in at 77 characters:

This title has 14 i’s and lowercase l’s, 10 lowercase t’s, and 3 narrow punctuation marks, creating a character count bonanza. To count this title and say that yours can be 77 characters would be dangerously misleading.

(2) Titles break at whole words

Prior to this change, Google was breaking words at whatever point the cut-off happened. Now, they seem to be breaking titles at whole words. If the cut happens in the middle of a long word, the remaining length might be considerably shorter. For example, here’s a word that’s just not going to fit into your display title twice, and so the cut comes well short of the full width:

(3) Google is appending brands

In some cases, Google is cutting off titles and then appending the brand to the end. Unfortunately, this auto-appended brand text still occupies space and counts against your total allowance. This was the shortest truncated display title in our data set, measuring only 34 words pre-cut:

The brand text “- The Homestead” was appended by Google and is not part of the sites <TITLE> tag. The next word in the title was “Accommodations”, so the combination of the brand add-on and long word made for a very truncated title.

Data from 10,000 searches

Examples can be misleading, so we wanted to take a deeper dive. We pulled all of the page-1 display titles from the 10,000-keyword MozCast tracking set, which ends up being just shy of 90,000 titles. Uncut titles don’t tell us much, since they can be very short in some cases. So, let’s focus on the titles that got cut. Here are the character lengths (not counting ” …”) of the cut titles:

We’ve got a fairly normal distribution (skewed a little to the right) with both a mean and median right around 63. So, is 63 our magic number? Not quite. Roughly half the cut titles in our data set had less than 63 characters, so that’s still a fairly risky length.

The trick is to pick a number where we feel fairly confident that the title won’t be cut off, on average (a guaranteed safe zone for all titles would be far too restrictive). Here are a few select percentages of truncated titles that were above a certain character length:

  • 55% of cut titles >= 63 (+2) characters
  • 91% of cut titles >= 57 (+2) characters
  • 95% of cut titles >= 55 (+2) characters
  • 99% of cut titles >= 48 (+2) characters

In research, we might stick to a 95% or 99% confidence level (note: this isn’t technically a confidence interval, but the rationale is similar), but I think 90% confidence is a decent practical level. If we factor in the ” …”, that gives us about +2 characters. So, my recommendation is to keep your titles under 60 characters (57+2 = 59).

Keep in mind, of course, that cut-offs aren’t always bad. A well placed “…” might actually increase click-through rates on some titles. A fortuitous cut-off could create suspense, if you trust your fortunes to Google:

Now that titles are cut at whole words, we also don’t have to worry about text getting cut off at confusing or unfortunate spots. Take, for example, the dangerous predicament of The International Association of Assemblages of Assassin Assets:

Prior to the redesign, their titles were a minefield. Yes, that contributed nothing to this post, but once I had started down that road, it was already too late.

So, that’s it then, right?

Well, no. As Google evolves and adapts to a wider range of devices, we can expect them to continue to adjust and test display titles. In fact, they’re currently test a new, card-style format for desktop SERPs where each result is boxed and looks like this:

We’re not even entirely sure that the current change is permanent. The narrower format is still appearing for some people under some conditions. If this design sticks, then I’m comfortable saying that keeping your title length under 60 characters will prevent the majority of cut-offs.

Note: People have been asking when we’ll update our title tag tool. We’re waiting to make sure that this design change is permanent, but will try to provide an update ASAP. Updates and a link to that tool will appear in this post when we make a final decision.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Local credit union earns 15 national marketing awards

Your Neighbourhood Credit Union (YNCU) and Community First, A Division of Your Neighbourhood Credit Union were recognized with 18 national …

Trade Names: AuthX helping companies use digital tools for marketing

Local marketing,' ” Roe said. “It's a tailored strategy to communicate intimately across digital channels, bringing authenticity to each customer …

Is Your Writing Readable? 3 Concepts to Master for Copy That Converts

Posted by Isla_McKetta

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

You know you’re supposed to write scannable copy. But do you know why?

On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.
Jakob Nielsen

Nope, it’s not just that. Although the tiny fraction of attention readers have for your content is always important to keep in mind. But instead of another “write for the F-pattern reader” article, let’s dig into the psychological underpinnings of how readers process information. You’ll learn ways to make your content more memorable and how not to disenfranchise any audience members who struggle with legibility, however unintentional.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to immerse yourself in academic theories for the next three weeks. I’ve waded through those dusty tomes for you, and I’m here to report back on how readability actually works. I’ll also suggest some implications for your content. This’ll get a little wonky at times, but I hope you’ll learn something from my research. I know I did.

These are the concepts I’ll cover and where they fall on the legibility, readability, and comprehension spectrum:

  1. Chunking (readability)
  2. Word recognition (comprehension)
  3. Universal design (legibility)

1. Chunking (readability)

In the field of user-experience design, ‘chunking’ usually refers to breaking up content into small, distinct units of information (or ‘chunks’), as opposed to presenting an undifferentiated mess of atomic information items.
Kate Meyer

Chunking was first identified by George A. Miller in “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” While the article focuses on how many items we can hold in our memory, Miller goes on to suggest that we can remember more items if that information is properly separated out for us. For example, this string of numbers (even though it only contains eight digits):

A string of numbers: 09112001

is harder to understand or remember than this unforgettable number:

A string of numbers broken up by forward slashes: 09/11/2001

Those slashes help us parse the numbers into shorter (and more recognizable) units, which makes it easier to understand and remember the information.

The span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember. By organizing the stimulus input simultaneously into several dimensions and successively into a sequence of chunks, we manage to break (or at least stretch) this informational bottleneck.
George A. Miller

So when you’re dividing up your web content with headers, images, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs, consider how those chunks of information are working for you. A listicle of the 100 greatest things about summer might be a lot more memorable if you subdivide that list with headers every 5–9 items. Likewise, if you write single-line-paragraph after single-line paragraph, your reader might get lost on the screen and miss something important. Instead, improve the readability of your content by varying the length of those paragraphs every so often.

2. Word recognition (comprehension)

That wasn’t too painful, was it? This next concept, an area of research into psycholinguistics called the “cohort model,” is a little harder to wade through, but since it speaks to our ability to comprehend information, I’m going to do my best to model that.

First, though, you might be thinking “psycho….what?” That’s exactly the point. We’re going to look at some incomprehensible content and then delve into how that affects readers. Then we’ll consider how we can convey whatever information we need to and still keep people reading.

Faced with a paragraph like this:

The cohort model relies on a number of concepts in the theory of lexical retrieval. The lexicon is the store of words in a person’s mind; it contains a person’s vocabulary and is similar to a mental dictionary. A lexical entry is all the information about a word and the lexical storage is the way the items are stored for peak retrieval. Lexical access is the way that an individual accesses the information in the mental lexicon. A word’s cohort is composed of all the lexical items that share an initial sequence of phonemes, and is the set of words activated by the initial phonemes of the word.
Wikipedia

All but the most dedicated linguistics nerd would be lost inside that mouthful of incomprehensible information. I know I was. Not only were the concepts foreign, but I hadn’t seen a lot of those words since college. So let me try to capture the gist:

The cohort model looks at the way we connect a spoken (or in the case of web content, written) word with meaning. The potential meanings for a word start out broad, based on the initial sound/letter. As we see or hear more of the word, the potential meanings narrow down until we can choose which word we are seeing or hearing.

We read so quickly that it’s difficult to even recognize how our own reading happens. It’s easier to think about a word we don’t encounter every day like “psycholinguistics.” The cohort model suggests our brains first pull out a list of words that start with “psy” and begin to narrow down what word we might be looking at:

Two columns of words. To the left, "See," with the word "Psycholinguistics" listed beneath, the psy underlined. To the right, "Understand," with the words "psyche, psyllium, psychotic, psychology, psychedelic, psychoanalysis, psycholinguistics" listed underneath.

As we read further into the word so that our brains have processed “psycho,” the options narrow:

Similar to the above image: "See" to the left, with "psycholinguistics" listed underneath. "Understand" to the right, with "psychotic, psychology, psychoanalysis, psycholinguistics" listed underneath.

Note that although “psycho” could have been one of the words we initially thought of, by this point in our attempt to comprehend this word, we’ve likely also taken in the fact that the word is well over five letters.

As we process letters and sounds in reading “psycholinguistics,” most of us will find that this is an unfamiliar word — that it does not match up to any word already in our lexicon — and so our brains look for alternate ways to comprehend its meaning. In this case, we’d likely break it down into the most familiar component parts: “psycho” and “linguistics.” We might still not fully comprehend the word, but we have two possible meanings: 1. something related to both psychology and linguistics, or 2. the linguistics of a psychopath. One of these is more likely than the other…

So why do you care?

Stop words

In this case, it’s easy to see how using unfamiliar terminology (or overly jargon-y terms like “terminology” when I mean “words”) slows the reader down. Using these kinds of stop words might even stop a reader entirely and lead them to close your tab and move on to the next site.

(Editor’s note: Skip Spoerke astutely pointed out in the comments that the phrase “stop words” generally refers to tiny words that are filtered out in processing. Here we use it to mean words that actually stop your reading. Consider how that ambiguous meaning affects your comprehension.)

Ambiguity

Ambiguous words, or those with more than one meaning, might be expected to cause difficulties in lexical processing.
Treiman et al.

That’s just another way of saying that you can slow a reader down by using words that have more than one meaning.

Two columns: "See" and "Understand." Under "See" is listed "address"; under "understand" is listed "location, orate, a dress."

Even very short words can be ambiguous.

Two columns: "see" and "understand." Under "see" is listed "lie"; under "understand" is listed "make oneself horizontal, tell a falsehood."

Context clues do help with comprehension, but if your goal is to convert a reader to a customer, there’s no reason to make them think harder than they have to about your copy. So unless you have the linguistic command of a poet and are slowing readers down on purpose, think carefully about possible misunderstandings when you use ambiguous words.

Multiple meanings

Processing a polysemous word in one of its senses can make it harder to subsequently comprehend the word in another of its senses.
Treiman et al.

“Polysemous” simply means “having multiple meanings” and it can contribute to the ambiguity we just discussed. But the point here is that if you first use a polysemous word like “bank” in one context, you should carefully consider whether and how to use that word again.

Two columns, "See" and "Understand." Under "See" is listed the word "bank." Under "Understand" is listed the nouns "financial institution, row of elevators, edge of a river, place where blood is stored," and the verbs "store for future use, have trust in."

Because we all want to be able to bank on our bank, but sometimes customers would rather throw it over a bank.

Have trouble moving from one meaning to the next in that last sentence? Me too, and I wrote it.

3. Universal design (legibility)

Legibility can feel like the one aspect of intelligibility that we writers have the least control over (at least on the web). It’s rare for us to get asked what font to use or how the color of our text should contrast with the background.

But legibility is important to accessibility. To borrow the universal design principle from architecture, if we design our sites (and our content) to be legible by all, we’re removing potential blockers for all readers. Felicia, the tireless editor of the Moz Blog, is in talks with our UX crew about making our blog more accessible overall. Having worked at an organization that loved the look of light blue links against grey (and tiny) text, it’s something I wish more sites thought about.

Screenshot of a site that mixes link color with text color, making links difficult to discern from regular text.

I’m only picking on AIA Seattle because I was party to some of the website redesign discussions there where members mentioned this very issue. Not only is there very little contrast in color between the links and text, but the links in the left nav are gray while those on the rest of the page are blue. I’d show you their redesigned page, but now you have to hover over text to even see if it’s a link. Instead, take a quick look at the page for the national AIA:

Screenshot of a site where text and links are easily distinguished

Writers can help! As Laura Lippay wrote last week for the Moz Blog, by creating and implementing effective title tags, we can improve navigation for people with vision, memory, and mobility impairments. Properly structured headings, something we’re using for readability anyway, also help with navigation.

Screenshot of a page using proper headings

Having recently had a baby, I’m finally starting to empathize with readers who are sleep-deprived, having trouble seeing, reading in a second (or third) language, or in a screaming rush. Not to mention people who are dyslexic, grew up in crappy school districts, or are naturally much more gifted in some other area of life than reading.

I hope these investigations into readability, comprehension, and legibility can help you create better copy. Your audience is counting on you. And by creating easily intelligible content, you just might keep them around long enough to convert.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Brand queries: the AdWords performance illusion

If your AdWords optimization efforts are focused toward terms and ads you credit with last-click conversions, you’re not alone. But columnist Tim Mayer contends you’re being shortsighted. The post Brand queries: the AdWords performance illusion appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Google App for iOS gets AMP content & sports highlights in Now cards

Google says today’s improvements for its IOS app with save users a combined 6.5 million hours this year. The post Google App for iOS gets AMP content & sports highlights in Now cards appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Here’s How I’m Using Moz Content for Mining Local Link Opportunities

Posted by David_Farkas

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Creating content for local link building can be intimidating.

Sure, you know your business. You know your area, but do you know what locals want to read about?

You can always guess, and you might strike gold. My guess is you don’t have the time, resources, or budget for guesswork.

I don’t either, which is why I like to go in educated.

Enter Moz Content.

Even if you don’t have a Moz account, Moz Content allows you to audit any website and find its most popular content. You can figure out which pages and posts have the most shares, the most links, and the sort of reach each page might have.

You can go much more in-depth with the paid version of the tool, and it’s absolutely worth the money.

But this post is about using the free version to remove the intimidation factor from local-based content, so we might as well start slowly.

By the end, you should have a good idea how to create local content that resonates with your audience and attracts links.

Local links

To my mind, the best links come from relevant websites, but there are (at least) two types of relevance:

  • Industry-based
  • Local

So, for this article, let’s say you own an auto repair shop in New Haven, Conn., and you want to build links.

You’re just starting, so maybe you don’t have the time or the budget to build a fantastic piece of content about auto repair, the kind that draws links from gearhead hobbyists, dealership blogs, and parts manufacturers.

Local links should be your priority. Local links can be easier to be build and there’s not as much of a barrier to entry.

But you still must create a useful, engaging piece of content that people want to read.

You don’t have to guess, though. You can use the free version of the tool to come up with great ideas for local content, and you’ll have numbers to back it up.

For this hypothetical auto shop in New Haven, I didn’t analyze a single hypothetical competitor. Instead, I analyzed sites focused on New Haven.

I wanted to analyze three things:

  • An official city website or a reputable tourism website to see what the big dogs are doing right;
  • A popular local site or blog to see how small websites are appealing to locals;
  • Content from a big, national brand that writes area-specific content about multiple cities to see how national brands are trying to get links and shares from regional-based content.

Here are the three sites I analyzed and the content ideas they gave me:

Site #1: VisitNewHaven.com

The first site I analyzed was VisitNewHaven.com. It’s full of tourist information, meaning it probably has a good handle on why people enjoy New Haven, and it knows what they like about it.

Heck, many New Haven residents probably use it, too. It’s full of information about local events, businesses, and websites. I thought it was a good start.

So, I put the URL into Moz Content:

mozcontent1.jpg

When I scrolled down to view “popular pages,” I saw that, other than the home page, the annual events page had the most links. The dining and nightlife pages did OK, too, so we’ll file that away for later use.

We’re after links, and the annual events page has the most links, so it’s a good place to start.

I clicked on the analysis for that page:

mozcontent2.jpg

Reach isn’t great, and it doesn’t have many links, but it beats anything else on the site, so I decided it was worth a look. People like this page enough to link to a tourism website, so they’re doing something right.

Here’s what the annual events page on VisitNewHaven.com looks like:

mozcontent3.jpg

There’s little text here, but it does the job, providing relevant, up-to-date info about annual events with appropriate links.

Since there’s little here, you could make something better. If it’s good enough, you could probably even get your first link from VisitNewHaven.com, especially if you credit them for inspiring you.

Content Idea: Build a guide to local events from your point of view. You could build one for a complete year or make several and target them to winter, spring, summer, and fall tourists.

To one-up this piece of content, you’d have to write a paragraph about each event, and give local insight.

You’d already have an outreach list, too. You could email the organizers of each event you mentioned and see if they want to link to your guide.

You know people are interested in annual events, and by one-upping this page, you could generate at least five relevant, local links.

When you’re just starting, five links are an excellent bounty.

Site #2: ConnecticutLifestyles.com

Next, I did an audit for ConnecticutLifestyles.com. It has good content, and it does well in Google search results.

It’s not backed by a city government or tourism board, but it’s about as good as you’ll find for a local website that’s not a business blog.

I plugged in the URL:

mozcontent5.jpg

Next, I scrolled down to look at popular pages:

mozcontent4.jpg

I found that recipes dominated their other blog posts. They had the most shares and links, even when there weren’t many shares or links.

Clearly, Connecticut audiences are interested in authentic food.

Content Idea: Offer some recipes.

Even if you own an auto shop, you still eat food. You probably have family recipes, or you can get them from friends, family, and employees.

Content that focuses on local recipes can work for almost any local business. The recipes must come from you or your employees.

So, you could publish a few recipes, or you can make a guide to spicy Connecticut food or Connecticut desserts and link to recipes from other authentic Connecticut sites.

You could even try to replicate the food from your favorite restaurants. You might even get them in on the action.

As long as you focus on authentic recipes, coming from authentic Connecticut residents, you have a good shot at building links. People care about recipes. We have the proof. They outperform all other content on ConnecticutLifestyles.com.

Site #3: Movoto

Next, I analyzed Movoto’s New Haven section. Movoto is a real estate website, but they also pump out local-based content that strokes the egos of local residents and earns plenty of links and shares.

You’ve probably seen your friends share some of their content on Facebook. Movoto puts a lot of money into earning shares and links from locals, so I thought they were a good site to analyze.

I plunked the URL into Moz Content:

mozcontent6.jpg

Immediately, I looked at this section of Movoto’s most popular pages:

mozcontent7.jpg

And we’re not seeing many links. That’s a bummer.

But we are seeing plenty of shares on one post.

You might have guessed it, based on the previous two websites. An article about restaurants is in the lead.

Here’s what it looks like:

mozcontent9.jpg

These Movoto articles might not be getting the links they do in other cities, but knowing that a list of 15 restaurants blows everything else away might give you some ideas.

Content Idea: This piece of content features a quality photo for each restaurant. They could be stock photos, but they look authentic. It also gives each restaurant’s Yelp score, with a paragraph about the food.

And that’s it.

Chances are, you eat food every day. You might not be a food critic, but you’re qualified to talk about why you like your favorite restaurants. All you’d have to do is take photos, write something more in-depth, and keep it authentic.

Hear me out.

Restaurants write about their own food all the time, and it often comes off as salesy.

As a non-food-related, local business, you’re writing about the food you like. You’re not trying to sell it. That puts you at an advantage, because you’re inherently trustworthy.

Plus, you could likely get a link from most restaurants you write about.

This wouldn’t have to be a huge piece of content. It would just have to be better than an article that’s 15 paragraphs and 15 photos.

That’s doable.

Putting it all together

So, what’s the real reason I analyzed three websites for content ideas?

I wanted to see if I could combine three ideas into something unique.

You could find success with a single idea from any of these websites I audited, but I wanted to dig a little deeper.

So, in the VisitNewHaven audit, dining and nightlife were popular, although not as popular as annual events. With ConnecticutLifestyle and Movoto, recipes and restaurants blew away all the competition.

You could combine them all into:

  • A piece that shows New Haven’s favorite foods based on ConnecticutLifestyle’s recipes;
  • The best restaurants to find those foods in New Haven;
  • The best annual events for foodies in New Haven.

Basically, you’d make a post that highlights annual food-based events. Within the post, you’d highlight the participating restaurants and food vendors and then talk about the New Haven favorites they serve.

Heck, you could even link to recipes for those foods.

That post seems like a win in my book.

You’d have a big list of restaurants, food vendors, event sites, tourism sites, and lifestyle blogs to contact for links as well.

Creating content for local link building need not be overwhelming or scary. With just an hour or two of extra research, you can find out what people in your area are reading about.

Then, no matter your industry, you can come up with an idea for local content that kills the competition.

I always advocate starting small. I recently wrote a post about building links at the neighborhood level and working your way up. You can use Moz Content for local link building at any level.

If you start small, armed with the knowledge of what a local audience wants, you’ll be creating bigger and better content in no time.

You have the tools. They’re free and at your disposal. You simply have to get started.

What about you? Have you tried Moz Content yet? Do you have other tools/workflows you’d recommend?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!