‘WESTWORLD’ EXPLORES HEADY THEMES IN A SCI-FI SETTING

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The 1973 sci-fi movie Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, is not the most obvious source material for a serious HBO drama. A precursor of sorts to Crichton’sJurassic Park, Westworld was set in an amusement park where lifelike robots turned against the guests, causing chaos and death in themed areas replicating the Old West, medieval Europe and ancient Rome. From those pulpy origins, co-creators Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) and Lisa Joy and executive producer J.J. Abrams have come up with a somber, thoughtful and sometimes pretentious meditation on the nature of consciousness, along with Wild West gunfights.

In the HBO version of Westworld, there’s only one theme in the park, a massive, completely immersive landscape in some unspecified location. There, incredibly lifelike cyborgs with adaptive artificial intelligence play hundreds of different Old West characters, with whom guests pay thousands of dollars a day to interact. Mainly those interactions involve killing and/or screwing the “hosts,” as the park’s powers-that-be refer to the cyborgs. Since this is an ongoing series and not a feature film, the hosts can’t go crazy and kill everyone, so instead there’s a slow process as some of them start recalling their past interactions with guests and staffers, in which they might have been programmed to play different characters and quite possibly have been brutally murdered.

As the hosts experience glitches, the staffers try to get them back on track—or at least some of them do. The most promising aspect of the show is the way that some of the human characters, both park employees and guests, encourage and explore the hosts’ emerging consciousness, for reasons that aren’t always clear. The dynamic between lead scientist Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) and one of the hosts, melancholy rancher’s daughter Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), grows more intriguing with each episode, and Anthony Hopkins brings a creepy quality to the enigmatic park director, Dr. Ford, and his mysterious projects with various hosts.

Much less interesting are the slowly doled-out hints about a larger mythology, investigated by Ed Harris’ one-note sadistic villain, a nameless guest with apparently unlimited funds and a single-minded quest to uncover the supposed secrets of Westworld. The show doesn’t need to be one of Abrams’ mystery boxes in order to succeed, and the focus on revealing answers could end up derailing the more nuanced (and rewarding) character and thematic development. From a plotting standpoint, the show doesn’t always make logical sense, but it looks amazing (every penny of the huge budget is evident onscreen) and features multiple strong performances (Thandie Newton and Shannon Woodward are additional standouts). Like most prestige dramas these days, it’s slow to get started, but its world should be worth exploring.

[SOURCE:-Weekly]

Trains, internet and wedding ceremonies among themes proposed for Pyeongchang 2018 Torch Relay

Nineteen winners of the Winter Olympic Torch Relay idea contest have been unveiled by Pyeongchang 2018 organisers in a special ceremony.

The “OPEN! Mission Relay” competition, launched by Pyeongchang 2018 in June to find suggestions for what should be included in the Torch Relay for the Games, attracted 2,665 entrants.

These came across four categories – potential Torch Relay routes, Torchbearers, modes of transportation, and creative contents in promoting the Games.

Twenty shortlisted ideas came from students, while 21 were submitted by members of the general public.

The entries were whittled to the 41 shortlisted contenders earlier this month before the 19 were recognised in a ceremony at Hangang Park, attended by Organising Committee President Lee Hee-beom.

Nineteen entries were recognised by the Organising Committee ©Pyeongchang 2018
Nineteen entries were recognised by the Organising Committee ©Pyeongchang 2018

Some of these are now expected to be implemented in the Torch Relay expected to begin late next year.

First place in the general competition was a proposal aiming to utilise local trains in order to carry the Torch.

Prize winner Yoon Seo-hyun claimed to have been inspired by the film “Train to Busan”.

Other winning submissions were entitled “The legend of Korea, Internet of Torch”, “Flower Sedan Chair Torch Relay to Mimic Tradtitional Korean Wedding Ceremony”, and “Where is the Torch Now? – GeolocationService”.

The project forms part of a broader attempt to raise public awareness and involvement in the Games.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the worldwide contest,” said Lee.

“There were many creative ideas submitted and I look forward to seeing the ideas be implemented during the Torch Relay.

“‘OPEN! Mission Relay’ shows that Pyeongchang 2018 Torch Relay will truly be an event for all.”

The Games will run between February 9 and 25 in 2018.

[SOURCE:-Inside The Games]

Adding Machine: The themes of Elmer Rice’s 1922 play seem never more relevant than now

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Adding Machine: A Musical premiered in Chicago in February 2007 and off-Broadway in New York in February 2008 – coincidentally just prior to the stock market crash that marched us into the great recession in September 2008. (I can assure you none of us involved with its creation had any foresight as to what was to occur.)

The piece, adapted from Elmer Rice’s 1922 play, centres around Mr Zero, the anti-hero to rival all anti-heroes, and his descent into oblivion amidst the oncoming rush of the 20th century economy and its accompanying technological integration that eliminated and replaced once-necessary, if tedious, occupations.

The continued ascent of technology in the modern workplace since that point has of course not only increased efficiency and productivity, but also redefined the employment market, leaving many people looking lacking necessary skills, or the ability to keep up with ceaseless change within their occupation, out of luck and desperately seeking a job.

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Joshua Schmidt, composer of Adding Machine: The Musical

Now, nearly nine years after the musical’s inception, Adding Machine re-emerges in London at the Finborough Theatre at a time when both the US and the UK are experiencing a time of great articulated political and ideological divide. When asked about the show’s relationship to a “post-Brexit” Britain, or the general state of global economic affairs, my feeling is that it is more than a conversation about income equality – although that is a huge part of it. It’s more than a conversation about concentrated urban areas vs less concentrated population centres or rural areas.

I think this is a conversation about the human and consequently emotional cost of what has now become the 21st century economy. We are talking about people – flesh and blood – who feel, and in many ways are, cut off from the monetary benefits reaped by only a small percentage of the global population. We are talking about people who feel they have no voice, no recourse.

In America, this conversation is perhaps even more immediately dangerous as it is infused with violent and racial rhetoric accompanied with readily available guns. From afar, I saw a map that indicated within England a great majority of people in areas outside London voted to break the bonds of European community that had in some shape or form (the economic codification of this union came much later) existed since the Great War. Some people seemed aghast that “common folk” were even given a voice in the discussion – much the same way some are aghast by the rise of “Trumpism” in the US. I found it curious that, when interviewed, those in the UK who voted to leave either did not have a complete grasp of the consequences of their vote or, better yet, didn’t care – instead they felt sticking it to the “man”, much the way Mr. Zero “sticks” it to his boss who just terminated his employment. I sense much the same mentality in the US within the Trump constituency.

Conversely, I have also found it curious that some of those in favour of remaining, or those in support the status quo, seemed almost intractable in their stance against such dissent – that such action was the mark of stupidity, blindness, a nostalgia for some idea of “Great Britain” or “America” that never ever truly existed, at least for those folks voicing through the ballot their anger, fear and bitterness.

I guess, in some universe, that “Brexit” vote did not need to happen. Perhaps in a similar universe the Republicans could have circumvented their base in favour of a more palatable candidate. Or Democrats could have allowed a more radical vision a shot at the general election instead of what is seemingly a reflection of the current status quo. But in this universe, it seems the veil has been lifted – and we are on our way toward a great unknown.

Adding Machine the play came into existence in a month-long flash of Elmer Rice’s pen in a gut-level, stream-of-consciousness response to those disenfranchised in rapid fashion by the introduction of Burroughs adding machine into the workplace. Yes, this was a cost-effective efficient business move; yes, this machine replaced whole floors of people in near-mindless occupations; yes, in theory there exists a whole bevy of much more satisfying occupations in the world. But, just like Brexit, just like the election outcome looming here in the US in November, was society (and the individuals within that society) ready for the change? What happens to these people? Are they just a drag on the coefficient of life and commerce boiled down to numerical abstraction? And is that abstraction even accurate, or is modern economics just another machine out of control, growing faster than the actual human and natural resources caught helplessly with its complex inner workings?

What I do know is that anger, fear and the impulse for human survival are real. The apathy within that grand encompassing abstract term “disenfranchised” are real. People all around feel this way. The data supports it. The media shows us the images that support it. More than likely it has always been there, not just present in a bunch of “know-nothings”. Many intelligent, hard-working people feel this way. Emotion is real, and where there is emotion I have usually found there is music. So I wrote that music down, hoping you might like it, and that you like the show. Rest assured librettist Jason Loewith and I tried to be as fair, as empathetic and as articulate as we could in rendering the central character of Mr Zero and these characters within the context of this Expressionist classic play from the Twenties. Now it’s a musical. Some say it’s scathing, or it’s funny, or it’s satirical. I think it’s romantic.

How can we so easily discount or dismiss the expressed vote of the majority of the populace without just kicking the can further down the road and allowing that emotion to fester even more? And if you do, then what happens when the veil is lifted again? Is everybody emotionally or mentally cut out for whatever economic model we exist in? Or are we merely functioning drones within a machine. And if for whatever reason we fail willingly or by chance to fit the mould – then what? Does that necessarily make people “less-than”? And if so, what do we do with those folks? Where, in all this mess of equations that fosters such antipathy, lack of security, conflict and strife lies the “human being”?

Perhaps, before the world goes off the rails in such humorously absurd and satirical fashion like Rice’s tale inevitably does, this show asks us to maybe look a little closer at ourselves, and a little closer at others and try to understand, to feel compassion, attempt empathy, perhaps even go as far as to reconsider the systemic model that is causing us to fracture as we fall into a most uncertain abyss.

[SOURCE:-Independent]

Three themes for institutional investors: Nischal Maheshwari, Edelweiss Securities

“I do not see oil running away anywhere in the short term”.ET Now: It is a divided camp on MCX here. Do you believe that MCX is a long-term buy story or do you think the best is already behind us?

Nischal Maheshwari: The MCX story has just started. I do not know basically what is going to happen in the short term. May be everything is priced in but basically we are very clear that there are two or three things which MCX was waiting for. Two of them have come. One more thing that is awaited is allowing the institutions to participate. Next year, in terms of volumes, definitely it is going to be higher. I was talking to a few of the companies which have been hedging their products – gold, oil – abroad.Things will start moving once people start seeing volumes. So, immediately nothing may happen. But this is a stock where institutions would be interested and every dip on this stock should be a buying opportunity.
ET Now: Oil is moving up. Oil could move up further if a ‘more demand, less supply’ dynamics kicks in. Oil going up is bad news for us?

Nischal Maheshwari: I do not believe oil is going up. If you look at it, yesterday’s news is sentimentally positive but I do not see anything beyond that. They have been talking about a 32.5 to 33 million output. The production of the OPEC countries have been around 33.5. So they are talking about a 500,000 barrels basicall .. The second thing is we have to look out for shale oil because if oil price increases, shale available at $40-$50, will flow in Shale production has fallen from 9.5 million barrels a day to around 8.9. So there is space and the shale oil rigs anyway are going up. So I do not see oil running away anywhere in the short term.

ET Now: As a house you have been bullish on Reliance. Is that view still intact after the recent run up?

Nischal Maheshwari: Yes, it has just started actually…

ET Now: You are bullish and you are voice is not reflecting that say that loudly.

Nischal Maheshwari: My voice is loud and clear with lot of confidence basically let me just reiterate it.
ET Now: So Reliance is a buy now tell me why?

Nischal Maheshwari: The oil and gas story is pretty well known. On a base of $30 billion of capital employed, you are getting now $40 billion of capex which was work in progress for the last five years. That is actually going to start generating revenues as well as EBITDA. In the next one-one and a half years, this is the story that is going to pan out as far as oil and gas is concerned.

Now comes the Reliance Jio part of it. Reliance is not trying to create another telecom company by launching Reliance Jio. Reliance play on Reliance Jio is basically becoming content aggregator, what you see in Xiaomi, TenCent doing in China. Historically, we have seen Google and Facebook do it and that is what Reliance Jio is trying to do on a much smaller scale in India. I do not believe that Reliance Jio is actually trying to beat Bharti at its own game by becoming the fifth telecom player in the country given that Bharti has been an incumbent player and has done it well for last 20 years.
I believe Reliance also understands it pretty well and that is why they are creating a new category altogether. They are giving free voice and they are creating a platform and then they are going to launch that.

ET Now: What would be the top themes that you would be advising your institutional clients? Currently, when the markets have run up a bit and not quite corrected, lots of midsized pockets are looking very interesting?

Nischal Maheshwari: A couple of themes. We are looking at a interest rate cut and so we are asking people to buy interest rate sensitives like banks, auto etc.

The other theme which you should play basically is consumption. The next quarter is going to be strong basically as far as consumption is concerned. The monsoons have been good, the Seventh Pay Commission has been awarded. Discretionary consumption is the other theme you should be looking at.

The third and most important theme which one can play for several years is basically from unorganised to organised. After GST announcement, that is a big theme which is going to play out in the next several years. These are the three themes which we have been telling our institution investors to play.

ET Now: Which stock could be the next MRF in making in next 10 years?

Nischal Maheshwari: Had I known it, I would have bought it, but unfortunately…

ET Now: So what are you buying?

Nischal Maheshwari: We are not supposed to trade, we are not supposed to buy anything.

[SOURCE:-ET]

Firefox gains serious speed and reliability and loses some bloat

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There’s no way around it. Firefox has struggled. As of this writing, Firefox 47 is the top of the Firefox market share heap at a scant 3.14 %. Given that Chrome 52 holds 23.96 % and IE 11 holds 17.74 %, the chances of Firefox displacing either, anytime soon, is slim. If you scroll way down on the browser market share listing, you’ll notice Firefox 49 (the latest release) is at .19 %. Considering 49 is the stable release candidate that was only recently unleashed, that is understandable (to a point).

Thing is, Firefox 49 is a really, really good browser. But is it good enough to give the open source browser any significant gains in the realm of market share? Let’s take a look at what the Mozilla developers have brought to the fore with the latest release of their flagship browser and see how much hope it holds for the future of the software that was once leader among its peers.

Electrolysis

Starting with FF48, the browser began sporting a feature similar to that of Chrome. Now each tab gets its own process. For Firefox, this is called Electrolysis and it’s impressive.

By default Electrolysis is disabled. To enable it, you have to do the following:

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Enter about:config in the address bar
  3. Set browser.tabs.remote.autostart to true
  4. Set extensions.e10sBloc­kedByAddons to false
  5. Set extensions.e10sBloc­ksEnabling to false
  6. Restart Firefox

Once you’ve done that, you should notice a significant increase in performance (in both startup and page rendering), as well as stability and security. According to the developers, the page rendering gains for Electrolysis-enabled releases of Firefox could exceed over 700%. I have not officially benchmarked the gains, but real-world testing does clearly show that when Electrolysis is enabled, page rendering is not only seriously faster, it’s also much smoother.

Widevine support

With the 49th release, Firefox finally gets Google’s Widevine CDM (Content Decryption Management) support. What does this mean? In a word, Netflix. From Mozilla:

“Widevine support is an alternative solution for streaming services that currently rely on Silverlight for playback of DRM-protected video content. It will allow websites to show DRM-protected video content in Firefox without the use of NPAPI plugins. This is an important step on Mozilla’s roadmap to remove NPAPI plugin support.”

What is interesting about this, however, is that if you go to the Widevine page, you clearly see that Linux is not supported. To get this to work, you have to install a User Agent switcher. The configuration I’ve found works the best for Netflix is Chrome on Linux (which is ironic, considering Widevine doesn’t actually support Linux). With this particular combo, Netflix works fine in Firefox 49.

Narrator

There’s a new feature, tucked inside the Reader Mode, that really caught me by surprise. If you go to a page and click on the reader icon (the tiny book at the right end of the address bar), you’ll see a sidebar appear on the left side of the window (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen
The Reader mode toolbar.

The icon that rests second from the bottom is the Narrator icon. Click that button a popup will appear (Figure B). From that popup, click the play button and Firefox will begin narrating the page for you. There is nothing to install or enable…it just works (and works really well). When you click the icon, a popup will open that allows you to control the playback (stop, back, forward, speed, and voice).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen
The Narrator in action.

This is one of those features you may never use; but on the off-chance you need it, you’ll be thankful it’s there.

Goodbye Hello and tab groups

That’s right, the short-lived Hello system is gone. And that’s fine, as it never managed to gain any traction. Another feature that never really saw much popularity was Tab Groups. That too has been jettisoned. It’s good to see the Mozilla developers getting rid of the bits and pieces that have really served no purpose other than to add bloat to a browser that had already grown too large.

Taking the place of Tab Groups is Synced Tabs. Naturally, you have to be signed into a Firefox account, but this is something you’ll certainly want to do (so that all of your bookmarks, passwords, history, add-ons, preferences, and now tabs will be in sync across all your devices).

Answer the question

In the end, Firefox 49 is all about speed. This has been the one major issue dogging the open source browser for a very long time. With the latest release, Firefox finally pulls neck and neck, with the competition, in the race for that ever-elusive title of “speedster”. That’s big, considering how much of a lead Chrome had on Firefox.

Will that performance increase translate to a higher market share for Firefox? I believe, once people have an Electrolysis-enabled Firefox installed (eventually all Firefox browsers will ship with this feature ready to go), there will be a significant change in the numbers. However, because Chrome is the default browser on Android, I cannot imagine any browser overtaking Google’s flagship in the near or distant future.

Even so, if Firefox can manage to pull off second place in this contest, it will be a massive win for Mozilla. Thanks to the new features (and the removal of old features), Firefox 49 might well be the release to breathe new life into the gasping open source browser. It’s incredibly fast, smooth, reliable, and has just the right amount of features to make me seriously considering dropping Chrome in favor of the browser that had been my default for over a decade.

[SOURCE:-Tech Republic]

 

Facebook brings Osquery to Windows

osquery

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it is bringing its Osquery to Windows. The company launched Osquery back in 2014 for macOS and Linux, but it is finally bringing it to Windows devices. Osquery is mainly for system admins — it allows users to search for process details and manage other parts of the system using SQL queries. Facebook stated:

Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of an osquery developer kit for Windows! Security teams can now build customized osquery solutions for their Windows networks. In 2014, Facebook open sourced osquery, an SQL-powered detection tool for Linux and OS X that provides real-time insight into the state of corporate infrastructure. osquery allows you to write SQL-based queries that explore operating system data. With osquery, SQL tables represent abstract concepts such as running processes, loaded kernel modules, open network connections, browser plugins, hardware events or file hashes. Having timely, reliable visibility into operations running throughout your network is critical to quickly identify and investigate anomalies.

[SOURCE:-MSP poweruser]

Goodhertz’s new tape emulation plugin has the Wow factor

It’s no secret that the imperfections of analogue tape are highly sought after, and Wow Control is a new plugin from Goodhertz that’s designed to recreate them in the digital realm.

It promises to “capture the essence” of three tape machines from three decades, giving you noise, wobbles and harmonics from each of them. The plugin is an expansion of the Wow and Flutter section from Goodhertz’s Vulf Compressor, adding more shaping controls, beat-syncing and a randomisation section.

As with many plugins of this type, you can use Wow Control at subtle or extreme settings; you can bend and distort your audio or simply add a little life, movement and colour.

Find out more on the Goodhertz website. Wow Control is available for Mac in AU/AAX formats priced at $129. You can also download a demo.

[SOURCE:-Music Rader]

The Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Mobile SEO Campaign

 Photo: Ouh_desire / Shutterstock

Mobilegeddon was a game-changer. Google tweaked its algorithm in April 2015 to favor mobile-ready websites in searches performed on mobile devices. A little more than a year later, over half of all worldwide searches happen on mobile devices. It’s a big deal in marketing.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re waving goodbye to more than half of your potential. Google wants to help with useful links and tools as well as guides designed specifically for content management systems (CMS). It’s good for you, and it’s good for Google.

A mobile world.

It’s hard to remember the world before smartphones. They’ve changed everything. According to Morgan Stanley, 91 percent of Americans keep their phones within reach 24/7.

We use them all the time for what’s been dubbed “micro-moments,” those countless instances when we turn to our phones for information, directions, to do something, to buy something, to compare, to evaluate, to learn and more.

Consider this: Search queries using “near me,” “close” or “nearby” have increased 34 times since 2011. Among smartphone users, 82 percent use a search engine when looking for local businesses. It must be a magic number: 82 percent of smartphone owners also consult their devices while shopping in a store. With apologies to Stanley Kramer, it’s a mobile, mobile, mobile, mobile world.

Related: 15 Tips for Designing a Mobile-Friendly E-Commerce Site

Talking about “mobile SEO” vs.“regular SEO” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s just SEO. They’re all cogs in the same machine.

That said, if the thought of launching a “mobile SEO” campaign gives you nightmares, it’s worth walking through the basics. Take these steps to avoid being penalized by search engines (you need their love) and begin targeting mobile users.

Mobile-friendly is a must.

Mobile-friendly simply means a site looks good and behaves properly on a mobile device. A mobile-friendly site can be designed in a number ways:

  • Responsive. The site morphs depending on the size of the screen.
  • Parallel-mobile. A second, independent site created for mobile users.
  • Dynamic-serving. The server detects and loads an appropriate page depending on the user agent.

Each type of site has its pros and cons, but a responsive site is the easiest and most cost-effective to implement. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also Google’s official recommendation. You can accomplish this using a responsive theme, for which you’ll findfree options and paid options, or a responsive plug-in.

Your first step is to determine whether your website is, in fact, mobile-friendly.

The mobile-friendly test from Google is straightforward. Enter your URL. Google’s tool will tell if you’re you’re mobile-friendly and what you can do to improve your results if you don’t pass muster.

Related: How the Future of Mobile Search Is Unfolding This Year and Beyond

Page speed matters.

We know mobile friendliness is a ranking signal. So is site speed. Mobile users expect service on demand: 40 percent of surfers will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.

Check your site’s speed using PageSpeed Insights. The guide presents both mobile and desktop results, letting you know which features are issue-free and helpfully suggesting which elements need serious attention. GTmetrix is another handy resource.

Next, turn to the Google Search Console for tons of useful tools and advice. To tackle speed concerns, you’ll need to look into your Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) data. AMP is a stripped-down, faster HTML designed for mobile users. You can use Google AMP tools to see all pages that implement AMP, identify which of them contain errors and learn what you can do to fix those mistakes.

Pages built using AMP load anywhere from 15 to 85 percent faster, but that’s only the start of the story. You can learn more at AMP Project (including tutorials for getting started). Just be aware it’s not for everyone or every site. It’s best for news-type sites such as blogs, and that’s in part because AMP doesn’t support opt-in forms. Adding AMP to WordPress is reasonably uncomplicated, and sites using it will rank higher in mobile search-engine results pages (SERPs).

Finally, explore Mobile Usability on the Google Search Console. It reports any existing errors, which might include flash usage, a font that’s too small or a viewport that isn’t configured. Any errors will affect your mobile SEO, so eliminate them wherever you can.

Use Google My Business.

One stop. Done. Want to be found when people search online? Google My Business gets your address, contact details and hours on both Google Search and Google Maps. You can edit it all from one convenient platform. Add photos, respond to reviews and shape how your business appears online.

It’s easy. And crucial. Do it.

Claim your business.

Claim your business and check the details on local directories such as Yelp, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, CityGridand Foursquare.

These services are increasingly popular, and people use them to find local products and services. Bonus: They’re ranked favorably by the search engines. Follow the guidelines, and make sure everything is up-to-date.

Google Maps may lead the way in mobile location-finding, but Apple Maps still is at the party. Don’t ignore it. Publish accurate information so people can find and contact you when they’re on the go.

Track mobile stats on Google Analytics.

Log in to Google Analytics and conduct some research on your mobile site visitors. Filter those results by day, time and device to discover exactly when your mobile customers are most active. Publish mobile-friendly content (more on that below) at those times to maximize your effect and reach.

Create mobile-friendly content.

Not all content is mobile-friendly, even when it’s on a mobile-friendly site. Focus on these tactics:

  • Bullet points, which are easy to scan
  • Short and concise text
  • Easily shared articles and links
  • Compressed images and videos that do not auto-play, so you benefit from faster load times and less data consumption
  • Meta-title and meta descriptions that are short and to the point — perfect for mobile displays

Time of day is a factor here, too. Publish shorter content during morning and afternoon commutes and longer pieces during typical lunch breaks for your target market. Save your longest content for when people are likely to be at home. And remember, mobile users often look for informational content.

Related: 5 Content Strategies That Will Always Work

Use local keywords.

When conducting keyword research, be sure include local vocabulary that might be unique to your area. Think about terms and slang that don’t appear anywhere else: nicknames for neighborhoods or the city itself, colorful and relevant expressions, regional specialties or whatever.

When people search for you online, what language and words might they actually use? Target them.

Optimize for voice search.

People are talking to Siri or Google Now more than ever on their smartphones. In fact, 20 percent of Google searches on Android are now done via voice search. That amounts to hundreds of millions of inquiries, with 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults using voice search at least once per day.

Voice search is the better option when walking (or driving — which you shouldn’t do). But it does have its own set of criteria. Voice-search queries tend to be more conversational. We pose a question or ask our phones to perform a task in the same way we would talk to another human being.

Craft your content to match those specific, real-life questions and optimize for the three biggest voice platforms.

Related: Voice Search Is Exploding and Digital Strategy Will Never Be the Same

Remember the takeaway.

There’s a lot more you could do, but this is a great jumping-off point. It is the beginner’s guide, after all.

If you take away only two things, these are it: Make sure you’re mobile friendly, and remember that page speed matters.

Mobile optimization will get only more important. Don’t be left behind.

[SOURCE:-News Times]

6 Critical Metrics to Add to Your SEO Campaigns

6 Critical Metrics to Add to Your SEO Campaigns | SEJ

A reputable and experienced SEO professional will tell that you if you can measure something, then you can find ways to improve it. That certainly applies to your SEO campaigns, since initial optimization efforts may not bring the results you were hoping to get.

Marketers and business owners who are new to search optimization tend to fall into a common trap where they get stuck on a single metric, like staring intently at search rank and wishing for it to move. A narrow focus on just one or two metrics will blind you to other areas where a campaign could be doing well, or on the flip side, not performing at all.

There’s a lot of data within your reach on ranking, traffic sources, links, and user behavior that you should pay attention to as you launch and manage campaigns.

There’s no single metric that provides all the answers, and every website prioritizes different metrics based on the brand’s goals and the types of campaigns going on. Tracking multiple metrics at the same time has become a standard procedure for online marketing campaigns, so don’t fall behind the competition by focusing on too few metrics.

Here are six metrics that you should definitely be on the lookout for, and you can pick and choose which metrics to ultimately incorporate into your SEO campaigns:

1. Monitor Time On-Page

Every piece of content you create has a purpose, and you’ll typically have a few goals related to that content:

  • Increase organic visibility for the content
  • Keep a visitor engaged when they land on the page where the content is published
  • Get the visitor to take action after they finish reading it

You probably know from personal experience that landing on a page that doesn’t match your search intent or provide any answers makes you want to leave that website immediately. This is how most people react online.

On the other hand, when you find exactly what you’re looking for on a page, then you’re going to spend more time there until you find an answer or you finish reading. When you create high value, compelling content with the right conversion message, you’ll have a more satisfied audience that lingers to see what you can offer them.

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Extended engagement can help your site’s organic visibility and rank, so you need to pay attention to the time-on-page metric for any content that’s not performing up to snuff.

Don’t waste time looking at the average time-on-page stat for your site. You want to drill down into the page-specific times so you can discover opportunities to improve engagement on poorly-performing pages.

2. Track Your Site’s Usability

The time-on-page metric is an important one because you want visitors to reach the end of your content. But what do they do after the finish reading? Have you created a call-to-action that will encourage them to stick around and read more?

There’s a simple metric you can use to check if your audience is remaining on your website. In your Audience Overview in Google Analytics, you’ll see a segment called Pages/Session. This number should be monitored regularly so you can get it as high as possible while you run campaigns and build out your on-site content.

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If you have a relatively new website and your traffic count is low, then this number will likely be low as well. Give it some time and make some tweaks to try to lift the numbers. Here are some ideas for improving usability:

  • List related or most-popular posts at the bottom of your other content. This can encourage your readers to check out another article that will catch their attention
  • Create a more consistent internal linking strategy: every page and every post should link to another relevant page within the content or through a call-to-action at the end
  • Use sidebar widgets or segments to showcase content and create a compelling call-to-action to gain clicks
  • Use exit-intent popups or messaging that encourage users to stay on your site for a special offer, great piece of content, etc.

If you find that visitors are still bailing despite improvements to your internal linking structure and higher-quality content, then there may be another usability concern that is driving them away. It would be worthwhile to conduct usability tests on different browsers and devices while also checking for load time issues to maximize your site’s performance.

3. Monitor Traffic By Device

Mobile traffic makes up a majority of online traffic for many businesses. Monitoring both mobile users and incoming traffic by device is important because those users have very different experiences from those who browse on desktops.

Google recognized the mobile trend early on, including tech barriers that made the user experience slower on mobile and updated their algorithm accordingly. Now, load speed and mobile-friendliness are factored into ranking considerations. As more users switch to mobile devices as their primary devices for browsing and searching the web, the emphasis on mobile-friendly accessibility is likely to increase.

It’s important to remember that your on-page optimization efforts should target users first and search engines second. You should make it your goal to monitor mobile-specific analytics to see if there are any issues with usability.

You can view this metric in your Google Analytics by going to Audience > Mobile and then to Overview. Compare your mobile metrics and desktop metrics. You can expect some variation between the two and mobile is usually a little worse, but if there are significant differences, then these should be addressed right away.

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Here are a few resources to help with tracking and addressing mobile compatibility issues:

  • Test Your Mobile Site
  • Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly

4. Set Completions and Track Conversions

Driving traffic to your website with SEO campaigns is a great start, but what you really want to aim for is targeted traffic that will actually take action after they arrive on your site. You can get a general idea of conversion rates if you look at opt-ins or sales figures, but you can get a more accurate picture by setting up your Google Analytics to set and track goal completions.

A goal is just a simple event that you want to track. For example, you want to measure the number of people who reach a confirmation page after opting-in to your newsletter. A goal can be anything, like tracking the number of visitors who read your “About Us” page or purchase something.

To create a goal in Google Analytics, go to the Overview segment under Goals in the left navigation sidebar. If it’s your first time here, you’ll have to click the “Set Up Goals” button to get started once it appears.

There are available templates with pre-filled configurations or you can create your own custom goals.

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Once Google Analytics has had time to collect data, you’ll be able to revisit this overview tab to see general information on your goal completions. If you click on the Source/Medium segment under Goals, it will divide your goal completions/conversions by the traffic source.

If you assigned a value to your conversion, then Google Analytics will display that here as well, presenting you with an estimate on what those conversions were worth.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Crawl Data

In your Google Search Console you’ll be able to monitor the way Google crawls your website. The more effective your campaigns are at building links and relevant inbound traffic, the more frequently Google will crawl your website.

Likewise, the better you are at delivering a good experience to a search user (fast load times, engaging content, extended time-on-page, and increasing pages per visit), the more Google will want to crawl your site to ensure the freshest content is being delivered to its users.

In your Google Search Console, you’ll see a menu item called “Crawl.” Click there and select Crawl Stats. These will provide you with three reports that show the total number of pages crawled per day; the kilobytes downloaded per day, the time spent downloading a page.

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Each of these charts displays data over the last 90 days and there’s no way to adjust the date range, so it’s a good idea to regularly monitor it.

For the sake of simplicity, this is what you should look for while tracking your crawl stats:

  • Total number of pages crawled should be high; you want as much of your content indexed as often as possible
  • Time spent downloading a page should be as low as possible: this reflects on your site load time, which factors into rankings
  • If the load time stat increases, then something is impacting site load speed and needs to be addressed
  • If the number of pages crawled drops, then you may have crawl errors or there might an issue preventing your content from being indexed

6. Audit Campaign Effectiveness with Returning Visitors

Most SEO campaigns are content-driven, including offsite content marketing that drives traffic back to you as well as the content on your website that brings in new traffic.

Acquiring new visitors is important, but you also want to regularly measure your returning visitors. This metric is a clear indication that your content is good enough to keep people coming back for more. There are two ways to analyze new and returning visitor stats in your Google Analytics.

For a broad overview, you can look under the Audiences tab and click on Overview. This will present general info on your audience along with a graph that shows you the ratio of new users to returning visitors.

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You can also look under the Behavior tab and click on Site Content. In the Landing Pages segment, you can see what percentage of traffic to your top landing pages are new users or returners.

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If you’re consistently growing your site and creating high-value content, then the totals for your new and returning visitors should continue to grow monthly. If these figures are stagnant or decreasing and your returning visitor stats are not increasing as much as your new visits, then you’ll need to examine the content you’re sharing to ensure there’s real value there. Don’t forget to improve the user experience along the way to ensure you’re not driving visitors away from your site.

Conclusion

The metrics you track are important indicators of your site’s growth, and they also help you measure the value of your SEO campaigns. The right metrics will validate your efforts while also providing insight into opportunities for improvement. Set reasonable goals for your campaigns and monitor the necessary metrics accordingly to keep your finger on the pulse and quickly recognize when it’s time to take action.

[SOURCE:-Search Engine Journal]

How Can SEO Be Used to Target Millennials

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains one of the most powerful ways to reach your target audience. But Google’s changes have meant that ranking websites is based on the user experience each customer gets. This means companies have to change the way they do things. SEO is not just a case of throwing in a few keywords and links to sites.

I spoke to Arya Bina, Founder and CEO of Kobe Digital, to talk about how SEO can be used to target millennials, which is one of the hardest groups to hit.

AJ: Thank you for joining me today. Could you tell me more about Kobe Digital?

CEO: Kobe Digital is a company that caters to small and medium-sized businesses. We help them to reach their target audiences. We remain a small firm with a global reach. Our role as a boutique Los Angeles digital marketing firm enables us to give our clients the personalized services they want to conquer the most competitive industries.

AJ: Do you think millennials look at SEO differently than any other generation?

CEO: Millennials definitely view SEO differently. The main difference is that millennials perceive strong SEO to be a requirement for any company they do business with. They have grown up with the Internet and Google their whole lives, the first generation to do so, and finding a piece of information online has become second nature. They do the same when they want to find out more about a business.

For the vast majority of them, the Internet is the first place they look when learning more about a company and its products. Companies that have failed to make a strong online presence their top priority are practically invisible to millennials. They’re as good as dead in the water.

AJ: As a boutique LA digital marketing firm, do you find most of your clients are from the local area?

CEO: We have found that the majority of small to medium-sized businesses enjoy working with local agencies. This is because we find that any cultural and logistical challenges are already understood by the agency. Our list of clients reflects this, and the majority of the businesses on this list are based in Southern California to enable this personalized approach.

But Kobe Digital is a national company and there have been many companies from across the country deciding to work with us after being referred. Los Angeles is one of the biggest and best creative hubs in the country, which is why top marketing talent tends to flock here which has enabled Kobe Digital to hire some of the top millennial talent .

AJ: What direction do you think SEO is taking now?

CEO: To us, it’s clear that SEO is becoming the new reality when it comes to marketing. SEO has enabled companies to execute campaigns that are targeted, scalable, and measurable. That’s the gold standard in advertising. With over 90% of online experiences beginning with a Google search, SEO is the clear choice for any company that wants to hit millennial audiences.

SEO is part of an environment that’s dynamic and fast-flowing. It’s difficult to predict which direction it will move in over the next few years. But targeted marketing services are sure to continue their relentless advance. Companies will be able to leverage granular data, including time spent on pages, search engine users’ search histories, and bounce rates. To a large extent, we’ve already seen this transformation.

AJ: When marketing to millennials does SEO and/or Social have the stronger place?

CEO: It’s easy to think that millennials share every detail on social media, therefore social media marketing is the future of online advertising. At Kobe Digital, we have found that this is true to a certain extent. A strong social media marketing campaign is one of the most effective tools for building your brand and engaging with your customers.

But when it comes to introducing your company’s products and services to new demographics, SEO is the best way to increase your visibility. Search engine users are far more likely than social media users to convert. 72% of people who perform a local search will visit the closest store to them. 61% of local searches also lead to a purchase.

Those are numbers social media marketing has yet to reach.

Conclusion – SEO is More Important than Ever

SEO is more important than ever before and there’s no doubt that it’s a cornerstone forreaching millennials. SEO might have been changed, but it’s not going to disappear anytime soon. Companies that fail to invest in SEO are going to be at a crippling disadvantage. And there are no signs of this changing anytime soon as SEO becomes more targeted and more affordab.

[SOURCE:-Huffington Post]