The Basic Concepts Of SEO Explained to Beginners

While SEO (search engine optimization) is not rocket science or brain surgery, it certainly isn’t the easiest paradigm to understand, especially to someone who doesn’t have a background in the internet or technology.

Whether it’s the way words sound (meta data optimization) or a particularly technical aspect of SEO (like schema markup), I tend to encounter confusion quite often with those customers who are new to the concepts of SEO.  In order to guard against a customer’s confusion or worse, feeling inferior, a successful sales rep has to create a bridge between the customer and SEO in order to grow a clear understanding of the practices of a successful SEO campaign.

This is vital to bringing the sales process to a successful close.  Having a customer leave a conversation confused in the least bit is often the death rattle of your sales cycle.  Never fear; analogies are here!  Just as the Internet is full of analogies (the web, crawling, server, etc…), SEO has some particularly helpful metaphors to improve anyone’s understanding of its basic (or even advanced) concepts.

Let’s look at three of these analogies in an attempt to acquire new tools to help others understand the basic concepts of SEO.

The Basic Concepts of SEO

Backlinks = Votes of Confidence

In attempting to explain the importance of acquiring relevant, authoritative backlinks into your website, I often hear silence or muttering at the other end of the phone. Who knew that simply placing the word ‘back” in front of a concept that is seemingly universally understood, ‘link’, would lead to so much misunderstanding?

I find that discussing backlinks in terms of their function is very helpful in establishing what they are in another’s mind.  This is where “votes of confidence” comes into play.  If one can understand that these websites linking to your site are vouching for your site to the search engines, one can begin to grasp the importance and role of backlinks in an SEO campaign.  This simple metaphor helps do the trick of engendering a growing understanding of a key concept.

Alternate Metaphor – Popularity Contest

Conversion Optimization = Billboard on the Side of the Highway

Any (extremely) lazy optimizer can drive more traffic to a website.  Heck, you can pay five bucks to boost your traffic overnight, and you don’t have to do any real SEO work.  The catch is that it is highly doubtful that this traffic will lead to a conversion on your website.  After all, the goal of a website is to guide a user to take some action, be it read an article, purchase a widget, vote on a picture, or fill out a contact form.

To get this idea across, a coworker of mine uses the billboard analogy regularly.  He says something like this: “Your website is like a billboard on the side of the road.  People can drive past it all day long, but, if they don’t pull over and write down your information, what is the point of having the billboard?” His point is that having all the traffic in the world matters little unless those users are converting.  I really like this analogy, and I have adopted it in my sales calls.

Alternate Metaphor – Restaurant menu

Schema Markup = Writing Your 11th Grade Term Paper

This is one of the more daunting challenges when it comes to SEO, and, to be honest, it took me several conversations with coworkers and family (Thanks, Mom) to come up with this one.  Just mentioning this word, much less explaining it, will cause eyes to glaze over and minds to be numbed.

So, and this is not a perfect analogy, think about when you had to write that high school term paper.

You likely had to use footnotes, MLA Format, and proper quotation practices or your teacher marked you off.  There were certain structures that you had to include in your paper to properly convey the meaning you wanted to convey to anyone reading it.  In the same way, schema markup is a way of coding a website so that the search engines better understand its content. Obviously, this explanation isn’t ground shaking in its intricacy, but this is the world of metaphor, so we are in the business of creating images, not math equations.

Alternate Metaphor – Please tell me if you know one

After writing my first two blog posts about SEO, much of the feedback that I have received from friends in family goes something like this: “I loved your post, and you write great, but I have no idea what you are talking about.”  I can’t help but think that if I am not going out of my way to help my client understand SEO, he or she is probably leaving our conversations with the same confusion.

It doesn’t have to be this way if we work hard to create analogies that explain our industry in terms of everyday things, they will go a long way to helping people understand the basic concepts of SEO.


“Smart City is no doubt one such initiative where we will get to see a lot of AI enabled technologies”


Artificial Intelligence and its application in our daily life is a hot topic of discussion, with pros and cons being looked at and worked upon in a major way. Recently IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, released its survey report Generation AI:  A Study of Millennial Parents of Generation Alpha Kids’, which shows how generation alpha – those born in 2010 and through 2025, and most tech-infused – will be impacted with ubiquitous presence of latest technology and smart devices in their lives. The report looks at how AI will have an effect on the quality of life of people in the coming years.

Main 3 of key findings of the report show:

#1: Parents are less worried if AI is behind the wheel: Getting a driver’s license is a new stage of independence for teens, but with self-driving car technology on the horizon, the IEEE survey found that 31% of the parents are more acceptable of their child riding/driving in an autonomous vehicle for the first time.

 #2: AI, not kids are preferred by millennial parents for care during golden years: 63 percent of the millennial parents would rather have AI help them live independently in their golden years. Experts say AI will power smart devices in the home that support physical, emotional, social and mental health, from monitoring and assistive devices like intelligent walkers to robot-assisted dressing.

#3: AI helping gen alpha kids learn faster; AI tutors are attractive option in future: In the future, smart toys and AI apps currently in development have the potential to respond to human language and a child’s behaviour or enable real-time monitoring and enhancement of vocabulary learning.  According to the IEEE survey, 80% of the millennial parents say AI technology increases their expectations that their Generation Alpha babies will learn faster and 74 percent of the parents say they would consider an AI-powered tutor for their child.

Sukanya Mandal, Data Science Professional and IEEE Member, shares some salient points with HPC Asia about how AI will have an impact on the Indian lifestyle, and how it may be adopted in this market.

How do you see AI taking over major aspects of our lifestyle in the coming years?

Whether we like it or not, AI is definitely going to be a part of our lives. Starting from personal digital assistant to children’s education to monitoring the food we eat – AI will be all around us. Automatically our lifestyle will change. Consider the time when we did not have a smartphone. Our lives were moving ahead without it. Then came a time when smartphone started booming and nowadays almost everyone uses one and a large extent of population has made it a part of their life. In the coming years AI seems to make a bigger effect. Our lifestyle will change from ‘trying to overcome the hard task’ to ‘just deploying a solution that will do the work for us’. While in some situation this shift would be helpful whereas in other situations it would just make one lazy.

(The report shows that to keep Gen Alpha kids engaged, millennial parents are using apps, interactive screens and artificial intelligence-powered devices. 44 percent say it also increases their own focus as parents.  Although two-thirds (64 percent) of millennial parents of generation Alpha kids say that AI and other technologies give them time to do other things, two-thirds (63 percent) agree that technologies, including AI, have diminished quality time with their child.)     

When people start adopting AI into their everyday living, what kind of emotional impact will this have?

AI can be of huge assistance to the elderly providing the much needed attention and care required at their age! Same goes for the toddlers while keeping their parents informed about every step. For teenagers, AI could be a very good friend helping and guiding them to take steps towards the right direction. On the other hand, AI could make teens lazy by doing those essential problems solving task which would otherwise improve their cognitive capabilities. Another aspect to consider in this context would be the ethics of AI.

People might just rely on technology so much that their absence might cause a sense of anger or irritation or helplessness. A sense of attachment would be developed between the human – robots, but it is also a concern that they should not overly attached. While AI can have many positive benefits on an individual, the other side must also be taken into consideration.

 (Millennial parents of Generation Alpha kids are nearly twice as likely to agree (45 percent agree, 23 percent disagree) that AI and other technologies minimize their frustrations as a parent. Two in five millennial parents of Generation Alpha kids (39 percent) have a great deal of trust in AI to help diagnose and treat their children if they become sick.  Almost half (46 percent) have some trust. Because AI is giving life to walking and talking robots that are becoming more adept at human behaviour, 40 percent of Millennial parents of Generation Alpha kids say they would be likely to supplement or replace a human nanny with a stay-at-home robo-nanny to help take care of their children.)

 Your report shows that AI will permeate our lives in a major way, are the Indian families geared up to adapt to this change?

Indian families are slowly getting adapted to the changes. They are slowly and steadily embracing the change and moving ahead with it. A few strong initiatives from the local or central government to educate the common masses regarding these new age technologies would be all the more beneficial. As we are aware – AI has huge potential in various sectors. In my opinion Indian families will benefit strongly in terms of education and healthcare when it comes to AI.

(Many experts believe that engineering is driving a myriad of world-changing activities, from space exploration, drones and computer science, to health, medicine and biology; and from vehicle technology to consumer electronics, to name just a few.  About three-quarters of Millennial parents of Generation Alpha kids (74 percent) say they will encourage their child at least somewhat to consider studying and pursuing a career in engineering (including 38 percent who will strongly encourage them) given the world-changing activities in that field.)

What are the technological advancements needed? What is the state of AI developments with major organizations working on AI today?

When it comes to common masses, education is the key. Other technological advancements require government and people working hand in hand to establish strong connectivity, leveraging necessary and required hardware solutions to implement AI. Smart City is no doubt one such initiative where we will get to see a lot of AI enabled technologies.

Major organizations are making breakthroughs in this arena inventing new AI related technologies everyday some of which we get to experience when it comes to life as a product. But, mostly it is all in research state although we have seen some initial steps towards product – Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, IBM Watson etc. but certainly there is a long way to go and actually influence people of all levels of the society.

Do you see the home segment or the enterprise segment adopt AI first, and how will that impact Indian market?

Although the early adoption of AI will be in the home segment in the form of small products, but in the near future the rate of AI adoption in the enterprise sector would be more.  AI is going to majorly affect the Indian market. With Smart City, Make in India and Digital India initiatives – many tech giants has already started investing in AI. India has already started transforming and we will get to see its result in the immediate future. As a result of these initiatives – India’s manufacturing sector has largely benefitted and is on the way to become the global hub of manufacturing, thus giving a boost to Indian economy. Many tech giants have expressed their interest to open their Research labs in India. The right implementation of AI in both public and private sectors and enforcing automation in certain sector while implementing proper skill up program for the existing workforce would result to huge potential within India.


One Entrepreneur’s Journey from Bucket Band to Booming SEO Business

One Entrepreneur’s Journey from Bucket Band to Booming SEO Business

Dan Shure, owner of Evolving SEO, has had a unique entrepreneurial experience. He grew up in an entrepreneurial family. His father, a professional sculptor, owns two businesses. Shure started his first business as a teenager and has created several other successful businesses along the way. Now, he runs a small SEO company that provides search engine marketing services to clients, from site audits to content strategy to best practices training. Additionally, Shure is a MOZ associate and hosts the “Experts on the Wire” SEO podcast.

A Musical Start

Way back in my late teens and early 20s I did a lot of performing. Specifically, I was in a bucket band performance group. Though it sounds kind of funny, it actually was a serious business between myself and some friends from high school. We were registered as a business in our town. We had an LLC. It taught me a lot about the paperwork and those aspects of business. We performed professionally for a few years on school breaks.

I went to school for music. I have a degree in piano performance. After that, I started my own music teaching business, teaching lessons privately and working for schools. One thing lead to another … I was making websites for myself and my band and my dad’s companies. Through making websites, I learned the part I loved the most was getting traffic. Around 2010, I decided to completely stop music and stop working for my dad and transition into my own SEO company. A few years later, my wife got a degree in business and joined me in the company. Now, she runs all the business aspects like taxes and accounting.

Financing the Business

The business has been self-funded by profit. The luxury of running an Internet-based business is all you need is a laptop and an Internet connection. I would make profits from clients and use that to buy the next thing, whether that was a new laptop or an SEO tool. Eventually, I got office space, which is one of our biggest overhead expenses.

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We’ve done a pretty good job of saving profits to have one to three months’ buffer to handle payroll. We use an American Express business card to handle expenses. The reason I chose it was because of the perks and benefits that come along with it.

We have a contractor who works for us. We can scale up and down on those services as needed to help with cash flow. We have a number of SEO tools that we pay a monthly licensing fee for rather than paying a large sum to purchase outright, which also helps cash flow.

Business Challenges and Rewards

Time management is the most challenging thing about running the company. In a service-based business, time is money. If I do a project for someone, they might still have questions and problems after it is complete. The more clients that I have, the more random questions I get. It’s a challenge to make time to respond to those questions, because they sometimes take hours of my time and research. Dealing with those are hard because they’re not something I’ve allocated time for, but I feel a responsibility to help out.

The lifestyle benefits that come along with running a company are rewarding. I can work remotely. There are no bosses telling us when we can and cannot work. The flexibility to design my own work schedule is great. Also, I’ve seen the ability to earn a good living that’s probably a little bit better than a comparable full-time job.

Business Lessons Learned

I tried setting up QuickBooks and all the accounting before my wife got her degree. I would say that spending the nominal fee on an accountant would have been worth it. It’s important to get your accounting set up correctly from the beginning. Everything I did was miscategorized and mislabeled. It was a real headache later on.

I am naturally good at marketing. At the beginning, I had a real knack for getting clients. One way I did that was to provide a little work for free without anybody asking me to. For example, I wrote a blog post about how I would do SEO for Vosges Haut-Chocolat, which is a brand my wife and I really like. A year later, the ecommerce manager emailed me and said, “Hey, we found your post. Would you like to help us with SEO?” They became a client off and on for a few years.

Advice for New Entrepreneurs

Make your business in an area of something you really love. Building a small business is really hard, so question if that’s really for you. Some people think they’re just going to make more money at it or have a better lifestyle. It has to be something that you get an intrinsic fulfillment from. It’s not going to be glamorous for the first few years.

What’s Next for Evolving SEO

Ninety-five percent of our revenue comes from the consulting work we do. In the future, I would like to balance that out with sponsorships for the podcast, content creation with video, and speaking engagements and appearances. I think rounding out revenue sources is good for any business.


Script gone wrong: RBI takes demonetisation hit, cuts dividend to govt by more than half

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dividend to the government has come down by half. (REUTERS file photo)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dividend to the government has come down by half. (REUTERS file photo)

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) announcement on Thursday to more than halve its dividend payout to the government has once again put demonetisation under the spotlight, for failing to deliver on the expectations that were used to defend the November 8 decision.

It was expected that there would be a big windfall for the RBI, when the dodgy part of the cash held in denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 – about Rs 3 lakh crore — doesn’t return to the system and is written off from the central bank’s liability.

The RBI could then transfer this windfall to the government through higher dividend or some other means. The government, in turn, could use this money to build infrastructure, capitalise banks or invest in any other way to accelerate the economic growth.

The script has gone horribly wrong. We know now that most of the cash held in high-value notes, dodgy or otherwise, have returned to the system. It is another matter that the authorities continue to be in denial, maintaining that they are still counting the demonetised notes.

Worse, the RBI’s announcement coincided with the release of a research report by the State Bank of India (SBI) – the country’s largest – that severely undermines the government’s claim that the impact of demonetisation would subside in a few months and make way for accelerated growth as we speak.

According to the SBI report, in the first four months of the current fiscal year, bank credit shrunk Rs 1.5 lakh crore, or 2%, compared to the same period a year ago. The report has identified the sluggish trend in home loans and personal loans as the most worrying.

These suggest that consumer confidence hasn’t turned around and people remain wary of their economic prospects.


What is also worrying is that the informal credit network that provides fuel for the much-vibrant cash economy of India had crumbled in the wake of demonetisation. If proponents of demonetisation are to be believed, the demand that the informal credit network catered to, should have shifted to the formal (banking) sector). That clearly hasn’t happened.

The findings of the SBI report also underscore what this author had earlier argued against demonetisation: That there could be a no bigger sin that our policy-makers could commit than turning the management of a multi-layered, complicated economy such as India’s into a linear set of reductive calculations.

The fallout on RBI’s finances is another case in point.

Let alone a windfall, the RBI has not been able to protect its income, thanks to demonetisation. For 2016-17, it will pay Rs 30,459 crore in dividend to the government, compared to Rs 65,876 crore it paid last year. There are broadly three reasons for the lower payout, directly or indirectly linked to the November 8 decision:

First, the central bank is understood to have spent about Rs 15,000 crore on printing new notes. This money wasn’t budgeted, because the note-ban decision was supposed to be a surprise move.

Second, when people rushed to deposit demonetised notes, banks ended up with huge piles of cash and left the financial system with excess liquidity that could have stoked inflation or triggered other imbalances.

The RBI was forced to conduct reverse repo operations, meaning it had to borrow short-term money from the banks to suck out excess liquidity. Some estimates put the excess liquidity to be as high as Rs 8 lakh crore in early January, which means the RBI must have paid a fair amount in interest charges to the banks.

The last, but the most important, reason for the fall in RBI’s earnings relates to a decline in returns on investment in US treasury bonds, which was aggravated by the rupee’s appreciation against the dollar.

The RBI earns a good part of its income by investing India’s foreign exchange reserves in US treasury bonds. A big spurt in this income through 2015-16 had helped the central bank make a record dividend payout to the government.

In 2016-17, it was expected to moderate because interest rates in the US were softening. But the blow to the RBI turned to be harder, thanks to an appreciating rupee that further diminishes the impact of lower dollar earnings. Between July 2016 and June 2017, which is the financial year for the RBI, the rupee has risen nearly 5% against the US dollar, primarily because imports have been sluggish.

Demonetisation hit exports hard, especially in sectors that are import-intensive. It also dampened consumption spending, keeping imports and demand for foreign exchange subdued and helping the rupee appreciate.


“Without a way to properly validate cloud application workload and security controls, customer QoE is at risk”


With today’s complex IT environments, network administrators need end-to-end visibility into their networks from any point to eliminate blind spots. Without advanced network visibility seen through a single pane of glass, organizations put network security, compliance mandates, and application performance at risk. According to a survey done by Ixia, where it surveyed over 220 senior IT staff at enterprise organizations on this issue and found while 67 percent of respondents were running mission-critical applications in public clouds, 76 percent were “very concerned” or “concerned” about security in their cloud environment.   The survey, which was done earlier in 2017, showed that main security concerns about cloud usage were ‘loss of control over network data’ and being able to achieve full visibility across their networks. Ixia provides testing, visibility, and security solutions for the cloud and network, strengthening networks and cloud environments for enterprises, service providers, and network equipment manufacturers. The company, which is part of Keysight Technologies, helps enterprise customers to verify their designs, optimize their performance, and ensure protection of their networks and cloud environments to make their applications stronger.

Bhaskar Agastya, Country Manager- Sales, Ixia, India, tells HPC Asia why organisations should opt for end-to-end network visibility and the solutions that help in that:

Why is it important for an enterprise to have network visibility?

Most modern enterprises do not live solely in public or private cloud environments but use a hybrid approach. Moving IT infrastructure to public clouds creates a model of shared responsibility between the customer and the cloud provider. This shared model eliminates the operational burden on the organization using cloud services, however, they are still responsible for the security, availability, performance, and management of all the controls and processes associated with operating over the cloud infrastructure. The move to the cloud needs to deliver the same or better performance and similar security efficacy than the on-premises infrastructure.  Without a way to properly validate these cloud application workload and security controls, customer quality of experience (QoE) is at risk.

What does having network visibility entail? In which scenario is it most relevant and what are the benefits?

Enterprises have specific needs to secure and manage the nervous system of their IT system – which is their network. Network visibility helps ensure application performance because most applications are highly dependent on the network. Compliance, auditing, and security requirements demand visibility into how IT resources interoperate, and network visibility is required to gain insights into how well they are functioning. If IT organizations do not have complete network visibility, resulting blind spots may lead to missing critical security threats and availability or performance anomalies. The use cases that require complete visibility include the introduction of BYOD devices, unknown network devices, and integration with a multitude of security tools. In all cases, missing a complete view of the network can lead to mistakes in critical IT and business decision making, leaving the enterprise open to security vulnerabilities, as well as poor application and network performance that could be detrimental to revenue generation or even cause reputational damage stemming from security breaches. (Analyst Company) Enterprise Strategy Group’s research reports show that network security and performance are among the critical challenges reported by IT decision makers today. By implementing solutions offering modern network visibility, IT organizations can translate network insight into clear business value and derive superior ROI from these solutions.

What kind of security solutions are you bringing for securing the Cloud infrastructure within an enterprise?

There is a mass migration to cloud with 90% of organizations using cloud in some fashion. Coupled with increased internet and mobile traffic, total virtual traffic has proliferated in recent years. This creates a challenge for application performance and security monitoring. Ixia helps an organization get granular access to virtual traffic and help eliminate virtual blind spots that create risk. CloudLens, Ixia’s platform for public, private and hybrid cloud visibility addresses the challenges of granular data access in the cloud. CloudLens Private, the arm that supports private cloud technologies, is able to tap, filter, process and manipulate traffic all in a cloud environment.  It bridges the gap between virtual and physical networks, extending complete monitoring and access to virtualized environments, including inter-VM traffic.

How do you ensure that performance of the cloud environment is at its best, especially when there is a hybrid cloud infrastructure?

In such a scenario you need a platform that integrates network visibility across public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. It enables them to monitor data in the public cloud resources as much as in private cloud. The right hybrid resources give the enterprise maximum flexibility. The same way enterprise must choose the monitoring for maximum output.   Maximum flexibility of monitoring options across the widest range of cloud provider options gives a business a transition path from private cloud to public cloud. Customers of Ixia, which could include cloud providers, service providers and enterprises, can deploy virtual Ixia visibility services into the cloud and view the information in a centralized management platform. This provides a holistic view of all network traffic across all cloud platforms. Our platform offers organizations the visibility they need, while keeping aligned to “all cloud,” hybrid cloud, multi-cloud or any cloud strategy. It lets a partner choose whether they want to tunnel virtual data out to a centralized set of tools or leverage virtualized tools inside each cloud.

How would having Ixia’s CloudLens benefit an organization in maintaining a healthy cloud infrastructure?

While the benefits of cloud deployments are many, accessing and monitoring virtual traffic is a challenge. Without granular access to virtual traffic, organizations may suffer from blind spots in the network that compromise application performance or security. The CloudLens platform provides unprecedented visibility across all cloud environments – public, private, and hybrid clouds. This platform provides the framework for virtual taps and data filtering to meet the elastic demands of cloud customers in a multi-tenant self-serve model. Using products in the CloudLens platform, users are able to deploy a highly scalable traffic monitoring system in a matter of minutes, not hours or days. In future we are adding products in the CloudLens platform that will have powerful embedded automation capabilities to enable virtual taps and analysis tools to automatically shift to changes in demand or failures without the need for operator in-the-loop actions. Virtualizing the analysis tools directly in the customer’s cloud will also provide a significant bandwidth saving option to customers who do not want to tunnel their virtual data back to centralized physical analysis tools.


Yorkshire couple find blogging fame after quitting teaching to travel the world

Liam and Philippa Doherty on the Great Wall of China

Liam and Philippa Doherty on the Great Wall of China

Liam and Philippa Doherty are not your average newly married couple.

Soon after tying the knot, the couple, who are 30 and 25, quit their teaching jobs in Bradford to embark on the ultimate footloose adventure.

The pair, who first met at Leeds Festival, gave up their mortgage and careers to travel the world, and have spent the past year backpacking around nine Asian countries.

Under the moniker Hitched Hikers, the newlyweds have gained a huge global following through their blogging site and Instagram page – which has over 3,000 fans.

Liam was working as a lecturer at Bradford College and Philippa as a teaching assistant when they made their life-changing decision, having already bought a house together in Thornton.

“We were following the routine progression into adult life. Before long we were married on Lake Como in Italy. However, after returning from our wedding the standard route into marital life deviated massively from the so called ‘norm’. We immediately sold our car and most of our belongings, let our house and moved in with my parents. We saved rigorously for the remainder of the summer, with Philippa working three jobs for a time,” said Liam.

“On the final day of August 2016 we waved our jobs, family and friends goodbye as we boarded a one way flight to New Delhi, India and have since been travelling around the world with nothing but our backpacks.

“We’d done some short-term travelling before and as time passed, it just became automatically assumed by both of us that we would set out on a long term adventure together; so right after our wedding seemed like perfect timing. What is better than a never-ending honeymoon!?”

Since then, they have toured India, Hong Kong, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia, and are next planning to head to Japan.

“Leaving teaching was not a decision made because of a loss of love for the profession, although in recent years the job role and responsibilities had intensified. The motivation for doing so was through a love of travel and a realisation that we might not always have the opportunity to pack up our lives at the drop of a hat and see the world,” added Liam.

Follow their adventures at


Developers: A must-read to get your apps ready for Android O’s new shortcuts and widgets

Tapping and swiping can do so much more in Android O.

Google has showcased the new app and widget shortcuts coming in Android O on its blog, and while it’s a great explainer of how it all works it’s especially important for developers.

With Android O, users (that’s us!) will be able to long press an icon or portion of a widget and have access to specific shortcuts for an app. Examples are opening a blank or incognito page with Chrome, or composing an email with the Gmail app.

While these cool changes are part of Android O, they also require an app to support them. That means developers will have to update their apps, and that’s never fun.

Fortunately, the required changes aren’t a huge burden on developers, and Google makes things even easier with a full page in the documentation about pinning shortcuts and widgets — complete with code examples.

Android Developers: Pinning shortcuts and widgets

I love it when Google uses its developer blog this way. We get a small explainer and some insight on the new features while developers also get pointed to everything they need to implement them. It makes me look forward to Android O even more!


This script creates Google Slides with AdWords data to automate your presentation-making

Google just introduced its latest advanced API integration for AdWords Scripts: Google Slides. That means you can now programmatically connect AdWords with Google Slides.

Leo Sei, Google’s Product Manager for AdWords Scripts, told me why they created this new integration: “The goal of AdWords Scripts is to help advertisers automate their workflow. After talking with advertisers, we found that many share scripts output through slide decks, and this involved a manual step of copying AdWords data into the presentation. So we worked hard to integrate Slides API directly in Scripts to allow advertisers to automate the entire process.”

I feel I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but here’s yet another new capability from Google that can help us with PPC reporting. And considering the amount of time the average account manager spends preparing reports for stakeholders, any new technology that has the ability to automate some of this work is worth looking into.

So, let me show you how to automate making Google Slides with your AdWords data.

Advanced APIs for AdWords scripts

AdWords scripts let you write Apps Scripts, a flavor of JavaScript, to manipulate an AdWords account programmatically. AdWords Apps Script is directly connected with other Google Apps Scripts services like Gmail, Drive and Spreadsheets, so that it takes as little as one line of code to do things like send an email with AdWords data or write all the data to a spreadsheet.

There are other Google services that have interesting integration opportunities with AdWords but that don’t have any Apps Script capabilities. This is where Advanced API integrations come into play.

Google Slides is one of these services. Before Google’s announcement, if we wanted to automate creating slides from AdWords, we would have had to set up a server, connect to a different set of endpoints and figure out how to get the AdWords data (which requires a different level of authorization) to connect with it all.

This definitely was more complicated than writing a few lines of Apps Scripts code. But now that Slides is available as an Advanced API inside the AdWords Scripts system, the complexity of authorization and connecting to a different API service is handled by Google so we can just focus on writing some useful code.

The script

AdWords has provided code snippets to show how to use the Slides API to create a new presentation or to add a new slide, but I couldn’t find any complete code samples to do something useful, like appending AdWords data to an existing presentation, so that’s what I’ll share with you here.

My code grabs an existing presentation, adds a new slide to it and populates the slide with data straight from an AdWords account. In my example, I’ve kept the AdWords data pretty simple because there is plenty of code out there already that illustrates how to grab various pieces of data from AdWords. The point of my sample code is to show how to add AdWords data into a presentation.

// AdWords Script: Add a Slide with AdWords Data
// ————————————————————–
// Copyright 2017 Optmyzr Inc., All Rights Reserved
// This script takes a Google Presentation as input and appends a slide with basic AdWords metrics.
// Use this to automate creating an appendix of AdWords data to existing PPC report slides.
// The AW data we append is basic but can easily be tweaked to your own needs.
// For more PPC management tools and reports, visit
// Update this line with the presentation you want to edit.
// E.g. this is for presentation
var PRESENTATION_ID = “1RxIzTJC6Jwwd3H5aaRjA-zj3d5IhcG9uOTuOfwk8PUg”
function main() {
var pageId = createSlide(PRESENTATION_ID);
// Get the page element IDs for a basic TITLE_AND_BODY layout
var baseElementId = readPageElementIds(PRESENTATION_ID, pageId);
var titleId = baseElementId + “_0”;
var textId = baseElementId + “_1”;
// Edit the following with the text for the slide’s title
var titleText = “Automatically Fetched AdWords Data”;
updateElement(PRESENTATION_ID, titleId, titleText);
// The next line gets text for the body section
var dataForSlide = getLastMonthData();
updateElement(PRESENTATION_ID, textId, dataForSlide);
Logger.log(“Done updating slides at” + PRESENTATION_ID);
function getLastMonthData() {
var currentAccount = AdWordsApp.currentAccount();
//Logger.log(‘Customer ID: ‘ + currentAccount.getCustomerId() +
// ‘, Currency Code: ‘ + currentAccount.getCurrencyCode() +
// ‘, Timezone: ‘ + currentAccount.getTimeZone());
var stats = currentAccount.getStatsFor(‘LAST_MONTH’);
var clicks = stats.getClicks();
var impressions = stats.getImpressions();
var text = clicks + ” clicks from ” + impressions + ” impressions.”;
function createSlide(presentationId) {
// You can specify the ID to use for the slide, as long as it’s unique.
var pageId = Utilities.getUuid();
var requests = [{
“createSlide”: {
“objectId”: pageId,
//”insertionIndex”: 1,
“slideLayoutReference”: {
“predefinedLayout”: “TITLE_AND_BODY”
var slide =
Slides.Presentations.batchUpdate({‘requests’: requests}, presentationId);
//Logger.log(“Created Slide with ID: ” + slide.replies[0].createSlide.objectId);
return (pageId);
function updateElement(presentationId, elementId, textToAdd) {
var requests = [{
“insertText”: {
“objectId”: elementId,
“text”: textToAdd,
var result =
Slides.Presentations.batchUpdate({‘requests’: requests}, presentationId);
function readPageElementIds(presentationId, pageId) {
// You can use a field mask to limit the data the API retrieves
// in a get request, or what fields are updated in an batchUpdate.
var response = Slides.Presentations.Pages.get(
presentationId, pageId, {“fields”: “pageElements.objectId”});
var objectIds = response.pageElements[0].objectId;
var parts = objectIds.split(“_”);
var objectIdBase = parts[0] + “_” + parts[1];
//Logger.log(“objectIdBase: ” + objectIdBase);
view rawCreate Slide With AdWords Data hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Use cases for the Slides API with AdWords

Because there are already many great PPC reporting solutions in the market, and because it’s pretty complicated to make a beautiful and informative presentation entirely through scripts, I think the most common use case for AdWords’ new integration with Slides will be to enhance existing presentations with more data.

You could produce an appendix with lots of raw AdWords data automatically so that you’d have those slides ready when questions arise while presenting your slides. Or you could add more insightful data that was already processed through another function in scripts, like account-level Quality Score, n-gram performance data, losing ads in A/B tests or performance data by keyword length.

You can probably find the code to do any of these things with a Google Search. I decided not to link to any specific pages because one downside of AdWords scripts is that it requires a lot of maintenance to remain functional as the underlying AdWords API goes through its four updates per year. Not all code that was shared as a free example is kept up-to-date; I know many of my older examples on this site are not maintained.


It seems like every team at Google is busy giving us new ways to handle PPC reporting, and I’ve covered this topic quite a bit in my previous posts. I am always excited when Google gives us yet another tool or piece of data that we can use to build even more powerful capabilities for all the advertisers out there.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Aditya Birla Health Insurance awards SEO duties to Performics.Convonix

In a recent announcement, Aditya Birla Health Insurance has awarded its search engine optimisation (SEO) duties to Performics.Convonix a digital agency from the stable of Starcom India.

Sarfaraz Khimani & DOUBLE & # title=Sarfaraz Khimani

Sarfaraz Khimani, Co-CEO, Performics.Convonix, says in a press release, “This is a significant addition to our roster and we look forward to developing and implementing a cohesive strategy on search for Aditya Birla Health Insurance. An area such as health insurance faces a shortage of clear, concise information. We hope to enhance brand visibility, website traffic and ultimately increase ROI significantly through SEO. SEO is an area which has a huge bearing on business deliverables and our data and insight-driven approach to SEO backed by our strong background in technology will go a long way in achieving both the client and our joint objectives.”


8 ways to generate great blog posts from doctors

A couple of years back, I was asked to help my hometown, big city newspaper build a health and science section on its website—an ambitious project that included recruiting numerous health experts to blog. Researchers. Scientists. Professors. Lawyers. Patients. Doctors. Lots of doctors.

We were pretty excited when we managed to bring on board the team doctors from every major sports team in the city. But the excitement eased a bit when we slammed into a painful reality: Recruiting experts to blog is one challenge. Teaching them to produce readable—even compelling—blog entries is a whole different ballgame.

In the hope of saving you similar pain, here are some tips learned the hard way on how to coax strong content from doctors and other health providers:

Add patient stories. I remember talking with an adolescent health specialist early on who wanted to write an entry about teen pregnancy. Her draft made good points, but it was only when she added a story about a confused 14-year-old patient that it came to life. Stories are how humans learn and connect. Doctors and nurses spend their days on the front lines and have great stories to share. They often shy away from them, though, to protect privacy. Yes, there are privacy concerns in naming names and providing recognizable details, and you need to take them seriously. But that shouldn’t prevent you from finding a way to use patient stories either by asking for permission or disguising specifics to protect identities.

Take the reader behind the scenes. There’s a reason why there are so many medical shows on TV. Medicine is a fascinating world, and doctors perform miracles every day. It is routine to them. It isn’t to us. Let us in on it. Share the drama. Take us into the E.R., the surgical suite, the examining room. Talk about emotions. The patient’s family was crying. The nurse was smiling. Offer those little details that bring the scene to life. Give the reader some insight, a glimpse into that world.

[RELATED: Join us at Microsoft, and learn tactics and strategies to conquer all your biggest communications challenges.]

Don’t limit the blog to words. Blogs are wonderfully flexible tools for communicating. Video, audio, photos—especially photos—can all work in a blog. Use them all, when appropriate. Teach your experts to think about the various assets at their disposal. We spent several hours following a therapy dog on his rounds through a local rehabilitation facility. The resulting photo essay—complete with smiling faces and wagging tails—pulled in a huge audience and told the story much more effectively than text ever could.

Add personality, even humor. Encourage your writers to provide personal details. One emergency department nurse would send dry entries about the administrative issues she dealt with. Over and over. You work in the ER, I would plead. Share that experience with me. Give me a window into that life as a way of explaining the administrative issues, which are certainly important. Tell me the kind of stories that start with “You would not believe what happened today.” Encourage your expert bloggers to use first person, to talk about themselves, their background, their family. It will strengthen the connection with the reader, which is a major part of the power of social media.

Teach them all the blogging tricks you know. We wrote a brief email for each new recruit listing all of those lessons that most PR pros already know: Use lists and bullet points because people tend to scan, illustrate your points with examples, write in first person, actively invite comments, don’t lecture—invite conversation, etc. Those tips and more like them helped nudge our fledgling blog writers toward the sort of entries we were hoping to publish.

Share the numbers. If a blog entry garners impressive traffic, make sure you let the expert bloggers know. It will energize them for next time and will keep them focused on topics that patients want to hear about. Gently let them know when an entry is a dud, as well, all in the interest of building a readership. No one wants to launch their blog entry into the silence of deep space.

Respond to comments. Let your bloggers know upfront you expect them to respond to comments, when appropriate. Readers will be more engaged if they see the doctor is paying attention to thoughtful comments. Don’t expect the experts to track the comments. That is your job. But alert them when there is something they should respond to. Thoughtful comments are the holy grail of blogging and provide a great way to keep the conversation going. One blog entry we ran on breastfeeding ended by asking readers about the most unusual place they had nursed their child. That led to more blog entries and lots of energetic discussion. A whole series prompted by reader comments.

Know when to quit. Some experts—a lot of doctors fall into this category—are either not strong writers or don’t have the time it takes to craft engaging blog copy. That’s OK. Their skill is medicine. That’s where we as patients want them focused. Make it easy for them. The best solution is often to interview them, especially if you have a tight deadline. Run it as a Q&A with an expert, a format that is often more readable and interesting than an entry written by an expert. One morning when a local baseball player was sidelined with a knee injury we tracked down our knee expert, interviewed him and had a blog entry up within an hour or two of the news, much quicker than had we waited for him to write a blog entry.

A couple of years into blogging, a patient safety expert took a chance and wrote an entry for us on a young patient who died after swallowing medication patches. It was a harrowing story and well out of the range of items he typically wrote, but it garnered the most traffic he ever received and a featured spot on the main newspaper homepage. Doctors, nurses, researchers can all provide great expert content like that. They just might need some gentle handholding to get there.

Larry Blumenthal, a content strategist at Open Road Advisors, helps hospitals and other health-related organizations create digital content that gets read.