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Exploring Beacons

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Exploring Beacons

By: Allexxandra Nevison

One of the reasons why the major Digital Marketing Technology is needed is because it can encompass many topics within the marketing world.

To start out, Allexx had some important questions about beacons and how they might be used. The following questions are what she came up with:

  • What is a beacon?
  • Can a beacon only be used with iPhone or IOS software?
  • What items can be used as a beacon?
  • Can a beacon only be used if Bluetooth is turned on?
  • How secure is this software and how invasive is it?
  • How long until the messages appear?
  • What is the primary goal of a beacon?
  • How many different beacon software’s are currently being utilized?
  • How do you set up a beacon?
  • How close do you have to be to a beacon for it to transmit data to your phone?

What is a beacon?

A beacon is a Bluetooth enabled device that allows the beacon to communicate messages to your device by the micro positioning of you and your device.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are very similar in the aspect they are able to show your location; however, Wi-Fi can only approximate your location depending on if you are within range of the router/modem. Bluetooth communicates at a much shorter range and allows the beacon to pull your devices micro positioning which is much more exact than that of Wi-Fi.

How will Beacon’s Impact the Marketing World?

Beacons are going to be the way of the future by sending cards, tags, webhooks and notifications to your cellular device based upon your micro positioning.

Let imagine a scenario for a moment: You are a college student who has to be very conscientious with spending habits. While shopping at the local grocery store, you are pondering over which paper towels are on sale… Meanwhile your phone delivers a notification saying that Bounty is buy one get one half off.

Your phone received the notification because your micro positioning met the requirements the marketers had implemented within the beacon.

Beacons have the opportunity to target customers that are specifically looking at a product and possibly persuade them to buy items or more items by delivering sales and specials directly to their phone. This allows companies who choose to utilize this powerful device to market to all customers with a cell phone.

Can a beacon only be used with iPhone or IOS software?

Any smart device can be used with a beacon as long as the app is downloaded. You have to download the corresponding app in order for your device to actively search and be searched by the beacon in order for the notification to work.

Can a beacon only be used if Bluetooth is turned on?

A beacon can only be used if Bluetooth is turned on as this is how the device and the beacon communicate with one another.

How secure is this software and how invasive is it?

The beacon software itself is very secure and will not notify phones that do not have the Beaconstac app downloaded; however, the security and permissions are specific to each individual app implementing beacon software.

How long until the messages appear?

The messages are notifications and appear on your devices screen until you have either dismissed the notification or selected to open it. Once the notification rule/card has been opened you receive two prompts, one to dismiss the notification and one to continue to the prompted website.

What is the primary goal of a beacon?

The primary goal of a beacon is to market products, sales and promote a better sales experience for all customers. You are able to receive notifications straight to your device without having to search for sales or promotions. It benefits the customer as well as the business because it could persuade the customer into buying more than they intended at a discounted price.

How close do you have to be to a beacon for it to transmit data to your phone?

You are able to set proximity settings to your beacons while creating notifications, rules and cards. Each rule has to be programmed with the distance on how close or far the device has to be from the beacon to receive or no longer receive the notifications.

Below you will see the examples of Beacons and how they interact with your smartphone devices.

What are the main types and differences of beacons?

How to set up your Beaconstac beacon:

First download the app from either the App Store or the Play Store:

Beaconstac is currently only compatible with Android or IOS operating systems.

Logging in will show all beacons associated with your Beaconstac account.

You must create the rule/notification in order for your beacon to notify your phone.

Listed below are steps to show how to use a beacon:

You must create the card, notification, webhook or tag in order to create your rule.

In the example below, we are going to create a notification. Select notification.

Beaconstac previews how your phone will look when the notification appears.

  1. Select Rules

2. The rules page shows all active rules and which beacon the rule is assigned to. Select add rule if you are wanting to create a new rule.

You are able to select and assign multiple beacons to the same rule; however, we are selecting a single beacon at this time.

Select your beacons identifying number from the drop down.

The trigger rule allows you to custom select how long of a period the device must be in the beacons proximity in order for the rule to work, called dwell time. In the example shown above, the device will receive a notification upon entering the beacons proximity after three seconds of dwell time.

Select the type of action you wish the beacon to perform. In the example above, notification was selected and you must choose which notification you want to appear on the devices screen.

You are able to configure the beacon once the rule has been established online at Beaconstac.com

 

Log into the app and click “Configure Beacon.” Tap the wheel to begin scanning for the beacon.

Once the beacon has been located/selected you are able to choose the rule you would like to assign

Confirm the rule to be selected. The next screen shows the rules have been assigned.

Home screen notification
Pull down notification
Media/ Video notification

The goal for this project was to understand and utilize the beacons in order to display a marketing notification over all students’ smartphones in order to marketing this program. We configured two beacons and placed them where students pick up their textbooks.

However, there were some issues we ran into with the notifications being displayed over devices. The research indicates and the Beaconstac app displays a demo or how the card/notification would look if were assigned to a current app. Meaning even though we had displayed and configured the beacons, phones were not receiving notifications.

Two examples of Beacons we see in normal retail stores would be when you enter the Verizon store. I received a notification that notified me that I was eligible for an upgrade while I was in their store, close to their Beacon’s proximity. I was only able to receive the notification because I have the Verizon Mobile app downloaded. Another example is with the Cartwheel app by Target. When you are close enough to Target the notification will be sent to your phone welcoming you to the store and displaying the most marketable sale.

UW-Stout currently does not have an app created for the students smartphones so therefore, even though we created the rule / card notification it was not delivered to the students phones. The content of the card was change from an Https:// to an Http:// in order to make the notification less secure in hopes to reach more students; however, even then many students did not receive the notification.

After collaboration between Kevin W. Tharp (Program Director of DMT major) and I, we decided that a UW-Stout app would be incredibly beneficial and has a variety of uses for the future including attendance, checking in textbook rentals, signing up for school projects and etc. Overall our project was not completed as planned but we learned from our mistakes and are looking forward to advancing and changing the beacons for future opportunities.

References:

Bluetooth Beacons | Buy iBeacon & Eddystone Beacons. (2018, January 1). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from http://bluetoothbeacons.com/

Get Started with Beacons | Beacons. (2018, May 25). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://developers.google.com/beacons/get-started

Maycotte, H. O. (2015, September 1). Beacon Technology: The Where, What, Who, How and Why. Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/homaycotte/2015/09/01/beacon-technology-the-what-who-how-why-and-where/#5c0bdc6b1aaf

What is iBeacon? (2012). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://developer.estimote.com/ibeacon/

What is iBeacon? A Guide to Beacons. (2014, March 19). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from http://www.ibeacon.com/what-is-ibeacon-a-guide-to-beacons/

Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth Low Energy (iBeacon) Technology. (2014, November 3). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://blog.beaconstac.com/2014/11/wi-fi-vs-bluetooth-low-energy-ibeacon-technology/

Semantic SEO

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Semantic SEO

By: Samantha Diersen

A current and emerging trend in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the application of semantic SEO. Semantic SEO involves using not just keywords but also phrases, meaning, and context to enable a website to appear higher in a list of search engine results (Crestodina, 2016). Semantic SEO is in use and is continually evolving to keep up with search engines and the needs of users.

SEO is activity geared towards improving search engine ranking, that is, the likelihood of a website appearing in the first few listings or first page of listings provided by a search engine (“WHAT IS SEO?” 2015). In the past, this activity took many forms. Some of these practices, like keywords and headings, are still around, while others, such as embedding terms in the background of the page, are not. Such practices affected the popularity of search engines, which prompted search engine administrators to change their formulae (aka algorithm) for determining the order in which websites and web pages would be displayed. As the search engines adapted their algorithms to filter out the websites using underhanded tactics (called black hat SEO) they also began to penalize the same sites, excluding them from appearing on the results page (Beal, 2016). Website administrators soon realized that in order to appear on the top search results, or to not be penalized, they would need to change their tactics (Sandler, 2016).

Google is one search engine that continually updates their algorithm to thwart the underhanded tactics used by some website administrators. Their efforts resulted in more traffic for google.com as users found more relevant websites and web pages while searching there than on the other available search engines. This created a circular set of events where the algorithm changes designed to weed out the websites that rely on black hat tactics were forced to find another way to improve their rankings, causing Google to adjust their algorithm to weed them out again (“Google Algorithm Change History,” 2016). Google’s efforts at identifying more relevant listings and improving the user experience allowed it to become the largest search engine company available (“Top 15 Most Popular Search Engines,” 2016).

Google continues to adapt its algorithm. The more recent core algorithm updates are Hummingbird and Penguin 4.0. While Hummingbird was released in 2013, due to the size and scope of the update its impact continues to be felt today. Unlike earlier versions, the Hummingbird update allowed the system to consider the meaning of key words in relation to one another, rather than on the definition of the individual words or the  literal meaning of a phrase (Sullivan, 2013). Penguin 4.0 was implemented in October 2016. It’s primary benefits include real-time rankings for results and the ability to filter out sites whose key words do not correlate to their content (Penguin is now part of our core algorithm, 2016). The Pigeon update, meanwhile, although minor, led to major changes for the user. It altered search results by making reviews, relevance, and page content more important in rankings than before. It also gave social media, the type of device being used, and the content a higher level of importance in terms of search engine ranking (Burton, 2016).

Google now adapts its results for mobile users to include phone numbers, maps, hours of operation, organization address, and whether the organization is currently open or closed. While this information may also be provided to laptop and desktop users, it displays these details more prominently on mobile devices. It also offers mobile users all of this information on the results page rather than forcing them to go to the website itself.

Voice search has become more popular, with people using voice commands to look up information in question form like, “where is the closest thrift store?” Employing semantics, the search engine collects the user’s location and then displays all thrift stores within a given radius, rather than listing donation centers that are busier or bigger but located three states away (Crestodina, 2016).

These updates and modern searching habits have led to the rise of Semantic SEO. To aid the user, search engines are more about understanding text, not just matching it.

In response to this, website administrators should optimize for intent, not just keywords. This can be done in several ways. One way is to look at the related searches at the bottom of a Google search result page and incorporate the relevant ones into the content of the website in a natural way. This means writing content that includes the key terms, not just throwing them in the tags. Another way is geared towards voice search, and that is employing common questions as section headers and using the section to answer the questions in conversationally. This helps the search engines locate the answer and either quote it on the results page, or for the digital assistant (Siri, Cortana, etc.) to read the answer aloud. Using this format also increases the length of time users spend on the website, which is another means by which search engines rank websites (Crestodina, 2016).

Just as search engines like Google must adapt and improve to better serve their users, so too must web developers and administrators adapt to keep up with those changes and the priorities that drive them. With semantics being key to the ability of search engines to understand and offer results that suit user intent, Semantic SEO is critical to the ability of web developers to compete on the World Wide Web.


References

https://www.redevolution.com/what-is-seo

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/B/Black_Hat_SEO.html

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/the-past-present-and-future-of-seo/168222/

https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/search-engines

https://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816

https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/09/penguin-is-now-part-of-our-core.html

https://searchengineland.com/the-evolution-of-an-seo-246875

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

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Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

By: Miranda Moore

In online marketing you have about four to eight seconds to grab a consumer’s attention.  Having a compelling, interactive website is important in order to be successful in today’s over populous internet market.  Including meaningful graphics, color effects, or videos that immediately engage the user have become a common tactic; however, simple mistakes are frequently made resulting in slow page loading times and disappointing user experiences.  According to Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, for the first time this summer (June 2016) more Google searches were completed on mobile devices than desktop.  According to KISSmetrics, a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are forecasted to be a dominating trend in 2017 as mobile internet use continues to climb.  So what are AMPs?  According to the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, “The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.”  In other words, AMP is an alternate version of your website created to conform to the specifications published by the AMP project.  You could make your entire site of only AMPs, but it would essentially be very boring and could deter customer interest when viewing on a desktop.

Developer best practices include coding in the head section of each webpage, to detect the type of device being used to view it and how to display the content appropriately.  A coded AMP link in this same area on the original webpage tells Google’s web crawlers that an AMP version exists and to index that page for any mobile requests.  For WordPress sites, there is an AMP plug-in available that does not require any coding.  AMPs are generally named differently than the original page and aim to improve the performance of the mobile web.  When an AMP link is discovered through a Google search of the original site, Google caches and stores the AMP content on their cloud server.  AMPs do not use any Java and have minimal tagged core elements, allowing the pages to load four times faster and use ten times less data than regular mobile friendly pages.  This sounds great for users; however, companies who decide to build AMP pages run into a form of divestment.  If a user decides to share your page through social media, the link will point back to Google – not your company’s website.  A Google spokesperson confirmed that AMPs are able to work the way they do because they are hosted on Google’s servers and that there is not a way to optimize your AMP content without it being that way.

Google announced in August 2016, that AMPs will show up in organic search results.  These pages will have a lightning bolt next to their result, distinguishing them from other results and symbolizing that they are lightning fast pages.  In pretty much every article I’ve read about the AMP project, Google states that its search results won’t prioritize AMPs – yet.  With Google continually updating the algorithm for their search methods and advising that legit keyword rich content improves the user experience which influences a top ranking result, I would have to think that accelerated mobile pages with their ability to instantly load and contain only dense content, that they would affirm the best mobile user experience and therefore be very influential in the SEO game.

References:

Future plans for Google’s Amplified Mobile Pages are shared on a regularly updated Roadmap.   To stay informed, you can track regular releases of the AMP Project on the GitHub releases page.  For updated news, check out the AMP project blog at https://amphtml.wordpress.com and to subscribe to announcements, please join amphtml-announce@googlegroups.com.

Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. (2017). Instant. Everywhere. Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (p. all). Retrieved from https://www.ampproject.org/

Accelerated-Mobile-Pages-AMP.jpg. (2017, January 1). Retrieved February 14, 2017, from http://thecodingbull.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Accelerated-Mobile-Pages-AMP.jpg

Antosz, D. (2016, July 5). AMP is Not Currently a Ranking Factor #SEJSummit. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/future-amp-gary-illyes-sejsummit-chicago/166677/

DeMers, J. (2016, November 9). 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/11/09/7-seo-trends-that-will-dominate-2017/#8b025327409a

Finley, K. (2016, February 25). How Google Is Speeding Up the Web by Changing How It Works. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2016/02/googles-amp-speeding-web-changing-works/

Lardinois, F. (2016, February 24). Google Starts Highlighting AMP Pages In Its Mobile Search Results. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://techcrunch.com/2016/02/24/google-now-highlights-amp-pages-in-its-mobile-search-results/

Patel, N. (2011, April 28). How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://neilpatel.com/blog/loading-time/

Southern, M. (2016, August 2). Google Announces: AMP to Show In Organic Results. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/amps-surfaced-via-blue-links-googles-organic-search/169797/

Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2016). Attention Span Statistics. Statistic Brain (p. All). Retrieved from https://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/

Virgo,       Jerry. (2014, September 20). 5 Reasons Website Page Load May be Slow – Optimizing Site Performance. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://www.virgowebdesign.com/blog/5-reasons-website-page-load-may-be-slow-optimizing-site-performance