Is Google’s Algorithm more human than you think ?

Is Google’s Algorithm more human than you think ?

Search Quality Raters. These users evaluate the quality of the search results of the Google algorithm. Behind the magic of the automatic, the questions, intentions of users and results of research are analysed and evaluated, tightly circumscribed by guidelines provided by Google. Their feedback is used by the engineers to improve the quality of the research results proposed to the daily users. However, SEO professionals are worried about the impact of the work of these teams on the URL ranking. Despite claims by Google managers to the contrary, minds remain sceptical about the total use of these data collected.

The humans behind the algorithm

An unknown profession, but not secret

Since the early 2000s, people have been working and analysing the results of Google’s algorithm. Today, there are approximately 10,000 of them in the world. They are average people, users of search engines like everyone else. They applied for a part-time job offer at a third company such as Lionbridge or Leapforce and had to pass two tests in order to be selected. One tested their reasoning through questions and the other composed of ‘nearly real-life’ exercises. At home, they spend between 10 and 20 hours per week (paid between $ 12-15 / hour) studying and giving feedback on research results that have already happened.

“In-our-shoes” analyses

The analysed results are mainly organic like texts, images, videos and news results (sometimes paid ad results, as well). Each day, they are offered to perform different tasks to evaluate research results. They can, for example, test a given URL and assess its relevance according to a query on desktop or mobile. They also make side-by-side comparisons of organic results of the same search and selecting the results that best match the query.

Companies provided them with information such as the language of the search, location and sometimes the map of queries (map restoring queries previously sought) to better understand the intention of the user. Their purpose, to put themselves in the shoes of any user and determine if the results are relevant to the intent and research.

 

A very monitored job

Each task has an estimated completion time. Agencies are timing the Search Quality Raters during their tasks to judge their effectiveness. For example, evaluating the quality of a URL is estimated at 1 minute and 48 seconds. However, to ensure that the analysis is done without bias and with the application, the same tasks are assigned to several Search Quality Raters. If their results diverge, they are asked to agree together. In case of persistent disagreement, a moderator will decide

 

The Guidelines: Quality Made in Google

To best frame the evaluation of the quality of the search results, Google transmits (via third-party companies) guidelines. In 2015, after many leaks, Google finally decided to publish them officially.

Google regularly makes changes according to the new objectives of the algorithm. The last official publication dates back to July 20, 2018 and is 164 pages long.

In their guidelines, Google explains to their Search Quality Raters how to evaluate the quality of pages of their search engine. For this, it is necessary to carry out three notations.

Needs Met

The objective is to verify that the result corresponds to the query and the intention of the user. For this, Google identifies four kinds of queries: those with the objective to inquire (know), to act (do), to go to a specific site (website) and local visit (visit-in-person). The Search Quality Rater will evaluate whether the result meets the needs by placing the cursor on the scale from FailsM (Fail to Meet the Needs) to FullyM (Fully Meet the Needs). Some queries can be a mixture of several types.

Scale of the Needs Mat Rating

A Search Quality Rater may decide not to assign a rating for content and to “flag” it in certain cases: if the material is pornographic, presented in a language different from that of the query, does not load, or contains upsetting and or offensive content.

 

The E-A-T

The E-A-T acronym stands for Expertise-Authority-Trust. The Search Quality Raters assess the level of expertise of the content by verifying that the author of the main content has enough personal experience for it to be considered relevant.

They then assesses the authority of the main content, the site and the author. A Search Quality Rater must find evidence of their reputation and recommendations from entities whose authority is already clearly established.

Finally, Trustworthiness is the confidence that the user can have towards the site. It is established with the main content, the website and the author.

This evaluation is in no way related to the query. Through their criteria, Google puts forward the assessment of the benefit that the content brings to users. Moreover, it says on the Google Blog: “We built Google for the users, not for websites”.  Through this rating, Google is fighting back against the increase of fake news.

We built Google for the users, not for websites – The Google Blog

The Overall page quality rating

 

This rating is based on the query and the intent of the user. It includes five criteria: The purpose of the page, the notation of the E-A-T, the appreciation of the main content, the information found and the reputation of the website and the author.

Scale of the Overall Page Quality Rating

The YMYL pages

Some pages are rated more strictly than others: pages Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) page category, created by Google, groups pages containing medical, financial, legal, news, public / official information, as well as pages for shopping or financial transactions. Their content can have a significant impact on the lives of users reading them, which is why they must contain high-quality information.

A quarter of the guidelines pages are dedicated to mobile queries and the assessment of its content especially for queries like “visit-in-person”. Both the main content, as well as the quality of the mobile optimisation of pages have a full part to play in this.

Grey Areas around the ratings

The impact on the SERP ranking

Many experts have expressed concerns about the role of Search Quality Raters in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Can the evaluation of URL quality and feedback from Search Quality Raters cause a downgrade? Is the data collected reusing in addition to the algorithm? In response to this, Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, said the feedback would only be used to refine the algorithm. The webspam and quality rater teams have two separate goals and are not connected.

 

Indeed, the process would be to evaluate the quality of sites at first. Then, when engineers change the algorithm, Search Quality Raters would be able to assess the difference in quality during side-by-side evaluations without knowing which side contains the product of the change in the algorithm and which version is the old one. Engineers will modify and improve the algorithm based on feedback from Search Quality Raters. They can then run a live test on a small percentage of users that are not search quality raters.

However, if in the short term the ranking of a page judged of poor quality by Google is not altered. We can imagine that this will happen in the long term. Indeed, if a page presents some of the characteristics considered to be bad quality, the fact that it is noted as such by a Search Quality Rater will not impact its ranking.

On the other hand the engineers will make sure that only the high quality results are present in the best results during different changes in the algorithm.

The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as SEO bedtime reading  

The ratings of Search Quality Raters are therefore essential. Unfortunately, Google does not communicate this to the authors but the guidelines framing their notation are, which is why the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines is an essential document for evaluating one’s content. By doing our assessment, we are more than likely to find areas for improvement. Moreover, as SEO is a red thread spot, this evaluation is to be renewed regularly and especially when reworking these guidelines

 

 

Sources :

Mobile UX: an Introduction Featuring the Latest Trends.

Mobile UX: an Introduction Featuring the Latest Trends.

What is mobile UX?

Literally? the letters U and X stand for User Xperience (as in ‘experience’). But according to the Interaction Design Foundation, the definition of ‘mobile UX’ means “the design of positive experiences during the use of mobile devices and wearables, and applications or services running on such devices.” (1) In other words, through efficient application designs, we can create, measure and tailor a positive user experience that may lead to conversions or continuous use of the service app.

How does it affect businesses in today’s technology? Best examples

As technology becomes even more intertwined with people’s lives, it is crucial for businesses to offer a seamless digital experience that accommodates their lifestyle. Author Goran Paunovic writes in his Forbes article that “Most business clients who engage in site design are looking for a revenue-driving product, but few are aware of how much their business can change for the better with the right UX.” (2)

Indeed, having the right UX matters. The numbers speak for themselves.
In the same article, Pauvonic reports of research done by Forrester Research: “a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%”. But how can you differentiate a good UX design from a bad one? Read my next point to find out.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the most recognized events that shaped UX history is, arguably, the downfall of Snapchat. A journalist for The Guardian (3)Edward Helmore writes that after their controversial redesign, they have suffered “their first decline in daily active users” as well as plummeting stock shares.
Bloomberg (4) reports that Snapchat lost over 325.1 million dollars in 2017.

On the other hand, an example of an app made famous by its unique navigation method: Tinder.
With their iconic swipe right/swipe left feature, the app designers got inspired and mimicked real-life rejection/approval movements(5). All that within the optimal on-screen thumb placement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smooth navigation is essential in providing good and memorable user experience, however, it isn’t the only aspect you should consider when you’re designing an app.

Do’s and don’ts.

In his article, Nick Babich, Editor-in-chief of UX planet, gives us 10 tips for a better UX.

1-      Know your customer.

2-      Don’t confuse your users, prioritize features.

3-      Don’t overcrowd the app, strive for minimalism.

4-      Make navigation feel familiar to users.

5-      Keep the right amount of space for finger tapping.

6-      Use legible font and color contrast.

7-      Provide visual feedback and animation to show app responsiveness.

8-      Make data entry easy and minimize the need for typing.

9-      Create a seamless, homogeneous, experience on all of your platforms.

10-  Test your design and constantly measure your app.

Considering that less than 0.01 of applications were predicted to be a financial success by their creators at the end of 2018, let’s have a look at the mobile UX trends of that year. (7)

Mobile UX trends of 2018

With the unleashing of the iPhone X, full screen and vibrant HD experiences dominated the trends. That trend also included apps who have integrated facial recognition and biometric fingerprints for authentication purposes.
Furthermore, Nick Babich writes that “ In 2016, Google stated that roughly 20 percent of all mobile searches were done with voice activation.  It’s easy to see why the next big thing for coming years will be voice-activated interfaces.” (8)

However, will the latter be on the list of predictions for the 2019 UX trends?
Indeed, design leader Sumit Dagar writes “Voice interfaces (VUI) is the next big thing in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). While visual and voice interfaces have largely remained independent entities till now, 2019 will see seamless integration of both and adoption at scale.”

He also predicts that in 2019, we’ll witness a “larger adoption of design systems amongst companies” but most importantly: the “liberal customization of design systems as companies target new geographies where users have less exposure to default systems.” (9) 

The implementation of a geographically customized mobile UX would mean that businesses now have a broader audience within their reach. Hence the reason why mobile UX is an essential investment for companies looking to expand their target audience.

 

All in all, 2019 looks like a very promising year tech wise. As interesting as it might seem to see all of the above actually come to life, I believe it would be more so to witness the unpredicted trends that could pop up during the year. But until then, I’ll keep a lookout.

 

Sources:

Picture credit: Basic ways of how people are holding their phones. Research by Steven Hoobe (6)

What if Retail’s future was now?


– ” When I’ll grow up … cars will fly in the sky! In ten years from now… we’ll pay for everything on our phone … we will absolutely do everything with it! ”

We are there, we are “tomorrow”, I am older and we are ten years later.

Then, even if all my mini-me’s speculations from ten years ago haven’t been all reached yet. Even if we’re not going to come back from parties in the Fifth Element taxis tomorrow … one thing is sure: consumer habits have changed. Our lives changed and our experiences too. But it is not ready to stop right? Then, what is the in-store customer experience of tomorrow?

Today we’re going to talk about Nike, who for me has already taken a first step in the future. Please, feel free to tell me what you think at the end of this article. In the meantime, I will take you to NY! For this last point, focus, close your eyes there we are … you are in New York City!

Everything started in mid-November in New York with the opening of a flagship where smartphones guide the experience in store. Touch-sensitive screens, personalized lockers, QR codes … Did you say Tech? In the 5th avenue corner, surrounded by Cartier and Sach, this cube with tinted windows becomes the new temple of the customer experience where technology and digital make one. Welcome to the new store Nike “House of innovation 000” 100 % phygital.

Unique prerequisite to live the experience: have a smartphone. Because for those who would not have been able to download for free Nike’s app, a WiFi network in the store makes possible to do it directly in the store. Once the application installed on your mobile, the experience can finally begin declined in 6000 m2 and on the 6 levels of the store. By the way, what is phygital and why does it work so well?

 What is ‘’the phygital’’?

Definition: The phygital is one of the retail trends which regroups the physical world and the digital world. Leaned towards customer’s needs, the objective is to propose him the best possible experience. Real convergence point of the online and the offline, the objective is to pick the best of both worlds to offer simplified, continuous and personalized experiences to customers. This new retail trend makes the implementation of personalized promotional offers possible. It develops and optimizes the simplicity of purchase.

 5 phygital success factors applied to Nike

1- Immersion

People have to live a real experience that changes from ”regular shopping”.

Let’s return to our flagship visit, on 5th Avenue. Welcome to the ground floor nicknamed ‘’Nike Arena’’, with an electro music background. Customers are directly attracted by the central block with its white sneakers, the jars of colors, the colored laces. It contrasts with the employees in white laboratory blouses who come to explain to you how this “workshop” works.



2- The custom-made product

If you want to: you can customize your shoes from A to Z. And it works because customers hurry to take pictures: shoes, window, giant screens… all the Flagship technology goes to pictures!

Involving the customer into the ”creation” process and giving them the possibility to make their product unique is a way to make people feel important for the brand.

3- The community

The customer experience personalization goes even farther and plays on the affiliation to the community “members” of the brand. The fact to belong to a group. Because the last floor, “Nike Expert Studio” is reserved for the members NikePlus. How to become a member? It is enough to have downloaded the application on your smartphone and to have filled your e-mail address. A premium status within reach of your thumb in fact.

In addition to that, a team is available for a personalized shopping session, to customize your clothes even to make of the custom-made product in the studio which is on-the-spot. A real personalized shopping session, dedicated to some elected representatives.

4- Data analysis for a simplified experience

If you are in a hurry, you can come down directly to the “Speed Shop”, located on the floor below, to get back your articles beforehand reserved online. Direction to the black lockers wall, where the usernames are displayed in brilliant letters. Once the unbolted locker and clothes or shoes were tried, you have the possibility, armed with your application, to pay directly with your smartphone by scanning the QR codes of articles before leaving a few minutes later. An express performance where customers and brands find some benefit. Time-saving for some, earning some data for the others. Time is money you said? I believe that it has never been as true.


 

5- Convenience

In other floors men/ women /children, we notice QR codes presence on labels to the feet of the exhibition model. There also, the wish to simplify the customer experience in the store is present. By scanning these labels, the consumer can know in real time the available sizes in store. He can even try clothes and sneakers via the option “changing room” or ” pick-up area “. The option geo-localization – activated only if the customer gave his authorization beforehand – allows Nike to follow your moves, to know your position in the store and thus to deliver clothes to the wished floor.

This last factor is very important to consider when implementing a phygital strategy. Convenience makes the experience doable and easy. Customers are saving time while doing the shopping. It’s like buying in a science fiction movie!

 

Conclusion:

To conclude the future of the retail would be “the personal data analysis” according to Heidi O’ Neill, the president of Nike Direct. The objective for the American group is to create an ‘’alive store, as well reactive as digital’’. In other words, Nike wants to offer an in-store shopping as personalized, fast and easy as the online experience.

When we consider that more than two-thirds of the customers in a phase of purchase in a store consult their mobile (l’Observatoire du commerce mobile -June 2017) we understand why the group wants to democratize purchase and payment via this device. Furthermore, if 81 % of the European millennials admit being satisfied with their experience in a shop (a study of the Monitoring center Cetelem on 2018), 61 % declare to want to experiment playful, festive or surprising experiences in store. A strategy which has a bright future ahead judging by the potential to work on…

 

Find out more with Cathy Sparks, Global Nike Direct Stores & Services interview:

 

Mobile UX: an Introduction Featuring the Latest Trends.

Digital strategy: dare to fail and be proud!  

 

Have you already heard about “test and learn” approach, one of the well-known action levers of the Management 3.0 ? Today, we are in an era in which flexibility, adaptation and performance determine success. It is therefore impossible to conceive innovation without going through test phase. This is why you absolutely need to integrate testing in your digital strategy, and your customers have a huge role to play!

WHY TESTING NEEDS TO BE PART OF YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY ?

In a rapidly changing world where information is increasingly accessible, competition is tough to make your customer loyal. Digital customers have a wide choice of services and products, which increases the effort of companies to satisfy their customers and convince them to buy.

As Pascal Picq points out in his book Un paléoanthropologue dans l’entreprise : s’adapter et innover (A palaeoanthropologist in the company: adapting and innovating), a change of culture is necessary in traditional organisations which still have a vision too linear and hierarchical, especially in France.

You can no longer conceive innovation as it has been in the industrial era with a classic development framework, moving from R&D to sales, with each department operating in silos.

Now you need a demand-driven vision, to co-design with the main stakeholders: your users. You must be fast enough and responsive to find a place in a highly competitive market and adapt quickly to demand. To do this, put aside your certainty and listen more to the users, rely on experimentation rather than purely rational decision!

TEST AND LEARN MAKE HAPPY CUSTOMERS

You certainly know this famous expression which is sure to bring about some teeth-grinding: customer is king! Really annoying isn’t it? But sadly, it is right… Nowadays, even more than ever, customer experience is the key to digital success. With a consumption which is more and more multi-channel and digitalised, integrating the user in your development process is essential! So, be prepared to experiment and interview customers.

Some businesses with a success story have understood it very well. For example, Dropbox encourage their users to take a tour of the functionalities, and send a text of ninety characters of feedback about the service by rewarding them with megabytes of extra storage.

Another example is Décathlon. Since March 30, 2017, in a co-design approach, the brand has set up the Décathlon Creation test platform after using it to allow users to suggest improvement ideas for their products.

Users feel therefore more engaged with the brand. They can help you to find the strengths and weaknesses of your idea. Don’t be afraid to be challenged! Finally,  this way, you take fewer risks, your user experience can only be better.

HOW TO PROCEED?

  1. Develop a Minimum Viable Product

When you have an idea, you certainly have a global vision of the final solution, whether you want it or not. But how to be profitable before that? This is where the MVP comes in!

It is a first draft of your idea (product, service or else) but a functional version. It forces you to confront your users as quickly as possible at the lowest cost. Step by step, experience will help you improve your solution and add new features or services. No need to spend a huge budget if your solution does not fit to your customers’ needs!

One of the most famous MVP is Airbnb. The two founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbi, validated their product by offering mattresses in their living room during the Industrial Design Society of America Conference (IDSA) in 2007. They found three guests willing to pay for this and validated their first assumption: people pay to sleep in strangers’ house! Not so obvious at first sight… Today, the platform has changed a lot – for the better – since its first roll! You can find a lot of other MVP examples.

  1. Measure and analyse: no test without data

Tests require a certain analytical rigour. Your test must absolutely not rely on your intuition but on reliable data. Be particularly careful to the bounce rate, the conversion rate, time spent on your website. All the data that could help you understand your customer’s behaviour and identify what the factors or elements scrambling their experience are. Assessing these issues can have an important impact on your turnover! Then, you can use, of course, these figures to measure the potential of an initiative.

  1. Organise test

First tip: unlearn everything you think you know and be user centric! A test can verify very different aspects: the value proposition/the landing page/the call-to-action of your website, a customer journey, the usability of your app and many other things…

For this, there are a lot of test methods like the A/B testing, method consisting of comparing two versions of a page or an app to see which one is more efficient.

Second tip: always do the test by small keys so that it is not skewed because the change is due to only one factor.

  1. Learn and improve

A testing strategy is a continuous improvement process. You have to proceed by iterations. These are short development circles that enable to take feedback into account before launching a new one. In this way, you make regular checks on what is valuable for your user and every new cycle helps you to improve your solution. Sometimes tests fail, but do not give up, be perseverant! You can learn about it. Once again, it is better to realise it as quickly as possible in your cycle of development!

Keep in mind: your digital success depends on your capability to forget what you think you know by confronting you to your clients regularly! Small tests can solve important business stakes. So integrate them as much as you can and try new things!

If you want to know how to launch your first test, go take look on the article Getting Started with User Testing for Website Optimisation!

 

Mobile UX: an Introduction Featuring the Latest Trends.

Wish: from shopping for a need to shopping as a leisure

Today, shopping is installing itself as a growing activity during our spare time. It is commonly linked to window shopping in malls, but more and more we observe this behavior through e-commerce.

Wish, created in 2011 by Peter Szulczewski and Danny Zhang, (respectively ex-Google and Yahoo employees) is now one of the biggest actors of online shopping, competing directly with big companies such as Amazon or AliExpress. Their motto: make your shopping smarter, fun, and rewarding. The Wish app is now valorized to 10 milliards dollars. It’s the first app downloaded in more than 40 countries and gathering more than 300 million daily users.

Sources: Wish on craft.com (https://craft.co/wish-contextlogic)

AN EASY STOCK MANAGEMENT

Wish’s model is simple: it is all based on being an intermediary between big retailers that are producing a lot and users with a low income. This allows to avoid stock management and to offer the lowest prices on the market.

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