New Pestle Update Allows You to Share Recipes and Meal Plans With Others

Most importantly, you can now share recipes and meal plans using the Pestle Households feature.

You can share the invite link with others and they will be able to see your cookbook. You will also be able to see theirs.

Another nice addition is the ability to edit recipes before you import the information into Pestle.

Other changes include an overhauled shopping list a a new parser to help gather recipe information from sites.

You can download Pestle now on the App Store for free.

Along with the recipe scanner feature, the Pestle Pro subscription includes unlimited recipes, cross-device sync, a meal plan option for the next two weeks, and much more.

That’s $9.99 per year or $0.99 per month. You can also unlock a lifetime subscription for $24.99.

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4 SEO Tips to Improve Your Website in 2022

About 53% of all the website traffic arrives from organic search, so it’s time to grab your opportunity by reviewing and improving your SEO strategy. Investing in SEO for your website makes you more visible to your target audience and it’s a valuable investment. This way, you can grow your brand and attract more visitors.

Everybody wants to be ranked higher on search engines, but this is now more challenging than ever. It’s very important to do it right because, without a proper strategy, your business doesn’t have a chance to flourish. So, follow these four tips for improving your SEO strategy and watch your business flourish.

Don’t forget about local SEO

Local SEO enables smaller and medium-size businesses to grow and allows them to target people from their area. For example, if you own a hair salon and optimize a website for local search, whenever somebody searches “hair salons near me’’, you would appear high on Google.

This helps your company to reach out to your target audience near you. It’s not hard to optimize either, because all you need to do is backlinking to local websites and popular events, and use phrases specific to your location in the keywords.

Local SEO has many benefits for your business. It enhances traffic and encourages people to visit your website, which leads to more sales. When potential customers go to your website, it improves your conversion rate. Many people wish to have their favorite shop near them rather than searching the internet and having to purchase online.

You can save money by optimizing for local search because most people look at local products and services, using the “near me’’ choice. This way, you reduce advertisement costs like banners, pamphlets, or local TV commercials.

Your local SEO agency can help you in optimizing your local SEO. For example, if your business is in Melbourne, search for a Melbourne SEO agency and they will help you develop your SEO easily and efficiently.

Consider SEO hosting

With SEO hosting, you can protect your website in case you’re using multiple websites for interlinking. This way, you will have the safety and protection for your website, and control all your digital footprints.

It lets you make your domain names unique and separate from each other. It also has features that allow you to manage your IPs, like the site and network tools, backup, FTP and email accounts, and others.

The purpose of SEO hosting is to increase your searchability and link value in search engines. If you use traditional web hosting, the search engines will penalize you quickly.

Your website has to look unique and on different C Class IPs. Being unique and separated from others will have more value. SEO hosting offers you IPs from various C classes and lets you manage many IP addresses for different websites from one single account.

With everything interlinked and on the same IP range, search engines recognize that everything is owned by the same company. Luckily, SEO hosting dismisses this risk with multiple IPs.

This is more affordable than dealing with different web hosting providers and you can use unique name servers for all of your websites, keeping them independent from each other and leaving no track for search engines to ban you.

Use internal links and backlinking

Internal links help you connect one page of your website to another, and help visitors to go from page to page. The source page is the one you should link from, you link to the target page, and the keyword should be a suggested anchor test.

High ranking is crucial for every website. Getting backlinks can be the best and fastest way to see results in rankings and is a very important part of your SEO strategy. If you don’t have an SEO or content marketing team searching for backlinks possibilities, you are missing out on the opportunity to improve your position on Google.

Moreover, you should collaborate with respectable publications in your industry. This will help you earn press coverage, have authoritative referring domains, and add backlinks that will contribute to your website authority.

Optimize FAQ sections

You should mark up frequently asked questions with structured data because this will lead to more traffic to your website. Having a FAQ schema is important. It’s not that hard to qualify for it and use it on your website, and you can gain a lot from it.

You can use FAQ pages to get links and answer all the relevant questions so that your visitors would what you and your company are all about.

When optimizing your FAQ sections, focus on the first two because on average, they will appear on the search engine most. Strategically implemented FAQ schema will maximize positive outcomes.

Final words

Implementing these SEO tips will improve your website significantly, but don’t do it all at once. Instead, start slowly. Pick one or two tips and start from there, upgrading in time.

Don’t forget to prioritize quality content, as you can outrank your competitors even if they have a higher domain ranking than you.

Remember that it takes time and effort to create a high-performing website that will thrive. By following these strategies, you are on the right track to success.

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Fiitscape Shows You Can Have Fun While Getting Fit

On the surface, Fitscape provides a fantasy-style 16-bit MMORPG for casual game play. There’s obviously a fun twist.

All of the character progression and world movement is driven by your real-world physical activity. More than 80 activities supported, everything from strength training to meditation. All of your activity is also integrated in Apple’s Health app so you will get daily credit.

While not active, you can still Enjo the game with tons of quests, enemies to discover, and more. The game also offers an online component so you can share the experience and journey with others.

Made for both gamers and non-gamers Fitscape wants to help give to a nudge to start a new routine or stay more active.

Designed for the iPhone, Fitscape is a free download on the App Store. There are in-app purchases available for a membership that unlocks additional features in the game. You can also purchase in-game Fitcoins.

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Building a Better Search Engine: Lessons From Neeva’s CEO

After helping to grow Google’s advertising business for over 15 years, Sridhar Ramaswamy began to feel Google’s dependence on ads was limiting the quality of search results.

Determined to prove he could achieve a better search experience without ads, Ramaswamy co-founded and launched Neeva in 2019.

As the CEO of his own search company, Ramaswamy is accountable to the users of his product who pay a monthly subscription to access Neeva.

“No ads” means Neeva doesn’t have an incentive to collect data on its users, making it the only search engine on the market that’s both ad-free with a privacy option.

Ramaswamy is currently on the conference circuit raising awareness about Neeva, and we managed to catch up with him at Collision last week in Toronto.

We profiled Neeva once before and welcomed Ramaswamy as a guest on the Search Engine Journal Show in December.

However, each time we only scratched the surface. Now, we want to dig deeper.

So, what makes Neeva different from the other companies — and what makes Neeva a viable alternative to Google and Bing?

What Are Neeva’s Core Values?

Many companies enter the market making lofty claims of how they’ll do right by users. Even Google once had “don’t be evil” written into its code of conduct: a promise to which some critics argue it hasn’t lived up. Google has de-emphasized “Don’t be evil” in its code of conduct, though it was never removed.

In 2021, Google was sued by three former employees over its “Don’t be evil” motto. They allege that failure to live up to the motto is the equivalent of a breach of contract.

To better understand how Neeva will continue delivering a product that puts users’ needs first, I asked Ramaswamy what Neeva’s core values are.

“It’s not something we have published, but this is something I’ve talked about a lot with Vivek [Raghunathan, co-founder of Neeva], and I feel good about saying it,” Ramaswamy began. “At our core, we think that, as a company, we want to make technology serve people.”

“I think many other technology companies, especially in the last 25, have turned rather exploitative,” he continued. “I think the ad model exemplifies this. Basically, if I can convince you and get you hooked on my product, I can pretty much do anything.”

“It’s Technology Serving People”

Make no mistake: Neeva is a for-profit organization, though Ramaswamy says its subscription-based revenue model is designed to serve people rather than advertisers.

“Yes, companies are for-profit, but I think if you set up your values to be aligned with your user, to be aligned with your customer, you’ll always serve them,” he said. “To me, that part is important. If you had to say, ‘Hey, what exemplifies what you do?’ It’s technology serving people. This is why we do things like offer a flat price for the search utility you get from us.”

“Technology At Scale Is Quite Inexpensive”

Many companies within the sector lead consumers to believe scaling technology is expensive, which is how some justify charging higher fees, for instance, as they grow.

It doesn’t have to be that way, Ramaswamy says, as he believes the cost of technology at scale is overblown.

“It’s our belief that technology at scale is actually quite inexpensive,” he noted. “That’s the magic of technology, but right now, the way all of these companies are structured — as they scale, they squeeze more money from you.”

“It’s not like you’re getting more value, though obviously there are exceptions,” Ramaswamy continued. “But it’s really back to the basics of how you create products that delight people. And to me, that’s an honorable living.”

Building a Better Search Engine: Lessons From Neeva’s CEOFrom left to right: Brittany Kaiser, Own Your Data; Sridhar Ramaswamy, Neeva; Ashley Gold, Axios.

What Does Neeva Do To ‘Serve People’?

Neeva’s definition of ‘technology serving people’ is exemplified by its feedback system.

Roughly 20% of the Neeva team is tasked solely with listening to customer feedback and using it to shape the product experience.

On the other hand, many criticize Google for not giving users what they want out of a search experience.

I asked Ramaswamy if he could give examples of specific customer feedback that helped shape Neeva into what it is today.

“There’s tons of feedback that comes to us. Sometimes we feel bad about not being about to take care of all of it,” he started. “But to give an example: We did a currency converter because, believe it or not, it was a top request. Initially, I did not understand this feedback. I was like, ‘Really? It’s that hard for you to click on a link and then type in your numbers and get your currency converted?”

“But then,” Ramaswamy said, “I realized a larger truth about how people think about the internet.”

“People Fear Clicking On Links”

Neeva was initially against going the Google route of delivering content directly in the SERPs, but has had to make some concessions.

Through listening to customer feedback, the Neeva team learned there’s a real apprehension toward clicking on links in search results.

“Clicking on a link has now become an adversarial task. People actually fear clicking on links because they don’t know what’s on the other side,” Ramaswamy said. “Is it going to be a pop-up? Is it going to tell you that your computer has a virus? Is it something else? That’s the reason why we put [a currency converter] right into the search engine. So that’s one example.”

Another perk offered to Neeva subscribers is access to a Slack channel where customers can engage in group discussions with developers.

“A lot of people said, ‘We want to be able to offer feedback to [improve] your search results,’” Ramaswamy said. “So we built a community feedback feature that’s released to some people; it’s not released to everybody.”

The way it works, he explained, is users “can say, ‘Hey, this result is not relevant.’ Or, ‘This result is the top result for this query.’”

“This list sort of goes on and on,” Ramaswamy said. “Customers are really a source of lots of ideas.”

Building a Better Search Engine: Lessons From Neeva’s CEOFrom left to right: Brittany Kaiser, Own Your Data; Sridhar Ramaswamy, Neeva; Ashley Gold, Axios.

Neeva Is A Customer-Guided Product

At Collision, Ramaswamy described what he eventually aims to accomplish with Neeva, and how it differs from the goals of larger search engines like Google.

After speaking with him, I asked if he could clarify what he meant by wanting to “let society figure out” what to do with Neeva.

“I spoke about it more in the spirit of: Google spends a billion, makes a hundred billion. My thing was more: We want to make a couple of billion and let society figure out what it wants to do with the service,” Ramaswamy explained. “It’s more of a general argument around not captive capitalism, but competitive capitalism.”

“The beautiful thing about technology is creating a product for 100 million people is not wildly different from creating a product for a billion people,” he continued. “That’s the magic of scale and technology.”

Being paid for by the people who use it gives Neeva unique flexibility regarding future growth.

Users don’t have as much influence over a product like Google Search, considering they typically don’t pay to use it.

Although even for a free product, Ramasamy argues that Google could be doing much more to give users value.

“My point was a customer-paid product makes it much easier for us to release the product to the whole world [and] still run a profitable company, but not at the kind of obscene scale that I see Facebook or Google operating,” he said. “People always say …  ‘Well, Google gives me free Gmail. Will they stop giving it?’ And my rough answer is: Well, I’m sure, with 100 billion dollars, a bunch of us are going to make really good decisions about how to use that money.”

Ramaswamy said that users “don’t need a monopolist to make that decision and decide they want to give you free Gmail. We don’t need charity from rich companies in order to do this; we need competition, so more of the money that is being spent on this comes to us.”

Building a Better Search Engine: Lessons From Neeva’s CEOFrom left to right: Brittany Kaiser, Own Your Data; Sridhar Ramaswamy, Neeva; Ashley Gold, Axios.

Will Neeva Keep Its Privacy Promises?

DuckDuckGo, another search engine that touts privacy as its key selling point, was recently a source of controversy after it was discovered to be passing along a minor amount of data to Microsoft.

That stemmed from the deal DuckDuckGo has to use Bing’s search index.

I asked Ramasamy what measures Neeva has in place to keep its zero data collection promises.

“Not serving ads is the biggest measure we have in place. And, we are building our own index,” he said, adding that the company is actively “writing down human ratings and getting data back.”

“We truly want to create a differentiated product,” Ramasamy emphasized. “We started with using the Bing API for search [but] in many ways, I think we would have been better off investing in search from day one. We are a product company, and we want to become a much better search engine. That’s the big differentiator.”

“We’re Making Foundational Investments In Search”

In addition to keeping Neeva ad-free, it will be able to maintain its zero-data promise by building its own search index.

DuckDuckGo, for example, ran into trouble because it’s wholly dependent on Microsoft for search results. Ramasamy says Neeva is the only company outside Google and Bing crawling and indexing the web.

That claim is backed up by an October 2020 report on digital competition by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust. The report states:

“The high cost of maintaining a fresh index, and the decision by many large webpages to block most crawlers, significantly limits new search engine entrants. Today, the only English-language search engines that maintain their own comprehensive webpage index are Google and Bing.”

He acknowledged that, in response, many ask, “What’s the big deal? What difference does it make?”

“It lets us do things like creating a much better shopping experience,” Ramasamy explained, noting that, for instance, Neeva “launched Reddit links in search results … because we work with Reddit to get their index. So we have an index of all the web pages they’re serving.”

Ramasamy said that users can receive better-quality results for such queries as, “What are the most interesting Reddit posts that correspond to this query?”

Neeva can “launch features like that, because we’re making foundational investments in search; pretty much the only company outside of Google and Microsoft to be doing this.”

“We increasingly use Bing as a fallback when we cannot answer queries,” Ramasamy acknowledged. However, he said, “Over time, our aspiration is to be able to do more and more of the search results ourselves.”

Neeva’s Sole Focus Is Traditional Web Content (For Now)

With people’s search behavior turning more toward short videos, I asked Ramaswamy if Neeva has any plans to index content like Web Stories or TikTok videos.

For now, Neeva’s sole focus is to solve search for text-based web content.

“Solving for search, especially things like spoken search, is enough of a large problem that we have not quite gone there,” Ramaswamy said. “We have working arrangements. We have partnerships with companies like Twitter and companies like Reddit to better surface their content.

Twitter, he pointed out, “Has a lot of real-time information. So we’re focused on things like that right now and less on video. That would be a fun project to do.”

Neeva’s Greatest Challenge Is Awareness

As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Ramaswamy: What’s the most significant hurdle for Neeva to overcome on its journey toward mass adoption?

Ramaswamy’s answer: “It really is about competition.”

The product, he said, is not the issue.

“We have a great product. Compared to ad-supported options … the free Neeva search engine is infinitely better,” Ramaswamy explained. “The place where we struggle is getting the word out, getting people to know us as an option, and getting people to set us as the default search in Safari, which is impossible.

“Demand More Choice”

As Ramaswamy explained, there’s no incentive for a company like Google to innovate if it doesn’t have any challengers.

Companies tend to improve their products when faced with more robust competition. But the only way for more competitors to enter the search market is for consumers to demand more options.

“To me, this is the biggest ask that I would have,” Ramaswamy said, “is to demand more choice, because competition produces better products.”

In turn, he said, “That competition creates better products for us. An incumbent that is doing very well has no incentive to innovate [or] to disrupt.”

Conversely, over at Neeva, “We have nothing to lose,” Ramaswamy told me. “We’re going to swing for the fences [and make it] easier for people to switch, for them to try Neeva, for them to decide for themselves if they want it or not.”

What’s Next For Neeva?

Before parting ways, I had to ask what we could expect next from Neeva.

“There’s a lot I’ve learned from Google My Business in terms of local businesses – even in terms of Search Console – that I feel confident we can do better,” Ramaswamy said, adding that “GMB, as you know, is a real problem for lots of people. Especially agencies that want to update information for a bunch of companies that they work with.”

The hope, Ramaswamy said, is that “we’ll have better tools. But not yet.”

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TikTok Responds To Allegations Of Unsecured User Data

TikTok denied that sensitive user information was accessible to China-based employees. The CEO of TikTok offered a strong rebuttal over a news report alleging unsecure handling of sensitive U.S. user data and answered multiple questions sent by United States senators about who has access to data and over Chinese government control over TikTok.

An article published by BuzzFeed alleged that in a TikTok meeting, it was stated that employees in China had complete access to sensitive user data.

In response to the news article, nine United States senators sent a letter to TikTok asking for answers, prompting the CEO of TikTok to provide a full explanation.

Oversight Letter

Nine Senators sent TikTok a letter of concern over allegations that China-based employees had access to sensitive user data. The letter asked eleven specific questions about user data, including if TikTok has ever shared sensitive data with the government of China.

The letter to TikTok stated:

“The implications of these findings are stark, but not surprising. Rather, they simply confirm what lawmakers long suspected about TikTok…”

TikTok’s answers were in response to that letter.

TikTok Leak Out Of Context

The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, wrote an answer to the senators that were subsequently shared as a PDF by the New York Times.

In their response, the CEO said that TikTok was already in compliance with securing U.S. user data and completed all steps for locking down that data together with two major United States companies.

Together with Oracle and Booz Allen, the security initiative they are working on is named Project Texas.

According to the CEO, personnel working on Project Texas work on different parts of a project and are not aware of the entire scope of the project.

He asserted that the people in the leak were workers who were unaware of other parts of the project and thus did not know of policies already in place securing the data.

According the CEO of TikTok:

“Some people working on these projects do not have visibility into the full picture , working on a task without realizing that it’s a single step in a much bigger project or a test to validate an assumption.

That’s critical context for the recordings leaked to BuzzFeed, and one thing their reporting got right: the meetings were in service of Project Texas’s aim to halt this data access.”

The letter also reveals that TikTok has been working confidentially with the U.S. Government to secure data in a way that keeps it entirely in the USA with strict safeguards as to who has access.

He continued:

“…circumstances now require that we share some of that information publicly to clear up the errors and misconceptions in the article and some ongoing concerns related to other aspects of our business.

…As we recently reported, we now store 100% of U.S. user data by default in the Oracle cloud environment, and we are working with Oracle on new, advanced data security controls that we hope to finalize in the near future.”

TikTok China-based Employee Data Access

Contradicting the sensational news reports, TikTok already has strict rules over access to user data controlled by the United States-based security team.

Regarding China-based employee access to data:

“Employees outside the U.S., including China- based employees, can have access to TikTok U.S. user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.

In addition, TikTok has an internal data classification system and approval process in place that assigns levels of access based on the data’s classification and requires approvals for
access to U.S. user data.

The level of approval required is based on the sensitivity of the data according to the classification system.”

The CEO also vigorously denied that the Chinese government has any control or access to the United States user data or TikTok itself.

He wrote:

“…employees of Beijing Douyin Information Service Limited are restricted from U.S. user database access.

The Chinese state-owned enterprise’s acquisition of 1 % of Beijing Douyin Information Service Limited was necessary for the purpose of obtaining a news license in China for several China- based content applications, such as Douyin and Toutiao

The Chinese government does not directly or indirectly have the right to appoint board members or otherwise have specific rights with respect to any ByteDance entity within the chain of ownership or control over the TikTok entity .”

TikTok Still Available On App Stores

As of the publication of this article, TikTok is still available for download from the respective app stores of Google and Apple, an indication that those companies are satisfied TikTok does not violate the terms of privacy governing all apps in their app stores.

In a previous statement, TikTok published that it has been working with Oracle to secure U.S. TikTok data to ensure that 100% of user traffic is routed through Oracle’s cloud infrastructure. It also states that the project for locking down user data continues.


Read the Letter Sent by Nine U.S. Senators (PDF)

Read TikTok’s Response to United States Senators (PDF)

Read TikTok’s Statement from June 17, 2022

Delivering on our U.S. data governance

Image by Shutterstock/DisobeyArt

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How Intrinsic Type Manipulations in TypeScript

Did you know that TypeScript comes with a bunch of built-in string manipulator types? That means we can easily transform a string type into uppercase, lowercase, or capitalized versions of itself. When might this be useful? In lots of situations where you have a fixed set of string values, for example, whenever you have a set of strings from an object using something like keyof.

To transform a string into a different version by defining a new type along with one of the type manipulators. For example, below, we transform myType into the capitalized version:

type myType = "hi there"
type capitalizedMyType = Capitalize<myType>

let myVar:capitalizedMyType = "Hi there";

In the above example, hi there would throw an error – only Hi there will work with a Capitalize type. Similarly, we can uncapitalize a string using Uncapitalize:

type myType = "HI THERE"
type uncapitalizedMyType = Uncapitalize<myType>

let myVar:uncapitalizedMyType = "hI THERE";

Above, only hI THERE will work. Any other case will fail the check.

Uppercase and Lowercase Intrinsic Type Manipulation

Along with Capitalize, we also have Uppercase and Lowercase. They both do exactly what you think they’d do – one changes all characters to uppercase, and the other to lowercase.

type myType = "this long sentence"
type bigMyType = Uppercase<myType>

let myVar:bigMyType = "THIS LONG SENTENCE"

Lowercase Intrinsic Type Manipulation

Above, we’ve created a type which is the uppercase version of myType. Here is the same example, but in the other direction: making the lowercase version:

type myType = "THIS LONG SENTENCE"
type smallMyType = Lowercase<myType>

let myVar:smallMyType = "this long sentence"

Using With Template Literals

These types become very useful when working with template literals, where we can enforce a string literal to use a lowercase version – for example, for an ID. Here is a version where we have a set number of strings, and we only want to use the lowercase version in the ID as part of the versionId type:

type versions = "DEV" | "PROD" | "STAGING"
type versionPrefix = "gold-" | "beta-" | "alpha-"
type versionId = `${versionPrefix}${Lowercase<versions>}`

let currentVersion:versionId = "gold-dev"

Above, we have two sets of union types, and we combine them into one versionId. Here, we only accept lowercase letters, but version is uppercase. We can transform it with Lowercase, so gold-dev is valid.

Using With keyof Objects

In a similar way, we may receive an object from an API or elsewhere which has an odd or uneven casing. To normalize this, we can use intrinsic type manipulations. Below, I am using keyof to get all the keys in myObject, and making them all lowercase too.

type myObject = {
    firstName: string,
    Age: number,
    Lastname: string

type keys = Lowercase<keyof myObject>

let getObjectKey:keys = "firstname"

keys only have the following valid values: firstname | age | lastname. In this example, using intrinsic string manipulation like this can be an easy way to create clean types when the data we have at our disposal has issues.

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Why performance testing is so vital and so difficult

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Alexa Can Mimic Anyone’s Voice

The Alexa team demoed the new feature during the event by presenting a scenario in which Alexa uses the voice of a dead grandmother to read a bedtime story to a little boy

Dale John Wong — Alexa will soon be able to talk using a loved one’s voice (even if they’re dead)

That quote from a recent article builds on the digital resurrection post from June 14th. When they say anyone’s voice — they mean it. Take a look at the video below starting at the 1:01:58 mark, which is a different application of the same scenario — resurrecting a lost loved one. If you have not already responded to the poll below, please provide your thoughts.

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How TikTok’s Search Algorithms Power Content Discovery

Until recently, knowing how TikTok’s search algorithms worked was as unlikely to help you earn money as knowing how to sew buttons on eggs.

But in the past month, TikTok has launched Branded Mission, a new way for brands to crowdsource authentic and creative content from its community, and TikTok Pulse, a new contextual advertising solution that gives brands exposure in the top 4% of videos.

Suddenly, learning how TikTok’s search algorithms power content discovery seems a lot more likely to help content creators and social media influencers turn their side hustles into full-time gigs.

This seems like the right time for a comprehensive guide to how to get your videos found via the For You feed, as well as the Following feed, Search results, and Friends tab.

How TikTok Recommends Videos #ForYou

In June 2020, TikTok disclosed how its recommendation system selected videos in “How TikTok recommends videos #ForYou.”

Little has fundamentally changed since then, except the U.S. government is no longer trying to ban the Chinese social media platform.

So, here’s what creators and influencers need to know: TikTok’s For You feed presents a stream of videos curated to each user’s interests, making it easy for a user to find content and creators they love.

In other words, there isn’t one For You feed for over one billion monthly active TikTok users.

There are a billion For You feeds tailored to what each user watches, likes, and shares.

TikTok added, “This feed is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”

And several factors impact recommendations, including:

  • User interactions include liking or sharing videos, following accounts, commenting on a TikTok, and creating related content.
  • Video information, which can include captions, sounds, or hashtags.
  • Device and account settings such as a user’s language preference, country setting, and device type.

Two years ago, TikTok also revealed:

“All these factors are processed by our recommendation system and weighted based on their value to a user. A strong indicator of interest, such as whether a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end, would receive greater weight than a weak indicator, such as whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country.”

On the other hand, TikTok said at the time:

“While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.”

In July 2020, TikTok followed up with a second post, “5 tips for TikTok creators.”

It told us, “For You feed recommendations generally pull from videos posted within the last 90 days.”

Now, I don’t mean to quibble, but I found 10 tips in this post that are still useful today:

  • Make captivating videos that tell stories, engage viewers, and spark conversation.
  • Create vertical videos which perform best on TikTok and videos that are more than five seconds long.
  • Write great captions to add context and provide additional information about a video.
  • Bring your content to life by using creative effects (e.g., freeze-framing or AR objects) and sound effects (e.g., voice-overs or duets).
  • Look broadly at the high-level trends in your analytics, then focus on a single metric from one video to another.
  • Measure the performance of newly uploaded videos soon after publishing because that’s when you will generally see a peak in engagement.
  • Capture viewers’ attention early and keep viewers interested because watch time determines how a video is recommended.
  • Add relevant hashtags to your captions so they’re more likely to be found by audiences interested in your content.
  • Add music and audio to your videos to help viewers who love the dances and challenges that TikTok has made popular discover them.
  • Experiment, get creative, and post different kinds of content to see what resonates.

TikTok’s second post also busted some myths, including:

  • Lots of factors determine how content is recommended in the For You feed, so no one engagement metric (such as likes or comments) is necessarily more important than another.
  • More hashtags don’t guarantee broader reach, and hashtags like #FYP, #ForYou, and #ForYouPage don’t work any better than other hashtags, so adding these to your caption won’t improve your chances of being seen in someone’s For You feed.
  • The number of videos you post won’t impact how your content is recommended in the For You feed, so focus on making deeply engaging videos from beginning to end instead.

So, does this two-year-old advice still generate results?

According to a post by Jacinda Santora on the Influencer Marketing Hub entitled, “Highest Paid TikTok Influencers of 2022,” Charli D’Amelio topped the list with average estimated earnings of $17.5 million.

She started posting dance videos on TikTok in 2019 and now has 141.3 million Followers, 10.9 billion Likes, and an Average Engagement Rate of 13%.

Charli D'Amelio account on TikTokScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

And her older sister, Dixie D’Amelio, ranked second on the list with average estimated earnings of $57 million.

A singer, she now has 57.4 million Followers, 3.2 billion Likes, and an Average Engagement Rate of 12%.

Dixie D'Amelio account on TikTokScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

Jim Louderback, the author of the “Inside the Creator Economy” weekly newsletter, recommended in “What’s The Alternative To Spending $7 Million On A Super Bowl Ad?,” “Partner with the D’Amelios and bring them on as creative consultants/part owners of your brand.”

So, do you need to sing and dance to succeed on TikTok?

Let’s look at the results generated by other creators and influencers who weren’t born in Norwalk, Connecticut.

In July 2020, I taught a couple of the modules in the first Impact Digital Creator Program at the New Media Academy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

At the time, all 22 of the creators and influencers in the program had Instagram accounts, and several had YouTube channels.

But, their most frequently asked question was: “Should I get on TikTok?”

In September 2020, the New Media Academy partnered with TikTok to add a course to the curriculum designed to help empower current and upcoming content creators in the region to learn how to use the Chinese social media app effectively.

That course, not I, taught creators and influencers in the UAE the best practices outlined above.

Since then, several creators and influencers in the program have launched TikTok accounts, including:

  • Nabaa Aldabbagh, better known as ISpeakFootballOnly, now has 657,100 Followers, 7.1 million Likes, and a 14% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Maitha Mohamed, an Emirati animation artist, and storyteller, now has 438,200 Followers, 4.2 million Likes, and a 10% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Saif Darwish, who isn’t your everyday doctor, now has 195,800 Followers, 1.1 million Likes, and a 2% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Ahmed AlMarzooqi, a content creator with a finance slant, now has 167,200 Followers, 1.1 million Likes, and a 6% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Zainab AlSawalhi, the inspiration behind The Picture Happiness Project, now has 141,800 Followers, 2.3 million Likes, and a 6% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Marwan Alwadhi, better known as DJ Bliss of Dubai, now has 43,000 Followers, 221,900 Likes, and a 2% Average Engagement Rate.
  • Ghaith Al Falasi, an Emirati certified race car driver, self-taught off-roader, and drifter, now has 38,400 Followers, 318,100 Likes, and a 4% Average Engagement Rate.

So, yes, this two-year-old advice still generates results, but results can vary.

How TikTok recommends videos for the Following feed, Search results, and Friends tab

In August 2021, TikTok published the third post in the series, “Discover more of what you love on TikTok.”

So, how does the Following feed work? TikTok said,

“As you follow new creators, their content will start showing up in your Following feed, which surfaces some of the latest and most relevant content from accounts you follow.”

You should create entertaining, inspiring content targeted at one of the many communities on TikTok.


Because you need to enchant viewers to do more than just “Like” your videos.

You need them to “Follow” your account.

And trying to be all things to all people rarely triggers the kind of emotional response needed to get viewers to do that.

What about Search results?

TikTok said,

“you can search for what you’re looking for, from hashtags to videos, creators, and sounds. Exploring these results can also help expand your viewing experience in your For You and Following feeds, as interactions like following an account, saving a video to Favorites, or liking or commenting on a video you’ve discovered through Search can help shape your future content recommendations.”

What should creators and influencers do with this scant amount of information?

Well, there’s only so much space in your captions, and more hashtags won’t guarantee a broader reach.

So, optimize your captions to add context to your video.

And along with adding hashtags that are relevant to your content, you might consider tagging another creator who inspired your content or use hashtags for trending topics or video challenges.

Or, you could leverage this insight from eMarketer: The #tiktokmademebuyit hashtag has 8.8 billion views on TikTok to date.

TikTokMadeMeBuyItScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

You should also optimize your selection of free music clips and sounds.

Although TikTok curates music and sound playlists with the hottest tracks in every genre, you need to find out if your audience responds to Hip Hop, Edm, Pop, Rock, Rap, Country, or other original sounds?

In addition, TikTok’s machine learning is shaped by an individual user’s search results over time.

So, consider focusing on specific affinity segments who search for videos on popular topics again and again.

Affinity segments like gamers, foodies, beauty mavens, pet lovers, or sports fans have interests and habits that enable you to make an ongoing series of short-form videos that they will find exciting, spontaneous, and genuine.

Finally, TikTok started rolling out a “Friends” tab last month, replacing the “Discover” tab.

According to a Tweet on May 5, 2022, by TikTokComms, the Friends tab:

“will allow you to easily find and enjoy content from people you’re connected with, so you can choose even more ways to be entertained on TikTok.”

So, who are these “Friends” and how do they differ from the accounts that you are Following? It’s simple. They’re the accounts you follow that follow you back.

So, the “Friends” tab will enable you to see what’s currently capturing the interest of your community – from trends to effects and sounds on the rise.

And while you are out looking for inspiration, you might also want to use TikTok Insights, a new tool that surfaces insights marketers can use to target different demographics worldwide.

TikTok InsightsScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

So, why should creators and influencers use a tool designed for marketers? For exactly the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks.

In the 1930s, a reporter named Mitch Ohnstad asked Sutton why he robbed banks. According to Ohnstad, Sutton replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”

And creators and influencers who want to earn money need to identify the “sweet spot” that represents the intersection of what their audience wants to watch, like, and share, and which audience endemic advertisers or brands in specific industries want to reach.

To illustrate that endemic advertisers and brands are interested in reaching specific audiences in the U.S. and the UAE, here are a few short success stories.

International House of Pancakes (IHOP) wanted to get millennial-aged food lovers to check out the restaurant by driving mass awareness around limited-time-only products.

IHOP looked to TikTok as part of its 2021 Halloween campaign to build interest and create in-store demand for these limited-time-only products at the “International Haunted House of Pancakes.”

International Haunted House of PancakesScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

For its Halloween campaign, IHOP partnered with popular creator and DJ @IsaacLikes to serve up likable and informative In-Feed Ads that felt organic to the platform thanks to his “I LIKE YOU” personality.

Creatively, the In-Feed Ads leaned into popular trends like food hacks and comedy, with @IsaacLikes introducing the new menu and showing viewers how to get creative with their pancakes.

The funny and engaging content inspired them to head to their local IHOP to experiment with the new Halloween menu. One ad introduced the limited-time spooky menu, including create-your-own Scary Face Pancakes, while another showed Isaac’s six ways to eat an IHOP pancake.

IHOP then used the Reach objective to reach as many users as possible while also using TikTok Ads Manager to focus on specific interest and behavior groups to get in front of food lovers who were more likely to visit their nearest IHOP.

By targeting keywords such as “fall,” “autumn,” and “pancakes,” IHOP created efficiencies in connecting with the right audience to drive awareness while also realizing lower-funnel success at restaurants.

IHOP then used Foursquare Attribution to measure how the ads moved the needle in getting users in-store to sink their fangs into the new, spooky menu.

The International Haunted House of Pancakes reached over 33 million users.

More importantly, using interest and behavior targeting in TikTok Ads Managers ensured IHOP got in front of the right customers efficiently, leading to a 26% lower CPM than the national average on TikTok.

The TikTok community engaged with the creator-led content, too. The @isaaclikes videos brought in over 134,000 clicks to the Halloween menu landing page, 289,000 likes, and 2,000 shares.

Moreover, a post-campaign Brand Lift Study showed that humorous ads delivered a significant +8.4% ad recall.

Awareness was the primary goal, but the campaign’s hocus pocus also enchanted the TikTok community to try the menu in stores.

The Foursquare Attribution study proved that 5.42% of exposed users visited an IHOP location after seeing an ad on TikTok, a behavioral lift of 1.81% compared to those not exposed to the ads.

But wait, there’s more!

Kraft-Heinz wanted to showcase the versatility of its products and extend its relevance on dining tables in KSA and UAE, from using it on mostly-Western dishes like French fries to traditional Middle Eastern meals like shawarma.

HeinzItScreenshot from TikTok, June 2022

Heinz called on the community to participate in a Branded Hashtag Challenge, encouraging them to share their unconventionally tasty #HeinzIt combos, focusing on meals that were more traditional to the region.

The brand enlisted the help of the TikTok creator community, partnering with key voices that represented different demographics and interests within their target audience.

The creators kicked off the campaign and set the tone for the challenge by harnessing TikTok’s suite of creative tools. Using native transitions and the power of sound to produce TikToks dramatically brought to life how a little Heinz can elevate the experience of any meal, taking the brand from dull and uninteresting to fun and exciting in an instant.

The wider TikTok community was inspired by this early activity and quickly followed suit, sharing their own versions of unconventionally tastier meals through the #HeinzIt Challenge.

The campaign generated over 33.6 million views in the two markets of the hashtag content and inspired the creation of approximately 2,400 UGC videos.

In other words, Heinz succeeded in sparking a campaign echoed by the community, building a wave of advocacy that surpassed the brand’s expectations.

For people who saw the ad, the campaign produced a lift of 27 % points in the UAE and 23% points in KSA compared to people who didn’t see the ad, when asked about the statement that Heinz “can be used across a wide variety of dishes.”

The brand was also able to significantly lift Favorability by 25% points in the UAE and 32% points in KSA. This further solidified the brand as the preferred staple on the dining table while influencing the lower funnel with an uplift of 30 percentage points in the UAE and 24 percentage points in KSA on Purchase Intent – resulting in a full funnel win for Heinz!

Content Creators & Social Media Influencers Are Mini Media Companies

As more advertisers and brands start testing Branded Mission and TikTok Pulse, a growing percentage of TikTok creators and influencers will become mini media companies.

I worked at a media company in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Initially, I was the director of marketing at PC/Computing magazine, and later, I became the director of corporate communications for the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.

I learned that the world’s largest publisher of computer magazines focused first on creating content that acted as a magnet and a screen.

The magnet attracted a specific target audience, such as “PC brand specifiers” or “PC volume buyers.” At the same time, the screen kept those who weren’t as interested in buying PCs from diluting the composition of the audience.

And it was the composition and the size of the audience that attracted endemic advertisers.

This special-interest publishing formula, which put content first, audience second, and advertisers third, enabled Ziff-Davis to fetch $1.4 billion when Forstmann Little & Company purchased it in 1994 and $2.1 billion when it was sold again in 1995 to the Softbank Corporation.

So, my advice to TikTok creators and influencers is simple: To be successful, focus first on creating entertaining and inspiring content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience that will attract advertisers and brands – and, ultimately, will turn your side hustle into a full-time gig.

More resources:

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4 Ways To Use AI Right Now In Your Marketing Program

In my last article, we saw that artificial intelligence is getting better and better at answering our questions, regardless of the subject matter or the sector.

Using GPT-3 technology, I demonstrated that an AI can successfully pass an SEO multiple-choice test as well as solve SEO case studies.

There are other, even more advanced, technologies, such as Deepmind’s Gopher, which outperform GPT-3 in the following fields: Humanities, social sciences, medicine, science, and math.

The following graph highlights the accuracy of the answers provided by Gopher, UnifiedQA, GPT-3, and a human expert.

Depending on the subject, we can see the narrow gap between the level of the AI and that of an expert.

This also suggests that the AI could potentially exceed the level of a non-expert person.

Performance on the Massive Multitask Language Understanding (MMLU) benchmark broken down by categoryImage from Deepmind, June 2022

Presently, AI can be a useful supporting resource for many marketing topics.

Let’s take a look at how to work with AI and more importantly, how to integrate it into your business.

4 Ways To Interact With An AI Tool

We will focus on the main methods of interaction to successfully set up the best AI-human combination.

1. Using Your Web Browser

The most interesting kind of interaction is to plug the AI into your back-office or into your web browser with a Chrome plugin.

There are numerous potential applications, as you will be able to help your users with advanced projects like document classification, writing assistance, meta-tag generation, text extraction, and even suggesting new topics.

You can connect the AI to your tools via a simple Javascript call asking it to perform specific tasks.

Below is an example of a JS integration with GPT-3.

The example is oversimplified to show you that with 20 lines of code and the appropriate instructions, you can easily connect a language model like GPT-3.

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();"POST", '');

xhr.setRequestHeader("Content-Type", "application/json");
xhr.setRequestHeader("Authorization", "Bearer sk-RkXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX");

xhr.onreadystatechange = function () {
if (xhr.readyState === 4) {

if (xhr.status==200){
var data=xhr.responseText;
var jsonResponse = JSON.parse(data);
answerGPT3 = jsonResponse["choices"][0]['text'];
else {
console.log('API error');

var prompt = "List 50 concepts about … "

var data = `{
"prompt": "PROMPT",
"temperature": 0,
"max_tokens": 256,
"top_p": 1,
"frequency_penalty": 0,
"presence_penalty": 0

data = data.replace('PROMPT', prompt)


If your back-office supports Javascript and you have seasoned developers, integrating advanced AI features has never been easier.

In order to test this initial connection, create a Chrome plugin to evaluate an AI on its capacity to correctly respond to certifications designed for experts.

To do this, use a Chrome plugin that allows optical character recognition to capture any kind of text.

Then, leverage a separate Chrome plugin that modifies a page’s CSS  to make the page as understandable as possible.

In an example exercise, we assigned each answer of a multiple-choice test to a corresponding letter.

Then, with the previous 20 lines of code, we sent the instructions to the AI to generate the results in a text field.

With this program, called “Asimov’s tests,” the AI managed to pass several certifications.

I then tested the AI on the subject of medical science and it attained scores of more than 60%, without any previous training in a specific discipline.

This confirms that by choosing your subject correctly, the results produced by the AI can strongly help your teams to improve day-to-day work.

SEO assessment from LinkedInImage from LinkedIn, June 2022

2. Using Your Data Visualization Tools

Over the past few months, tools that generate documentation or facilitate code writing have started to appear.

One remarkable use case is to simply generate dashboards or SEO tools with instructions.

There are now open source tools like Streamlit that have very advanced components in Data Visualization or Data Manipulation.

By providing the appropriate instructions, it is easy to request the generation of an app that interacts directly with your data.

For example, you can generate a web application with a complete interface and functional code.

This practice is quite recent, because we use language models that are exclusively fed with computer code. And again, the results are quite impressive.

In the following graph, you can see all the most popular code generators and the data with which they were created.

  • CodeParrot: 50 GB.
  • GPT-3 Codex: 159 GB.
  • InCoder: 216 GB.
  • PolyCoder: 249 GB.
  • AlphaCode: 715.1 GB.
  • CodeGen: 1.38 TB.

It is possible to generate applications in many languages; the main ones are Java, C, JS, and PHP.

most popular code generatorsImage via, June 2022

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, I encourage you to give it a try – as the AI can create your SQL query or your graphs in a matter of seconds.

Practical use is important if you want to get better at using your favorite tools.

3. Using A Chatbot

You can also create a chatbot to answer very specific questions by clearly specifying what role it should play in the instructions.

Here, I ask the chatbot to respond as if it were a doctor, while also using a touch of kindness and humor.

chatbot answerScreenshot by author, June 2022

AI-based chatbots can therefore provide personalized advice and recommendations based on customer preferences. Don’t hesitate to tailor the AI to respond in a particular manner.

A great example is that of Danny Richman, who created an AI version of Google’s John Mueller, called MuellerBot.

This bot builds on the above principle to answer SEO questions as if John Mueller himself were answering them.

It’s both fun and unsettling, as the answers can be quite accurate.

MuellerBotImage from Danny Richman, June 2022

4. Using An AI Assistant Program

Lastly, AI assistants for SEO are programs that run in the background and apply SEO fixes if a page is poorly constructed or has classic errors.

The first such applications date back to 2016, when Facebook was implementing bug auto-fixes with Getafix.

Based on all the bugs fixed in the past, the assistant prepares correction templates that are applied and reviewed by a human before being rolled out.

This is very applicable in SEO, where we know that concerns about meta tag titles, descriptions, pagination, and links are typical problems.

Facebook code baseImage from, June 2022

To do this, you can use GPT-3 in edit mode and modify the SEO pages using the appropriate instructions.

Below are my instructions:

  • Add a title with an H1 tag at the beginning of the text.
  • Add an <a href> link to the most important word in the body of the text.
  • Create useful outlinks at the end of text by using <ul><li>.
  • Add a YouTube video in the body of the text.
  • Put the top five concepts in bold.
modifying seo pages with AIScreenshot from OpenAI, June 2022

If we study the generated text, we can see that the results are excellent: The H1 title sums up the article, the words in bold are accurate, and the YouTube video and outbound links are relevant to the theme.

generated text using AIScreenshot from OpenAI, June 2022

In short: Your AI assistant can save you a lot of time.

Just a note: The links are all dummy links, but you can connect everything to a link database and use mapping tables to replace LINK1 with a link in your database or CSV file.

Now, you can appreciate the potential of automating these types of tasks.

Now that you know the different ways of interfacing a language model with your existing tools, don’t hesitate to implement the method(s) that works best for you, such as:

  • Chrome Plugin.
  • Directly into your CMS.
  • Via a chatbot.
  • Data visualization.
  • AI Assistant.

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