Long-form articles overcome the pervasive lack of attention building a stronger relationship between the writer and the reader. In the last months, our developers worked on WordLift 3.13 with a simple, yet powerful idea: bringing a richer, faster, and easier text analysis, that works wonderfully with long articles.
Why long articles matter?
As a reader in the communication overload era, the most precious thing you need is a compass that guides you across a World Wide Web which is overflowing with content. As a content writer, you need to become that compass, and most of your efforts go in the direction of building your own trustability. Long-form articles can be helpful resources to deeply understand a matter, and here is why readers love them, in spite of the time they take to be read.
The bond of trust plays a relevant role here: you spend time reading a long-form article because you trust its author or its publisher, and therefore you think that article can be interesting. Meanwhile, the more you read, the more it – with the deep insights and its argumentative structure – binds you to the author. If the text is up to expectations of the reader, author’s advice and point of view become that compass everybody is looking for out there on the Web.
Sometimes, like short essays, long articles include references to several concepts, facts, and information coming from different contexts… but what if the reader needs to get deeper into some of these concepts? Typically, he/she will search on Google and end up on reading an article in Wikipedia. So much time spent writing a contextualized and informed article, just to send your readers to Wikipedia? Ouch!
There is a better way.
When you annotate your articles with WordLift, you provide your readers with additional information chunks, so that they can fully understand your article on your own website without leaving it.
What’s new in the text analysis of WordLift 3.13?
Until WordLift 3.12, when you wrote a long-form article, the number of entities that our plugin was able to recognize via natural language processing was limited, due to the fact that we originally considered a blog post to have an average of 500-600 words. Many entities you would have expected were missing. Now, WordLift segments your texts into shorter paragraphs and can detect most of the entities that you need.
We have tested this feature internally by analyzing five long articles from our blog. We measured the recall of WordLift version 3.13 and compared it with the previous release. Out of these very basic tests, the recall improved on average by 53%; the number of correct results was more than doubled when compared to the previous release!
See the results of our test in the chart below:
We also measured WordLift‘s speed when analyzing articles, and there is another great news for our users: text analysis is +31% faster on average. We are really happy to help you save your time for something more creative!
Wanna see the numbers? Have a look at the figure below:
We recognized that giving you a richer list of results without any filter would create a confusing experience.
From now on, you’ll see a shortlist of 20 entities listed under the tab ‘all’. These entities are automatically selected between those who have been mentioned more often on the article. All the other entities are categorized and listed in alphabetical order by clicking on the tabs ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’.
An early tester
One of our early testers, Oscar Valentini, owner of Tao Roma (if you are following our blog, you’ve probably met him before, if not, read his use case) tried two days ago and said:
WordLift‘s text analysis has finally an amazing speed! I couldn’t be happier!
So, it’s time to update WordLift! Enjoy our latest release and let us know your feedbacks.
What is a WordCamp? How do people in the WordPress community look like? What’s the magic behind the people that power 28 percent of the Web? What is so exciting about meeting contributors from around the world and end up translating strings of a content management software that a lot of tech people consider messy and somehow outdated?
I’ve attended my first European WordCamp along with other 1.900 people traveling from 79 countries to answer these questions and to present WordLift to partners and friends.
Long time WordPress ninjas agree that the WordCamp Europe 2017 edition was by far one of the best(article by WP Tavern).
Attending a WordCamp is not just about reviewing themes and discussing core developments of the WordPress platform but it is really about looking closely at the enthusiasm of a thriving and highly competitive eco-system.
Here is my short summary of the event and my five reasons to attend the next WordCamp:
Accessibility and inclusivity matter. Enjoy it! If there is a single theme to describe WordPress’s core efforts nowadays this would beinclusivity. From presentation about the ongoing efforts to grow the platform, to marketing trends inside Automattic, everything is designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of technical skills and language barriers.
Innovation as a side effect. Let’s catch up! WordPress easy-of-use remains the most important driver of adoption of WordPress. Never the less the community is there to show you that a lot of innovative and amazing work is still happening under the hood. We develop WordLift, our semantic SEO plugin, with a focus on digital marketing automation, so my attention was somehow biased by the presentation of Gutenberg (WordPress new web editor technology). Matt Mullenweg attended a casual Q&A session and showed us a demo of the editor that finally introduces true workflow capabilities on WordPress and can be already tested by downloading a plugin on WordPress.org. Now, while a good chunk of the presentations revolve around the industry, open source initiatives and testimonials, there is a great lot of innovation to catch up with (and this is, of course, a great sign)
Competition is fierce and many-sided. It’s time to find your next partner. By attending this type of events you can finally understand and see that behind the enthusiastic open source community spirit there is a billion dollars economy that fights like crazy to remain ahead of the curve and to create consistent business value. If you’re making a living using WordPress, if you have spent nights coding themes or plugins, a WordCamp really is an event to attend. It’s not just a venue where platform’s users and blogging newbies gather every now and then, this is the event that represents an entire industry!
Great products are made by people, so go and meet them. Products are never finished. This is true for digital products and now it is also true for things that exist in the real world like cars and airplanes. Kevin Kelly talks about ‘becoming‘ as one of his twelve technological forces that shape our future. The basic idea is that perfection does no longer exist and you as a maker shall keep on adapting your product to change what you’re building and to respond to the audience. This also means that people, still play a pivotal role in these ecosystems. Their product adapts over time but their vision is what you, as a prosumer (or consumer) are really buying. A WordCamp is a terrific place where you can go and showcase like we did, your plugin to WordPress’s living rockstars like Joost de Valk from Yoast or Syed Balkhi from WPBeginners and Optin Monster.
Give back, always.It’s good for your karma and good for your business. Whether you are cheering up a thought leader speaking on the front stage or you decide to roll up your sleeves and join for the Contributor Day a WordCamp is the place where you have your chance to move your energy and intentions in favor of others. I don’t want to sound too mystical but this really is the life blood of these experiences.
Here is a timeline from our Twitter account and below, two real gems I picked for you!
Now two contributions that really deserve your attention:
1. John Maeda head of Design and Inclusion at Automattic presenting the three types of design: classical design, business design, and computational design (as during his talk for the WordCamp John explains in this video that inclusivity is the secret weapon of every successful design team).
2.Marina Pape – Marketing Wrangler at WooCommerce sharing her precious experience. Great stuff!
When I started to write on the web I realized I was supposed to change my writing style if I wanted search engines to understand what I wrote. Yet semantic technologies allow our stories to be understood by search engines even though their authors manage to write them for humans only. How is that possible? Read on…
Once upon a time a crow was sitting on a branch of a tree with a piece of cheese in her beak when a Fox observed her and set his wits to work to discover some way of getting the cheese. Coming and standing under the tree he looked up and said,
“What a noble bird I see above me! Her beauty is without equal, the hue of her plumage exquisite. If only her voice is as sweet as her looks are fair, she ought without doubt to be Queen of the birds.”
The Crow was hugely flattered by this, and just to show the Fox that she could sing she gave a loud caw. Down came the cheese, of course, and the Fox, snatching it up, said
“You have a voice, madam, I see: what you want is wits.”
Written around the sixth century B.C. presumably by Aesop. Even though we don’t know for sure if Aesop ever existed. Those fables are a powerful narrative device. If you ever heard any of those stories, chances are you never forgot. Why?
Human Memory in a Nutshell
Human memory is slightly different from a computer’s memory. In short, we know there are certain parts of the human brain that play a key role in forming memories. Yet those regions work in unison with other parts of our brains to make those memories formed.
Like a symphony. Our memories get shaped by the interactions between billions of neurons, in a wild dance in which those nerve cells make synaptic connections. Those connections also become memories. The more neurons fire together, the more those thoughts become sticky. Psychologists like to summarize this process in neurons that fire together wire together.
If we looked at your brain with an MRI scanner – think of the MRI as a camera that takes pictures of your brain in action – while listening to a story, you would see several regions of your brain lighting up.
Although ancient people didn’t have MRI scanners, they understood what happened behind the scenes of the human brain. They already grasped the importance of metaphors as devices to create memories. Those memories could last for decades and get spread for millennia to come. Jumping from brain to brain they got tied together by metaphors. Yet it seems we have forgotten this lesson in the last two decades, when search engines took over the web. Ever since, keywords ruled over content.
Aesop the Blogger
Imagine Aesop was a literary author in today’s world. He has this great book in his hands, yet no big publishing house willing to sponsor it. What to do?
Aesop could self-publish that literary work. Yet he wants to test and see if there is an audience for it. Thus, Aesop creates a WordPress blog. That is the most logical choice, as he doesn’t have any coding skills – coming from Ancient Greece. Opening for the first time his internet browser he finds himself in a weird place. That place’s name is Google. From gurus to marketers Aesop is looking for inspiration. He dives in an article that tells him how to start a blog in ten steps, three somersaults, and a loop-de-loop. He seems very confused.
Finally, Aesop finds an article from a bold and bald man. That article has a magic formula inside. That is the formula to becoming the most known author in the Googlesphere. Taken aback by his ignorance Aesop finally learns about keywords!
Thus, in front of a ten-page how-to article on how to make his fables more “machine-friendly”, Aesop’s work goes to ashes.
What had happened? To make his content ranked, Aesop decided to convert all the metaphors and fables in keywords!
Thank god this is only a thought experiment and Aesop never made it through our times. Otherwise, we would have lost one of the most important literary works ever created. Yet if keywords were the rule of thumb in the last decades, can we expect to see a paradigm shift anytime soon?
When Keywords Become Metaphors
In the last two decades search engines took over the web and they created a net for their own sake. This net revolved around the use of keywords. How could not be so? To make us find what we were looking for we had to adjust our thinking to fit that little quest box.
That is how we went from thinking out of the box to thinking within that narrow search box. That is also how we moved away from the why and more toward the how of things. The era of tutorials, how-to articles, and how to become a magician in ten steps arose. Is that era is close to an end? In part, it might be.
Since 2013, whenRankBrain got launched, search engines are picking up. In fact, throughNLP (natural language processing) machines now understand human language. Thus, we are finally going back to think out of that little search box into our human consciousness.
For instance, through our digital assistants, we ask more and more questions. In short, rather than using keywords, we now ask questions and we want an answer. The revolution though is that we now want answers not only from Google. But also from the websites that populate the web. Would you ever talk to a website that speaks in keywords? Of course not! Yet while it made sense a few years ago, it doesn’t anymore.
Search engines are becoming better and better at “interpreting” human language. They can extrapolate the information needed to answer our questions. Thus, make those blogs and websites speak to us.
Rather than make our text fit machines’ requirements (as it happened so far), finally authors, bloggers, and content creators canfocus on writing stories. Metaphors and anecdotes, in this era, should be the rule. Rather than focusing all our efforts on keywords, we can finally go back to write for people.
Google meets Aesop
While writing an article you can now focus on inspiring others while software like WordLift does the rest for you. For instance, within this article, I created a set of entities within my vocabulary, which explained to search engines what my article is about. In fact, by adding a schema markup to my article, I put search engines in condition to understand the content. Thus, without placing any keyword within the text I connected the fable to other concepts such as Google and Technology. You can see it from the schema markup I created through WordLift:
Linked metadata describing this article
In the meanwhile, WordLift is also putting things into context by creating a knowledge graph.
The Metadata visualized using LOD View
In other words, in a few seconds and without placing a line of code I achieved those results:
Passed toward search engines the definition of the concepts within the articles trough schema
Contextualized the content of the article through the knowledge graph
In other words, search engines are enabled to realize that The Fox and The Crow is a fable, but it was told in the context of SEO. Thus, by making this article unique.
In the last two decades, a new style of writing was born. A style based on 200-pages long how-to-articles. Most of us caught into this game. We also thought we determined it. The truth is we never chose it. It was imposed on us. In fact, that style was (in part) born from the necessity to make search engines understand our content. Either we did that or we were out of the web. The price to pay was too high. Therefore, we started to write dry content, mainly based on keywords to make sure it was ranked. In the meanwhile, we lost track of ancient wisdom.
Over two thousand years ago people already knew the importance of fictional stories. In the last decade, neuroscience confirmed that our brain likes those stories. In short, the human mind does not want the truth to be given on a silver plate. Our mind wants to dig, interpret, wonder and visualize before getting to the truth.
Now semantic technologies allow us to tell stories, fables, and anecdotes again. The web doesn’t have to be a dry land but it can finally become a place of wonder.
Content Marketing is an ever-evolving arena, which depends upon findability. Think of the great classical works, such as those of Plato and Aristotle. If none would have found them, none would have known of their existence. In other words, when it comes to content, findability is a primary issue. Yet in the past, it was up to men making those contents findable. In the last two decades, things swiftly changed. Findability of content isn’t anymore in men’s hands. In fact, machines took over. Where are we heading toward? Read on…
Back inthe 90s, the web was still a shapeless creature. Almost like a Hydra monster with its many heads, it seemed untameable. Made of millions of pages. Those were all disjointed and disconnected. Either you knew exactly the name of the website you were looking for, or the game was over.
Things didn’t seem to improve a lot. From 1990 to 1994 a wave of search engines tried to tame the multi-headed monster. From Archie to AltaVista the future didn’t look bright.
Then, two young fellows from Stanford conceived an algorithm. Named after his creator, called PageRank. It was the birth of another mythological creature, called Google. Finally, the web seemed tamed. All it took was a simple yet powerful principle. Classify the content based on link popularity.
In short, web pages got ranked and classified by a militia of little crawlers. By wriggling through those pages they accounted for about two hundreds factors. To determine what is relevant and what to throw away. The consequence was that those crawlers became the sentinels of the web. The net they created is the web as we know it.
Thus, Google became the Web. So, if Google did not know you existed de facto you didn’t. That is how the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) industry was born.
Content Marketing in the PageRank Era
Ever since Google managed to index the web it became it. What was the web according to Google though? The answer lied in the ability of crawlers to capture the signals contained in each living page. Thus, you had to adjust and optimize your pages. So crawlers could “perceive” those signals. In this way, you got better chances of having those pages ranked. In short, it didn’t matter if you wrote Dante’s Divine Comedy. Your content would not rank if you didn’t follow a simple and linear formula.
What was that formula? It was a mix of keywords, tags, meta descriptions, internal links, and backlinks. Although this formula still works today, it has lost efficacy over time. And chances are that it’ll become less and less effective until it’ll stop working. Why? A new algorithm came out that changed it all.
RankBrain Changed It All
When PageRank came out, it all made sense. It was a time in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) was not powerful enough. Yet things changed swiftly when in 2013 Google launched a new algorithm, Hummingbird. That algorithm used AI to analyze and understand human language.
In this scenario, back in 2015, RankBrain became one of the most powerful ranking factors. De facto RankBrain is shaping the web like PageRank did back in the late 90s.
How’s the web gonna look like in the RankBrain era?
None knows for sure. Yet one thing we know. Keywords, links or backlinks are (slowly) getting replaced. Now semantics, context, and user experience are shaping the net.
Thus, SEO changed its meaning. It went from Search Engine Optimization to Superb Experience Of User.
When SEO Becomes People’s Engagement
In this scenario, using a set of disjointed tactics, like meta tags, and keywords, may not be enough. Why? RankBrain looks at how users experience each piece of content. Thus, it isn’t anymore about how many keywords or links a web page contains. But rather about how easy to navigate, discover and engaging a content becomes.
In other words, we shifted from link building to information architecture.
How to Become an Architect and Win in the RankBrain Era
With this new paradigm shift, there are few questions to answer. Before deeming any piece of content relevant to users. Make sure you answer “Yes” to those five questions:
Are users dwelling on the page?
Are they navigating the page?
Am I giving answers to their questions?
Am I giving them a clear context on which my website sits?
Is my content unambiguous?
If the answer is Yes, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, I’ll tell you how to get there…
Five main suggestions to thrive in this era:
First, add a schema markup to the content on your website
Why? Imagine you are talking about Steve McQueen. Of course, that may be the actor as well as the Oscar-winning director. Although the reader may understand based on the context of the article, the search engines won’t. Unless you make that content unambiguous. How? By adding the schema.org definition of Steve McQueen. By doing so you will allow search engines to understand who’s Steve McQueen you are referring to.
Second, answer questions as much as you can
Why? We often tend to forget why the web exists after all, which is to answer our questions. Thus, it may be a good idea to set up an internal vocabulary on your website. That will give the definitions of the main terms that set the context of your blog. That will make the content on your website ready to get indexed by Google’s crawlers. Thus shown to users.
Third, create a powerful context by building an internal knowledge graph
Why? That will improve the user experience.
Fourth, write captivating stories
Why? To make your readers stick to them. Keep in mind that each word is a powerful sword that you can use to make the reader engaged.
Fifth, set an editorial strategy around few, strategic concepts
Why? Content marketing is about conversion rates rather than vanity metrics. Stop looking at likes and shares and start looking at how your content is affecting the bottom line. Thus, if you want to succeed create focused and niched down content.
In conclusion, ever since search engines took over the web they created a net that put machines in charge of it. Either you spoke their language or your content got deemed unworthy. Yet a revolution happened when Google launched RankBrain, within Hummingbird. Finally, machines were able to read human language. Thus, you should focus on becoming a better writer and inspire people through great stories.