How can Business (big and small) Harness Artificial Intelligence?

April 30th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

Futuristic city with delivery person sending off drones with packages from skyscraper
A recent Contactpoint blog post described the way in which artificial intelligence and machine learning are impacting our world at large and how it works. This blog attempts to answer the question “How can business, both small and large, utilise AI to make significant advancements?” AI is certainly not a technology only available for large corporations.

I assert that there are 3 main ways that your business can benefit from artificial intelligence (‘AI’):

  1. By integrating your website / app with software that has been improved by the use of AI. Such integration will significantly improve the value provided by your solution.
  2. By using software that has been improved by AI for running your business, thus significantly improving the manner in which you run your business, on an ongoing basis.
  3. By running your own deep learning exercises to determine the answer to a difficult question, which either improves your business performance or your understanding of your clients.

I expect that you already, perhaps unknowingly, use the outcome of AI or machine learning every day. Understanding it will help you harness it even more, so let’s explore just a few examples of each of these opportunities.

Integration
The Google search engine is underpinned by the use of AI – the more web pages it crawls, the better and better it gets at providing people with valid and useful search results. That’s part of the benefit of AI; traditional programming requires modification over time in response to the way people use it, with AI driven solutions, they learn and improve on their own.

Baidu, the so-called Chinese version of Google, allows you to upload an image, and request “similar images”. The search for similar images is not based on text around the images on a web page but solely uses the content of the images (2). Images, in technology terms, are made up of pixels of colour, which individually tell you very little. It is the manner in which the colours are combined, and the hard and soft edges around groups of pixels, which determine what is actually represented. AI underpins Baidu’s ability to find similar images – a very complex problem, and probably not something you could program a computer to perform. Traditionally the ability for a programmer to tell a computer how to achieve a goal was a prerequisite to solving that goal programmatically. With the use of AI, instead of telling the computer how to solve the problem, the program is allowed to train itself to solve the problem, getting better and better at achieving a task the more times it is performed.

We all use text search to find the things we need in Google or other search engines. It’s been possible to integrate the Google Search Engine into your website or app for many years, including restricting the search results to a particular domain or set of domains, thus providing excellent search results to your visitors without needing to write a search engine algorithm yourself. The ability to also search by images may be the differentiator that your website or app needs to deepen the value for your customers.

Other AI enriched applications that may enhance your application include:

  • Voice recognition – for speech to text and voice control of your app.
  • Language translation.
  • Image recognition e.g. Facebook suggesting name tags for people in photos you upload.
  • Route planning e.g. navigating from one place to another, taking traffic and other factors into consideration.

Clickup.com, a project management software, provides another example of integration. They announced this month that Clickup is now integrated with Alexa and Google Talk, allowing users to quickly interact with the online software by voice (3).
Google and Microsoft allow you to play with some of their AI enhanced functions via websites (4).

Operations
There are many functions that all businesses carry out. These functions are attracting the application of AI in order to make the tools used to complete these tasks, exponentially better than they have been before, and thereby attract new business.

Keeping up with the last news in your industry during your morning commute is now so much easier thanks to tools such as Voice Aloud which enables your smart phone to read an article to you while you drive (carefully of course). Your smart phone will also allow you to search using voice commands, using Google Voice Assistant or the iPhone Siri, allowing you to search hands free.
I recently asked my Android phone “Okay Google, what do I have on today?” expecting to have a list of my appointments read to me – it did that and, then started playing me 2 – 3 minute snippets of daily news recorded by various news agencies around Australia. It was a fantastic way to keep up-to-date and it “learned” that behaviour all on its own.

Google Search enables you to find relevant information, and this search is very accurate, powered by AI. It’s very important for Google’s revenue from online advertisements that Google Adwords provides relevant ads to searchers, because it is the relevance that inspires people to click on an ad, thus earning Google revenue. Similarly ads which appear in amongst Facebook news feeds are very reliable for showing your ad to the right audience, and once you have achieved excellent click through the result of Facebook’s AI research ensures that it will promote your ad to “look-a-like” audiences, based on what it knows about the people who already clicked. You can now much more confidently spend money on pay-per-click, because you can tailor your ads to specifically targeted audiences.

In a recent Contactpoint blog we talked about chatbots – the best of these are underpinned by AI, improving their results the more they are used so that they can help answer an inbound question before the human gets involved.

A number of online customer service and customer relationship management tools are now underpinned by AI. In these functions AI is bringing valuable insights as you use the tools, such as:
- Which clients are at the greatest risk of leaving you? (5)
- Which phrases and styles of interacting with customers produce the greatest sales results?
- What are the most important additional products or services to provide to your customers?

The better banking and financial management tools are now underpinned by AI to help you identify fraud (6). Similarly computer networks are being better secured from intrusion, viruses and malware now by solutions that use AI to detect unusual behaviour (7).

If your operations involve designing products and engineering, AI is making great inroads into design tools to help speed up the process (12).

Actionable Insights / Solving Problems
So far we have considered AI lead improvements to more general problems. Your business will be operating in a particular domain in which you are an expert, and in which there are very specific problems that have not yet been solved, or can’t be solved quickly & reliably for a large number of customers. This is where the power of AI may be the most potent, because machine learning / deep learning can be used to arrive at breakthroughs in your particular domain. Whilst it helps if you have lots of data in order to feed the deep learning process, for smaller businesses, you may be able to access public data to achieve the same goal, or use pre-existing neural networks to solve your similar problem.

Tools such as Chorus.ai are ready to take your organisation’s live data, in order to provide you with valuable insights in a specific operational area (8). In the case of Chorus.ai it analyses your meetings, particularly sales meetings, to help you get the best performance out of future meetings.

AI is being used to great effect by large corporations such as Walmart to quickly respond when high turnover products look like running out of stock, recently reporting a year-on-year 63% increase in sales (10).

Smaller organisations are also using AI to gain actionable insights, including a Zoo which now has a much better accuracy in predicting high attendance, and therefore staffing requirements, based on using AI to determine all the factors (not just weather) that increase visitor rates (10).

Domo is a tool created to help businesses, small and large, collate data from a wide range of sources (social media, ecommerce, chat bots etc), and help an organisation spot trends in real time (11).
In the area of product design and engineering, a concept called Generative Design underpinned by AI, is enabling faster design and many more possible designs to choose from by allowing all the constraints of the product to be entered, and then allowing the program to generate a large number of possible solutions (13).

However, for a problem more specific to your industry or expertise, you may need to perform a highly customised deep learning experiment. Once you have determined the question you need to answer for your specific area of expertise and industry, there are 7 steps in performing your own AI or deep learning experiment:

  • Gathering data
  • Preparing the data
  • Choosing an AI model to suit your question / domain
  • Training the model with data which contains the results / answers
  • Evaluation of the performance of the model
  • Tuning of the factors determined by the model
  • Applying the model to fresh data in order to gain insights or greater performance. (1)

As a business owner or leader you should be considering the way in which artificial intelligence or machine learning can change the way in which you operate and solve your customer’s problems. Don’t hesitate to get in contact if you would like to discuss how AI can be put to work for your organisation.

Read this article to understand more about how machine learning works, and how artificial intelligence is impacting our world.

If you would like to discuss how AI might benefit your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Heather Maloney.

References:
(1) https://towardsdatascience.com/the-7-steps-of-machine-learning-2877d7e5548e
(2) https://www.wired.com/2013/06/baidu-virtual-search/
(3) https://clickup.com/blog/alexa-google-assistant-project-management/
(4) https://aidemos.microsoft.com/ & https://experiments.withgoogle.com/ai
(5) http://www.bizdata.com.au/customer-smartdetect?gclid=CjwKCAjwlIvXBRBjEiwATWAQIseaubDdIaMGue_bjuC9BZU3WLErB1Qj9u12XKmkZGZPz-UGO4balhoCaxgQAvD_BwE
(6) https://www.techemergence.com/machine-learning-fraud-detection-modern-applications-risks/
(7) https://www.techemergence.com/network-intrusion-detection-using-machine-learning/
(8) https://www.chorus.ai/product/
(9) https://www.morganmckinley.com.au/article/how-ai-helping-small-business-today
(10) https://www.clickz.com/5-businesses-using-ai-to-predict-the-future-and-profit/112336/
(11) https://www.techemergence.com/ai-in-business-intelligence-applications/
(12) https://www.engineersrule.com/solidworks-puts-artificial-intelligence-work/
(13) https://www.autodesk.com/solutions/generative-design

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

How the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence is changing our world.

April 25th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

The goal of achieving artificial intelligence – a computer that can learn and respond like a human – began in the 1950s(1). However it is only in the last few years that we have seen great leaps forward towards this goal. The reason for the sudden improvements is attributed to break through in an area of technology called neural networks – programming that attempts to mimic the way the brain works, and a feature of the area of machine learning.

Up until the use of neural networks and machine learning, the act of programming a computer to perform a particular task – think displaying words on a screen, adding up columns of numbers, changing an image from colour to black and white – has required that a programmer can describe in exact detail the process of achieving that task. The human brain performs many tasks, seemingly effortlessly, that are virtually impossible for anyone to describe how they are done, beyond some vague concepts and pointers in the right direction. That’s not sufficient to be able to program a machine to do the task. Consider the task of identifying one human face from another – can you describe how your loved one looks, sufficient that another person who has never met them could pick them out in a crowd with any certainty? Very difficult! This is just one example of how amazing the human brain is when it comes to rapidly processing large amounts of information. We perform many such complex tasks almost simultaneously, without even realising.

A neural network is a programmatic attempt to replicate the manner in which it is believed the brain performs complex tasks. The diagram below is a typical representation of a neural network used to carry out a particular task. As an example, consider an input being an image of a face of a person who just passed the camera, and the task to be performed by the neural network being determining whether the image is “Joe Citizen”. The first round of analysis processes the input (camera image of a face) and then passes information about that image in the form of weightings down to the next level of processing. The second level receives that analysis, performs further analysis, and then passes another set of weightings down to the next level, and so on until the end result, which is the most likely answer to the question posed at the outset (where the attributes of Joe Citizen is already known by the program)? The “hidden layers” may comprise many different layers to allow deeper and deeper analysis and greater refinement aimed towards arriving at the correct answer.

Neural network diagram

Machine learning involves allowing a computer program to learn by working through a large amount of data, which also contains the answer to a particular question e.g. data on the observations of humans who both did and did not contract a particular disease in the future. The machine learning program will build a neural network of weightings required to answer the question being posed. Then that neural network is put to work against fresh data to further refine the learning, including humans providing feedback on the program’s accuracy. Finally, armed with all that learning stored in a neural network, the program can then be applied to new, live data in order to interpret that data … it turns out, with great speed and accuracy, surpassing that of humans (1).

The above is a very simplistic description of the way neural networks operate; computer scientists involved in the use of neural networks are constantly improving their performance. Neural networks are still in relatively early days of development, and already there are many different neural network models to choose from, some better at particular problem types compared to others.

An important distinguisher in neural networks compared to “regular” programming is that the neural network can be relatively easily tuned to perform better over time, as well as “learning” from more and more data. A “regular” computer program needs to be manually reprogrammed as requirements change, again requiring someone to describe exactly what is required, and understand all the implications of that change throughout the system.

Machine learning has been applied in the last few years, with great affect, in the following areas:

  • Image / Facial recognition – ever thought about how the image search feature of Google Images, or the speedy face tag suggestions by Facebook upon upload of a photo, have become so good? A person wanted for an alleged crime in China was picked up by security cameras in about 10 minutes of the wanted person entering a concert earlier this month (3).

    City Deep Learning
  • Navigation & self-driving cars – being able to respond to incoming information, such as what other road users are doing around you, is essential for solving the problem of self-driving cars. The amount of technology involved in an autonomous car is awesome – and it needs to be given the life and death involved. “Even if it will take some time for fully autonomous vehicles to hit the market, AI is already transforming the inside of a car.” It is predicted that AI will first bring to our cars a host of so called “guardian-angel” type features to reduce the likelihood of accidents (11).
  • Speech recognition – in the last few years speech recognition (at least for native English speakers) has become very accurate, requiring very little training for a particular person. I now control my mobile phone using voice on a regular basis, because talking to my phone is much faster than typing – apparently 3 times faster according to a study by Standford University (4). Google’s latest speech-to-text system, called Tacotron 2, will add inflection to words based on punctuation to further improve understanding (5) and making it even more human-like when it is reading text to you, or responding with an answer to a question. Speech recognition in devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa are making simple tasks much easier. The article entitled “Amazon Echo has transformed the way I live in my apartment – here are my 19 favourite features” shows how speech recognition is being used for hands-free computer assistance in a simple home context (9). Applications of this technology are vast and life-changing for those who don’t have free hands (e.g. a surgeon at work) or are not able to type.
  • Prediction – more quickly and accurately diagnosing a current situation or predicting that a current set of information is an indicator of a future state e.g. in diagnosing disease, predicting financial market movements, identifying criminal behaviour such as insurance or banking fraud (13). The ability of a neural network to process vast amounts of data quickly, and build its own conclusions with regard to the impact of one factor on another (learn) is already helping doctors to more accurately diagnose conditions such as heart disease (12). Reducing the acceptable level of inaccuracy in medical diagnosis will lead to much better patient outcomes and reduce the cost of healthcare to our ageing population.
  • Playing games – a lot of AI research uses games to work out how to train a computer to learn. (8) From time to time I play an online version of the Settlers of Catan board game; when players leave the game (ostensibly because they have lost internet connection … usually it’s when they are losing!), you get the option to continue to game and have AI finish it on their behalf. It amuses me that I find myself, and others, immediately ganging up on the AI player. I mean, they won’t care if you make their game difficult – they’re a robot after all! It was actually the success of a computer to beat the best human players of the hardest game we play that heralded the success of artificial intelligence, and made the world take notice of its capabilities (14). “In the course of winning, [the robot] somehow taught the world completely new knowledge about perhaps the most studied and contemplated game in history.”

But, will the rise of artificial intelligence take away our jobs? Some say yes, others say no (6), but they all say that the new jobs created due to artificial intelligence will be different to current roles, and require different skills (7).

Worse than job loss, will AI cause a computer vs human war or lead to our extinction? Elon Musk is well known for his warnings against AI. It could be viewed that the pressure he has applied to the technology industry helped to lead to an agreement that the technology giants will only use AI for good (10).

I don’t believe that AI will ever result in a computer takeover of the world, because there is more that makes humans different from other animals … not just our ability to think. Reproducing just our ability to think, learn and make decisions, even in a super-human way, does not make a computer human. The capacity for machine learning / deep learning to significantly improve our lives, particularly in the areas of health and solving some of our most challenging problems, is exciting. However, I believe that it is right to be cautious; to move ahead with the knowledge that machine learning could also be used for harmful purposes. Computers can also “learn” the negative elements of humanity (15).

Business owners, innovators and leaders should consider how machine learning might be harnessed for your organisation in order to provide better value, predict more accurately, respond more quickly, or make break-throughs in knowledge in your problem domain. Let’s harness artificial intelligence for good! Read more about “How Business (big and small) can Harness Artificial Intelligence“.

References:
(1) https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/12/08/what-is-the-difference-between-deep-learning-machine-learning-and-ai/#4cc961d726cf
(2) https://hbr.org/cover-story/2017/07/the-business-of-artificial-intelligence
(3) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-17/chinese-man-caught-by-facial-recognition-arrested-at-concert/9668608
(4) http://hci.stanford.edu/research/speech/index.html
(5) https://qz.com/1165775/googles-voice-generating-ai-is-now-indistinguishable-from-humans/
(6) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-09/artificial-intelligence-automation-jobs-of-the-future/8786962
(7) http://www.digitalistmag.com/iot/2017/11/29/artificial-intelligence-future-of-jobs-05585290
(8) https://www.businessinsider.com.au/qbert-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-2018-2
(9) https://www.businessinsider.com.au/amazon-echo-features-tips-tricks-2018-2
(10) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x
(11) http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/ai-tipping-scales-development-self-driving-cars/
(12) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/03/artificial-intelligence-diagnose-heart-disease/
(13) http://bigdata-madesimple.com/artificial-intelligence-influencing-financial-markets/
(14) https://deepmind.com/research/alphago/
(15) https://www.theverge.com/2016/3/24/11297050/tay-microsoft-chatbot-racist

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

While you are waiting for a human, try me!

February 13th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

In the last year or so, due to the increased use of online chat, including Facebook Messenger and Slack, chatbots have become much more common. Chatbots are computer programs which interact with a customer in response to information he/she types into a chat tool / instant message program. The increased use of chatbots has lead to maturing of the tools to create chatbots, providing an opportunity for your business to utilise bots not just to provide faster help for customers with problems, but also to support sales enquiries.
chatbotblog

Why would a customer be willing to interact with a bot?

The prime benefit for a customer is to get their problem solved or question answered more quickly. No matter how many people are added to a customer service team, there will always be times of peak enquiry where you have to wait to talk to a human.

Why wouldn’t a customer want to use a bot?

The most likely reason people would rather talk to a human is because they feel that it is harder to get their problem across to the computer, and because of that, it’s a more frustrating process and less likely to result in a satisfactory answer compared to talking to a person, whether by chat or by voice.

What to do?

To overcome the hesitation of people to use chat bots, several strategies have been used in the past including:

  1. Forcing users to first use the bot – Making the first interaction/s or all interactions in your online chat tool orchestrated by the bot, and not accessible by a human, with the option after a period of time attempting to solve the problem, pointing the customer to way to get to other support options. A similar strategy was used in the past with knowledge base functionality, whereby a person submitting a support request via a form was directed to first search the knowledge base, and only then after searching, were they given the option to submit a question.
  2. Pretending to be human – giving the bot human qualities, like attempting personality and humour, and giving them a human-like avatar or photo.

Neither of these strategies are very successful. People know when they are talking to a person, so trying to pretend otherwise can be felt as offensive to the intellect. Forcing people to use a bot first, again adds to the frustration of getting a result.

I believe that both chat and bots have their place in the provision of customer service. If I can get further information about a product I am considering via online chat, I am more likely to buy. It’s great knowing that I can just jump onto a chat within a website or web application, ask a question, and get an answer without having to dial up, sit in a telephone queue, and finally get through to a person. If on the way to getting my chat question answered, a bot steps in to try and help me get my solution more quickly, then I’m fine with that too, as long as I can differentiate the two types of assistance, and I can choose to ignore the advice of the bot and still get to chat to a real person, even if that takes longer.

Chatbots are great to help organisations provide 24/7 support, attempting to answer the question when an operator isn’t available, but allowing a person to take over the enquiry when the next support shift starts.

Steps to Creating a Useful Bot

When a human provides customer service the first step is to understand the enquirer’s problem. If they have heard the problem before, a proficient customer service operator can very quickly rectify the problem or provide the right guidance to the customer. Understanding the problem, of course, relies on the customer describing the problem in a way that’s understandable by the customer service person. And therein lies the difficulty. People describe the same problem in a myriad ways because they don’t always understand the nature of the problem themselves.

Take someone who has forgotten their password as an example. Whilst you may think most people would understand how to describe that in the fewest number of words, those who are less technically savvy might not realise that’s their problem. They may instead report that as “I can no longer login to your system”. In such a situation, a human being knows to quickly ask questions based on the statements made by the customer, and will glean clues from their tone and manner and the way they say those words. The customer service person could ask “okay, did you type in your username and password?” or they might say “when was the last time you logged in?” The answers provided by the customer will allow the support person to discover the root cause of the caller’s issue. If a bot is to determine the cause of a customer’s problem and the best solution, it needs to be able to interact with the customer and know the right questions to ask based on the way that a person communicates the problem. This is the challenge of programming a bot.

Step 1: Choose the Most Common Problems

Because it is challenging to program around the issues that people have, the first step when creating a new bot is to choose the most common problems or most frequently asked questions, that your customer service team currently deal with. Issues such as forgetting your password are unlikely to be the most common problems reported to your team, as such issues are likely already made easy for the customer to solve on their own. However, there will be issues that occur over and over, or questions raised on a regular basis, that you will be able to identify and solve, even if that is by pointing the customer to the right help article. Look for common categories of problems, as well specific issues and questions that re-occur.

Step 2: Document how people describe the problem

In order to program a bot to assist customers with a particular problem, you need to identify all the common ways that a person may describe the same problem. That’s when they actually know what the problem is. For example for those who realise that they have forgotten their password, there are still many different ways that a person may say that. They may say “I don’t know my password”. Or “I have forgotten my password”. Or “I have forgotten my login details”. Or “I don’t know what my password is”. Or “I need a new password”. Or “I have lost my password”. Or “Please reset my password”. These may not sound that different to a human, but to a simple computer program, they have similarities but they are all different.

You are likely to find that the one statement by a customer could actually require different solutions depending on their answers to other questions. Back to our password problem, if a user says “I can’t login” then the next question might be “Have you forgotten your password?” if the answer is no, then the next question might be “Have you forgotten your username?” and may lead to yet further questions. If the answer is yes, then the answer may have reached the end of the logical decision tree, ready for the solution.

As you document the questions that may be asked in order to discover the actual problem, you are likely to identify other questions and problems that you can solve along the way. You will need to decide how much time you will spend on these other problems based on how common they are, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave the customer hanging.

Step 3: Determine how the bot will direct the customer in order to solve the problem, or answer the question

Once you’ve worked out all the different ways a support request could be phrased by a customer and the questions you need to ask to get to the root of the problem, then you need to work out how the bot should respond. In the case of a password reset being required you may then program the bot to provide the password reset link. A password reset is a very simple problem to solve. The most common problem for you maybe something much more complicated.

The solution could be one or more of: providing a link to a help article which explains how to carry out a task, suggesting a list of possible products that meet the customer’s requirements, providing a link to a step by step screen overlay guiding the user through solving a particular problem, or staying in the chat in order to wait for a human to help.

Step 4: Test

Having programmed your bot to handle some common problems, it is now really important to test it with customers. You will gather much information about how useful it is by looking at your customer’s interaction with it.

If you give your customers the ability to rate the support they received or the help article you delivered to them, they actually may not choose to rate you, but you should still be able to see if they then needed to ask another question, or the same question in a different way.

Step 5: Refine and Extend

You should expect to continue to build on the list of questions or ways that a customer can ask about a particular problem. Over time you will also find the problems that are coming out the other end and not solved by the bot become your new most common problems. As I mentioned not all customers will be comfortable chatting, or chatting with a bot, so multiple support options should be provided.

Where can I place my bot?

Chatbots can be added into your mobile app, web application or website, but also into your Facebook page, Slack and other chat tools that are being used by your business. Where you will place your bot will help you select the tools you use to build it.

If you need help working through the process of creating a bot for your organisation, we would be very pleased to help.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Online Chat Game Changer for Customer Service

February 12th, 2018 by Heather Maloney

Live chat has been around for many years, and is well documented as providing quicker and more convenient customer service, leading to happier customers, and website visitors more likely to make a first time and repeat purchase. With the more recent proliferation of Facebook Messenger and Slack and other chat tools for internal communication and collaboration, customers are more and more looking for chat options to solve their problems and get answers quickly.
Call center worker accompanied by her team.

We have been using an online chat tool within Enudge for a year now, and have also found it to provide greater opportunity for us to interact in a timely way with prospects, and has improved our client’s satisfaction.

There are two distinct ways that chat can be used to provide customer service:

  1. Real people ready to chat online to solve a person’s problems.
  2. Bots – computer programs which, at their most sophisticated, respond to natural language questions to provide humans with the answers they seek, without the need for a human

Having real people responding to customer enquiries via online chat can be more efficient and effective than dealing with phone calls in the following ways:

  • customer service personnel can often deal with multiple enquiries at a time, saving on-hold wait time for the customer
  • the customer can submit their question, and leave their screen at the place of their question if they do have to wait, and continue on with other things without having a phone call tieing up their phone line
  • if a customer service operator doesn’t respond in a certain period of time, chat tools can often be configured to request contact details to follow the person up at a later time
  • providing customer support in writing avoids issues of difficulty with spoken accents and poor VoIP lines

Online chat tools also provide a range of other features over call centres:

  • build a knowledge base of responses over time
  • easier access to data, such as common questions, for the full customer support team and management
  • ability to easily hand more difficult questions over to a specialist support person, with full details of the response immediately available
  • bots contained within some chat tools can utilise a knowledge base to provide suggested answers to the customer’s question based on previous answers, thus providing the solution more quickly
  • allow customer service people to more easily work remotely

There are numerous chat solutions available for adding chat to your website, web application, or mobile app. Many of these work across both website and mobile apps, allowing you to easily co-ordinate responses across all channels. The tool you choose will depend on the functionality that you require, and the platform in which it needs to operate. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like our help to choose and implement chat.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Online Chat for Collaboration and Team Work

February 9th, 2018 by Ammu Nair

slack-logo-small
Despite threading and advanced searches added to newer versions of email clients, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of email threads that are a mile deep, and segregate discussions based on projects.

The implementation of Slack into Contactpoint has helped us to solve this problem by providing a way to organise conversations into what are called “channels”. You can create ‘open channels’ to post company wide announcements, which are available to all members of the company. More confidential or private messages that needs to be exchanged between team members of a particular project can be carried out in ‘private channels’ – this means Slack allows us to create channels for different projects, topics or conversations between certain team members of our organisation. Direct messages offered by Slack, are just quicker, shorter and better alternatives to email messages. We can get a quick message to each other without having to write on sticky notes, or craft a properly structured email.

Slack has also made it quite simple to search for that link to a great resource that someone in your team posted 3 weeks ago! Slack searches can be filtered – which allows you to search only in specific channels, or only in messages from a particular team member – and can be sorted.

File-sharing, one of the basic prerequisites of collaboration, is supported by Slack which allows you to share all kinds of files in a hassle free manner by drag-and-drop or from Google drive or DropBox. The shared files can also be searched through, or starred as a favourite for later / quicker reference. Paste the link for your Google Drive spreadsheets or DropBox file along with comments, and these files will be in sync and searchable instantly. That brings me to another great feature that makes Slack a one-stop platform for collaboration. Slack can be easily integrated with a large number of apps in the market – yet another way to have all your information in sync, as it allows centralised access to all your notifications. This has greatly reduced our effort and time in switching between different tools and apps, while checking notifications. Apart from Slack’s huge collection of pre-built integrations, Slack has known to be very flexible in allowing you to build your own integrations quite easily, thereby making it advantageous for large organisations as well. Imagine your IT team receiving notifications when a new Zendesk item is created, or your team receiving a notification when when your daily web traffic exceeds a certain number of visitors. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Integration is what catapults Slack into a category all its own. The solution enables you to centralize all your notifications, from sales to tech support, social media and more, into one searchable place where your team can discuss and take action as required. We have built our own integration with Slack so that online chat enquiries from Enudge are immediately pushed to a particular Slack channel, helping the appropriate customer service staff to see the enquiries without delay, and then see the solutions in the same place.

Slack also provides you a companion – Slackbot – to remind you of a meeting, or even remind your colleague about lunch time! Whether you have a team member working remotely, or you are working alone, Slack serves as an excellent tool to increase your productivity, by allowing you to schedule reminders, meetings, or even setup video and screen-sharing calls.

With apps for Android, iOS and Windows, all the Contactpoint team are now well-connected, and our messages are with us, no matter where we are!

Slack, is being employed for similar reasons across many large corporations as well as small businesses. For example, Oracle recently introduced Slack organisation-wide. Other tools are available, and in fact we have used other online chat tools for many years prior to implementing Slack. However, with the ease of integration across platforms, and the many add-ons which can be easily installed, Slack has quickly provided many improvements for our organisation and ways of working.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Technology Predictions for 2018 around online tech

December 11th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

2018 Tech Predictions

As we wrap up the last 2 weeks of 2017, we have been considering what we are likely to see in 2018 technology. You might like to mull over this with your mulled wine and Christmas pudding (or beer and BBQ). Better still; give it some thought as you carry out new year planning.

The Top 8 things we expect to see around online technologies during 2018:

  1. Increased pressure on smaller online retailers. If you don’t provide a very niche product or experience, that is, if the products you are selling online have many competitors, then your customers are likely to migrate to the larger online retailers including Amazon. The winners will be those with the most products, with the more consistently lower price, providing an easy shopping experience, and fast low cost delivery.
  2. Increased percentage of market share to smart phones running the Android operating system, particularly due to the uptake of Google pixel, but also lower cost Android smart phones.
  3. Increased automation of homes using internet-connected devices due to the major marketing push of Google Home.
  4. Increased integration between apps to make completing the jobs you need to get done even easier.
  5. Increased specialisation of apps for niche markets, again with the intention of making it super easy for people carrying out a task in a well-defined category, to achieve that task as efficiently as possible.
  6. Increased online shopping and therefore parcel delivery into homes; delivery costs paid by the consumer will continue to fall.
  7. Increased use of Apple Pay and Android Pay as more and more people use their smart phones as their payment device.
  8. Increased development of apps that utilise AI / machine learning, making decisions on behalf of organisations in order to more rapidly provide a personalised experience for individual app users.

Feel free to contribute your thoughts!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

How to Write Engaging and Persuasive Content for Different Audiences

November 29th, 2017 by Cameron Collins

Knowing who you are writing for is important for creating content that is engaging and persuasive. When communicating face-to-face, people speak differently to a business professional compared to a student. Communicating online is no different; each audience type will be more engaged in a message communicated in style and tone they are comfortable with. The right tone and style will lead to more landing page visits, more purchases, more appointment requests … you get the picture!

Below is a passage of content which aims to convince readers to click through and visit a web page to find out more information. Notice the content is broad and doesn’t target anyone in particular:

The Dell #1234 Laptop is widely regarded as one of the best multi-purpose laptop computers. Easy to use, lightweight, long battery life and with 256GB of memory there is enough space for most personal and business-related purposes. Find out more!

This text may gain a few clicks from people who perhaps were already highly motivated to purchase the laptop. However, we expect that such a product would be ideal for specific market niches. Let’s take a look at how to promote the same product to different audiences, but in a much more engaging manner.

Copywriting for a professional audienceProfessional audience

The Dell #1234 Laptop is the preferred computer choice for professionals who require flexibility in the way they work. The #1234 is easy to use while commuting, with lightweight construction, 12 hour battery life, removable battery option, and for your privacy, a narrow viewing angle. Read more.

When writing content for a professional audience, the tone should be formal and courteous. Treat your audience with a level of respect and avoid being overly assertive, emotional or rude. If you were in a face-to-face business meeting, the conversation would be polite, professional and direct; your writing should maintain these formalities. Keep sentences concise by writing in an active rather than passive voice and avoid use of filler words such as basically, certainly and honestly, as a professional audience will find these patronising and insincere.

Use jargon and terminology that is common in field but don’t overdo it, get to the point. Statistics can be useful to provide credibility and reinforce key points, provided you can demonstrate their importance.
Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation is important for all audience types, however a professional audience will be the least forgiving for these mistakes and will question your credibility and expertise. Common punctuation and grammar mistakes include run-on sentences, incorrect word selection (e.g. it was a breathe breath of fresh air) and excessive comma usage.

content writing for studentsStudents

For the purpose of this exercise, we are targeting university students from 18-23 years of age.

The Dell #1234 Laptop was voted by PC Magazine as the Best Student Laptop of 2017. The #1234 has all the applications you need to succeed at uni, pre-loaded! Such as the complete Microsoft Office suite, as well as graphic and video editing apps for infographics and video assessments. Stream movies and enjoy glitch-free online gaming with the 3.5GHz processor. Find out more!

When writing to a student audience, a less rigid and more conversational approach is more likely to retain their interest. Avoid cliches or coming across like an out-of-touch older person who is trying to be cool. This generation has grown up in an era that is skeptical of traditional marketing methods and knows when something isn’t completely authentic. Stand out and build trust by including genuine customer reviews or recommendations from respected influencers. Features alone won’t be enough; millennials are experience-driven, so explain the excellent experience that the features enable.

content writing for elderlyElderly

The Dell #1234 Laptop is excellent for browsing online and communicating with friends and family. Designed for functionality over features, it has a larger keyboard and screen and is portable enough to be used in all rooms of the house. The built-in camera enables video-calls with family and friends. Read more here, contact us on 03 8525 2082 or info@dellcomputers.com.au or visit us at 468 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004.

When writing content to target an elderly audience, it is important to brush aside the old-person stereotypes. You should expect elderly people to be active, independent and enjoying life. They use many of the same products and services that the middle aged consume and are spending increasing amounts of time online. Understand their needs and how your product/service would benefit them, and describe these.

Don’t label them with words such as ‘elderly’, ‘old’, or ‘seniors’, or make any other reference to their age, even if your product/service is specifically designed for the elderly. Treat them as wise consumers who are experienced in reading marketing material; get to the point, solve a problem and present your offer. While the elderly are becoming more online savvy, they’re also more conversational than millennials, so include multiple ways to respond to your call-to-action, such as a phone number, email and store address.

content writing for raving fansRaving fans

This month I interviewed PC Magazine product guru John Smith to find out his opinions on mid-range laptops and find out how the Dell #1234 stacks up against the competition. As usual, John didn’t hold back, and provided some great tips for those shopping for a new laptop. Watch the video!

So you have worked hard to build up a loyal fan base? Excellent! Engage and look after these people and they will be advocates of your brand for years to come.

Don’t make selling your focus here. If all your communications come across as sales-speak, your fans will lose trust in you. Provide content that offers value for your fans and let them decide if and when they wish to purchase.

Write to suit the persona of your fan base and the channel you use to communicate through. Is this a B2B product with a fan base of professionals that you communicate with through LinkedIn? Or a shoe company for young men who frequent Instagram? Tailor the tone appropriately.
Create a consistent and likeable persona by writing in first person. Allow fans to get to know you, instead of a faceless brand. Share stories and encourage your fans to share theirs. Offer free or exclusive content. Anyone can do this, for example John Deere obviously wouldn’t give away their tractors, but they offer computer wallpapers with pictures of their tractors on their customer’s farms.

content writing for engineersEngineers

The Dell #1234 provides the following benefits for engineers:

  • 3.5GHz Intel Core i7 processor and dedicated graphics card for the smooth operation of graphically intensive programs such as AutoCAD and MATLAB
  • A high resolution 15.6 inch 1920 X 1080 pixel screen enabling multiple windows to be viewed with clarity

The #1234 was voted best computer of 2017 by the Australian Engineers Association. Read more.

Engineers spend their time solving problems as efficiently as possible. Don’t offer them content with fluffy intros or sales pitches. Don’t bother trying to entertain engineers or take them on some kind of sales journey, keep it concise, formal and factual; if there is value in it for them, they will see it. Offer advice and practical solutions to their problems. Engineers are not easily impressed by brand names and will look for evidence which supports your claims.

content writing for sales personsSales People

Mobile sales professionals will find the Dell #1234, weighing 1kg and providing up to 12 hours battery life, to provide the flexibility they require. The 1920 X 1080 pixel screen displays CRM data and spreadsheets with clarity. Read more!

Selling to a salesperson may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Salespeople are human too, and purchase goods and services to meet their needs. Provide clear points and avoid coming across as vague or misrepresentative. Don’t take them on a long-winded sales pitch, present clear facts and a brief explanation of the benefits.

Failing to address your audience’s needs and preferred style of communication will significantly reduce engagement with your readers and conversions. By helping clients to implement effective content, we create what is for many clients, their highest performing marketing channel. The imagery used throughout this blog is a little tongue-in-cheek, however, picturing and describing your target market segment will help you to write in a more engaging way.

Contact us now to discuss how we can help your website, email, blog, and online ad content to engage with the right audience.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Controlling my App using Voice

October 15th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

Adding voice recognition to my mobile app
In order for the apps on your smartphone to be voice controlled, they need to be specifically programmed that way.

Some of the more common voice-enabled apps you are likely to find on your smartphone are:

  • Calendar – ask your smartphone the time of your next / first appointment, on a particular day, and it will tell you the answer and automatically show your calendar appointments for that day on screen
  • Phone – tell your smartphone to call person X, or send a text message to person Y, and it will take care of these tasks, prompting you for the details as required
  • Alarm – set an alarm to go off at a particular date and time
  • Search – ask your phone to search for a topic, and it will display a clickable list of search results

Voice recognition technologies have improved significantly over the last few years, providing numerous options with regard to voice enabling mobile apps, including:

  1. The Android operating system for wearables (e.g. Galaxy watch), smart phones and tablets includes in-built voice control actions for carrying out commonly used tasks such as writing a note. It also comprises the ability for an app to include its own “intents” which listen for voice activation once the user has launched the app. Finally it includes methods for allowing the user to enter free form text for processing by your app.
  2. Google Voice Interactions API – a code library provided by Google which allows an app to be triggered via the Google Now interface – that’s what you’re using when you say ‘Okay Google’ and then say a command.
    okay-google
  3. Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, iWatch) are built on the iOS operating system. Native iOS apps are written in either Objective C or Swift (a more recent language). With the launch of iOS 10, the Swift programming language included a Speech framework to allow developers to more easily implement listen for voice commands, and manipulate voice into text for use within apps.
  4. SiriKit was released in 2016, providing a toolkit for iOS developers to add voice interaction through Siri into their iOS 10 apps.

    What-is-my-heart-rate-voice-interaction-with-mobile-app
  5. Cross platform apps need to use 3rd party libraries to interface with the native speech recognition functions.

It’s important to know that the speech of the user is processed by Apple’s servers or Google’s servers, and then returned to the mobile device, so some lag may be noticed particularly when dealing with longer bursts of voice. It may also have privacy considerations for your users.

3rd party APIs exist which are completely contained within the mobile device, meaning that the user doesn’t need to have an internet connection to use them, and the privacy issues are reduced. An example of such a 3rd party API is the CMU Sphinx – Speech Recognition Toolkit. The downside of using such a library is that you can’t avail yourself of the amazingly accurate voice recognition the large players have developed over time, including for many different languages.

Obvious apps which provide the user with significant benefit from the use of voice control include:

  • An app which improves or assists the job of a hands-on task e.g. chefs, surgeons, artists, hairdressers …
  • An app which is needed while a person is driving e.g. navigation, finding locations, dictating ideas on-the-go …
  • An app needed by a person with disability.
  • An app which involves the entry of lots of text.

We expect to see more and more support for voice in all sorts of applications in future. What would you like to be able to achieve through voice commands?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Can voice input be added to my web form?

October 13th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

power-of-voice-newsletter
Given the recent proliferation of ads about Google Home, it’s now common knowledge that you can easily talk to electronic devices and instruct them to do things such as search the web, play your favourite tune, give you the weather forecast, call a friend, or tell you the time of your first appointment on a particular day. Google Now is the technology that enables voice control of Google and Android devices, and Siri powers voice control on Apple devices. Windows 10 provided Cortana to do the same.

When you are using a smartphone to interact with a form on a web page, then you can usually fill in a form using voice … how easy or hard that is depends on your device. On an iPhone (and an iPad) when you bring up the keyboard in a form, there’s an additional ‘microphone’ icon that you simply need to tap in order to speak your entry. If you are using an Android Samsung Galaxy phone, you can switch your entry from keyboard to voice by swiping down from the top of the screen and choosing Change Keyboard, and then choosing Google Voice … yes, that’s 3 steps :-( .

When it comes to using a PC or Mac, filling in a form usually relies on typing. Now that I am getting used to talking to electronic devices, I find myself looking for more ways that I can use my voice to control the device rather than having to type everything. Talking, even for me as a very fast touch-typist, is quicker than typing. Plus, speech control enables you to control your device when you need to be using it hands-free.

What about my web form?
In answer to the question posed by this blog article, yes! voice input can be added to your web form even when you are entering text on a PC or a Mac. To demonstrate, we’ve added a very simple voice entry capability to the enquiry form on the Contactpoint home page. Please note; this example only works in the Chrome web browser, and of course you must have a microphone on your PC or Mac in order to speak to fill out the form. To use the voice input:

  1. click or press on the microphone icon beside a field
  2. click to Allow access to the microphone (you will only need to do this the first time)
  3. talk to complete the field!

As you are speaking you will see that there’s a red recording icon pulsing in the browser tab. When you stop talking, the recording will also stop, and then what you said will appear in the box.

From a programming point of view, there are several ways to implement voice input into a web form. The example on the Contactpoint home page uses a very simple method involving Javascript and the webkitSpeechRecognition which is an API for Google Chrome, giving the browser access (after the user has specifically allowed it) to the microphone and then handling voice input very nicely. Google’s team has spent many years refining speech recognition, and the webkit gives you quick and free access to their powerful functionality.

Other Javascript libraries have been developed to enable much more sophistication in the manner in which you can use voice to interact with a web form. Annyang is a great example, whereby specific parts of your web form can have tailored voice interactions enabled so that whatever you say has context e.g. choosing from a drop down list in a form will know about the allowed options, and match the voice input with one or more of those options. Due to the additional sophistication, there’s obviously more effort involved in using this library. Another benefit is that Annyang functionality works in any web browser.

If you would like to improve the usability of your web forms by enabling speech entry, feel free to get in touch!

Handy Hints for voice entry of text:
If you speak your text message without including punctuation, paragraphs and the like, it can be a lot harder for the recipient to understand your message. But have no fear, the following list will have your test messages reading just like you typed it!
“full stop” – if you pause and then say “full stop” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘.’
“exclamation mark” – if you say “exclamation mark” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘!’
“question mark”- if you say “question mark” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘?’
“new line” – if you pause and say “new line” Google Now and Siri will move the cursor down to the next line.
“comma” – if you pause and say “comma” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘,’

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Top SEO Issues – Why isn’t your website highly ranked in Google?

July 13th, 2017 by Cameron Collins

search-engine-optimisation-tips

In the digital marketing department of Contactpoint, I work with a diverse range of businesses and organisations to enable their website to rank higher for relevant Google searches. Those whose websites rank high on the first page of results reap the rewards of increased website traffic from their target market, an increase in sales or enquiry, and the ability to decrease spending in other areas of marketing such as paid advertising.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the practice of optimising a website for higher search engine rankings, takes time to learn and implement, and at times requires technical skills. Without any prior knowledge of SEO many business owners or marketing managers are under the impression that if they build a website and write a few pages of content, Google will automatically rank it on the first page of results and traffic will flow. In our experience, it’s rare for a website that hasn’t had optimization applied to achieve good ranks.

In the majority of searches, Google has to sort through thousands, sometimes millions of search results to select the best results for a visitors query. This is important for Google – if they frequently display unhelpful results, people would have no reason to use their search engine.

These are the two factors which all top-ranking websites are successful at doing:

  1. Providing a great user experience
  2. Making it easy for Google to interpret and understand the content on their website

I will now elaborate on 6 of the most common SEO issues which I frequently identify and rectify for clients, enabling them to reach the first page of search results.

1. Search Terms
Many businesses pursue SEO as they operate in a competitive industry, therefore having relevant search terms which allow you to stand a realistic chance of ranking highly in Google is crucial. For example, let’s pretend you are a builder. If we type ‘Builder’ into Google 331,000,000 search results are displayed:
selecting the best search terms for your search engine optimisation

‘Builder’ is a word that could apply to many situations, and is what we call a ‘broad term’ in SEO parlance. If we try something a little more specific, such as ‘Builder Melbourne’ 952,000 results are listed. We can search even more specifically and try ‘Extension Builder Melbourne’ we find that 536,000 results are displayed.

As much as possible, we look for search terms for our client’s websites in which less than 500,000 search results are displayed. Of course, that’s not always possible, but we have enabled many of our clients to push through the crowd and emerge on the first page of results by swapping broad search terms for something more specific.

Another consideration is the type of websites you are competing against. Do searches on the search terms you are targeting return many .gov or .edu websites? Google deems these websites to be highly trustworthy and authoritative in a specific category, so if your domain name ends in .com.au or .com, you will likely be better of pursuing different search terms.

2. H1 Headings
What is a H1 Heading? For most websites it is the first and largest heading on each page in their website. For example on the Contactpoint Search Engine Optimisation page, the heading is, of course, ‘Search Engine Optimisation (‘SEO’)':
using headings to support search engine optimisation
Google uses the H1 Heading as a key determinate of what your web page is about, therefore we recommend inserting 1-2 search terms inside this heading. Common mistakes we see regarding the use of H1 Headings in websites include:

  • No search terms
    This is especially common on the homepage of a business, with headings such as ‘Welcome to *insert business name here*’.
  • Multiple H1 Headings on the same page
    using headings for optimising for SEO
    This often arises as the website owner prefers the style of the H1 Heading and wants to use it throughout the page. The downside of this is that your headings lose their effectiveness.

3. Thin Content
Thin Content – that is, only a small amount of content, including little use of the target search terms and perhaps just in bullet point form – is a common and easy mistake to make when launching a new website or redesigning an existing one. Weeks, even months are spent focusing on achieving the right style and functionality, and the text is sometimes given a lower priority or left to the last minute.

Thin content can hurt your search engine rankings in two ways. Firstly, Google deems pages which are lacking text to provide a poor user experience, therefore they are unlikely to be ranked highly. Secondly, Google relies upon text to interpret the contents of your page, and therefore for which searches your page should be suggested. We find that clients who have approximately 500 words of relevant text, written in natural language, on each main page see significant improvements in their search engine ranks.

4. No Redirects & Broken Links
Allowing previously functioning hyperlinks to become detached from a live web page is another common mistake which can occur if a new website launch isn’t properly managed, or when changes to pages and products are made over time without considering what may have been linking to that page. What happens to those who stumble across your old page through Google, links from other websites and social media, or previous visitors who are returning? Instead of seeing the appropriate page, they will be presented with an error page, which is basically a dead end. Most people who stumble across an error page will simply return to Google and visit one of your competitors.

The correct practice is to add a 301 redirect which ensures that anyone who uses an old URL ends up on the replacement page, or whichever page you allocate as being the best alternative. This type of linking also passes on the ranking power of the old page to the new page and removes the impact on your standing with Google that can occur if you have many broken links.

Keeping track of all the dead end links which have been created over the years can be difficult – we help website owners to identify these links and redirect them to appropriate areas of your website.

We also recommend a custom error page, in the event that you miss implementing a re-direct on an obscure barely visited page. The custom error page will include a general message about your services pointing the visitor to the main navigation of your website, which will also be included. This way they are much more likely to keep browsing around to find what they were looking for rather than to return straight back to Google.

5. Demonstrate Authority & Trustworthiness
As part of Google’s commitment to displaying the best quality search results and providing a great experience for their users, Google seeks to display websites which can clearly demonstrate authority and trustworthiness in their chosen field.

One way that a website can demonstrate this is through high-quality backlinks. A backlink is when another website incorporates a link directing traffic to your website. Google judges a websites backlinks in a very similar way to how humans judge each other – if you associate with intelligent, honest, and trustworthy individuals, it is often assumed that you also possess these characteristics. If you associate with liars, criminals and other untrustworthy individuals, then it is often assumed that you also possess these traits.

We help clients to create a backlink strategy and gain recognition from the best sources in their area of expertise.

Trustworthiness can also be demonstrated through an SSL Certificate – meaning that all of the content of your website is transmitted encrypted between the web server and the person viewing or submitting information to your website. You may notice that some websites will have a padlock and the word ‘Secure’ displayed to the left of their URL. Google is starting to show preference for websites which serve all content over SSL (“secure socket layer”), and like many other ranking factors, we expect the importance this will increase over time.

We routinely arrange the purchase and implementation of SSL certificates into our client’s websites which are attached to the website domain. Generally SSL certificates are renewed on a yearly basis.

6. Duplicate Content
One of the most common SEO issues is duplicate content. ‘Duplicate content’ refers to the situation where the same content is available from multiple URL’s. Common instances of duplicate content include:

Faceted Navigation
This is particularly common in e-commerce websites where products are placed in categories to enable visitors to navigate a large product range with ease. For example a shirt may be found in the multiple categories such as:

  • men’s shirts
  • business shirts
  • on sale

Ideally, the product page of a particular shirt would have the same URL no matter what category it is located in. However, some websites fail to do this and will show the same product page under different URL’s such as:

  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/mensshirts/red-shirt
  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/businessshirts/red-shirt
  • www.fancyclothing.com.au/mens/onsale/red-shirt

The Same Text on Multiple Pages

You may want to ensure that whatever page your visitors enter your website from; they can always find out about the core product/services your business offers, or the key reasons why you’re the best at what you do. Even though the pages contain different URL’s this can still cause problems. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the term ‘business consulting’ but you have the same text describing business consulting on 10 pages, which page is Google supposed to display in their results?

www, no www, https / http

It’s not entirely necessary to enter the exact URL of a website for it to be displayed. For example the Contactpoint website can be accessed by typing different combinations such as:

  • https://www.contactpoint.com.au
  • http://www.contactpoint.com.au
  • www.contactpoint.com.au
  • contactpoint.com.au

You will notice that whichever URL is used, it will always direct to https://www.contactpoint.com.au. This has been implemented as our preferred URL, and it is easy for Google to identify.
We find that some websites do not direct to a preferred URL, simply retaining the URL which was entered. Website visitors won’t notice a difference, however Google sees this as four duplicate websites instead of one unique website.

When performing an SEO review, we search for any possible duplicate content issues which may be harming your search engine ranks, and implement solutions which improve the ranks without harming your visitor’s ability to navigate the website with ease.

By now you can probably gather that search engine ranks are influenced by a vast number of factors. By helping clients to overcome these factors and implement strategies to reach their target market, we create what is in many cases a business’ number one marketing channel. Contact us now for an obligation-free discussion about how we can assist your website to rank higher in Google searches.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Subscribe to our monthly

Contact Point Email Newsletter

Each email newsletter is filled with technology updates and great ideas to help your business grow.

To subscribe, simply fill in your details below: