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Searching for answers – what does the future hold for SEO?

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Future for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most rapidly evolving industries of our time. It constantly keeps us on our toes and I think that is part of its attraction. But, how will advancements in technology impact this volatile industry? Will artificial intelligence (AI) have a positive or negative effect on search? What will this all mean for the future of SEO? We share our findings.

Artificial intelligence

AI is everywhere lately and it seems to be all that people talk about. It is also not going anywhere fast. In fact, it is widely expected that AI will have a substantial impact on all things related to marketing.

RankBrain

We have been experiencing the effects of AI in search for a while now, actually since Google released the algorithm known as RankBrain. The aim of this is to help search engines acknowledge the context of the query and help them to better understand what the user really wants and to not just separate the process of each individual word. This is becoming much more relevant due to the popularity of voice search, which uses more natural language.

Data dreaming

Another increasingly popular tech term is ‘big data’ which, is intrinsically linked to AI. The data allows AI to function and also for machine learning to transform the way in which we search. Humans can only process a certain amount of data; it is here that AI comes in – to do things that we cannot. AI search is moving in this direction and is slowly replacing and improving on functions that humans cannot complete (or at least, cannot complete to a high standard). We are looking to utilise the processing power of all things binary to our advantage.

It’s not new to see bots trying to create content and it was actually impressive enough to make it past the first round of screening for a national literary prize in Japan. Granted, it’s not as amazing as something an experienced copywriter or journalist could manage, but this is just the start. In a couple more years’ bot-created content will more than likely be a viable alternative for businesses wanting to develop content as part of an SEO campaign.

Bridging the human gap

AI will make the SEO process smoother, quicker and more automated, leaving humans to add the creative icing on the cake. We can try to give bots as much sentiment and emotional intelligence as possible but at the end of the day, they’re simply not human.

We’ve already seen some of the issues with the new algorithms. Take, for example, the proliferation of fake news across the web in recent times – as smart as these algorithms are, bots still can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. That takes careful human judgement. As long as this is still the case, humans will remain an essential part of any marketing or SEO campaign.

What AI means for SEO

Regardless of whether we like it or not, AI is going to change the face of SEO in the coming years. Concerns will be higher around campaigns led by AI rather than humans – such as, worries around spun content and an over-reliance on automated campaigns. But, this will only pave the way to make automation campaigns increasingly human.

AI is able to crunch and interpret massive amounts of data and is continuously improving at learning and understanding the intent of its user. Put this understanding with big data and this is basically how to create a campaign that can specifically target the right audience, knowing exactly what they want and what they are looking for.

What does this mean for search marketers?

The continuous use and development of AI means that we will see a shift in priorities in the coming years when it comes to the tasks that we dedicate most of our time to. Data led tasks look more likely to be automated and this will allow us to concentrate on the more creative aspects.

We ought to be ready that the process of content creating will alter and face the fact that not all blog content will come from humans in the future. For some, this may indeed cause concern however, people will always want to read content that is written by humans. At the very least, it is probable that we will see content researchers replaced by software counterparts.

Voice search

According to research firm ComScore, around 50% of all searches will be voice searches by the end of this year. Voice search is rapidly gaining in popularity as a result of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. According to Gartner, around 30% of all searches will be done without a screen at all by the end of this year. Let’s imagine how this could alter within the next 5-10 years.

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Apple’s new iPhone 13 devices are facing technical difficulties

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Apple

If you aren’t able to unlock your Apple Watch that’s connected to your new iPhone 13, you’re not alone.  

Apple has recently announced that the tech giant has found an issue where the “unlock with Apple Watch” option does not work with new iPhone 13 devices.  

A document posted on its support page explains the issue, noting that users “might see ‘Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch’ if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.” 

The issue first came to light when Reddit users on the r/AppleWatch subreddit began reporting that they were facing this technical difficulty, with some users complaining that the issue was never there with older iPhone devices. 

Earlier this year, the smartphone giant released the unlock feature that utilized Face ID with a paired Apple Watch, hand-in-hand with the release of iOS 14.5. The feature requires both the iPhone and the Watch to have a stable Wi-Fi connection as a turned-on Bluetooth. “The Watch needs to have wrist detection turned on and be passcode-protected, and it has to be on your wrist and unlocked for the feature to work,” according to The Verge

Apple didn’t explicitly mention what’s causing the problem with the iPhone 13 devices in its support document. However, the company reassured users that it will be “fixed in an upcoming software update,” but without mention a date.  

Even though Apple has just begun testing the iOS 15.1 beta, the tech giant has a documented history of delivering quick fixes. So, tech experts believe that users should expect the issue to become part of the past in the upcoming few days.  

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For many Haitian migrants, journey to Texas started online

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For many Haitian migrants, journey to Texas started online

For the final leg of his journey from Chile to the United States, Haitian migrant Fabricio Jean followed detailed instructions sent to him via WhatsApp from his brother in New Jersey who had recently taken the route to the Texas border.

His brother wired him money for the trip, then meticulously mapped it out, warning him of areas heavy with Mexican immigration officials.

“You will need about 20,000 pesos (about $1,000 U.S. dollars) for the buses. You need to take this bus to this location and then take another bus,” recounted Jean, who spoke to The Associated Press after reaching the border town of Del Rio.

What Jean didn’t expect was to find thousands of Haitian migrants like himself crossing at the same remote spot. The 38-year-old, his wife and two young children earlier this month joined as many as 14,000 mostly Haitian migrants camped under a Del Rio bridge.

A confluence of factors caused the sudden sharp increase at the Texas town of about 35,000 residents. Interviews with dozens of Haitian migrants, immigration attorneys and advocates reveal a phenomenon produced partly by confusion over the Biden administration’s policies after authorities recently extended protections for the more than 100,000 Haitians living in the United States.

It also reflects the power of Facebook, YouTube and platforms like WhatsApp, which migrants use to share information that can get distorted as it speeds through immigrant communities, directing migration flows. That’s especially true for tight-knit groups like the Creole-and-French-speaking Haitians, many of whom left their homeland after its devastating 2010 earthquake and have been living in Latin America, drawn by Brazil and Chile’s once-booming economies.

In extending protections for Haitians this spring, the Biden administration cited security concerns and social unrest in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the temporary protections were limited to those residing in the U.S. before July 29 — but that condition was often missing in posts, leading Haitians outside the United States to believe they, too, were eligible.

Mayorkas acknowledged that this week, saying “we are very concerned that Haitians who are taking the irregular migration path are receiving misinformation that the border is open,” or that they qualify for protected status despite the expired deadline.

“I want to make sure it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States,” he said.

Thousands of Haitians have been stuck in Mexican border towns since 2016, when the Obama administration abruptly halted a policy that initially allowed them in on humanitarian grounds.

Online messages touting the Mexican town of Ciudad Acuña, across from Del Rio, started after President Joe Biden took office and began reversing some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Ciudad Acuña has been spared the drug and gang violence seen elsewhere along the border. Some of the social media posts recommending it appear to have come from human smugglers seeking to drum up business, according to immigrant advocates.

Haitians began crossing there this year, but their numbers ballooned after a Biden administration program that briefly opened the door to some asylum seekers ended, said Nicole Phillips, of the San Diego-based Haitian Bridge Alliance, which advocates for Haitian migrants. The program allowed in a select number of people deemed by humanitarian groups to be at high risk in Mexico.

Once it ceased in August, people panicked, and the messages recommending Ciudad Acuña “went viral,” Phillips said.

“That’s why they rushed at this time to get in,” she said. “They realized they wouldn’t be able to get in legally through a port-of-entry like they were hoping.”

Del Rio is just one example of how technology that has put a smartphone in the hands of nearly every migrant is transforming migration flows, according to advocates. Migrants often monitor the news and share information on routes. The most popular platform is WhatsApp, which connects 2 billion people worldwide.

In 2020, after Turkey announced that the land border with Greece was open, thousands of migrants headed there – only to find the gates closed on the Greek side. Similar sudden mass migrations have happened elsewhere in Europe.

In 2018, social media posts and WhatsApp messages fueled caravans that swelled to 10,000 mostly Central American migrants who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Last week, in a Facebook group for Haitians in Chile with 26,000 members, one member posted specific instructions on routes through Mexico. It included paths to avoid and recommended certain bus companies.

“Good luck and be careful,” said the post, written in Haitian Creole.

Another member shared a different route in the comments. The group’s members have since relayed stories of horrific conditions in Del Rio and risks of being deported.

The International Organization for Migration found most of the 238 Haitians who were surveyed in March after passing through a 60-mile (100-kilometer) stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap received route information from family or friends who had made the dangerous trek.

About 15% said they saw instructions on the internet.

Agency spokesman Jorge Gallo said the instructions led the migrants to believe crossing the gap was “difficult but not impossible.”

But just as similar messages drew many Haitians to Del Rio, news of the Biden administration deporting hundreds on the Texas border caused some to change their plans.

A 32-year-old Haitian woman who made it to Del Rio with her two teenage children bought bus tickets to Mexico City after receiving a cousin’s audio message via WhatsApp. She previously lived in Chile for four years.

“Wait in Mexico until this month is over. They will pick up everyone under the bridge. After that, they will give me the contact to enter Miami,” said the recording in Creole, which she played for an AP reporter. The AP is withholding the woman’s name to protect her safety.

Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp, allows people to exchange information about crossing borders, even illegally, but its policy bars posts that ask for money for services that facilitate human smuggling.

Robins Exile said he and his pregnant wife, who left Brazil after he lost his job amid the pandemic-wracked economy, headed to Tijuana, Mexico, instead after seeing warnings via YouTube and WhatsApp from fellow Haitian migrants.

“A lot of Haitians are advising now not to come to Acuña. They say it’s no longer a good place,” he said.

On Wednesday, Antonio Pierre, 33, who was camped in Del Rio with his wife and daughter, listened to the news on his friend’s cellphone.

“The U.S. is releasing some but just a few,” he said, referring to U.S. officials who told the AP on Tuesday that thousands of Haitians in custody were being let go and ordered to report to an immigration office, contradicting the Biden administration’s announcement that all Haitians camped in the town would be expelled to Haiti.

Nelson Saintil and his wife and four children had been camped in Texas but moved back to Mexico as they awaited word on where to go next to avoid deportation.

“I do not want to be like mice who do not find out that they are falling into a trap,” he said. “Because returning to Haiti is to bury a person alive.”


DEL RIO, Texas (AP)

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Facebook footed $13 billion bill on security since 2016, report finds

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Facebook publicized that since 2016 the social network mogul invested over $13 billion by onboarding 40,000 new staffers to endorse the platform’s security and safety measures, following a series of leaks by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Weeks after the Wall Street Journal’s “The Facebook Files” were published, the social media giant went back over to the same grounds and revealed in a blog post the extent it is willing to take to safeguard and maintain safety and security on its platform.

“In the past, we didn’t address safety and security challenged early enough in the product development process,” Facebook said.

“But we have fundamentally changed that approach. Today, we embed teams focusing specifically on safety and security issues directly into product development teams, allowing us to address these issues during our product development process, not after it,” the post added.

In its series of allegations, the WSJ averred that Facebook purposely postponed any action implementation during the COVID-19 period, even though the Big Tech giant was aware of the severity of the situation and the effects of spreading misinformation and misleading emotional burden on its userbase.

According to the newspaper, Facebook was aware of the affliction it was exposing its users to, and the platform refrained from dealing with or fixing these issues out of worry it might influence user engagement.

In a way to embellish the Big Tech giant’s public image, Facebook executive Nick Clegg issued a counterstatement accusing the publication of intentionally mislabeling what the company was trying to accomplish during the pandemic.

To highlight the Big Tech mogul’s efforts, the platform’s security teams executed a plan leading to a purge of more than 150 stealthy influence operations. Facebook’s sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) played a major role in blocking 3 billion fake accounts in the first half of 2021 and has upgraded itself since then.

“Today, we embed teams focusing specifically on safety and security issues directly into product development teams, allowing us to address these issues during our product development process, not after it. Products also have to go through an Integrity Review process, similar to the Privacy Review process, so we can anticipate potential abuses and build in ways to mitigate them. Here are a few examples of how far we’ve come,” the post declared.

In parallel, the company proceeded to exonerate itself from The Facebook Files by revealing that it consciously removed content that represented a direct violation of its standards on hate speech, in addition to removing 15 times more of similar content from its platform and Instagram in 2017 alone.

This happened by implementing advanced technology that acts by learning from one language to apply the same tactics on all posts in various languages to augment its performance level. 

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