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Have we learned anything since Cambridge Analytica?

In 2018, when Christopher Wiley blew the whistle, the world acknowledged for the first time, how their data could be used to manipulate their minds. Facebook profiles of 370,000 people were used to create a psychological strategy pertaining to more than 87 million profiles, 300 times the initial number, without their consent. The goal was to influence their votes with fake news and directional campaigns, and influence the US Presidential Election. The Cambridge Analytica (CA) and Facebook scandal might be the epitome of corruption in data usage. The end result was massive negative marketing against Facebook. #DeleteFacebook campaign trended all across the world. More than 26% American users deleted Facebook from their phones. But it was never just about the company and their work. Neither was it about one of the biggest companies in the world, overseeing a massive embezzlement below its nose. It was about businesses, including Facebook, taking more data from people than needed and giving away more than they should–often asking permissions in a hidden print–if at all.  It has been more than a year since the issue became a front page news in every newspaper. Yet, a year on, have we learned anything from what sparked the greatest privacy awakening? The biggest apparent outcome is that people seek control over their information. There is a feeling that companies can no longer be set free to regulate themselves and many states in the USA have started acting over it. Vermont implemented a law that had compelled data brokers to register with the state. In the coming January, California is implementing a law which will give residents the power to opt out of having their data sold. The Congress is deliberating over a federal data protection law. And it is not limited to just the United States. In February 2019, the UK parliament published a report based on testimonies from CA directors, Facebook executives and dozens of witnesses. It concluded that the Silicon Valley’s tech platforms were out of control, specifically pointing out to Facebook. Alongside the government bodies and agencies taking actions, users also became much aware online. According to a survey published by the Atlantic, around 80% of the people are concerned about their privacy over the internet, and around 83% say that they self-censor on social media. Herein, self-censorship has been defined as “stopping yourself from posting something you might otherwise want to share, because of concerns about privacy“. Around 10% of people reported deleting or deactivating their Facebook accounts.  Here are 5 key takeaways for users to keep their data safe online:  The internet is full of dishonest players.There are many legitimate-looking organisations that are waiting to phish your data and use it in any way that they want. If a software or application asks for your data, it must be transparent and unsuspicious to its purpose. It is essential to know what your data is being collected for, before you authorise its use. You can be easily mislead.Organisations that engage with communities need to be proactive and must state their privacy instructions clearly. Giving easy to understand guidelines is necessary to build trust. The whole system can be misused.The CA scandal is the biggest example of how outside influencers can manipulate information and influence decisions. Community engagement professionals need to be vigilant and must inspect the data that organisations gather for potential manipulation. If something looks out of the ordinary, it must be investigated further. Privacy must be an option.All users on a platform must ensure that there is a basic guarantee of privacy. It must be ensured that their data is safe, secure and not used for purposes other than the ones stated when the consent is given. The world is connected more than ever before.Many people in the world do not realise how much data is being generated on social media networks or how this data can be manipulated. Today, users are more engaged over the internet than ever. Whether its contacts from work or friends from school, many of us feel disconnected if we take ourselves from social media platforms for a while. It’s good to be on such platforms, but it is your prerogative to understand what information to share and what not to. As people spend a lot of time on the internet it is their responsibility to be safe. Yes, social media is a great source to disseminate information, but user discretion is advised.

What is pillar page?

How will pillar pages help your Google search rank?

Anyone who understands the bits and bytes of SEO (search engine optimization) knows that it is dynamic and keeps changing. This is because search engines modify their algorithms so rapidly that even the best strategies need to be revamped. Consequently, as a marketer you would need to keep pace with these changes while in pursuit to grow your business online. It is well known that Google uses an ever-changing algorithm to pitch the most relevant search results. It is because of the changing human search behaviour. Hence, optimising blog-content for better ranking is now obsolete. Let us walk you through the various changes ‘search’ has endured. Search : over the years Today, people search in ways that are more often conversational queries. According to Hubspot a majority of searches on the internet– more than 64%, consist of four words or more. This number is increasing due to the increase in the use of voice search. With the availability of Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, a high percentage of searches are now done via voice. With the addition of devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, the number will only rise.  Another reason for these long-texted-searches is because people want to skip the junk. With an enormous amount of content being produced daily, quality is greatly outweighed by quantity. Hence, users are now submitting detailed queries, skimming more often, checking headers of blog posts or relying on answers provided by Google’s featured info to find simple answers. Resultantly, the search engines are getting optimised to sort through the thousands of pieces of content out there to serve up the best, most accurate results possible.  So it becomes necessary for marketers to enhance their content and research their customer base thoroughly. What exactly is your customer base? What should be the query that brings you to them? For example, if your company is a digital marketing agency in gurgaon and you want to advertise it locally, which keyword would garner better results for you– “marketing agency” or “digital marketing agency in gurgaon”? Google’s search engine is trying to find the most useful searches for the user, even if that is not exactly what they searched for. For example, if you searched for “ways to grow your online business”, it might also show you results pertaining to online business consultants or a website development company. This means if a blogger is pitching the idea of digital marketing services, he/she needs to be even more precise with their content and optimisation.  A way to do this is by arranging your site in a manner that lists different main topics with blog posts about specific keywords, linked to one another to address as many searches as possible about a particular subject. Using Topic Clusters For a long time, bloggers have had the habit of writing posts around a few specific keywords. In this race of ranks, this method leads to your own URLs competing against each other, when multiple blogs are posted about the same topic.  Now, in order to rank in search, and best answer the queries, a topic cluster model is being used. All you need to do is choose the broad topics that you want to write about, then create content based on the related keywords and link them altogether, which would increase your search engine authority. Here we use a more isolated architecture basically, consisting of three components– Pillar content – the broader topics. Cluster content – piece of content about related topics Hyperlinking – connecting the broader topics with cluster content using hyperlinks. In short, the bloggers are trying to rank the pillar content—the primary topic, by creating more specific pieces of cluster content.  How is it done? What are Pillar Pages? A pillar page is the foundation on which a topic cluster is built. It covers all the aspects of the topic on a single page but leaves room for in-depth content. This in-depth content is reported through cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.  Pillar pages are much longer than typical blog posts as they cover all the aspects of the topic, yet they aren’t as in-depth. This is how pillar pages are used. You can create content that answers questions in a pillar page but leave room for the detailed study of each of the aspects.  For example, we could create a pillar page about Facebook marketing which could provide an overview of how Facebook works when marketing your business, and then hyperlink it to several pieces of cluster content like how to make informative Facebook videos, how to write good Facebook captions, etc. The pillar page thus serves as a guide to Facebook marketing and the pieces of cluster help you dive into the specific aspects. Wondering how to create a pillar page? Well, the first step would be not thinking about your site in just simple keywords. Start with selecting the topics you want to rank for. Think about the ideas based on more specific keywords related to the topics. Think about the interests of your audience or the challenges they face. This could give you ideas about the pillar page content. Hence, choose a topic that is broad enough to cover these and generate more related blog posts related to it. Don’t take a topic that is very broad that you cannot cover the entire thing in a single page. For example, ‘Social media marketing’ is very broad, but ‘Facebook marketing’ broad enough to cover on a single page and link many blog posts with. At last, it should be understood that pillar pages must answer any question a person might have about a topic. That is what will drive them to click on your page when they enter a Google search term. 


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