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9 Tactics to Increase Brand Awareness (Tried & Tested)



9 Tactics to Increase Brand Awareness (Tried & Tested)

One of the best ways to make anyone buy from you is to make them aware of your brand and products before they even start considering the purchase.

Countless tactics can increase your brand awareness. Technically, any piece of your marketing communication can be the first time someone from your target audience hears about you. But we’ll focus only on what’s truly impactful here.

Let’s go through nine tried and tested ways to increase your brand awareness.

1. Implement a search-focused content marketing strategy

If people are searching for information surrounding your products (they most likely are), your website should be present in the search results.

The great thing about organic search traffic is that it’s one of the few channels with the potential to influence your target audience throughout the whole marketing funnel: 

How marketing funnels work

We’re naturally interested in the top of the funnel (ToFu) here, so you need to create the type of content people search for when they start getting information about the industry you’re in.

Keyword examples across the funnel

This is where keyword research comes into play.

Keyword research is the process of discovering valuable search queries that your target customers type into search engines like Google to look for products, services, and information.

You start with a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and plug in a few seed words that define your niche:

Seed keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Next, head over to the Matching terms report to see all keywords containing the “seed” keywords from the input:

Matching terms report in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

As you can see, over 4 million keywords contain those seed phrases. Now it’s all about filtering and choosing which keywords you’ll target with a great piece of content.

In this case, I’m going for keywords that:

  • Have a maximum Keyword Difficulty (KD) of 40, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to rank for.
  • Have a Traffic Potential (TP) of at least 500 clicks a month.
  • Include terms that signal searchers are looking for the type of informational content we’re planning to create.

Voilá, I narrowed the list down to ~8,500 keywords:

Matching terms report with filters applied

The last filter to apply here is common sense. Always think about how relevant the topic is to your brand. Can the potential visitor ever become your customer? For example, suppose you’re selling fancy equipment for making espressos. In that case, people looking up “what is espresso” aren’t likely to ever become your target audience.

Head on to the following guides to learn more about researching keywords and creating content:

2. React to media inquiries to kickstart your PR

The purpose of public relations is to positively influence how a brand is perceived. There’s no doubt that communications with the media and the general public should be in your arsenal for increasing brand awareness.

Getting started with PR can seem terrifying. Journalists are swamped with emails and topics they could write about. You must truly deserve the media attention.

But every writer needs expert contributions for their content once in a while. You can be that expert in your niche, and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door of the bigger PR game.

All you need to do is to subscribe to a feed of media inquiries via services like HARO, SourceBottle, or Terkel.

Here’s what one of these feeds looks like with HARO:

HARO feed example

Your goal is to provide valuable information as fast as possible whenever you see a good opportunity.

The competition, especially on HARO, can be fierce. Here are a few tips to start off on the right foot:

  • Only respond to requests where you or your colleagues are experts on that topic Forget it if you don’t know your stuff.
  • Stick to the requirements – Journalists sometimes require specific formats or information about your credentials.
  • Try to provide the answer ASAP – You could subscribe to a premium HARO tier for $49/month to give you a head start before other users get the email feed.
  • Check the publication’s authority and history Some companies exploit the potential to get expert contributions easily, so you should be able to identify and ignore these.

Let’s expand on that last point a little. You should always know who you’re responding to so you can make sure the eventual coverage is worth the effort. That means ignoring anonymous inquiries and separating the wheat from the chaff.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company next to the inquiry, look up its website and review a few of its recent posts. Let’s take a look at a specific website example I just came across in the HARO feed:

Checking websites from the HARO feed

What immediately catches my attention here is the large “listicle” post. Since journalists and bloggers tend to feature multiple, sometimes even tens of HARO contributors, you can look for patterns in the titles like a large listicle number or “shared by experts.”

In this case, the large listicle post wasn’t created from HARO contributions. The rest of the articles don’t look sourced from HARO either. You don’t want to see a significant number of posts that include these contributions, as it dilutes the benefits you get from the coverage and backlink to your website. This particular website gets a pass on the content-sourcing front.

Another way to assess how valuable the coverage could be is to look at the website’s backlink profile strength. Generally speaking, the more it’s linked to from authoritative websites (ideally in your niche), the more valuable the backlink is for you.

The website’s Domain Rating (DR) is a good proxy metric for this particular use, which you can see with Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar

Quickly assessing a website's backlink profile strength

Simply, the higher the DR, the better. As a rule of thumb for English websites, you can exclude anything below DR 50 unless the website looks relevant to your niche and the content is of high quality.

3. Incentivize and influence word of mouth

In all, 14,000 new customers in 2020 told us they learned about Ahrefs from their friends:

Word-of-mouth recommendations

We can’t fully control it, but trying to incentivize and influence people to bring up Ahrefs in their discussions clearly has vast benefits. This process is known as word-of-mouth marketing.

Research from Nielsen shows that 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family. It’s simply the most trustworthy and authentic marketing channel. No matter how great your marketing communication is, you can’t beat it.

The number one thing that nudges people to talk positively about a particular brand is a superb customer experience. Most of it consists of having a great product, but the entire buying process and customer service can’t be neglected. Only when you have these will proper marketing communication make it all work effectively:

In essence, word-of-mouth marketing is about properly managing your brand, communication, and product marketing once you have a product people love. To be more specific, here are four tactics to consider using:

  1. Make your product a natural part of your content – Referring back to the “espresso equipment” example, listing some of the products you sell for topics like “how to tamp espresso” or “espresso distribution” provides value to the reader.
  2. Create and distribute educational content – This helps your customers use your products better.
  3. Encourage customers to create and share content around your product – Here, we’re talking about social media posts, articles, photos, videos, etc. Think creative campaigns, affiliate marketing, or community hashtags. This brings us to…
  4. Build an engaged community within your target audience It takes time, but it’s worth it. 

On top of that, apply all suitable tactics to increase your brand awareness listed throughout this guide. Word of mouth is a by-product of improving brand awareness, leading to further increase. It’s like a flywheel.

Learn more: Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A Simple Tried & Tested Guide

4. Be visible across all review platforms and directory listings

People usually check the experiences of others when they’re close to making a purchase. But your brand’s visibility throughout all relevant directory listings and review platforms impacts their product choices even before they get to that stage.

For example, here are just a few of the terms the biggest software review platform, G2, ranks for in Google’s top positions:

G2 ranks well for some highly competitive CRM keywords

People looking up these keywords could still be considered at the top of the funnel. They’re likely aware of some of the problems CRMs solve but are just getting into specific products and brands. Being listed among the top CRM solutions on these category landing pages has obvious benefits.

CRM category page on G2

And this is far from the only page and way these platforms can showcase your brand. 

For example, you can pop up on competitors’ profiles in specific sections:

CRM comparison section on a specific brand's page

Of course, getting into the top 10 among 800+ listings is naturally a challenging task. You must set up processes to gather reviews and adequately manage your online reputation. Getting a paid plan with the review platform can make things easier.

Fortunately, you can also apply these practices to many different platforms and directories. They also tend to work on similar principles because it makes sense to show the most relevant results that are the most popular:

Local listing recommendations

Not sure if you’ve already got a profile on every important platform? Enter your domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, go to the Link Intersect tool, and fill in as many competitors as possible (the Organic competitors report can help with that).

Link Intersect tool example

You’ll get a list of websites that link to your competitors but not you. Play around with the number of intersections and filters and try to spot the directories:

Directories found in Link Intersect tool


Once you grasp SEO and online reputation management, you can dive into entity SEO. This is where you optimize how Google perceives your brand and products to (hopefully) become an entity in Google’s Knowledge Graph.

This can significantly impact your branded searches as you get more estate on the SERPs. And similarly to the platforms listed above, you’ll also be present in sections like “related searches”:

Related searches feature in Google is full of entities

5. Talk at industry events

I’ve attended many marketing and SEO events over the years. If there’s a speaker with a talk that excites me, then it’s easy to get into my head. I sometimes even try to learn more about the speaker and their company. 

Others may not do the same. But one thing is for sure—people prefer engaging with other people, not brands. Speaking at events and encouraging your colleagues to do the same have many benefits:

  • It increases awareness from both marketing and employer branding perspectives.
  • It increases employee retention and satisfaction from building their own personal brands.
  • It helps you become an authority in your niche.
  • It helps you build more personalized relationships with your current and potential customers.
  • It can often trigger social media mentions, event reports, mentions in articles, etc.

At Ahrefs, we have many people across different teams and countries speaking and networking at events. We try to reap all the benefits listed above.

Josh from Ahrefs speaking at BrightonSEO
My colleague, Joshua Hardwick, speaking on the main stage of BrightonSEO in April 2022.

If you’re starting from scratch here, it’s better to test the waters at smaller, local events. You’ll need a solid speaking portfolio or something extraordinary to share to land a gig on the biggest stages anyway.

First, discover topics and styles that resonate with your audience. Forget sales pitches and try to provide as much value as possible. Listen to the audience’s feedback.

Second, take your time before hitting bigger stages. Practicing, getting good references, and building confidence are key things to getting there. I still get the jittery feeling even though it’s been a few years since I first spoke in front of 100+ people. A certain level of stress and anxiety apparently never goes away, no matter how experienced you are.

And last but not least, you’ll start getting a lot of speaking invitations once you get on the right path. Be ruthless with choosing the right events. Ask past participants for references. Make sure it has value for you and your company.

A big chunk of our marketing budget goes toward sponsoring podcasts, events, and newsletters.

You may have noticed our huge logo in the last image. We’re trying to squeeze the most out of the biggest SEO conference by being the main sponsor, speaking on the main stage, and having a big booth there:

Events aside, here’s what our sponsorship looks like in newsletters:

Ahrefs sponsorship of the Ariyh newsletter

You can even go with the more traditional approach of sponsoring events for the masses. It all depends on your product, positioning, audience, and budget. Anything from local football matches to the Super Bowl can work.

Learn more: Podcast Advertising: $51,975 Spent. Here’s What We Learned

7. Have brand ambassadors

A brand ambassador is anyone who’s regularly in the spotlight representing a company. This is often an employee with the power to influence the community, but you can form these long-term partnerships with anyone. You probably follow influencers who’ve been promoting certain products for years.

For example, at Ahrefs, we have Patrick Stox as our brand ambassador:

Patrick Stox as Ahrefs' brand ambassador

And then we have many customers keen to recommend our products to others. Some of them evolve from fans influencing word of mouth to brand ambassadors via sponsorships:

Sponsoring a podcast of a huge fan of the Ahrefs product

See how this intertwines with some of the tactics we’ve already gone through?

Go through your customer database and try to spot influential people in your niche. Check communication history, whether they already mentioned you somewhere, and then create a shortlist of the best candidates for this.

Of course, the prerequisite is to have a superb product. You can pay some influencers to promote basically anything, but many people can spot dishonest recommendations from miles away. And yes, even ketchup can be apparently a superb product: 

To sum it up, influencer marketing should be in your arsenal, and using brand ambassadors is an excellent approach to this.

8. Partner with other brands

Some brands share values and common traits among their audiences. Joining forces to appeal to both customer bases can work across niches for win-win campaigns.

The easiest way to get started with this is by co-creating content. Here’s an example of me doing a webinar with Kontent, which is a headless CMS:

Co-branded webinar between Ahrefs and Kontent

Ahrefs is the authority in SEO the Kontent team needs for this topic. Kontent’s audience consists of potential enterprise-level leads for us where 45 minutes of brand and product exposure has great value. It’s a win-win.

That said, the most impactful co-branding campaigns for brand awareness are co-branded products.

The best example of a successful co-branded product I can recall from the past few years is a MoonSwatch:

At the time of writing, MoonSwatches are still widely unavailable eight months after their release. People who wouldn’t buy an Omega stood in long lines together with wealthy watch fans who’d likely never wear a regular Swatch on their wrists.

In this case, both brands are owned by the same company. But chances are you don’t have a portfolio of complementary brands at your disposal. So here are two main methods of discovering the right brands to partner with.

The first is to enhance your market research data with other products your customers and audience like using.

The second is to use an audience insights tool like SparkToro. It will show you social media accounts and websites that your audience also follows and visits:

Using SparkToro to find opportunities for co-branding campaigns

Simply filter out your competitors and see if any remaining companies fit the bill.

Learn more: For Omega and Swatch, the Rewards of Co-branding Could Be Astronomical

9. Run ads in mass media

I saved the most tried and tested tactic for increasing brand awareness for last. 

Ads in mass media have been with us forever. TV ad spending in North America alone was $64.7 billion in 2021. And countless studies and data support that mass media advertising works.

Chart showing that mass media channels still thrive

Of course, don’t go and spend 90% of your marketing budget to run national TV ads if you’re a B2B startup. But even smaller companies with very specific target audiences can use mass media properly.

All mass media channels, except TV, can be used to target a specific audience. Most of it comes from location targeting. If your target segment is tech companies, you can, for example, buy a few billboards in technological hubs. 

Here are two notable examples from Silicon Valley:

Twilio billboard in Silicon Valley
Source: Wired

These may be closer to PR stunts, but you get the gist. You can also buy ads on local radios, newspapers, airports frequently visited by your target audience, etc. 

Final thoughts

Increasing brand awareness is one of the end goals of brand management. It’s a whole marketing discipline, so we barely touched the surface here and covered just the last mile.

The tactics you choose to increase your brand awareness should always stem from a proper marketing strategy. Its components regarding brand management include:

  • Appealing to your target audience with a brand’s positioning (the way they should perceive your brand and products).
  • Developing and consistently using multiple brand assets (logos, specific colors, fonts, slogans, mascots, etc.) in your communications to make your brand stand out and easy to recognize.
  • Committing a significant portion of your marketing budget and resources to brand-building activities.
  • Setting strategic objectives, including a proper way to measure progress.

Take this as a quick introduction to topics related to the effectiveness of brand awareness campaigns. Remember: the sooner you start executing, the better. You can always polish the processes later. I’ll leave you with a few resources that will help you do that:

Got any questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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Technical SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide



Technical SEO Checklist 2024 Comprehensive Strategies

Technical SEO Checklist 2024 Comprehensive Strategies

With Google getting a whopping total of six algorithmic updates and four core updates in 2023, you can bet the search landscape is more complicated (and competitive) to navigate nowadays.

To succeed in SEO this year, you will need to figure out what items to check and optimize to ensure your website stays visible. And if your goal is to not just make your website searchable, but have it rank at the top of search engine results, this technical SEO checklist for 2024 is essential.

Webmaster’s Note: This is part one of our three-part SEO checklist for 2024. I also have a longer guide on advanced technical SEO, which covers best practices and how to troubleshoot and solve common technical issues with your websites.

Technical SEO Essentials for 2024

Technical SEO refers to optimizations that are primarily focused on helping search engines access, crawl, interpret, and index your website without any issues. It lays the foundation for your site to be properly understood and served up by search engines to users.

1. Website Speed Optimization

A site’s loading speed is a significant ranking factor for search engines like Google, which prioritize user experience. Faster websites generally provide a more pleasant user experience, leading to increased engagement and improved conversion rates.

Server Optimization

Often, the reason why your website is loading slowly is because of the server it’s hosted on. It’s important to choose a high-quality server that ensures quick loading times from the get-go so you skip the headache that is server optimization.

Google recommends keeping your server response time under 200ms. To check your server’s response time, you need to know your website’s IP address. Once you have that, use your command prompt.

In the window that appears, type ping, followed by your website’s IP address. Press enter and the window should show how long it took your server to respond. 

If you find that your server goes above the recommended 200ms loading time, here’s what you need to check:

  1. Collect the data from your server and identify what is causing your response time to increase. 
  2. Based on what is causing the problem, you will need to implement server-side optimizations. This guide on how to reduce initial server response times can help you here.
  3. Measure your server response times after optimization to use as a benchmark. 
  4. Monitor any regressions after optimization.

If you work with a hosting service, then you should contact them when you need to improve server response times. A good hosting provider should have the right infrastructure, network connections, server hardware, and support services to accommodate these optimizations. They may also offer hosting options if your website needs more server resources to run smoothly.

Website Optimization

Aside from your server, there are a few other reasons that your website might be loading slowly. 

Here are some practices you can do:

  1. Compressing images to decrease file sizes without sacrificing quality
  2. Minimizing the code, eliminating unnecessary spaces, comments, and indentation.
  3. Using caching to store some data locally in a user’s browser to allow for quicker loading on subsequent visits.
  4. Implementing Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute the load, speeding up access for users situated far from the server.
  5. Lazy load your web pages to prioritize loading the objects or resources only your users need.

A common tool to evaluate your website speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Google Lighthouse. Both tools can analyze the content of your website and then generate suggestions to improve its overall loading speed, all for free. There are also some third-party tools, like GTMetrix, that you could use as well.

Here’s an example of one of our website’s speeds before optimization. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen, and it was affecting our SEO.

slow site speed score from GTMetrixslow site speed score from GTMetrix

So we followed our technical SEO checklist. After working on the images, removing render-blocking page elements, and minifying code, the score greatly improved — and we saw near-immediate improvements in our page rankings. 

site speed optimization results from GTMetrixsite speed optimization results from GTMetrix

That said, playing around with your server settings, coding, and other parts of your website’s backend can mess it up if you don’t know what you’re doing. I suggest backing up all your files and your database before you start working on your website speed for that reason. 

2. Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first Indexing is a method used by Google that primarily uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. 

It’s no secret that Google places a priority on the mobile users’ experience, what with mobile-first indexing being used. Beyond that, optimizing your website for mobile just makes sense, given that a majority of people now use their phones to search online.

This change signifies that a fundamental shift in your approach to your website development and design is needed, and it should also be part of your technical SEO checklist.

  1. Ensuring the mobile version of your site contains the same high-quality, rich content as the desktop version.
  2. Make sure metadata is present on both versions of your site.
  3. Verify that structured data is present on both versions of your site.

Tools like Google’s mobile-friendly test can help you measure how effectively your mobile site is performing compared to your desktop versions, and to other websites as well.

3. Crawlability & Indexing Check

Always remember that crawlability and Indexing are the cornerstones of SEO. Crawlability refers to a search engine’s ability to access and crawl through a website’s content. Indexing is how search engines organize information after a crawl and before presenting results.

  1. Utilizing a well-structured robots.txt file to communicate with web crawlers about which of your pages should not be processed or scanned.
  2. Using XML sitemaps to guide search engines through your site’s content and ensure that all valuable content is found and indexed. There are several CMS plugins you can use to generate your sitemap.
  3. Ensuring that your website has a logical structure with a clear hierarchy, helps both users and bots navigate to your most important pages easily. 

Google Search Console is the tool you need to use to ensure your pages are crawled and indexed by Google. It also provides reports that identify any problems that prevent crawlers from indexing your pages. 

4. Structured Data Markup

Structured Data Markup is a coding language that communicates website information in a more organized and richer format to search engines. This plays a strategic role in the way search engines interpret and display your content, enabling enhanced search results through “rich snippets” such as stars for reviews, prices for products, or images for recipes.

Doing this allows search engines to understand and display extra information directly in the search results from it.

Key Takeaway

With all the algorithm changes made in 2023, websites need to stay adaptable and strategic to stay at the top of the search results page. Luckily for you, this technical SEO checklist for 2024 can help you do just that. Use this as a guide to site speed optimization, indexing, and ensuring the best experience for mobile and desktop users.

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Why Google Seems To Favor Big Brands & Low-Quality Content




Why Google Seems To Favor Big Brands & Low-Quality Content

Many people are convinced that Google shows a preference for big brands and ranking low quality content, something that many feel has become progressively worse. This may not be a matter of perception, something is going on, nearly everyone has an anecdote of poor quality search results. The possible reasons for it are actually quite surprising.

Google Has Shown Favoritism In The Past

This isn’t the first time that Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) have shown a bias that favored big brand websites. During the early years of Google’s algorithm it was obvious that sites with a lot of PageRank ranked for virtually anything they wanted.

For example, I remember a web design company that built a lot of websites, creating a network of backlinks, raising their PageRank to a remarkable level normally seen only in big corporate sites like IBM. As a consequence they ranked for the two-word keyword phrase, Web Design and virtually every other variant like Web Design + [any state in the USA].

Everyone knew that websites with a PageRank of 10, the highest level shown on Google’s toolbar, practically had a free pass in the SERPs, resulting in big brand sites outranking more relevant webpages. It didn’t go unnoticed when Google eventually adjusted their algorithm to fix this issue.

The point of this anecdote is to point out an instance of where Google’s algorithm unintentionally created a bias that favored big brands.

Here are are other  algorithm biases that publishers exploited:

  • Top 10 posts
  • Longtail “how-to” articles
  • Misspellings
  • Free Widgets in footer that contained links (always free to universities!)

Big Brands And Low Quality Content

There are two things that have been a constant for all of Google’s history:

  • Low quality content
  • Big brands crowding out small independent publishers

Anyone that’s ever searched for a recipe knows that the more general the recipe the lower the quality of recipe that gets ranked. Search for something like cream of chicken soup and the main ingredient for nearly every recipe is two cans of chicken soup.

A search for Authentic Mexican Tacos results in recipes with these ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Ground beef
  • “Cooked chicken”
  • Taco shells (from the store!)
  • Beer

Not all recipe SERPs are bad. But some of the more general recipes Google ranks are so basic that a hobo can cook them on a hotplate.

Robin Donovan (Instagram), a cookbook author and online recipe blogger observed:

“I think the problem with google search rankings for recipes these days (post HCU) are much bigger than them being too simple.

The biggest problem is that you get a bunch of Reddit threads or sites with untested user-generated recipes, or scraper sites that are stealing recipes from hardworking bloggers.

In other words, content that is anything but “helpful” if what you want is a tested and well written recipe that you can use to make something delicious.”

Explanations For Why Google’s SERPs Are Broken

It’s hard not to get away from the perception that Google’s rankings for a variety of topics always seem to default to big brand websites and low quality webpages.

Small sites grow to become big brands that dominate the SERPs, it happens. But that’s the thing, even when a small site gets big, it’s now another big brand dominating the SERPs.

Typical explanations for poor SERPs:

  • It’s a conspiracy to increase ad clicks
  • Content itself these days are low quality across the board
  • Google doesn’t have anything else to rank
  • It’s the fault of SEOs
  • Affiliates
  • Poor SERPs is Google’s scheme to drive more ad clicks
  • Google promotes big brands because [insert your conspiracy]

So what’s going on?

People Love Big Brands & Garbage Content

The recent Google anti-trust lawsuit exposed the importance of the Navboost algorithm signals as a major ranking factor. Navboost is an algorithm that interprets user engagement signals to understand what topics a webpage is relevant for, among other things.

The idea of using engagement signals as an indicator of what users expect to see makes sense. After all, Google is user-centric and who better to decide what’s best for users than the users themselves, right?

Well, consider that arguably the the biggest and most important song of 1991, Smells Like Teen Spirt by Nirvana, didn’t make the Billboard top 100 for that year. Michael Bolton and Rod Stewart made the list twice, with Rod Stewart top ranked for a song called “The Motown Song” (anyone remember that one?)

Nirvana didn’t make the charts until the next year…

My opinion, given that we know that user interactions are a strong ranking signal, is that Google’s search rankings follow a similar pattern related to users’ biases.

People tend to choose what they know. It’s called a Familiarity Bias.

Consumers have a habit of choosing things that are familiar over those that are unfamiliar. This preference shows up in product choices that prefer brands, for example.

Behavioral scientist, Jason Hreha, defines Familiarity Bias like this:

“The familiarity bias is a phenomenon in which people tend to prefer familiar options over unfamiliar ones, even when the unfamiliar options may be better. This bias is often explained in terms of cognitive ease, which is the feeling of fluency or ease that people experience when they are processing familiar information. When people encounter familiar options, they are more likely to experience cognitive ease, which can make those options seem more appealing.”

Except for certain queries (like those related to health), I don’t think Google makes an editorial decision to certain kinds of websites, like brands.

Google uses many signals for ranking. But Google is strongly user focused.

I believe it’s possible that strong user preferences can carry a more substantial weight than Reviews System signals. How else to explain why Google seemingly has a bias for big brand websites with fake reviews rank better than honest independent review sites?

It’s not like Google’s algorithms haven’t created poor search results in the past.

  • Google’s Panda algorithm was designed to get rid of a bias for cookie cutter content.
  • The Reviews System is a patch to fix Google’s bias for content that’s about reviews but aren’t necessarily reviews.

If Google has systems for catching low quality sites that their core algorithm would otherwise rank, why do big brands and poor quality content still rank?

I believe the answer is that is what users prefer to see those sites, as indicated by user interaction signals.

The big question to ask is whether Google will continue to rank what users biases and inexperience trigger user satisfaction signals.  Or will Google continue serving the sugar-frosted bon-bons that users crave?

Should Google make the choice to rank quality content at the risk that users find it too hard to understand?

Or should publishers give up and focus on creating for the lowest common denominator like the biggest popstars do?

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Google Announces Gemma: Laptop-Friendly Open Source AI




Google Announces Gemma: Laptop-Friendly Open Source AI

Google released an open source large language model based on the technology used to create Gemini that is powerful yet lightweight, optimized to be used in environments with limited resources like on a laptop or cloud infrastructure.

Gemma can be used to create a chatbot, content generation tool and pretty much anything else that a language model can do. This is the tool that SEOs have been waiting for.

It is released in two versions, one with two billion parameters (2B) and another one with seven billion parameters (7B). The number of parameters indicates the model’s complexity and potential capability. Models with more parameters can achieve a better understanding of language and generate more sophisticated responses, but they also require more resources to train and run.

The purpose of releasing Gemma is to democratize access to state of the art Artificial Intelligence that is trained to be safe and responsible out of the box, with a toolkit to further optimize it for safety.

Gemma By DeepMind

The model is developed to be lightweight and efficient which makes it ideal for getting it into the hands of more end users.

Google’s official announcement noted the following key points:

  • “We’re releasing model weights in two sizes: Gemma 2B and Gemma 7B. Each size is released with pre-trained and instruction-tuned variants.
  • A new Responsible Generative AI Toolkit provides guidance and essential tools for creating safer AI applications with Gemma.
  • We’re providing toolchains for inference and supervised fine-tuning (SFT) across all major frameworks: JAX, PyTorch, and TensorFlow through native Keras 3.0.
  • Ready-to-use Colab and Kaggle notebooks, alongside integration with popular tools such as Hugging Face, MaxText, NVIDIA NeMo and TensorRT-LLM, make it easy to get started with Gemma.
  • Pre-trained and instruction-tuned Gemma models can run on your laptop, workstation, or Google Cloud with easy deployment on Vertex AI and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).
  • Optimization across multiple AI hardware platforms ensures industry-leading performance, including NVIDIA GPUs and Google Cloud TPUs.
  • Terms of use permit responsible commercial usage and distribution for all organizations, regardless of size.”

Analysis Of Gemma

According to an analysis by an Awni Hannun, a machine learning research scientist at Apple, Gemma is optimized to be highly efficient in a way that makes it suitable for use in low-resource environments.

Hannun observed that Gemma has a vocabulary of 250,000 (250k) tokens versus 32k for comparable models. The importance of that is that Gemma can recognize and process a wider variety of words, allowing it to handle tasks with complex language. His analysis suggests that this extensive vocabulary enhances the model’s versatility across different types of content. He also believes that it may help with math, code and other modalities.

It was also noted that the “embedding weights” are massive (750 million). The embedding weights are a reference to the parameters that help in mapping words to representations of their meanings and relationships.

An important feature he called out is that the embedding weights, which encode detailed information about word meanings and relationships, are used not just in processing input part but also in generating the model’s output. This sharing improves the efficiency of the model by allowing it to better leverage its understanding of language when producing text.

For end users, this means more accurate, relevant, and contextually appropriate responses (content) from the model, which improves its use in conetent generation as well as for chatbots and translations.

He tweeted:

“The vocab is massive compared to other open source models: 250K vs 32k for Mistral 7B

Maybe helps a lot with math / code / other modalities with a heavy tail of symbols.

Also the embedding weights are big (~750M params), so they get shared with the output head.”

In a follow-up tweet he also noted an optimization in training that translates into potentially more accurate and refined model responses, as it enables the model to learn and adapt more effectively during the training phase.

He tweeted:

“The RMS norm weight has a unit offset.

Instead of “x * weight” they do “x * (1 + weight)”.

I assume this is a training optimization. Usually the weight is initialized to 1 but likely they initialize close to 0. Similar to every other parameter.”

He followed up that there are more optimizations in data and training but that those two factors are what especially stood out.

Designed To Be Safe And Responsible

An important key feature is that it is designed from the ground up to be safe which makes it ideal for deploying for use. Training data was filtered to remove personal and sensitive information. Google also used reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) to train the model for responsible behavior.

It was further debugged with manual re-teaming, automated testing and checked for capabilities for unwanted and dangerous activities.

Google also released a toolkit for helping end-users further improve safety:

“We’re also releasing a new Responsible Generative AI Toolkit together with Gemma to help developers and researchers prioritize building safe and responsible AI applications. The toolkit includes:

  • Safety classification: We provide a novel methodology for building robust safety classifiers with minimal examples.
  • Debugging: A model debugging tool helps you investigate Gemma’s behavior and address potential issues.
  • Guidance: You can access best practices for model builders based on Google’s experience in developing and deploying large language models.”

Read Google’s official announcement:

Gemma: Introducing new state-of-the-art open models

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Photo For Everything

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