मराठी भाषेची विस्मृती

हा लेख जेव्हा मी लिहायला बसलो तेव्हा विचार केला होता कि ईंग्रजीमधे लिहीन. पण जसे मी ह्या लेखाबद्दल विचार करायला लागलो तसतसे ठरवले कि इंग्रजी सोडून मराठी भाषेत हा लेख लिहीन. अशी प्रयत्नांची पराकाष्ठा मी पहिल्यांदा करतोय, त्या मुळे जर काही भूलचूक झाली तर माफी असावी असे अस्वीकरण घेऊन तुम्हा लोकांशी माझी हि नम्र विनंती आहे कि चुकांना कसे सुधारू हे लेखाच्या टिपण्यांतून कळवावे.

अजिंक्य परिवारात सद्ध्या दोन मस्तीखोर कार्टी आहेत. मोठीचे नाव आहे अनसूया आणि छोट्याचे नाव आहे मल्हार. दोघेही शाळेत जातात. मी विचार केला की त्यांना माझ्याच शाळेत म्हणजे पार्ले टिळक विद्यालय मध्ये भरती कारेन. देवाचा आशिर्वादानी आणि बरोबर “जॅक ” लावून त्यांची ऍडमिशन झाली. मी इंग्रजी माध्यमात शिकलो आहे, म्हणून विचार केला कि मुलांनाही इंग्रजी माध्यमात टाकावे. ते पण आय से एस सी बोर्ड मध्ये. जेव्हा आम्ही हा निर्णय घेतला तेव्हा मुलांच्या शिक्षणाचा विचार घेऊनच तो केला होता.

भाषा हि एक संपर्काचे माध्यम आहे. जर तुमच्याशी कोणीही त्या भाषेत संपर्क साधणार नाही, तर तुम्ही ती भाषा वापरणार नाही. हळू हळू, तुम्ही ती भाषा विसरायला लागणार.

सकाळी उठल्यापासून रात्री झोपण्यापर्यंत जी भाषा आपण वापरतो तीच आपली मातृभाषा, असे म्हणायला काहीच हरकत नाही. मग तर माझ्या मुलांची भाषा इंग्रजी आहे. त्यांना गप्प करायचे असेल तर मी त्यांना म्हणतो “मुलांनो आता मराठीचा तास!”

घरी आम्ही मराठी फार क्वचित वापरतो. अर्थात संध्याकाळी मराठी टीव्ही चालू असतो, पण तो तर आजी आणि आजोबांसाठी असतो. एक तर घरी भाषेचा वापर कमी, शाळेत पण फक्त मराठीचा तासात भाषेचा वापर होतो. बाकी सगळा वेळ मोबाईल आणि टीव्ही मध्ये जातो. ह्या दोन माध्यमामध्ये इंग्रजीचा वापर जास्त होतो.

मुद्दा हा, कि दिवसात मराठीचा वापर होताच नाही.

कारणीभूत कोण?

खरंतर हि माझीचं चूक आहे.

भाषेचा वापर कसा करावा हे जर दिसले नाही तर मग ती भाषा कशी वापरायची ते कसे कळणार? मान्य आहे कि मी काही मराठीचा पापड नाही. पण, प्रयत्न नाही केला तर आता जसा माकड आहे तसाच माकड राहीन. आणि जेव्हा माझी पोरं मराठी भाषेची चिरफाड करतील तेव्हा मी फक्त “हूप हूप ” करिन!

एक रामबाण उपाय

मराठीत जास्तीत जास्त संचार करून भाषेचा वापर वाढवा.

LinkedIn starts Career Advice and Mentorship services

As far as visiting Social Media sites is concerned, I have slowly veered off Facebook and Twitter and gravitated towards LinkedIn and Medium. One of the interesting features that I noticed LinkedIn launch, is its Career Advice services. I am attaching a screenshot of what I saw, this was a promoted post that I saw in my feed.

LinkedIn Career Advice

Curious to see where this rabbit hole leads to, I signed up for the service. Interestingly enough, the link led me to a place where I had to sign up as a mentor and choose the areas on which I could help others out.

This seems like a me-too of Clarity.fm and similar other services. What LinkedIn definitely has is the wide professional network (and thus the social credibility of the influencers). It’d be interesting to see how Microsoft and the LinkedIn team build this further.

One of the major problems in corporate India is the lack of coaches available in the middle management tiers. Perhaps, if played properly, LinkedIn can address this huge coaching and leadership gap.

Shiny tools don’t make a purpose

Recently, I bought a Fitbit. It’s a fantastic tool. Now, I can rave more about the features and go on and on. However, a friend and a colleague asked me an interesting question.

Has it changed you?
No, it did not.

Before I go on, I have to tell you that I am on the heavier side of the weighing scale. Those of you who know me personally would be surprised at the sudden interest in all things health. Yeah, I roll like that.

It’s not about the Fitbit

Like any other measurement tool, the Fitbit is doing a marvelous job at letting me know certain metrics that I need to care about.

They have even gamified the steps by putting in cute little badges and built in peer support (and also peer pressure) to keep me motivated. All this is good as it should be.

At the core of it, it’s a measurement tool. Just like any of the billion other tools we use in Analytics.

Targets and Measurements

On very similar lines, we as marketers or as businessmen often deploy shiny new tools because we think they will help us do more.

Unfortunately, like me in this case, how many of us forget on defining the purpose?

I implicitly assumed that the Fitbit would automatically by some magic give me the purpose of losing weight and leading a more healthy life. Without this purpose, here’s what would happen —

I will wear it to work, and dutifully report the steps taken and life would go on as usual. Some of the badges would come in as time goes by, and it would not really matter to me if I took 2000 steps a day (which is a walk in the park) or 10000 steps a day (I haven’t achieved this yet).

How would I change, if let’s say I choose to give myself a target of say, 10000 steps a day.

Without Purpose, there’s no Change

I would for one have to make time to walk those 10000 steps. I could try walking in the office or doing a much more rigorous transit than an Uber. However, I would have to commit to making the time for those steps.

Thus, this choice of making a change in my routine should be addressed. At the heart of it, the shiny new tool is not at the center. Yes, you have bought Google Analytics Premium and all of that is great … but that’s not really at the center.

At the center, is the purpose. Has this been defined? Has this been clarified and articulated so that the team knows about this?

A tool doesn’t give us Purpose

It does give us a sense of progress towards our purpose. A Measure of Success, if you will. The shiny new tool that we just acquired is useful, but only as long as we keep the purpose at the center.

As people who know how to use a tool, if we do not understand the purpose, the tool will end up regurgitating meaningless data.

TL;DR — When setting up measures, don’t keep the tool at the center. Keep the purpose at the center. The rest should follow.

18 months down the line, what has Google AMP really achieved

In early 2016, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for publishers who wanted to have their content loaded in a flash on mobile devices at a much faster rate.

At the point of writing this article, 65% of all traffic in Asia (and this is higher for developer countries) is on the mobile. A bulk of these users are on mobile data networks which may not be as fast as a steady broadband connection.

What Google did therefore was to launch a series of initiatives, Weblight and now AMP that would help the search engine load the publisher’s content faster for the user.

Google is focusing on the user

The rationale that Google gave to publishers was that it focused on the user’s experience. If a user is doing a Google search on a choppy data connection, the search results might be presented in the blink of an eye, however, because the publisher’s site was taking too long to load, the user would get a bad experience … or worse, the user would say that Google is too slow!

With Google Weblight, what the organization did was to load the content on an interim site (which was Weblight) and display the content there. This created two problems –

  1. Publishers lost traffic, and Ad Revenues
  2. Publishers lost control on the format of their content and their style guides

Both reasons were strong enough for a lot of publishers to stay away from Weblight.

AMP gets introduced in the mix

To give some control of the content formats back to the user and also to incorporate both analytics and ad scripts into the publisher’s content, Google created another mark-up language. This is AMP.

AMP allows the publisher to present the content on their own site, in a style that’s acceptable to the publisher. It may not have too much flexibility, but at least the publisher is free to design that style instead of the Weblight approach.

This may not be an ideal situation, but atleast it ensures that users are shown the content they are search for the fastest.

Have people embraced AMP?

Well, it’s a bit hazy there. For those of us who were on existing Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla it was much easier to transition. It just meant having to install some plugins and do the configuration.

However, the folks who have made their own web apps and products, they are completely clueless as to how to go about implementing AMP.

The sad part is that a lot of the product developers that I have spoken to, are of the opinion that AMP is just a new thing that “SEO folks” have to do. Add to the mental model of SEO being perceived as a much lower the value chain task – that pretty much means that developers are simply not aware about the benefits of AMP.

What irks me is that people’s individual bias is used to mask their ignorance about how to make their products perform better on search.

So, if you are leading a product team or are working on building products, then definitely head on to the Accelerated Mobile Pages project.

As a publisher who has embraced AMP, how does that impact me?

It surprisingly does not help me much with acquiring more traffic. The website is shown a bit differently in the search engine results, and that perhaps is getting me a bit higher click through rates. However, the numbers are not significantly high enough for me to assess based on the data provided.

One major problem with all new initiatives that Google is doing with Search is their stubbornness on keeping things completely opaque.

Not a single publisher is in the loop when it comes to knowing what was the exact payoff of any of the optimization activities they did. It is left for these teams to dig in and figure it out themselves before they are able to attribute the success of this activity. I believe that’s a major deterrent for a lot of product managers to make this choice of embracing AMP.

All human beings are equal

For the West and East, it is common to have different value systems and beliefs. However, this video by Arnold Schwarzenegger on the recent issues faced by the US just goes to show that there are some universal values that everyone identifies with and stands by. This stance is similar to the one that Swami Vivkenanda took when he addressed the Chicago convention.

Treating everyone as equal instead of bringing in our perceived values and judgement when speaking to different people is one such value.

Easy guide to Keyword Research

Keyword research sounds like such a daunting task. What’s the point of researching a keyword anyway? Shouldn’t your natural marketing instincts tell you which keywords are most relevant to your business. Not quite… Without quality keywords, found through effective keyword research, your search marketing campaigns (paid AND organic) will be completely misguided. If people aren’t…

via The Big, Easy Guide to Keyword Research for Businesses — Wordstream Blog Feed

If you have heard about Unicorns and Start-ups, then you probably would know of Larry Kim and Wordstream.

Linked the above post on why is Keyword Research important and how can a business go about doing keyword research both from a Search Campaign point of view and from a Content Marketing point of view.

If you are concerned with search, then this is a must read.

Data anomalies in Search Console

In the past 5-6 years or so, a lot of online businesses, especially the ones who are hungry for growth have relied on organic traffic as one of their key sources. Now growth could mean an increase in pure numbers (traffic, sessions, users) … or it could mean an increase in more tangible business parameters (revenues, profits). One of the things that I have learnt is that depending on which success metrics we chase, our own identity undergoes a shift.

Search as a major source of traffic

The major contributors to organic traffic are search and social. Wherever there is a site which has great and unique content by the loads, there is a chance for driving organic traffic.

At different points in time, I have been skeptical about Social Media and me-too posting that most brand pages do on platforms such as Facebook. However, Search for me has always been fascinating and I still have faith in Search :).

SEO can’t be a method

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved over a period of time and I have blogged about it on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, the number of times the algorithm changes and the rate of evolution of what Google (the market leader in this space) construes as quality content ensures that you can’t have a steady SEO “process”.

Having said that, SEO involves a fair amount of design thinking.

The reason behind this statement is because the problem behind search visibility (and the factors that control that) keep changing. It’s a wicked problem. Design thinking can solve such kind of problems because of its test and iterate mechanism.

Data to drive Design Thinking

This is where having the correct data to decide on next steps is crucial. Having a data driven design thinking approach would entail that there are periodical reviews of what kind of data we have available to make the right choices.

Search data has always been plagued with incomplete information. Starting from the 2011 encrypted search announcement, where a bulk of the data in Google Analytics was being reported as (not set). There have been ample approaches to clarify this data, unfortunately, as Google Search goes more towards handhelds and as digital privacy increases, the percentage of data where there is clear visibility will keep going down.

This can’t be helped. What can be done is take these “anomalies” into account and factor those in while doing your analysis.

So what kind of Data anomalies in Search Console do we expect to find?

Google Support has compiled this list. They keep updating their data reporting logic and keep updating this page as well.

One of the major changes that you can see is that last month, they started reporting more data in Google Webmaster Tools. Please bear in mind that this is just a change in the data that is being reported and not the actual search traffic that is on your site.

The link also explains why there is data disparity between Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools and any other third party tool that you could be using to generate keyword data.

So, my data is incomplete, what to do?

Don’t panic.

Work with the list of data anomalies and identify which ones are impacting you the most. Having visibility on which parts of data are not available to you is also better than not knowing anything and assuming that the data you have is complete.

In iterations, the first comparison is always your previous state. In both cases the data being made available to you is pretty much the same. Hence, a week on week comparison report is much more valuable as opposed to a comparison report with your closest competitor.

As long as the measures of success is on the same tool, the data anomaly should be cancelled out. Please bear in mind that for most of our data work, we do not need precise data but can work with coarse data.

A simple approach to identify this would be – if you work with charts and graphs more, then you can work with coarse data and absorb the anomalies. If you work with more than 4 decimals, then you might want to add 3-4 lines of disclaimer below your data.