The digital marketing landscape has evolved significantly over the last two decades. And between Google’s ever-changing algorithm and the deluge of misinformation floating through the digital marketing sphere, it’s easy to lose sight of basic practices we should be employing in our own SEO and content marketing strategies.
With every new algorithm update and technological shift in search, we become obsessed with how the field of SEO will enter a wholly new paradigm, and we shift our focus to reflect this. Yet as much as the medium may change, the core principles remain the same — and it’s time to get back to the basics.
We all understand the secrets and best practices of SEO, so why do we often fail to leverage these tactics? Let’s explore five common blogging mistakes you may be making right now.
Unoptimized keyword structure
Despite the rise of semantic search and machine learning technology, keyword research should still take precedence when modeling an internal content marketing campaign. All on-site content should be thematically linked by topics and keywords to your overall business objectives.
If our content is simply covering topics and not keywords, how do we know what users really demand? Without keyword research, how can you truly know who your audience is and who you are writing for?
Keywords serve as the bridge between user intent and informational/transactional content. Keyword-optimized content helps to position individual web pages to rank higher organically and drive impressions for targeted searches. This effectively makes blog content a lead generator.
For on-site blogs, the focus should remain on informational long-tail keyword phrases. Common examples include question phrases beginning with how, what, when, where and why.
Other keyword ideas could include actionable phrases that are often searched for, such as the top “tips” and “hacks” to improve upon some process.
Bloggers often fail to optimize their headers, meta tags and content with targeted keyword phrases. Consider the fact that specific keyword phrases will often be bolded within the meta description of a SERP listing, potentially increasing your click-through rate.
Inadequate keyword research runs deeper than failing to optimize your header structure (e.g., title, meta description). Many bloggers fail to leverage semantic SEO, or similar keyword phrases with the same meaning. Semantic SEO allows bloggers to create more thorough and readable content that can drive impressions for multiple keyword phrases, answer more user questions and qualify your content to be a featured snippet — think of the rise of voice search.
On the other hand, over-optimized content could cross a dangerous line as well. Keyword stuffing, or possessing a high keyword density, will qualify your content as spam. Keyword stuffing also obstructs your content’s readability, which results in poor user signals.
Following SEO best practices, it’s still important to optimize all relevant site elements, such as URLs and meta tags, with targeted keywords to categorize and rank individual web pages. And aside from signaling to search engines the main focus of your on-site content, keywords also serve an important function for your site architecture.
Inconsistent internal links
Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO optimization, and issues with internal links frequently occur on SEO agency websites themselves!
There are many functions of proper internal linking for SEO:
- Establishes paths for users to navigate your website.
- Opens up crawling to deep linked web pages and increases crawl rate.
- Defines site architecture and your most important web pages to search engines.
- Distributes “link juice,” or authority, throughout your website.
- Indexes linked-to web pages by the keywords used in the hyperlink anchor text.
While backlinks remain the gold standard of search engine ranking factors, their magic can be amplified through strategic internal linking.
Ideally, you’ll want at least three to five internal links per blog post, and a drop-down or navigation menu on your home page to provide deep links to inaccessible web pages. Just because a piece of content is posted to your blog, it doesn’t mean Google or Bing can automatically access it.
Conduct a thorough internal link audit and record which web pages have the most authority. Simply insert internal links on these pages to other high-value internal pages to distribute authority evenly throughout your domain.
Many websites display featured posts in a drop-down menu or on the home page to distribute authority to their blog posts. A blogger’s home page will be his/her most authoritative. Limit the number of links between each blog post and your home page to evenly distribute link juice throughout your domain.
Don’t overlook the importance of a sitemap, either. This will ensure all web pages are properly crawled and indexed — assuming URL structures are clean and keyword-optimized.
Finally, optimize all anchor text to categorize and drive impressions for linked web pages. Be sure to use varying anchor text phrases for each link so that you can rank your web pages for multiple search queries.
Poor page copy
As we often say in digital marketing, it’s important to write for readers and not search engines. Keep content light, don’t try to show off knowledge with excessive jargon, and write for readers on an eighth-grade reading level.
In most cases, on-site content is not about publishing, but building awareness around a need. I always suggest placing actionable tips in informational content to provide value.
Content marketing is as much a branding exercise as it is a marketing tactic. Consistent content production establishes your brand’s ethos and also creates your voice as an author. In turn, this establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Don’t sacrifice this authority with poor body copy.
Look over your blog post as a whole. What does a reader experience when they first encounter your web page? Consider the fact that the average attention span is estimated to be eight seconds. Optimize your header structure and meta tags to encourage easy scanability and communicate a clear purpose.
Leverage a powerful headline to pique reader interest, and nurture this interest with a strong introductory paragraph. Always insert clear transition phrases, and consider using animated GIFs and videos to give users a mental break between long chunks of paragraphs. These will also increase your average user dwell time.
Make your content visually appealing by utilizing white space properly and inserting images after every 400 words or so. This essentially chunks content and prevents information overload.
Finally, edit fiercely. Many writers live by the rule that about two-thirds of writing should be editing and reworking. Use tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway App to create concise and clean body copy.
Unoptimized images and videos
Speaking of poor page copy, most bloggers still ignore image and video optimization. Unoptimized image file formats and sizes are the most common load time mistakes that deteriorate SEO performance.
All on-site images should be formatted as .jpg, and all vector images as .png.
Always optimize image alt text to position it to rank in a targeted keyword image search. The alternative text is what’s displayed when a browser fails to actually display the image and tells search engines the content of your image. (It’s also used to describe images to those with screen readers.)
When optimizing video files, host all of your video files in a single folder and create a video site map for search engines to index your videos. You should optimize the meta description of all video pages with targeted keywords for indexation. Leverage a call to action in your meta description and video annotations.
Video marketing can be distributed from multiple channels, as well as your blog. According to a recent survey by HubSpot, 43 percent of consumers want to see more video from content marketers.
Poor content promotion
This leads us to probably the greatest error that plagues bloggers and stumps small businesses. We’re told that a good piece of content should serve as a natural link magnet and even rank highly based on the merits of the writing itself. To be candid, from experience we’ve discovered this isn’t always true.
Consider the idea that a 10-hour project totaling 3,245 words, featuring exquisite content and imagery, is just as useless as a poorly written 400-word listicle if it doesn’t drive conversions or traffic. This is what I refer to as potential energy. Without a proper technical structure or any content promotion strategy at work, your awe-inspiring content is a dud.
What if, after writing his Theory of Relativity, Einstein had simply posted his theory on his front door and waited for someone to discover it? Content distributed over a blog on a young domain won’t gather backlinks or social shares without promotion.
Leverage your connections, and follow these strategies to promote content and allow it to compound over social media:
- Have influential members of your organization share and promote a piece of content.
- Contact influencers over social media to share content.
- Request a quote from an industry thought leader to place in your content; advertise this in your rich snippet on social media channels.
- Repurpose content into a video or infographic for greater shareability.
- Contact websites that have linked to similar content in the past.
- Submit your content to replace relevant broken links on authoritative sites.
- Run a paid advertisement campaign over social media to place content directly in front of targeted audience members.
Content promotion involves thorough audience analysis. Segment audience members into one of three boundaries based on habits, demographics and psychographics. Investigate what social media channels each audience segment uses the most and the points of time when they are most active.
Understand which pieces of content perform best over specific social media channels. The most viral content examples include:
- “How-to” tutorials
- “Why” articles
Content serves as an effective pull marketing tactic and inbound lead generator. Yet, if content is simply sitting on the shelf and gathering dust, it’s a lost investment.
Social and user signals factor greatly into organic ranking. Essentially, social promotion will draw users to your content, which will determine — based on their engagement — the efficacy of your content.
SEO agencies and content marketers often tell clients about technical and onsite errors they may be making. But sometimes it takes a little realism to take a step back and analyze our own campaigns for greater success in the long run.
Hopefully, you’ll take the news that your SEO content strategy is imperfect in the right way. It’s an opportunity to refine and improve.
As the app ecosystem grows, many marketers are turning their sights towards mobile app marketing. Today’s post provides a high-level view of App Store Optimization, and gives tips on how to break into the rapidly expanding world of apps.
How to Optimize for App Store Search Engines
Let’s dive into search in the app stores, and how the search engines differ based on platform.
First things first; remember I mentioned that the app ecosystem reminds me of the web in the mid-to-late 90’s? Keep that picture in your head when you think of search. App store search hasn’t been “figured out” in the same way that Google “figured out” search on the web. Simply put, we’re still in AltaVista mode in the app ecosystem: something better than Yahoo’s directory provided, but not incredibly sophisticated like Google would become in a few more years.
Just like the web has on-page and off-page SEO, apps have on-metadata and off-metadata ASO. On-metadata ASO include factors totally within your control and are often things dealing with your app store presence. Off-metadata ASO include factors that might not be entirely in your control, but which you can still influence. Here are a few of the most important knobs and levers that you as a marketer can turn to affect your search performance, and some quick tips on how to optimize them.
An app’s title is the single most important metadata factor for rank in ASO. It’s equivalent to the <title> tag in your HTML, and is a great signal to the app stores as to what your app is about. On the web, you want your title to include both a description of what you do (including keywords) as well as some branding; both elements should also exist in the app store. Be sure to include the keywords, but don’t be spammy. Make sure it parses well and makes sense. Example: “Strava Run – GPS Running, Training and Cycling Workout Tracker”
Patrick Haig, our VP of Customer Success, likes to break descriptions down into two sections: above the fold and below the fold (sound familiar?). He says, “Above the fold language should be 1-2 sentences describing the app and its primary use case, and below the fold should have a clear and engaging feature set and social proof.” We’ll dig into some of the differences about the description field across platforms below.
The Keyword Field in iOS is a 100 character field which you can use to tell iTunes search for which keywords you should show up. Since you only get 100 characters, you must use them wisely. A few tips:
- When choosing your keywords, just like on the web, focus on relevancy, search volume, and difficulty.
- Don’t use multiple word phrases; break out to individual words (Apple can combine them for you).
- Don’t repeat keywords that are already in your title (and put the most important ones in your title, leaving the keyword field for your secondary keywords).
- Separate keywords with commas, and don’t use spaces anywhere.
Consumers are finicky. They want apps which are beautiful, elegant, and simple to understand. Your icon is often their first interaction with your app, so ensure that it does a great job conveying your brand, and the elegance and usefulness of your app. Remember, in search results, an icon is one of the only ways you can convey your brand and usefulness. Think of it as part of the meta description tag you’d create in SEO. For example, SoundCloud does a great job with their icon and branding.
The most important rule to remember when creating your screenshots is that they should not be screenshots. They are, instead, promotional graphics. That means you can include text or other graphics to tell your app’s story in an interesting, visual way.
Especially in iOS, where the card layout shows your first screenshot, it is incredibly helpful when an app displays a graphic which explains the app right up front, increasing conversions from search results to viewing the app page and, ultimately, installing the app.
The best app marketers also use their
screenshotspromotional graphics together to create a flow that carries the user through the story. Each graphic can build off the previous graphic, giving the user a reason to continue scrolling and learning about your app.
Here’s a great example of using the screenshots effectively by our friends at Haiku Deck.
Outside of your direct control, you’ll also want to focus on a few things to ensure the best performance in ASO.
Every app has a rating. Your job as a marketer is to ensure that your app gets a great overall rating. Rating is directly tied to performance in app store search, which leads us to believe that rating is a factor in app store search rankings.
Similar to ratings, you want to ensure that the reviews your users write about your app are positive. These reviews will help increase your conversion rate from app page views to downloads.
For a great product to help you increase your rating and reviews, check out Apptentive.
This is discussed further below, but suffice it to say, link building to your app’s page in the app store matters for Google Play apps. Given you all are SEOs, you know all about how to rock this!
How Do iOS and Google Play Differ In App Store Search?
The differences in the platforms mean that there are different levers to pull depending on the platform. Google Play and iOS act completely independently, and often, quite differently. The differences are wide-ranging, but what are a couple of the main differences?
In general, the way to think about the differences is that Google is Google and Apple is Apple. Duh, right? Google has the built the infrastructure and technology to learn from the web and use many different data points to make a decision. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have indexes of the web, and comes from a background in media. When in doubt, imagine what you’d do if you were each of them and had the history each of them has.
Here are a couple concrete examples.
Description versus Keywords
In iOS, there’s a keywords field. It’s easy to see where this came from, especially when you think of iTunes’ background in music: a song has a title (app title), musician (developer name), and then needs a few keywords to describe the song (“motown,” “reggae,” etc.). When Apple launched their app store, they used the same technology that was already built for music, which meant that the app title, developer name, and keywords were the only fields used to understand search for an app. Note that description isn’t taken into account in iOS (but I expect this to change soon).
On the other hand, there is no keyword field in Google Play; there is only a description field. Thus, while iOS doesn’t take the description into account, in Google Play the description is all you have, so be sure to do exactly the same as you do on the web: cater your content towards your keywords, without being spammy.
Leveraging PageRank in Google Play
Another big difference in iOS and Google Play is that Google has access to PageRank and the link graph of the web, while Apple does not. Thus, Google will take into account the inbound links to your app’s detail page (for example, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.symantec.mobilesecurity) as a factor in Google Play search, while Apple has no such factor.
How To Measure Success In App Marketing
It’s very difficult to measure success in app marketing in the same way you can measure success in web marketing. This is especially true when you’re working with inbound channels. It’s still early, but it’s continuously getting better, with more tools and services coming out all the time to help marketers understand success. Here are some of the ways I recommend measuring success in the app store today:
Just like on the web, a great way to measure your success in app store search is to track your ranking for specific search terms you care about over time and versus your competition. Rank tracking is incredibly valuable for ASOs to understand their progress.
Top Charts, especially Top Charts within a particular category, do a great job of allowing you to understand your success in relation to the rest of the apps in your category.
Ratings and Reviews
Just as ratings and reviews will help your ASO, they are also great metrics to track over time for how you’re doing with your app marketing. Keep track of what users are saying, how they’re saying it (pro tip: listening to their language is a great way to do keyword research!), and what they’re rating your app.
Taking it one step further, correlating your search rankings to downloads will allow you to understand the effect your increased ASO is having on your app performance. One way we do this is to integrate with iTunes Connect and overlay your search rankings with your downloads so you can visually see how closely related any one keyword is with your downloads. It’s not perfect, but it helps!
Conversion and Revenue
At the end of the day, revenue is the most important metric you should be understanding. Of course, you should be tracking your revenue and doing the same correlation with search performance. In addition, you should watch your conversion rate over time; we often see apps whose conversion rate soars with an increase in ASO because the users are so much more engaged with the app.
Tools And Resources To Use To Help With App Marketing
To conclude this post, I want to quickly talk about some tools and resources to use to help your app marketing process.
Sylvain has written some great content and has some incredible insights into app marketing and ASO on his company’s (Apptamin) blog.
I mentioned Apptentive above, and they really are the best way I know to impact your ratings and reviews, and get great feedback from customers in the process.
In addition to having a great, free, in-app analytics product (Flurry Analytics), as well as an interesting paid advertising product (AppCircle), Flurry also posts some of the most interesting data about the app ecosystem on their blog.
If you’re looking to obtain some amount of attribution for your paid advertising (inbound can’t be split out, sorry!), MobileAppTracking is where it’s at. It allows you to understand which paid channels are performing best for you based on the metric of your choosing. Best of all, you only pay for what you use.
This is, of course, a shameless promotion. That said, our product is a great way to understand your performance in app store search, help you do keyword research, and give you competitive intelligence. We offer a free (forever!) tool for Indie developers and scale all the way up to the largest Enterprise customers.
Now It’s Your Turn–> Visit the link below to get the full list to help guide you along your optimization way!
Even though SEO is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby for Searchengineland provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
When you start at a new company as the SEO specialist or pick up a new client, one thing everyone wants is to see quick results. The fact that SEO takes time can be a struggle as you try to show value while also satisfying your own desire to make an impact.
Here are a few SEO techniques that will let your colleagues or clients know you are the real deal, bringing value with your expertise.
1. Win With Featured Snippets
Winning a featured snippet spot can have a huge impact, bringing organic traffic to a page. Although getting featured in the quick answer box is not guaranteed, there is a pretty simple formula for optimizing your content for it.
Start by going to the Google Search Console to find rankings for queries that contain a question — you can do this by filtering for queries containing “how,” “what” or “why.”
Once you have a list of keyword phrases, check search volume and prioritize your list, focusing on the keywords with the highest search volume. If you do not currently rank for any question-related keywords, think of a simple question you can answer, and create the content to answer that question.
Increase your chances of being featured in the quick answer box by making on-page improvements:
- Provide a detailed answer in a bulleted or numbered format that specifically answers the question posed by the search query.
- Add a video to the page that answers the question (with transcription).
- Add additional information that adds more value to the page for the reader.
Once your content has been revised, submit it to be indexed, and share it on Google Plus, so that the changes are noticed quickly. To learn more about optimizing for featured snippets, check out this article by Eric Enge.
2. Optimize Existing Content
It is much easier to improve a strong existing page’s ranking a few spots in the SERPs than it is to get a new (or poorly ranking) page to show quick results.
Knowing that you see the biggest bumps in traffic when you get into the top three results, target content ranked in position 3 to 10. Improving bounce rates or building on pages that are converting can also be a great way to see big gains from a small time investment.
There are several ways to identify which pages to focus on:
- Going back to the Search Console, sort keywords by rank to find keywords ranked between 10 and 3.
- Looking in Google Analytics, find pages with a high bounce rate but decent traffic.
- Also in Google Analytics, find pages with high conversion rates. Check what keywords are driving traffic through Search Console, and focus on optimizing for those keywords.
What can you do to improve these pages and see results quickly? Here are some ideas
- Modifying the basic on-page ranking factors to improve search engine optimization.
- Find internal pages that are related to your target pages, and create new internal links from the related pages to the target pages.
- Share on Google Plus and submit to Google to be crawled.
Crowd Source Content For Quick Links
One way to quickly improve a page’s content (and possibly gain links) is by reaching out to influencers. Keep it simple by asking influencers to contribute to a page you are trying to improve.
For example, if you have a page you wrote about the best places to eat in Austin, you could reach out to food bloggers in Austin and ask them for their opinion on the best new restaurants.
Even more effective is to ask them if they have a blog post about those specific restaurants that you can link to. They will gladly give you content to link to while you get more content to add to your page.
Once the updates are made, let the influencers know by email and via Twitter. This can result in additional social shares and possibly links for the influencers. You can also use this technique when you are creating a brand-new page.
Optimizing For Search Intent
I often find pages ranking well for queries that do not fit the page. For example, I might see an article ranking for queries related to “finding influencers” that is really more focused on how to reach out to influencers. Fixing this will likely improve rank and lower bounce rate.
- If the page does not rank for other keywords, and the keywords currently driving traffic are strategic for your site, rewrite the article completely focusing on those keywords.
- If you want to maintain the article, you can add a section to better answer the query that it already ranks for.
- If the information that would match the search intent does not belong on the page, write a new page that answers the questions, and link to it from the ranking post with keyword-rich anchor text.
3. Improve Rank For Converting Pages
Look at Google Analytics to find the pages that are converting. Use Search Console to find the keywords driving traffic to that page. You can also look at paid campaigns to see top-converting keywords.
Focus on these keywords and pages to see quick results and really prove the value in SEO.
4. Find Competing Content
Check your site for several pieces of content on the same topic and combine the pages. Make sure to redirect URLs so that there is only one page.
5. Fixing 404 Errors
There are several tools that make it easy to find 404 errors. You can fix links by reaching out to site owners that have the broken links or redirect the broken URL to a live page.
While SEO is a long-term investment and can take time to show results, there are always a few things you can do to show quick value. I have included only included a few opportunities here, but there are many other techniques like using other sites to get content ranking quickly. What are some of your techniques to get quick results?
is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel will finally do battle on March 25, with Samsung possibly cooking up a special-edition Galaxy S7 Edge to commemorate the occasion, reports South Korean outlet Naver.
According to the publication, Samsung will launch a Batman v Superman edition of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which will reportedly be decked out with wallpaper, ringtone, and a design based on the movie. However, Samsung allegedly won’t stop there, as the South Korean outfit will also release other special variants of the Galaxy S7 and its curved-edge equal. They include one inspired by the 2016 Winter Olympics, while another will reportedly be done in collaboration with a popular South Korean singer.
Related: Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge rumors and news
Samsung has yet to confirm or deny the existence of any of these special-edition smartphones, let alone the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge themselves. However, it wouldn’t be the first time Samsung ventured into the world of special-edition handsets, as the company released the Iron Man limited edition Galaxy S6 Edge last May.
If the three aforementioned limited editions are anything like the Iron Man smartphone, however, they will be pricey and they will be available in very limited quantities. Not only were there only 1,000 Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge units made, but they were so expensive that one Amazon reviewer wrote he sold his genitalia, left foot, and wife on the black market just to get one. Grim stuff.
Regardless, this makes us wonder what the Batman v Superman Galaxy S7 Edge would even look like. Even though The Avengers: Age of Ultron contained multiple superheroes, Samsung and Marvel opted to go with Iron Man, so it will be interesting to see who Samsung and DC Comics roll with. Our money’s on Batman, since Samsung isn’t exactly known for releasing smartphones with outlandish colors, such as a Superman edition would require, but my personal pick is Wonder Woman, who also has a starring role in the movie.
Also watch: Samsung Galaxy S7 could get upstaged by 360-degree VR cam
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g reportedly looks to continue its release of limited edition smartphones by releasing a special edition Batman v. Superman Galaxy S7.
Terminology changes come with some new functionality, including the ability to set different CPA targets at the ad group level within the same bid strategy.
Google is going to be rolling out a revamp of AdWords automated bidding. Some of the changes are just semantic, but the workflow is also getting an update.
First the naming changes:
- Flexible strategies will be called “portfolio” bid strategies. The change is meant to better indicate that a single strategy can be applied across multiple campaigns, ad groups — and keywords, in some cases.
- A strategy that is applied to a single campaign is called a “standard” bid strategy.
- Conversion Optimizer will be called Target CPA for all new bid strategies to simplify the nomenclature. Target CPA can still be applied as a “standard” or a “portfolio” bid strategy.
Now for the functionality updates:
- Managers will be able to create or add to bidding strategies from the Campaigns Setting tab — no more need to dive into the Shared Library.
- Portfolio bid strategies for Target CPA can have different CPA goals for separate ad groups. “For example, if you’re a clothing retailer with multiple ‘Accessories’ ad groups in a bidding portfolio, you may want to set a lower CPA target for ‘Socks’ compared to other product categories with higher average order value.”
Note that Portfolio bid strategies can not be applied to video or universal app campaigns
In December, Google added new reporting features for automated bidding. These latest updates will start showing up in accounts over the next few weeks.
Great article by Search Engine Land explaining the Google Grant program and how advertising can be used to fight radicalism.
A story coming out of the UK today suggested that Google might be preparing to alter search results, triggered by “extremist” queries, and “divert” users to anti-extremist or anti-radical content and sites instead. Fighting extremism is desirable but the notion of altering search content to serve political objectives is a troubling prospect.
Fortunately that’s not what’s happening.
Articles in The Guardian and The Telegraph implied that organic results would be changed to remove or suppress radical content sources. Accordingly there was a brief discussion internally at Search Engine Land about whether Google might suppress otherwise non-radical information if it might be used in furtherance of radical objectives.
Would Google, for example, censor results where queries had bomb-making implications (e.g., fertilizer)? It turns out, however, that Google isn’t doing anything like what we imagined or what was suggested. Google is simply giving away ad credits to organizations that fight extremism.
It’s only about ads.
We were able to confirm from Google that the pilot program referenced in the articles involves Google AdWords Grants for non-profit organizations. Under the AdWords Grants program qualifying non-profits/non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receive $10,000 worth of AdWords credits each month if they meet certain criteria.
NGOs that promote anti-radicalization would be able to use those credits to advertise against extremist queries. This is essentially no different than any advertiser selecting keywords for ad targeting on Google. The company is simply enabling these organizations to participate in the AdWords Grants program.
It’s not entirely clear what caused the confusion or ambiguity that appeared in the articles.