Morgan Stanley to become top shareholder in China funds venture with stake increase

Morgan Stanley to become top shareholder in China funds venture with stake increase

A sign is displayed on the Morgan Stanley building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Morgan Stanley has won an auction to buy an additional 5.5 percent stake in its China mutual funds joint venture, in a deal that will make it the top shareholder of Morgan Stanley Huaxin Fund Management Co.

The Wall Street bank, which currently owns 37.4 percent in Shenzhen-based Morgan Stanley Huaxin, won the bid on March 30 to buy the additional stake for 25.04 million yuan ($3.73 million), according to the auction notice on Taobao.com.

Morgan Stanley is buying the stake from a private shareholder in a court-appointed auction, which will see its stake surpass that of Huaxin Securities, which owns 39.56 percent of the joint venture. The purchase needs to be approved by China’s securities regulators.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Moves by Morgan Stanley to boost ownership in the fund venture comes as China is opening up its financial sector worth trillions of dollars – from insurance to asset management and brokerage – for bigger foreign participation.

    China has in recent months allowed many foreign financial institutions to either set up new businesses onshore or expand their presence through majority ownership in domestic joint ventures.

    Under new rules announced in late 2017, Beijing has also paved the way for foreigners to own up to 51 percent in their local mutual fund ventures.

    Besides the fund management business, Morgan Stanley also has a securities joint venture with Huaxin, in which the Wall Street bank raised its stake to 49 percent in 2017. The bank has previously expressed an interest in raising the stake further.

($1 = 6.7169 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Samuel Shen and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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To enable digital transformation, PwC set about changing employee mindsets

To enable digital transformation, PwC set about changing employee mindsets

PwC digital services marketing leader Stephanie Feldman on the keynote stage at the MarTech Conference.

SAN JOSE, CA —  “If I do my job right, it will go away because digital should be foundational and part of everything.” That’s what Stephanie Feldman said during her interview to become PwC’s digital services marketing leader two years ago.

Fast forward a year into her career at PwC, in spite of all the technology and data at its disposal, the company still had not met its digital transformation goals.

“We had to do something that people cared about,” said Feldman during her keynote presentation at the MarTech Conference in San Jose Friday. She knew a true digital transformation would require inspiring PwC’s workforce to embrace it.

Changing the mindset

Feldman’s plan consisted of three steps, the first of which involved changing employee mindset about technology.

“We fundamentally had to change mindsets and we did,” said Feldman. The company introduced a “BXT” process that tied together business, experience and technology, looking at company challenges from a holistic view. Part of the new process was finding new ways to get people thinking creatively.

“We were not going to rely on anything we’ve done in the past,” said Feldman.

More insights from the MarTech Conference

Creating a different model

Feldman previously had worked for a PR firm, running massive social campaigns. She leveraged her agency experience at PwC to tackle projects by bringing together writers, editors and designers.

The model worked, and now two years later, it’s used across many of PwC’s internal teams.

Part of the approach even included encouraging people to be comfortable in their environments — for example wearing casual clothes or jeans versus a business suit to work.

“Because when you’re comfortable, you’ll have that new layer of creativity,” said Feldman who keeps a “check your egos at the door” rule.

More insights from the MarTech Conference

Skills and tools training was a must

Feldman knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as saying hey, we’ve got new technology, use it!

“We knew that wouldn’t work,” said Feldman. She had to give people a way to grow in their careers as part of the incentive to adopt new technology.

PwC introduced a company-wide digital fitness assessment app. To get all 50,000 employees onboard, the company said it would close the office the week of July 4 if everyone completed their assessment by a specific date. Feldman said she did not do as well as she anticipated, but that it offered an opportunity to have honest conversations about the digital transformation efforts.

“If I lead marketing for the digital business and got a bad score, we may be in trouble,” said Feldman. The test shed light on vulnerabilities and ignited conversations between team members.

Digital transformation is a long game

“Change management is hard,” said Feldman, “Nothing is built overnight, but we can all have small victories along the way.”

Since introducing the BXT approach and launching the digital assessment app, the company’s martech has become exponentially more valuable, according to Feldman. She believes marketing enablement and empowerment is about inspiring your team and providing individuals with the opportunity to learn based on their specific work style.

“If you lead anyone, it is your job to come out of [this conference] and empower those people, because special things will come out of that interaction.”

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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Share rally cools as Trump turns trade heat on Europe

Share rally cools as Trump turns trade heat on Europe

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell and the rally in global equities lost steam on Tuesday as a U.S. threat to slap tariffs on hundreds of European goods and a downgrade by the International Monetary Fund in its global economic growth forecasts dimmed the appetite for risk.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The IMF warned that growth could slow further due to trade tensions and a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union. China, Germany and other major economies might need to take short-term actions to prop up growth, the IMF said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers the Trump administration is preparing for the possibility of a “hard Brexit.”

Asian shares rose to an eight-month high overnight but U.S. and European markets fell after President Donald Trump welcomed the World Trade Organization’s finding that Europe’s subsidies to planemaker Airbus had hurt the United States.

The U.S. Trade Representative on Monday proposed a range of EU products, from large commercial aircraft and parts to dairy products and wine, to target as retaliation for subsidies given to Airbus.

Equities fell in Europe and on Wall Street, poised to snap an eight-day rally for the S&P 500, after an EU official said the European trade bloc was beginning preparations to retaliate over Boeing subsidies.

Uncertainty over tariffs and trade between the United States and China have dented business confidence and led corporate investment to dry up, said Hank Smith, co-chief investment officer at The Haverford Trust Co in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

“Business investment is now being put on hold because of the uncertainty around tariffs,” he said.

A weak U.S.-China trade deal probably is priced into the market, but a very good trade deal is not, Smith said.

“Even if it’s not so good, it is going to have a positive effect on the economy because it is going to remove an uncertainty,” he said.

MSCI’s all-country world index, a gauge of stock performance in 47 countries, fell 0.37%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.47% and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares fell 0.41%.

Airbus said it saw no legal basis for the U.S. move toward imposing tariffs on its aircraft and warned of deepening trade tensions.

Shares in Airbus fell 1.86% and many of its key suppliers lost between 0.7% and 1.2%. Boeing shares fell 1.5% ahead of its aircraft delivery and order numbers for March.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 207.09 points, or 0.79%, to 26,133.93. The S&P 500 lost 18.79 points, or 0.65%, to 2,876.98 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 38.62 points, or 0.49%, to 7,915.26.

The yen rose as traders favored the safe-haven currency in the wake of the U.S. proposal for tariffs on European goods.

The dollar index fell 0.04%, with the euro up 0.05% to $1.1265. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.35% versus the greenback at 111.11 per dollar.

U.S. Treasury yields slid, pressured by concerns about the IMF’s global economic outlook for 2019 as well as a round of headlines on Britain’s messy departure from the EU.

In Europe, government borrowing costs in southern countries hit fresh lows, pushed down by hopes that this week’s European Central Bank meeting will reinforce expectations for supportive policy measures in the months ahead.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price to push yields down to 2.4953%.

Oil fell from a five-month high above $71 a barrel after Russia signaled a possible easing of a supply-cutting deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Brent, the global benchmark, rose to $71.34 a barrel, the highest since November, but later settled down 49 cents at $70.61 per barrel. U.S. crude also hit a November high of $64.79, but settled down 42 cents at $63.98.

Gold rose to its highest in more than a week as the dollar and equities weakened.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.5% higher at $1,308.3 an ounce.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler and Phil Berlowitz

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ETFs that don’t disclose holdings daily set for SEC nod

BlueMountain names slate for PG&E board

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Market regulators are poised to approve trading of a new kind of product that could bring more stockpickers to U.S. exchange-traded funds, according to a filing on Monday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s conditional approval would allow Precidian Investments to license a new type of actively managed exchange-traded fund (ETF) that, like traditional active mutual funds, will not be required to disclose what it owns on a daily basis as most current active ETFs must.

The Precidian funds will disclose daily holdings only to a new subset of professional trader called the “authorized participant representative” in order to facilitate the process of creation and redemption of ETF shares, the filing said.

The SEC, which had twice before declined to give a green light to Precidian’s non-transparent active ETFs due to concerns about whether the funds’ prices would track their holdings, said it would approve the proposal unless its commissioners decide to order a hearing.

Bedford, New Jersey-based Precidian’s ActiveShares technology – which has been licensed by fund companies including ETF giant BlackRock Inc – is designed for money managers who actively pick stocks and bonds instead of following a market index.

The new products could potentially spur fund managers to offer more active ETFs and improve their performance by not revealing their trading strategies to rivals.

Daniel McCabe, chief executive officer of Precidian Investments, said many active managers have been unwilling to bring ETFs to market because they did not want to expose their trades to the public immediately.

The new structure offers investors access to those fund managers with many of the benefits enjoyed by ETF investors, including their ability to sidestep some capital gains taxes that accrue in mutual funds, McCabe said.

“The same benefits that are you look at in today’s ETFs are available in this structure but it works not only for an index-based product but specifically for active managers,” he said.

“This is very good news for investors.”

Asset management firm Legg Mason Inc holds a minority equity position in Precidian.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alistair Bell

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There’s no shortcut to authority: Why you need to take E-A-T seriously

There's no shortcut to authority: Why you need to take E-A-T seriously

Recently, I was talking to a client about a new project when he raised an interesting question. He was curious to know how I measured E-A-T, or “expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness,” in relation to SEO.

If you’re unfamiliar with E-A-T, it’s a term taken from Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, a set of instructions that Google’s army of many thousands of human reviewers (known internally as “raters” or “Search Quality Evaluators”) use to assess the quality of web content manually.

Although it is sometimes difficult to understand Google’s internal processes, from what I’ve heard from reliable sources at Google, E-A-T is applied specifically to YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) websites, that is, to sites that offer medical or financial advice.

As you might expect, Google would rather not serve up misleading or unreliable advice that could affect your financial or physical well-being, so paying particular attention to the information touted on these types of websites is very important.

Now, my client’s website was not in a financial or medical niche, so technically these guidelines do not affect him directly. After all, Google – so they say – are not applying E-A-T across the board. But I didn’t tell the client not to worry about E-A-T.

Far from it.

In my opinion, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are things that every business should be looking to build both online and offline. What business wouldn’t want to be recognized and trusted within (and beyond) their industry?

I asked my co-author on The Art of SEO, Eric Enge, to weigh in on this issue of E-A-T and whether it’s applied to YMYL only or more globally across the Web. He responded “Google is very technical and precise in how they use various terms. Within Google, as I understand it, E-A-T refers to something that they apply specifically to YMYL sites. But that doesn’t mean that the general ideas that we all associate with E-A-T aren’t likewise applied to other sites.”

In this excellent article, Chris Silver Smith argues that Google partly uses a numerical score to calculate E-A-T. When I emailed him, he replied that “If Quality (the combined E-A-T) is partly a numerical score as I’ve long theorized, then that factor is weighted much heavier for YMYL pages/sites than for things like entertainment pages, or articles about non-YMYL topics, etc. But, E-A-T still applies to things like e-commerce pages, even when those are not as high-priority as YMYL.”

So, if you believe me and these two highly regarded SEO practitioners, following E-A-T guidelines is good for SEO no matter your niche. In my view, even if E-A-T only applied to certain industries, the techniques used to build authority should be a part of every SEO strategy.

The problem is, E-A-T is notoriously difficult to measure.

How does Google measure authority?

If you talk to different people in the SEO industry, they will have different theories about the signals that Google uses to assess the authority of your site and assign rankings. We know that backlinks from authoritative sites are one way. CTR (Click Through Rate) is theorized as another, although Gary Illyes of Google contradicted that recently in his Reddit AMA. We also know that content quality is important. Online reviews may also have some impact.

Exactly how Google uses all these factors to make a decision is somewhat of a mystery, even to Google engineers. That’s because machine learning algorithms are opaque as to which signals they use. No one can see inside the black box – even the programmers who originally coded the AI.

In the aforementioned article, Chris Silver Smith argues that, rather than weighing one particular signal above all others, Google’s approach to assessing authority is more “holistic.” Google’s algorithms almost certainly use a wide range of signals and metrics to evaluate where a page might rank, meaning simply focusing on one signal while ignoring others is not a shortcut to results. Backlinks are crucial; but acquiring high-quality links to a site with shoddy coding, poor online reviews and spammy content won’t work.

Instead of looking for a “silver bullet” to achieve rankings and traffic, it’s important to pay careful attention to how you present your brand online. Overall, from the way your site is coded right up to your branding and PR strategies.

Holistic SEO

I’ll admit, saying that Google’s approach to rankings is “holistic” may sound a little vague and unsatisfying. It begs the question: what do you focus on if you want to optimize your site?

Thankfully, it’s not that difficult.

For the most part, building authority in your niche is common sense. If you’ve been working hard on gaining backlinks from quality sites, creating remarkable content, and ensuring your site is free from errors and thin content, then you’re well on your way.

But what can you do beyond the basics to ensure that Google sees you as a trusted site in your niche?

The answer is simple, but not easy. That is, do whatever it takes to ensure you have a solid reputation both online and offline.

On your site, be completely transparent about who you are. Create detailed “about” pages that put a human face to your company and tell your story (see mine as an example of such). Provide an excellent customer experience and respond to negative reviews online. Be open and honest about your processes and provide expert advice to your clients whenever you get the chance.

Link building is still a cornerstone of SEO; but gone are the days when you can simply spam people with generic emails offering content for guest posts. Instead, aim high and focus on quality over quantity. For example, I recently published an article in Harvard Business Review. Since this is a prestigious outlet that is very discerning about who it publishes, the link is incredibly powerful in the eyes of Google.

Building authority online takes time, but the payoff is huge. Start with the obvious questions. Is there an expert at your company who might be willing to do a TEDx talk? What’s the most respected publication in your industry, and how can you get published there? What about industry groups? What kind of connections do you have in the media that might be able to help you? Do you do any noteworthy charity/nonprofit work that has a powerful message that might be of interest to journalists?

If you’re not sure where to start, hire a PR agency or better yet, buy a book on PR and teach yourself.

Trust metrics

Fine, you might say. All this is good stuff, but (getting back to my client’s question) how do I measure the impact of this kind of work?

For one thing, a successful PR/link building campaign that lands you links from high authority sites will definitely begin to impact your traffic and rankings.

If you’re looking for more quantifiable metrics, then consider investing in tools like Majestic and LinkResearchTools. I find that Majestic’s “Trust Flow” and LinkResearchTools’ “LRT Trust” metrics still give the best indication of how trusted a particular page is.

Both these scores are based on your link profile. Although this is just one aspect of all the elements Google takes into account, it’s still the best indication that we in the SEO community have available to us on how much trust you are endowed with. In Majestic, I recommend aiming for a Trust Flow score of 50 or above (the highest score is 100) and an LRT Trust score of 5 or above (the highest score is 10). Make sure that you are looking at these metrics at the page level, not just the domain level.

As both of these scores are relatively high-level, it’s not possible to measure the incremental changes in E-A-T my client was interested in, as in every link he acquired and every piece of content he updated. Still, tracking your trust scores over time will give you a sense of whether your site is increasing or decreasing in trust. Some of the tools even provide a history of trust scores; Majestic, for example, goes back 18 months with their Trust Flow History Tool.

In addition, it is worthwhile to conduct regular surveys of your customers and reviewing brand sentiment metrics to get a sense of how people view your brand. If you see a lot of negative sentiment, you’ll want to take action to remedy it quickly.

As with most things SEO-related, it won’t be a single link or a piece of viral content that suddenly launches you into the pole position. It takes a sincere and sustained effort over months, even years, to get to the top.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stephan Spencer is the creator of the 3-day immersive SEO seminar Traffic Control; an author of the O’Reilly books The Art of SEO, Google Power Search, and Social eCommerce; founder of the SEO agency Netconcepts (acquired in 2010); inventor of the SEO proxy technology GravityStream; and the host of two podcast shows Get Yourself Optimized and Marketing Speak.

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New NAFTA deal ‘in trouble’, bruised by elections, tariff rows

New NAFTA deal 'in trouble', bruised by elections, tariff rows

MEXICO CITY/OTTAWA (Reuters) – More than six months after the United States, Mexico and Canada agreed a new deal to govern more than $1 trillion in regional trade, the chances of the countries ratifying the pact this year are receding.

FILE PHOTO: Flags of the U.S., Canada and Mexico fly next to each other in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The three countries struck the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) on Sept. 30, ending a year of difficult negotiations after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded the preceding trade pact be renegotiated or scrapped.

But the deal has not ended trade tensions in North America. If ratification is delayed much longer, it could become hostage to electoral politics.

The United States has its next presidential contest in 2020, and Canada holds a federal election in October.

The delay means businesses are still uncertain about the framework that will govern future investments in the region.

“The USMCA is in trouble,” said Andres Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister for North America.

Though he believed the deal would ultimately be approved, Rozental said opposition from U.S. Democrats and unions to labor provisions in the deal, as well as bickering over tariffs, made its passage in the next few months highly unlikely.

Canada’s Parliament must also ratify the treaty and officials say the timetable is very tight. Current legislators only have a few weeks work left before the start of the summer recess in June, and members of the new Parliament would have little chance to address ratification until 2020.

Trump, a Republican, has shown frustration with the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives for failing to sign off on the USMCA. He has threatened to pull out of the old pact, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), if Congress does not hurry up.

If Trump did dump NAFTA, the three nations would revert to trade rules in place before it came into effect in 1994.

TARIFFS

Canada and Mexico are seeking exemption from U.S. tariffs on global metal imports imposed last year.

The metals tariffs were not included in the USMCA and Mexico and Canada are impatient to resolve the issue. Mexico has repeatedly threatened to target new U.S. products by the end of April in retribution if tariffs are imposed.

Meanwhile, Trump on Thursday threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican auto exports unless Mexico does more to stop drug traffickers and illegal immigration.

Mexico’s government is in the final stages of completing a new list of potential U.S. imports to be targeted, said Luz Maria de la Mora, a Mexican deputy economy minister.

“There’s going to be a bit of everything,” she told Reuters, declining to give details of how the list – originally encompassing products such as bourbon, cheese, motor boats, pork legs, steel and apples – could be modified.

De la Mora would not be drawn on whether Mexico could refuse to ratify USMCA if steel tariffs are not withdrawn, saying only: “All options are on the table.”

In Ottawa, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week her government was “constantly” looking at its own retaliation list, noting that Trump’s tariffs left the country over C$16 billion worth of space to strike back.

Freeland did not say when that list could change, and a government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it might not be necessary. Still, Freeland said Canada was coordinating with Mexico about its options.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces a tough re-election battle, on Thursday rejected accepting quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum in exchange for U.S. tariffs being dropped.

Trudeau was criticized during the USMCA negotiations for giving ground to Trump on access to Canada’s dairy sector.

WORKERS

U.S. Democrats have threatened to block the USMCA unless Mexico passes legislation to improve workers’ rights, a demand shared by the Canadian government.

A bill already in Mexico’s Congress to strengthen trade unions should be approved this month, the government says.

Trump blamed NAFTA for millions of job losses in the United States as companies moved south to employ cheaper Mexican labor. Trump is running for re-election in 2020, and his ‘America First’ policy will likely feature prominently in the campaign.

Forcing Mexico and Canada to rework NAFTA was one of Trump’s signature pledges during his shock win in 2016, and Democrats are pulling out the stops to avoid losing again.

“The closer the election gets, the harder it will be for Democrats to grant Trump a victory” by ratifying the USMCA, said Sergio Alcocer, a former deputy Mexican foreign minister.

Some Democrats are pushing to change the deal – an idea that both Canadian and Mexican officials resist.

“People need to be very careful around opening up what could really be a Pandora’s box,” Freeland said on Thursday.

Canadian officials say they fear that if one part of the treaty were reopened, it could spark clamor for other sections to be renegotiated as well.

Reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Simon Webb and Sonya Hepinstall

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Complete guide to Google Search Console

Complete guide to Google Search Console

Complete guide to Google Search Console

At the frontlines in the battle for SEO is Google Search Console (GSC), an amazing tool that makes you visible in search engine results pages (SERPs) and provides an in-depth analysis of web traffic being routing to your doorstep. And it does all this for free.

If your website marks your presence in cyberspace, GSC boosts viewership and increases traffic, conversions, and sales. In this guide, SEO strategists at Miromind explain how you benefit from GSC, how you integrate it with your website, and what you do with its reports to strategize the domain dominance of your brand.

What is Google Search Console (GSC)?

Created by Google, the Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) initially targeted webmasters. Offered by Google as a free of cost service, GWT metamorphosed into its present form, the Google Search Console (GSC). It’s the cutting edge tool widely used by an exponentially diversifying group of digital marketing professionals, web designers, app developers, SEO specialists, and business entrepreneurs.

For the uninitiated, GSC tells you everything that you wish to know about your website and the people who visit it daily. For example, how much web traffic you’re attracting, what are people searching for in your site, the kind of platform (mobile, app, desktop) people are using to find you, and more importantly, what makes your site popular.

Then GSC takes you on a subterranean dive to find and fix errors, design sitemaps, and check file integrity.

Precisely what does Google Search Console do for you? These are the benefits.

1. Search engine visibility improves

Ever experienced the sinking sensation of having done everything demanded of you for creating a great website, but people who matter can’t locate you in a simple search? Search Console makes Google aware that you’re online.

2. The virtual image remains current and updated

When you’ve fixed broken links and coding issues, Search Console helps you update the changes in such a manner that Google’s search carries an accurate snapshot of your site minus its flaws.

3. Keywords are better optimized to attract traffic

Wouldn’t you agree that knowing what draws people to your website can help you shape a better user experience? Search Console opens a window to the keywords and key phrases that people frequently use to access your site. Armed with this knowledge, you can optimize the site to respond better to specific keywords.

4. Safety from cyber threats

Can you expect to grow business without adequate protection against external threats? Search Console helps you build efficient defenses against malware and spam, securing your growing business against cyber threats.

5. Content figures prominently in rich results

It’s not enough to merely figure in a search result. How effectively are your pages making it into Google rich results? These are the cards and snippets that carry tons of information like ratings, reviews, and just about any information that results in better user experience for people searching for you. Search console gives you a status report on how your content is figuring in rich results so you can remedy a deficit if detected.

6. Site becomes better equipped for AMP compliance

You’re probably aware that mobile friendliness has become a search engine ranking parameter. This means that the faster your pages load, the more user-friendly you’re deemed to be. The solution is to adopt accelerated mobile pages (AMP), and Search Console helpfully flags you out in the areas where you’re not compliant.

7. Backlink analysis

The backlinks, the websites that are linking back to your website give Google an indication of the popularity of your site; how worthy you are of citation. With Search Console, you get an overview of all the websites linking to you, and you get a deeper insight into what motivates and sustains your popularity.

8. The site becomes faster and more responsive to mobile users

If searchers are abandoning your website because of slow loading speeds or any other glitch, Search Console alerts you so you can take remedial steps and become mobile-friendly.

9. Google indexing keeps pace with real-time website changes

Significant changes that you make on the website could take weeks or months to figure in the Google Search Index if you sit tight and do nothing. With search console, you can edit, change, and modify your website endlessly, and ensure the changes are indexed by Google instantaneously. By now you have a pretty good idea why Google Search Console has become the must-have tool for optimizing your website pages for improved search results. This also helps ensure that your business grows in tandem with the traffic that you’re attracting and converting.

Your eight step guide on how to use Google Search Console

1. How to set up your unique Google Search Console account

Assuming that you’re entirely new to GSC, your immediate priority is to add the tool and get your site verified by Google. By doing this, you’ll be ensuring that Google classifies you unambiguously as the owner of the site, whether you’re a webmaster, or merely an authorized user.

This simple precaution is necessary because you’ll be privy to an incredibly rich source of information that Google wouldn’t like unauthorized users to have access to.

You can use your existing Google account (or create a new one) to access Google Search Console. It helps if you’re already using Google Analytics because the same details can be used to login to GSC. Your next step is to open the console and click on “Add property”.

Screenshot of adding a property in Google Search Console

By adding your website URL into the adjacent box, you get an umbilical connection to the console so you can start using its incredible array of features. Take care to add the prefix “https” or “www” so Google loads the right data.

2. How to enable Google to verify your site ownership

Screenshot of Google verifying site ownership

Option one

How to add an HTML tag to help Google verify ownership

Once you have established your presence, Google will want to verify your site. At this stage, it helps to have some experience of working in HTML. It’ll be easier to handle the files you’re uploading; you’ll have a better appreciation of how the website’s size influences the Google crawl rate, and gain a clearer understanding of the Google programs already running on your website.

Screenshot of adding an HTML tag to help Google verify ownership

If all this sounds like rocket science, don’t fret because we’ll be hand-holding you through the process.

Your next step is to open your homepage code and paste the search console provided HTML tag within the <Head> section of your site’s HTML code.

The newly pasted code can coexist with any other code in the <Head> section; it’s of no consequence.

An issue arises if you don’t see the <Head> section, in which case you’ll need to create the section to embed the Search Console generated code so that Google can verify your site.

Save your work and come back to the homepage to view the source code; the console verification code should be clearly visible in the <Head> section confirming that you have done the embedding correctly.

Your next step is to navigate back to the console dashboard and click “Verify”.

At this stage, you’ll see either of two messages – A screen confirming that Google has verified the site, or pop up listing onsite errors that need to be rectified before completing verification. By following these steps, Google will be confirming your ownership of the site. It’s important to remember that once the Google Search Console code has been embedded onsite and verified, any attempt to tamper or remove the code will have the effect of undoing all the good work, leaving your site in limbo.

Getting Google Search Console to verify a WordPress website using HTML tag

Even if you have a WordPress site, there’s no escape from the verification protocol if you want to link the site to reap the benefits of GSC.

Assuming that you’ve come through the stage of adding your site to GSC as a new property, this is what you do.

The WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is widely acknowledged to be an awesome SEO solution tailor-made for WordPress websites. Installing and activating the plugin gives you a conduit to the Google Search Console.

Once Yoast is activated, open the Google Search Console verification page, and click the “Alternate methods” tab to get to the HTML tag.

You’ll see a central box highlighting a meta tag with certain instructions appearing above the box. Ignore these instructions, select and copy only the code located at the end of the thread (and not the whole thread).

Screenshot of verifying a WordPress website using Yoast

Now revert back to the website homepage and click through SEO>Dashboard. In the new screen, on clicking “Webmaster tools” you open the “Webmaster tools verification” window. The window displays three boxes; ensure to paste the previously copied HTML code into the Google Search Console box, and save the changes.

Now, all you have to do is revert to the Google Search Console and click “Verify” upon which the console will confirm that verification is a success. You are now ready to use GSC on your WordPress site.

Option two

How to upload an HTML file to help Google verify ownership

This is your second verification option. Once you’re in Google Search Console, proceed from “Manage site” to “Verify this site” to locate the “HTML file upload” option. If you don’t find the option under the recommended method, try the “Other verification methods”.

Once you’re there, you’ll be prompted to download an HTML file which must be uploaded in its specified location. If you change the file in any manner, Search Console won’t be able to verify the site, so take care to maintain the integrity of the download.

Once the HTML file is loaded, revert back to the console panel to verify, and once that is accomplished you’ll get a message confirming that the site is verified. After the HTML file has been uploaded, go back to Search Console and click “Verify”.

If everything has been uploaded correctly, you will see a page letting you know that the site has been verified.

Once again, as in the first option we’ve listed, don’t change, modify, or delete the HTML file as that’ll bring the site back to the unverified status.

Option three

Using the Google Tag Manager route for site verification

Before you venture into the Google Search Console, you might find it useful to get the hang of Google Tag Manager (GTM). It’s a free tool that helps you manage and maneuver marketing and analytics tags on your website or app.

You’ll observe that GTM doubles up as a useful tool to simplify site verification for Google Search Console. If you intend to use GTM for site verification there are two precautions you need to take; open your GTM account and enable the “View, Edit, and Manage” mode.

Also, ensure that the GTM code figures adjacent to the <Body> tag in your HTML code.

Once you’re done with these simple steps, revert back to GSC and follow this route – Manage site > Verify this site > Google Tag Manager. By clicking the “Verify” option in Google Tag Manager, you should get a message indicating that the site has been verified.

Pop up screenshot of site verification using Google Tag Manager

Once again, as in the previous options, never attempt to change the character of the GTM code on your site as that may bring the site back to its unverified position.

Option four

Securing your status as the domain name provider

Once you’re done with the HTML file tagging or uploading, Google will prompt you to verify the domain that you’ve purchased or the server where your domain is hosted, if only to prove that you are the absolute owner of the domain, and all its subdomains or directories.

Open the Search Console dashboard and zero in on the “Verify this site” option under “Manage site”.

You should be able to locate the “Domain name provider” option either under the “Recommended method” or the “Alternate method” tab. When you are positioned in the “Domain name provider”, you’ll be shown a listing of domain hosting sites that Google provides for easy reference.

Screenshot of securing yourself as the domain name provider

At this stage, you have two options.

If your host doesn’t show up in the list, click the “Other” tab to receive guidelines on creating a DNS TXT code aimed at your domain provider. In some instances, the DNS TXT code may not match your provider. If that mirrors your dilemma, create a DNS TXT record or CNAME code that will be customized for your provider.

3. Integrating the Google Analytics code on your site

If you’re new to Google Analytics (GA), this is a good time to get to know this free tool. It gives you amazing feedback which adds teeth to digital marketing campaigns.

At a glance, GA helps you gather and analyze key website parameters that affect your business. It tracks the number of visitors converging on your domain, the time they spend browsing your pages, and the specific keywords in your site that are most popular with incoming traffic.

Most of all, GA gives you a fairly comprehensive idea of how efficiently your sales funnel is attracting leads and converting customers. The first thing you need to do is to verify whether the website has the GA tracker code inserted in the <Head> segment in the homepage HTML code. If the GA code is to carry out its tracking functions correctly, you have to ensure that the code is placed only in the <Head> segment and not elsewhere as in the <Body> segment.

Back in the Google Search Console, follow the given path – Manage site > Verify this site till you come to the “Google Analytics tracking code” and follow the guidelines that are displayed. Once you get an acknowledgment that the GA code is verified, refrain from making any changes to the code to prevent the site from reverting to unverified status.

Google Analytics vs. Google Search Console – Knowing the difference and appreciating the benefits

For a newbie, both Google Analytics and Google Search Console appear like they’re focused on the same tasks and selling the same pitch, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Read also: An SEO’s guide to Google Analytics

GA’s unrelenting focus is on the traffic that your site is attracting. GA tells you how many people visit your site, the kind of platform or app they’re using to reach you, the geographical source of the incoming traffic, how much time each visitor spends browsing what you offer, and which are the most searched keywords on your site.

If GA gives you an in-depth analysis of the efficiency (or otherwise) of your marketing campaigns and customer conversion pitch. Google Search Console then peeps under the hood of your website to show you how technically sound you are in meeting the challenges of the internet.

GSC is active in providing insider information.

  • Are there issues blocking the Google search bot from crawling?
  • Are website modifications being instantly indexed?
  • Who links to you and which are your top-linked pages?
  • Is there malware or some other cyber threat that needs to be quarantined and neutralized?
  • Is your keyword strategy optimized to fulfill searcher intent?

GSC also opens a window to manual actions, if any, issued against your site by Google for perceived non-compliance of the Webmaster guidelines.

If you open the manual actions report in the Search Console message center and see a green check mark, consider yourself safe. But if there’s a listing of non-compliances, you’ll need to fix either the individual pages or sometimes the whole website and place the matter before Google for a review.

Screenshot of a complying site on Google Search Console

Manual actions must be looked into because failure to respond places your pages in danger of being omitted from Google’s search results. Sometimes, your site may attract manual action for no fault of yours, like a spammy backlink that violates Webmaster quality guidelines, and which you can’t remove.

Screenshot of a site non-compliance on Google Search Console

In such instances, you can use the GSC “Disavow Tool” to upload a text file, listing the affected URLs, using the disavow links tool page in the console.

If approved, Google will recrawl the site and reprocess the search results pages to reflect the change. Basically, GA is more invested in the kind of traffic that you’re attracting and converting, while GSC shows you how technically accomplished your site is in responding to searches, and in defining the quality of user experience.

Packing power and performance by combining Google Analytics and Google Search Console

You could follow the option of treating GA and GSC as two distinct sources of information and analyze the reports you access, and the world would still go on turning.

But it may be pertinent to remember that both tools present information in vastly different formats even in areas where they overlap. It follows that integrating both tools presents you with additional analytical reports that you’d otherwise be missing; reports that trudge the extra mile in giving you the kind of design and marketing inputs that lay the perfect foundation for great marketing strategies.

Assuming you’re convinced of the need for combining GA and GSC, this is what you do.

Open the Google Search Console, navigate to the hub-wheel icon, and click the “Google Analytics Property” tab.

Screenshot of how to combine Google Analytics and Google Search Console

This shows you a listing of all the GA accounts that are operational in the Google account.

Hit the save button on all the accounts that you’ll be focusing on, and with that small step, you’re primed to extract maximum juice from the excellent analytical reporting of the GA-GSC combo.

Just remember to carry out this step only after the website has been verified by Google by following the steps we had outlined earlier.

What should you do with Google Search Console?

1. How to create and submit a sitemap to Google Search Console

Is it practical to hand over the keys to your home (website) to Google and expect Google to navigate the rooms (webpages) without assistance?

You can help Google bots do a better job of crawling the site by submitting the site’s navigational blueprint or sitemap.

The sitemap is your way of showing Google how information is organized throughout your webpages. You can also position valuable details in the metadata, information on textual content, images, videos, and podcasts, and even mention the frequency with which the page is updated.

We’re not implying that a sitemap is mandatory for Google Search Console, and you’re not going to be penalized if you don’t submit the sitemap.

But it is in your interests to ensure that Google has access to all the information it needs to do its job and improve your visibility in search engines, and the sitemap makes the job easier. Ultimately, it works in your favor when you’re submitting a sitemap for an extensive website with many pages and subcategories.

For starters, decide which web pages you want Google bots should crawl, and then specify the canonical version of each page.

What this means is that you’re telling Google to crawl the original version of any page to the exclusion of all other versions.

Then create a sitemap either manually or using a third-party tool.

At this stage, you have the option of adding the sitemap to the robots.txt file in your source code or link it directly to the search console.

Read also: Robots.txt best practice guide + examples

Assuming that you’ve taken the trouble to get the site verified by GSC, revert back to the search console, and then navigate to “Crawl” and its subcategory “Sitemaps.”

On clicking “Sitemaps” you will see a field “Add a new sitemap”. Enter the URL of your sitemap in a .xml format and then click “Submit”.

Screenshot of adding a site map

With these simple steps, you’ve effectively submitted your sitemap to Google Search Console.

2. How to modify your robots.txt file so search engine bots can crawl efficiently

There’s a file embedded in your website that doesn’t figure too frequently in SEO optimization circles. The minor tweaking of this file has major SEO boosting potential. It’s virtually a can of high-potency SEO juice that a lot of people ignore and very few open.

It’s called the robots exclusion protocol or standard. If that freaks you out, we’ll keep it simple and call it the robots.txt file.

Even without technical expertise, you can open your source code and you’ll find this file.

The robots.txt is your website’s point of contact with search engine bots.

Before tuning in on your webpages, the search bot will peep into this text file to see if there are any instructions about which pages should be crawled and which pages can be ignored (that’s why it helps to have your sitemap stored here).

The bot will follow the robots exclusion protocol that your file suggests regarding which pages are allowed for crawling and which are disallowed. This is your site’s way of guiding search engines to pages that you wish to highlight and also helps in exclusion of content that you do not want to share.

There’s no guarantee that robots.txt instructions will be followed by bots, because bots designed for specific jobs may react differently to the same set of instructions. Also, the system doesn’t block other websites from linking to your content even if you wouldn’t want the content indexed.

Before proceeding further, please ensure that you’ve already verified the site; then open the GSC dashboard and click the “Crawl” tab to proceed to “robots.txt Tester.”

This tool enables you to do three things:

  • Peep into the robots.txt file to see which actions are currently allowed or disallowed
  • Check if there are any crawl errors in the past 90 days
  • Make changes to suit your desired mode of interacting with search bots

Once you’ve made necessary changes, it’s vital that the robots.txt file in your source code reflects those changes immediately.

To do that, shortly after making changes, click the “Submit” tag below the editing box in the search console and proceed to upload the changed file to update the source code. Your root directory should then appear as www.yourwebsite.com/robots.txt.

To confirm that you’ve completed the mission, go back to the search console’s robots.txt testing tool and click “Verify live version” following which you should get a message verifying the modification.

3. How to use the “Fetch as Google” option to update regular website changes

On-page content and title tags undergo regular changes in the website’s life cycle, and it’s a chore to manually get these changes recorded and updated in the Google search engine. Fortunately, GSC comes up with a solution.

Once you’ve located the page that needs a change or update, open the search console, go to the “Crawl” option and zero in on the “Fetch as Google” option. You’ll see a blank URL box in the center.

Screenshot of how to use the “Fetch as Google” in Google Search Console

Enter the modified page in the box to look like this; http://yourwebsite.com/specificcategory, then click “Fetch and Render.”

After completing this step go to the “Request indexing” button and consider the options before you.

What you have just done is to authorize the Google bot to index all the changes that you’ve put through, and within a couple of days, the changes become visible in the Google search results.

4. How to use Google Search Console to identify and locate site errors

A site error is a technical malfunction which prevents Google search bots from indexing your site correctly.

Naturally, when your site is wrongly configured or slowing down, you are creating a barrier between the site and search engines. This blocks content from figuring in top search results.

Even if you suspect that something is wrong with your site, you can’t lose time waiting for the error to show up when it’s too late, because the error would have done the damage by then.

So, you turn to Google Search Console for instant troubleshooting. With GSC, you get a tool that keeps you notified on errors that creep into your website.

When you’ve opened the Google Search Console, you’ll see the “Crawl” tab appearing on the left side of the screen. Click the tab and open “Crawl errors”.

What you see now is a listing of all the page errors that Google bots encountered while they were busy indexing the site. The pop up will tell you when the page was last crawled and when the first error was detected, followed by a brief description of the error.

Once the error is identified, you can handover the problem for rectification to your in-house webmaster.

When you click the “Crawl” tab, you’ll find “Crawl stats.” This is your gateway to loads of statistically significant graphs that show you all the pages that were crawled in the previous 90 days, the kilobytes downloaded during this period, and precisely how much time it took for Google to access and download a page. These stats give a fair indication of your website’s speed and user-friendliness.

Conclusion

A virtual galaxy of webmasters, SEO specialists, and digital marketing honchos would give their right arm and left leg for tools that empower SEO and bring in more customers that’ll ring the cash registers. Tools with all the bells and whistles are within reach, but many of them will make you pay hefty fees to access benefits.

But here’s a tool that’s within easy reach, a tool that promises high and delivers true to expectations without costing you a dollar, and paradoxically, very few people use it.

GSC is every designer’s dream come true, every SEO expert’s plan B, every digital marketer’s Holy Grail when it comes to SEO and the art of website maintenance.

What you gain using GSC are invaluable insights useful in propelling effective organic SEO strategies, and a tool that packs a punch when used in conjunction with Google Analytics.

When you fire the double-barreled gun of Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can aim for higher search engine rankings and boost traffic to your site, traffic that converts to paying customers.

Dmitriy Shelepin is an SEO expert and co-founder of Miromind.

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Starboard drops Dollar Tree board challenge

BlueMountain names slate for PG&E board

(Reuters) – Activist investor Starboard Value LP said on Friday it was withdrawing its nominations for directors at Dollar Tree Inc’s board, saying that it was pleased with the company’s decision to test multiple price points at its stores.

Starboard in January pushed for changes at the discount chain, seeking to capitalize on criticism from some investors and analysts that Dollar Tree should consider raising prices for some products to more than $1.

The hedge fund, along with its director nominations, had urged Dollar Tree to explore all alternatives for its Family Dollar business, including a sale.

The company last month announced plans to close hundreds more Family Dollar stores, and also reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter, same-store sales.

“We continue to enjoy constructive conversations with management and recognize their progress, as well as the significant increase in shareholder value based on the promises made since our involvement,” Starboard said.

Dollar Tree acknowledged Starboard’s decision in a statement and said it was committed to its plan to improve Family Dollar’s performance.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by G Crosse and Sandra Maler

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Company Content Compliance & Presentation Management

Company Content Compliance & Presentation Management

Compliance protocols exist to keep everyone in your company saying the right thing to the right person about your business and its products.

In industries like retail or travel, compliance can mean ensuring all employees are speaking on brand and on message. But in highly regulated industries, such as pharma and finance, compliance is a bigger, legal issue to contend with.

No matter the industry, though, one thing remains constant: The bigger the company, the harder to maintain compliance.

How do you manage what 300+ people are saying and presenting in their day-to-day business activities?


Your employees are not robots; they need to be able to react and adjust to what their clients and colleagues are saying. Businesses need spontaneity and flexibility to survive and thrive. But management must still ensure that messaging remains consistent, on point, and within legal bounds.

In federally regulated industries, one aspect of compliance is based on what and how you communicate to clients: You can say “this” to your customers, but you can’t say “that”—and there are legal disclosures that need to be included with the message.

Another component of compliance for regulated businesses is what specific employees, depending on their job function, can and cannot say. For example, in pharma, a medical doctor representing a drug manufacturer may be able to present specific information about how to administer a particular drug to a room full of doctors, but a nurse or sales representative cannot.

A less obvious compliance component of both regulated and nonregulated businesses is brand messaging: All logos, colors, fonts, typography, messages, and taglines are required to be consistent throughout all forms of company communication. This type of compliance is often overlooked when dealing with presentations, in particular, which is why a compliance-focused presentation management strategy is crucial.

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Boeing cuts 737 MAX output in wake of two deadly crashes

Boeing cuts 737 MAX output in wake of two deadly crashes

CHICAGO/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co said on Friday it plans to cut its monthly 737 aircraft production by nearly 20 percent in the wake of two deadly crashes, signaling it does not expect aviation authorities to allow the plane back in the air anytime soon.

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition fair (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Deliveries of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft were frozen after a global grounding of the narrowbody model following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet on March 10, killing all 157 people onboard.

Production will be cut to 42 airplanes per month from 52 starting mid-April, the company said in a statement, without giving an end-date.

U.S. and airline officials said they now believe the plane could be grounded for at least two months, but an even longer grounding is a serious possibility.

The crash in Ethiopia and the crash of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia last October that killed all 189 people on board have left the world’s largest planemaker in crisis.

Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said on Friday said the company now knows that a chain of events caused both disasters, with erroneous activation of so-called MCAS anti-stall software “a common link” between the two.

Boeing said it would not reduce jobs at the new production rate and will work to minimize the financial impact.

The company’s board will establish a committee to review how the company designs and develops airplanes, Muilenburg said. The group will “recommend improvements to our policies and procedures” for its 737 MAX and other airplane programs.

Boeing said it continues to make progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

Shares in Boeing Co fell around two percent after the market closed on Friday. While the number of 737 MAX planes grounded is just over 370, nearly 5,000 more are on order.

Boeing faces logistical issues in finding places to park the growing number of planes as well as being responsible for all their maintenance costs since it has been unable to deliver the jets to customers, two people briefed on the situation said.

Manufacturers avoid halting and then resuming production as this disrupts supply chains and can cause industrial snags. Boeing had been planning to speed up production in June to 57 a month.

Having to hold planes in storage without delivering them does, however, consume extra cash through increased inventory.

Boeing supplier Spirit Aerosystems Holdings said it will continue to make 52 737 MAX shipsets – the complete set of parts for each aircraft – per month, storing extras at its facilities. Its shares fell 3.5 percent.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters that U.S. investigators were given the raw data from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 as soon as it was read in France last month. He added that the Ethiopian Airlines 302 preliminary report “was very thorough and well done.”

Former NTSB chairman Christopher Hart was named by the Federal Aviation Administration this week to head an international team to review the safety of the 737 MAX.

He told reporters on Friday he thought the review, which will start on Monday, could take about three months. It is still not clear what countries will take part.

He said investigators are going to be focused far more on the interaction between software and pilots than mechanical issues in future.

“This is territory we are going to see more of,” Hart said.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in CHICAGO, Eric M. Johnson in SEATTLE, Tim Hepher in PARIS and David Shepardson in WASHINGTON; Editing by Chris Sanders, Grant McCool and Sonya Hepinstall

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