Posts by Mohammad Lafi

Google, YouTube search is becoming an embarrassment!

For an AI-driven market leader of search with control over the second largest search engine on the internet today; YouTube. Google is doing a ridiculously bad job at making sense of search queries on YouTube and displaying relevant videos.

So bad, that for some search queries, only 25% of search results were relevant, and none were personalized.
It all started today when I decided to look up brand names of a few companies that I happen to follow closely, thinking that I might stumble upon an interesting new product launch, tutorial, webinar, or interview.

Some of the brand names I looked up included companies like SEMRush, Ahrefs, CrazyEgg, Buffer & Moz, all of which are digital marketing related companies, so I’m assuming at least some of them have done their fair share of YouTube optimization.

Continue reading the full article on my Medium blog.

Building your Digital Persona Using Google Analytics & Facebook Insights

You’ve probably heard fellow marketeers tell you before that developing your marketing digital persona (Also referred to as user persona, customer persona, or buyer persona) is the first and most important thing you have to do before you begin marketing a product or a service, and I’m sure you’ve even given it a try, only to realize that it’s not as easy as you thought it would be.

If you read about the process online, you’ll either go through articles vaguely explaining the process, or articles telling you to send out surveys, build focus groups, and call/email your customers, but those somewhat traditional methods don’t always work out. Some customers are too busy to answer an email or fill out a survey, some simply don’t care enough about your business to do so, some are embarrassed to answer certain questions or could answer them dishonestly.

Continue reading the full article on my Medium blog.

But, look how Google does it!

Today, I was in a meeting with a big shot employee from a big shot company, this, while interesting, is not the topic of discussion here. I asked for his feedback on a couple of products and his opinion was guided by what’s trendy nowadays, no surprise here either, and again, this isn’t the topic of discussion, to justify his opinion, he referenced successful products and companies and pointed out that “this is how they do it”, and while my partner was sharp and witty enough to turn this against him and reference other successful products who did it “our way”, I was formulating a completely different answer that I knew would never get to my vocal cords, and it went something like..

Success, revenue, and business accomplishments are not measures of innovation, beauty, or usability. Stop worshipping successful products and companies and forcing public opinion to do so as well. I’m just gonna come out and say it, Instagram sucks with feature limitations specially when it comes to editing posts and reposting, Linkedin and Amazon are two of the ugliest websites on the web today, Wikipedia’s backend is a disaster and don’t get me started on it’s community of editors, Google+ suck when it comes to anything social, Apple’s battle against a lot of open technologies is annoying, +Twitter can’t handle multimedia and advertising, and will, is dying anyways, Facebook can’t handle privacy, Evernote is too complicated for the entry level user, YouTube’s ads makes you want to drive a fork through your eye, Google Chrome is a heavy memory eater, and Path, well, ok, maybe path is the only one out there that is perfect to my standards, but that’s a story for another time.

This post first appeared on an earlier blog of mine

Side Product Marketing & Pages Going Viral

I was going through Medium for interesting articles, as I often do on my Fridays, and I came across Ali Mese’s “Side Project Marketing is the New King”, where he effortlessly puts into words, a tactic religiously used in inbound marketing; providing value for your audience away from your sales channels, to drive users back into your business.

This was pretty much the entire point of social media back in the day, to humanize a brand for people to communicate with, without feeling they’re being sold something in return, this doesn’t work as well now with audiences who grew more aware of those hidden marketing tactics, the same also applies to product positioning in movies, landing pages, and native advertising in media websites.

Another tactic marketers use, is to build communities in the form of websites and forums, an obvious example of this is HubSpot’s community-arm, a portal for marketing professionals to share and discuss ideas, as well as post and view marketing related job openings, other examples include different company-related medium publications and niche content websites that are connected to established businesses.

Now while all of those still work, if done properly. A more recent tactic has proven successful as well. Single page websites that do not appear to serve much of a function, that pay little attention to SEO and more attention to a page’s social sharing potential, designed to provoke an emotion so powerful that’ll make you drop everything you’re doing and share it with a coworker or a friend. Coupled with the right subtle call to action, those pages can accomplish so much more in so little. Examples of those include freelancers building websites to showcase a skill, employees building websites to get a job, companies building websites to introduce a product, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Here are three of my favourites.

Flat Design Vs. Realism

flat vs realism

If you’ve ever worked in web design or development, chances are, you’ve already seen this one page parallax wonder from two years ago, a beautiful story of two design methodologies, Flat Vs. Realism, with it’s own soundtrack that changes dynamically as you scroll down the page. What some users didn’t notice however, was the link to the digital agency who created the work, which reappears at the end of the story.

The User Is Drunk

the user is drunk

The idea here is simple, “your website should be so simple, a drunk person could use it”, oh, and I am personally willing to help you test this out if you send me enough beer and a small fee. This very simple idea and website, brought Richard Littauer access to a number of clients such as Gizmodo and Hubspot to mention a few.

Nina 4 Airbnb

nina mufleh

This is another favourite story of mine about fellow Jordanian marketer Nina Mufleh. You might’ve heard about her story when it was covered by the likes of Business Insider and Fortune. She built a single page website explaining to Airbnb why she would be a perfect fit to work there, the page got Brian Chesky’s attention, and ended up getting her the job.

The three examples have a few things in common, they show the concerned audience that you care enough to put in the effort of building a website to deliver your point, this in return, drives them to share and recommend, if not because they’re interested, they’d do it for the effort you put into it.

Honourable mentions include a Caffeine Calculator that tells you how much is enough to kill you of your favourite coffee beverage, The life of Pi’s movie journey website that prompts you to buy the DVDs when you’re done, and another parallax page telling you to eat healthy, and showcasing a company’s web design skill set. Let me here your ideas and website examples.

This post first appeared on

Google & Facebook are killing web content

A friend of mine posted a while ago his reading list for 2015, this got me both envious and got me thinking about the state of the written word in this new digitalized world we all live in. when was the last time you actually read something of value? I’m not talking about Facebook posts and Tweets, I’m talking about an idea profound enough to stay with you longer than a day, not so many, ha? Don’t feel so bad, it’s not you, it’s the Internet.

Does this mean there’s no written content of value on the internet? Of course not, it just means that the distribution model of content on the internet is flawed and in need of an overhaul to make discovery of content easier and more convenient, but before we get to that, let me look back a bit on the history of digital written content discoverability to understand what’s happening today. If you’re a millennial, you might want to skip a few paragraphs here.

The Age of the Hyperlink, Google, and SEO!

Back when people used to talk about the Internet, not on it. Internet users globally were a very small group of people, and those selected few had even fewer Internet pages to visit, simpler times indeed. Back then, the hyperlink was king! People linked to each other’s content, talked about the great content they read on the Internet in their workplace, and tried primitive search engines and web directories when they wanted to look for something specific. Needless to say, this couldn’t last for long with the exponentially fast growth of the Internet.

Google took that very simple concept and scaled it into the business that it is today. If you’re writing something of value, people will link to it, hence, if there are more links to your content, it must be worthy content that you’d want to discover on Google’s search engine. It was a beautiful time, didn’t last for long though!

Black hat SEOers realized early on, like any algorithm, there’s room for error, and that’s exactly the problem. You are discovering content that is crawled and provided to you through an algorithm, those are not real people hand-picking articles for you to read, those are articles with crammed hidden meta tags and highly optimized keywords, and regardless of how advanced an algorithm is, there’s always room for error.

Google is obviously still fighting the good fight, unfortunately however, I believe they are losing to the masses of black hat SEOers and ‘Growth Hackers’ out there. Yes I realize how hypocritical this must sound coming from a digital marketer who’s constantly preaching the value of SEO, but still, finding a decent article on Google is becoming harder than finding a meaningful sentence in a Lil Wayne track.

Content Discovery Through Social Media

So, we’ve established that algorithms are flawed, but what about people? What about ‘Friends’ who shared interests and therefor, shared interesting content with one another! Well, people did the trick to an extent, whether it was Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, it worked, for a while.

“48% of all Internet users are on Facebook, at least once a month”

Masses of people however are a completely different story. Today, 48% of all Internet users are on Facebook, at least once a month. That is where they both produce and consume written content, in addition to doing everything else as well. Being a business, and wanting to maximize revenue, Facebook decided to limit the visibility of your content on the platform, and only show 2% to 8% of what you write, but how do they decide which content to show and which content to hide? Engagement! Which brings me to the next flawed algorithm, Facebook’s newsfeed.

You can crowd source a lot of things, just not content. Maybe one day though, when the human race decides that there are more important things in this world than Kim Kardashian’s ass! Or if, by some miracle, we evolve enough as a specie and stop falling for clickbait titles, social phishing scams, and video thumbnails of cleavage.

Buzzfeed fail feed

So, where do we go for quality content? Not popular content, but factually correct written content with smart and critical arguments wrapped in appropriate metaphors! Well, I have a few sources in mind and I would love to hear yours as well.

One is direct traffic. When organic and social traffic is flawed, direct traffic remains the purest form of flattery for a content creator. So whenever I find a decent writer providing uncompromising content, I make sure to stalk them everywhere I can get their content directly, outside of the scope of a platform, RSS feeds and email subscriptions mainly. Go ahead, think of your favorite writers and add them to your feed (Or, starting using a feed reader, if you’re not already), subscribe to their newsletters, follow them on Twitter and Medium, buy their books, add their podcasts to iTunes, and spread the word about them to make sure they survive and prosper.

Another source would be niche communities, Nop, obviously not 9Gag and 4Chan, I’m thinking more Quora, Medium, StackExchange, and Tumblr (If you’re into that sort of thing). Niche is the operative word here, because the minute those platforms go for mass appeal, content quality will soon after decline. Just make sure you follow the right people and publications for a desirable experience. To quote Evan Williams from his recent guardian story:

“If you look at feedback loops like likes and retweets, they’ve been very carefully crafted to maximise certain types of behaviours. But if we reward people based on a measurement system where there’s literally no difference between a one-second page view or reading something that brought them value or changed their mind, it’s like – your job is feeding people, but all you’re measuring is maximising calorie delivery. So what you’d learn is that junk food is more efficient than healthy, nourishing food.” – Ev Williams.

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