Posts By: Curator
Posted by Dr-Pete
It’s hardly surprising that Google Home is an extension of Google’s search ecosystem. Home is attempting to answer more and more questions, drawing those answers from search results. There’s an increasingly clear connection between Featured Snippets in search and voice answers.
For example, let’s say a hedgehog wanders into your house and you naturally find yourself wondering what you should feed it. You might search for “What do hedgehogs eat?” On desktop, you’d see a Featured Snippet like the following:
Given that you’re trying to wrangle a strange hedgehog, searching on your desktop may not be practical, so you ask Google Home: “Ok, Google — What do hedgehogs eat?” and hear the following:
Google Home leads with the attribution to Ark Wildlife (since a voice answer has no direct link), and then repeats a short version of the desktop snippet. The connection between the two answers is, I hope, obvious.
Anecdotally, this is a pattern we see often on Google Home, but how consistent is it? How does Google handle Featured Snippets in other formats (including lists and tables)? Are some questions answered wildly differently by Google Home compared to desktop search?
Methodology (10K –> 1K)
To find out the answer to these questions, I needed to start with a fairly large set of searches that were likely to generate answers in the form of Featured Snippets. My colleague Russ Jones pulled a set of roughly 10,000 popular searches beginning with question words (Who, What, Where, Why, When, How) from a third-party “clickstream” source (actual web activity from a very large set of users).
I ran those searches on desktop (automagically, of course) and found that just over half (53%) had Featured Snippets. As we’ve seen in other data sets, Google is clearly getting serious about direct answers.
The overall set of popular questions was dominated by “What?” and “How?” phrases:
Given the prevalence of “How to?” questions, I’ve broken them out in this chart. The purple bars show how many of these searches generated Featured Snippets. “How to?” questions were very likely to display a Featured Snippet, with other types of questions displaying them less than half of the time.
Of the roughly 5,300 searches in the full data set that had Featured Snippets, those snippets broke down into four types, as follows:
Text snippets — paragraph-based answers like the one at the top of this post — accounted for roughly two-thirds of all of the Featured Snippets in our original data set. List snippets accounted for just under one-third — these are bullet lists, like this one for “How to draw a dinosaur?”:
Step 1 – Draw a small oval. Step 5 – Dinosaur! It’s as simple as that.
Table snippets made up less than 2% of the Featured Snippets in our starting data set. These snippets contain a small amount of tabular data, like this search for “What generation am I?”:
If you throw your money recklessly at your avocado toast habit instead of buying a house, you’re probably a millennial (sorry, content marketing joke).
Finally, video snippets are a special class of Featured Snippet with a large video thumbnail and direct link (dominated by YouTube). Here’s one for “Who is the spiciest memelord?”:
I’m honestly not sure what commentary I can add to that result. Since there’s currently no way for a video to appear on Google Home, we excluded video snippets from the rest of the study.
Google has also been testing some hybrid Featured Snippets. In some cases, for example, they attempt to extract a specific answer from the text, such as this answer for “When was 1984 written?” (Hint: the answer is not 1984):
For the purposes of this study, we treated these hybrids as text snippets. Given the concise answer at the top, these hybrids are well-suited to voice results.
From the 5.3K questions with snippets, I selected 1,000, excluding video but purposely including a disproportionate number of list and table types (to better see if and how those translated into voice).
Why only 1,000? Because, unlike desktop searches, there’s no easy way to do this. Over the course of a couple of days, I had to run all of these voice searches manually on Google Home. It’s possible that I went temporarily insane. At one point, I saw a spider on my Google Home staring back at me. Fearing that I was hallucinating, I took a picture and posted it on Twitter:
I was assured that the spider was, in point of fact, not a figment of my imagination. I’m still not sure about the half-hour when the spider sang me selections from the Hamilton soundtrack.
From snippets to voice answers
So, how many of the 1,000 searches yielded voice answers? The short answer is: 71%. Diving deeper, it turns out that this percentage is strongly dependent on the type of snippet:
Text snippets in our 1K data set yielded voice answers 87% of the time. List snippets dropped to just under half, and table snippets only generated voice answers one-third of the time. This makes sense — long lists and most tables are simply harder to translate into voice.
In the case of tables, some of these results were from different sites or in a different format. In other words, the search generated a Featured Snippet and a voice answer, but the voice answer was of a different type (text, for example) and attributed to a different source. Only 20% of Featured Snippets in table format generated voice answers that came from the same source.
From a search marketing standpoint, text snippets are going to generate a voice answer almost 9 out of 10 times. Optimizing for text/paragraph snippets is a good starting point for ranking on voice search and should generally be a win-win across devices.
Special: Knowledge Graph
What about the Featured Snippets that didn’t generate voice answers? It turns out there was quite a variety of exceptions in play. One exception was answers that came directly from the Knowledge Graph on Google Home, without any attribution. For example, the question “What is the nuclear option?” produces this Featured Snippet (for me, at least) on desktop:
On Google Home, though, I get an unattributed answer that seems to come from the Knowledge Graph:
It’s unclear why Google has chosen one over the other for voice in this particular case. Across the 1,000 keyword set, there were about 30 keywords where something similar happened.
Special: Device help
Google Home seems to translate some searches as device-specific help. For example, “How to change your name?” returns desktop results about legally changing your name as an individual. On Google Home, I get the following:
Other searches from our list that triggered device help include:
- How to contact Google?
- How to send a fax online?
- What are you up to?
Special: Easter eggs
Google Home has some Easter eggs that seem unique to voice search. One of my personal favorites — the question “What is best in life?” — generates the following:
Here’s a list of the other Easter eggs in our 1,000 phrase data set:
- How many letters are in the alphabet?
- What are your strengths?
- What came first, the chicken or the egg?
- What generation am I?
- What is the meaning of life?
- What would you do for a Klondike bar?
- Where do babies come from?
- Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
- Where is my iPhone?
- Where is Waldo?
- Who is your daddy?
Easter eggs are a bit less predictable than device help. Generally speaking, though, both are rare and shouldn’t dissuade you from trying to rank for Featured Snippets and voice answers.
Special: General confusion
In a handful of cases, Google simply didn’t understand the question or couldn’t answer the exact question. For example, I could not get Google to understand the question “What does MAGA mean?” The answer I got back (maybe it’s my Midwestern accent?) was:
On second thought, maybe that’s not entirely inaccurate.
One interesting case is when Google decides to answer a slightly different question. On desktop, if you search for “How to become a vampire?”, you might see the following Featured Snippet:
On Google Home, I’m asked to clarify my intent:
I suspect both of these cases will improve over time, as voice recognition continues to advance and Google becomes better at surfacing answers.
Special: Recipe results
Back in April, Google launched a new set of recipe functions across search and Google Home. Many “How to?” questions related to cooking now generate something like this (the question I asked was “How to bake chicken breast?”):
You can opt to find a recipe on Google search and send it to your Google Home, or Google can simply pick a recipe for you. Either way, it will guide you through step-by-step instructions.
Special: Health conditions
A half-dozen or so health questions, from general questions to diseases, generated results like the following. This one is for the question “Why do we sneeze?”:
This has no clear connection to desktop search results, and I’m not clear if it’s a signal for future, expanded functionality. It seems to be of limited use right now.
A handful of “How to?” questions triggered an unusual response. For example, if I ask Google Home “How to write a press release?” I get back:
If I say “yes,” I’m taken directly to a wikiHow assistant that uses a different voice. The wikiHow answers are much longer than text-based Featured Snippets.
How should we adapt?
Voice search and voice appliances (including Google Assistant and Google Home) are evolving quickly right now, and it’s hard to know where any of this will be in the next couple of years. From a search marketing standpoint, I don’t think it makes sense to drop everything to invest in voice, but I do think we’ve reached a point where some forward momentum is prudent.
First, I highly recommend simply being aware of how your industry and your major keywords/questions “appear” on Google Home (or Google Assistant on your mobile device). Look at the recipe situation above — for 99%+ of the people reading this article, that’s a novelty. If you’re in the recipe space, though, it’s game-changing, and it’s likely a sign of more to come.
Second, I feel strongly that Featured Snippets are a win-win right now. Almost 90% of the text-only Featured Snippets we tracked yielded a voice answer. These snippets are also prominent on desktop and mobile searches. Featured Snippets are a great starting point for understanding the voice ecosystem and establishing your foothold.
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Insights from Product Designer Kalin Wood
In the age of smartphones, information about your local business is no more than a finger tap away for your customers. This makes your local business’ online presence incredibly important — 91% of customers have visited a local business after a positive online experience, like exploring your website!
Designing a website can seem daunting, but if you keep these 4 tips from Product Designer Kalin Wood in mind — it’ll be a breeze!
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive.
About 94% of smartphone owners use their phones to look up websites like yours! Having a website that looks great on mobile will delight customers as they search for your business, making them more likely to pay your spot a visit.
A mobile-friendly site will look great on your customers’ smartphones, will be easy to use, and will load quickly.
If you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly, Kalin says to try pulling it up on a smartphone and ask yourself these questions:
Is it loading quickly?
Does it look visually appealing?
Is it easy to use?
If you answer no to any of those questions, you should look into optimizing your website for mobile!
Make your website easy to navigate.
When your current customers or new ones visit your website, you want it to be easy for them to find what they’re looking for. By choosing the sections for your website carefully, you’ll be able to give your customers as great of an experience on your website as you would in your business!
For example — if you’re a restaurant, you’ll want to have a section of your website titled “Menu,” so your customers can easily see what tasty treats you serve.
Regardless of your industry, common website sections are “About,” “Contact,” “Home,” and “Photos.” See what works best for your business!
Keep your website simple.
We know there are a lot of great things about your local business that you want to share on your website, but keeping your website simple will provide your customers the best online experience!
Kalin says to focus on what your want your customers to take away from your website.
Do you want them to make a dinner reservation?
Do you want them to buy an item?
Do you want to encourage customers to drop by your business?
Selecting a focus and a goal for your website will help you keep things simple and clean looking, which is what your customers prefer.
Always ask for feedback.
Building your own website can seem like a huge undertaking, but asking for feedback from your friends, family, and coworkers can make the process much easier.
Kalin says his favorite way to see if the websites he builds are sending the right message, are easy to use, and are visually appealing is to do “The Mom Test” — he asks his mom to take a look at the website and share her thoughts. If there’s something she didn’t understand or didn’t like, Kalin looks at how to improve that part of the site.
By reaching out to other people who have fresh eyes to look at your website, you’ll have new insights that can influence your design and make your new website that best it can be!
Investing the time and energy in building a new website will pay off for your local business. Taking the time to design your website with these four things in mind will help provide a best-in-class experience for your customers online, just like they’d have in-person at your business!
Source: Main Street Hub
Posted by MiriamEllis
My father, a hale and hearty gentleman in his seventies, simply won’t dine at a new restaurant these days before he checks its reviews on his cell phone. Your 23-year-old nephew, who travels around the country for his job as a college sports writer, has devoted 233 hours of his young life to writing 932 reviews on Yelp (932 reviews x @15 minutes per review).
Yes, our local SEO industry knows that my dad and your nephew need to find accurate NAP on local business listings to actually find and get to business locations. This is what makes our historic focus on citation data management totally reasonable. But reviews are what help a business to be chosen. Phil Rozek kindly highlighted a comment of mine as being among the most insightful on the Local Search Ranking Factors 2017 survey:
“If I could drive home one topic in 2017 for local business owners, it would surround everything relating to reviews. This would include rating, consumer sentiment, velocity, authenticity, and owner responses, both on third-party platforms and native website reviews/testimonials pages. The influence of reviews is enormous; I have come to see them as almost as powerful as the NAP on your citations. NAP must be accurate for rankings and consumer direction, but reviews sell.”
I’d like to take a few moments here to dive deeper into that list of review elements. It’s my hope that this post is one you can take to your clients, team or boss to urge creative and financial allocations for a review management campaign that reflects the central importance of this special form of marketing.
Ratings: At-a-glance consumer impressions and impactful rankings filter
Whether they’re stars or circles, the majority of rating icons send a 1–5 point signal to consumers that can be instantly understood. This symbol system has been around since at least the 1820s; it’s deeply ingrained in all our brains as a judgement of value.
So, when a modern Internet user is making a snap decision, like where to grab a taco, the food truck with 5 Yelp stars is automatically going to look more appealing than the one with only 2. Ratings can also catch the eye when Schema (or Google serendipity) causes them to appear within organic SERPs or knowledge panels.
All of the above is well-understood, but while the exact impact of high star ratings on local pack rankings has long been speculative (it’s only factor #24 in this year’s Local Search Ranking Factors), we may have just reached a new day with Google. The ability to filter local finder results by rating has been around for some time, but in May, Google began testing the application of a “highly rated” snippet on hotel rankings in the local packs. Meanwhile, searches with the format of “best X in city” (e.g. best burrito in Dallas) appear to be defaulting to local results made up of businesses that have earned a minimum average of 4 stars. It’s early days yet, but totally safe for us to assume that Google is paying increased attention to numeric ratings as indicators of relevance.
Because we’re now reaching the point from which we can comfortably speculate that high ratings will tend to start correlating more frequently with high local rankings, it’s imperative for local businesses to view low ratings as the serious impediments to growth that they truly are. Big brands, in particular, must stop ignoring low star ratings, or they may find themselves not only having to close multiple store locations, but also, to be on the losing end of competing for rankings for their open stores when smaller competitors surpass their standards of cleanliness, quality, and employee behavior.
Consumer sentiment: The local business story your customers are writing for you
Here is a randomly chosen Google 3-pack result when searching just for “tacos” in a small city in the San Francisco Bay Area:
We’ve just been talking about ratings, and you can look at a result like this to get that instant gut feeling about the 4-star-rated eateries vs. the 2-star place. Now, let’s open the book on business #3 and see precisely what kind of story its consumers are writing. This is the first step towards doing a professional review audit for any business whose troubling reviews may point to future closure if problems aren’t fixed. A full audit would look at all relevant review platforms, but we’ll be brief here and just look at Google and Yelp and sort negative sentiments by type:
It’s easy to ding fast food chains. Their business model isn’t commonly associated with fine dining or the kind of high wages that tend to promote employee excellence. In some ways, I think of them as extreme examples. Yet, they serve as good teaching models for how even the most modest-quality offerings create certain expectations in the minds of consumers, and when those basic expectations aren’t met, it’s enough of a story for consumers to share in the form of reviews.
This particular restaurant location has an obvious problem with slow service, orders being filled incorrectly, and employees who have not been trained to represent the brand in a knowledgeable, friendly, or accessible manner. Maybe a business you are auditing has pain points surrounding outdated fixtures or low standards of cleanliness.
Whatever the case, when the incoming consumer turns to the review world, their eyes scan the story as it scrolls down their screen. Repeat mentions of a particular negative issue can create enough of a theme to turn the potential customer away. One survey says only 13% of people will choose a business that has wound up with a 1–2 star rating based on poor reviews. Who can afford to let the other 87% of consumers go elsewhere?
There are 20 restaurants showing up in Google’s local finder for my “tacos” search, highlighted above. Taco Bell is managing to hold the #3 spot in the local pack right now, perhaps due to brand authority. My question is, what happens next, particularly if Google is going to amplify ratings and review sentiment in the overall local ranking mix? Will this chain location continue to beat out 4-star restaurants with 100+ positive reviews, or will it slip down as consumers continue to chronicle specific and unresolved issues?
No third-party brand controls Google, but your brand can open the book right now and make maximum use of the story your customers are constantly publishing — for free. By taking review insights as real and representative of all the customers who don’t speak up, and by actively addressing repeatedly cited issues, you could be making one of the smartest decisions in your company’s history.
Velocity/recency: Just enough of a timely good thing
This is one of the easiest aspects of review management to teach clients. You can sum it up in one sentence: don’t get too many reviews at once on any given platform but do get enough reviews on an ongoing basis to avoid looking like you’ve gone out of business.
For a little more background on the first part of that statement, watch Mary Bowling describing in this LocalU video how she audited a law firm that went from zero to thirty 5-star reviews within a single month. Sudden gluts of reviews like this not only look odd to alert customers, but they can trip review platform filters, resulting in removal. Remember, reviews are a business lifetime effort, not a race. Get a few this month, a few next month, and a few the month after that. Keep going.
The second half of the review timing paradigm relates to not running out of steam in your acquisition campaigns. One survey found that 73% of consumers don’t believe that reviews that are older than 3 months are still relevant to them, yet you will frequently encounter businesses that haven’t earned a new review in over a year. It makes you wonder if the place is still in business, or if it’s in business but is so unimpressive that no one is bothering to review it.
While I’d argue that review recency may be more important in review-oriented industries (like restaurants) vs. those that aren’t quite as actively reviewed (like septic system servicing), the idea here is similar to that of velocity, in that you want to keep things going. Don’t run a big review acquisition campaign in January and then forget about outreach for the rest of the year. A moderate, steady pace of acquisition is ideal.
Authenticity: Honesty is the only honest policy
For me, this is one of the most prickly and interesting aspects of the review world. Three opposing forces meet on this playing field: business ethics, business education, and the temptations engendered by the obvious limitations of review platforms to police themselves.
I recently began a basic audit of a family-owned restaurant for a friend of a friend. Within minutes, I realized that the family had been reviewing their own restaurant on Yelp (a glaring violation of Yelp’s policy). I felt sorry to see this, but being acquainted with the people involved (and knowing them to be quite nice!), I highly doubted they had done this out of some dark impulse to deceive the public. Rather, my guess was that they may have thought they were “getting the ball rolling” for their new business, hoping to inspire real reviews. My gut feeling was that they simply lacked the necessary education to understand that they were being dishonest with their community and how this could lead to them being publicly shamed by Yelp, if caught.
In such a scenario, there is definitely opportunity for the marketer to offer the necessary education to describe the risks involved in tying a brand to misleading practices, highlighting how vital it is to build trust within the local community. Fake positive reviews aren’t building anything real on which a company can stake its future. Ethical business owners will catch on when you explain this in honest terms and can then begin marketing themselves in smarter ways.
But then there’s the other side. Mike Blumenthal recently wrote of his discovery of the largest review spam network he’d ever encountered and there’s simply no way to confuse organized, global review spam with a busy small business making a wrong, novice move. Real temptation resides in this scenario, because, as Blumenthal states:
“Review spam at this scale, unencumbered by any Google enforcement, calls into question every review that Google has. Fake business listings are bad, but businesses with 20, or 50, or 150 fake reviews are worse. They deceive the searcher and the buying public and they stain every real review, every honest business, and Google.”
When a platform like Google makes it easy to “get away with” deception, companies lacking ethics will take advantage of the opportunity. All we can do, as marketers, is to offer the education that helps ethical businesses make honest choices. We can simply pose the question:
Is it better to fake your business’ success or to actually achieve success?
On a final note, authenticity is a two-way street in the review world. When spammers target good businesses with fake, negative reviews, this also presents a totally false picture to the consumer public. I highly recommend reading about Whitespark’s recent successes in getting fake Google reviews removed. No guarantees here, but excellent strategic advice.
Owner responses: Your contributions to the consumer story
In previous Moz blog posts, I’ve highlighted the five types of Google My Business reviews and how to respond to them, and I’ve diagrammed a real-world example of how a terrible owner response can make a bad situation even worse. If the world of owner responses is somewhat new to you, I hope you’ll take a gander at both of those. Here, I’d like to focus on a specific aspect of owner responses, as it relates to the story reviews are telling about your business.
We’ve discussed above the tremendous insight consumer sentiment can provide into a company’s pain points. Negative reviews can be a roadmap to resolving repeatedly cited problems. They are inherently valuable in this regard, and by dint of their high visibility, they carry the inherent opportunity for the business owner to make a very public showing of accountability in the form of owner responses. A business can state all it wants on its website that it offers lightning-quick service, but when reviews complain of 20-minute waits for fast food, which source do you think the average consumer will trust?
The truth is, the hypothetical restaurant has a problem. They’re not going to be able to resolve slow service overnight. Some issues are going to require real planning and real changes to overcome. So what can the owner do in this case?
- Whistle past the graveyard, claiming everything is actually fine now, guaranteeing further disappointed expectations and further negative reviews resulting therefrom?
- Be gutsy and honest, sharing exactly what realizations the business has had due to the negative reviews, what the obstacles are to fixing the problems, and what solutions the business is implementing to do their best to overcome those obstacles?
Let’s look at this in living color:
In yellow, the owner response is basically telling the story that the business is ignoring a legitimate complaint, and frankly, couldn’t care less. In blue, the owner has jumped right into the storyline, having the guts to take the blame, apologize, explain what happened and promise a fix — not an instant one, but a fix on the way. In the end, the narrative is going to go on with or without input from the owner, but in the blue example, the owner is taking the steering wheel into his own hands for at least part of the road trip. That initiative could save not just his franchise location, but the brand at large. Just ask Florian Huebner:
“Over the course of 2013 customers of Yi-Ko Holding’s restaurants increasingly left public online reviews about “broken and dirty furniture,” “sleeping and indifferent staff,” and “mice running around in the kitchen.” Per the nature of a franchise system, to the typical consumer it was unclear that these problems were limited to this individual franchisee. Consequently, the Burger King brand as a whole began to deteriorate and customers reduced their consumption across all locations, leading to revenue declines of up to 33% for some other franchisees.”
Positive news for small businesses working like mad to compete: You have more agility to put initiatives into quick action than the big brands do. Companies with 1,000 locations may let negative reviews go unanswered because they lack a clear policy or hierarchy for owner responses, but smaller enterprises can literally turn this around in a day. Just sit down at the nearest computer, claim your review profiles, and jump into the story with the goal of hearing, impressing, and keeping every single customer you can.
Big brands: The challenge for you is larger, by dint of your size, but you’ve also likely got the infrastructure to make this task no problem. You just have to assign the right people to the job, with thoughtful guidelines for ensuring your brand is being represented in a winning way.
NAP and reviews: The 1–2 punch combo every local business must practice
When traveling salesman Duncan Hines first published his 1935 review guide Adventures in Good Eating, he was pioneering what we think of today as local SEO. Here is my color-coded version of his review of the business that would one day become KFC. It should look strangely familiar to every one of you who has ever tackled citation management:
No phone number on this “citation,” of course, but then again telephones were quite a luxury in 1935. Barring that element, this simple and historic review has the core earmarks of a modern local business listing. It has location data and review data; it’s the 1–2 punch combo every local business still needs to get right today. Without the NAP, the business can’t be found. Without the sentiment, the business gives little reason to be chosen.
Are you heading to a team meeting today? Preparing to chat with an incoming client? Make the winning combo as simple as possible, like this:
- We’ve got to manage our local business listings so that they’re accessible, accurate, and complete. We can automate much of this (check out Moz Local) so that we get found.
- We’ve got to breathe life into the listings so that they act as interactive advertisements, helping us get chosen. We can do this by earning reviews and responding to them. This is our company heartbeat — our story.
From Duncan Hines to the digital age, there may be nothing new under the sun in marketing, but when you spend year after year looking at the sadly neglected review portions of local business listings, you realize you may have something to teach that is new news to somebody. So go for it — communicate this stuff, and good luck at your next big meeting!
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Jacksonville.com is a great newspaper and resource for local news stories and information for Northern Florida residents. Sometimes an unflattering story may come out and its just plain false and untrue but journalists can be tough. Editors will refuse to edit or change the story sometimes it would be to reflect a more accurate side of the story or it’s just something that is true about you but you don’t want your friends and family to see it as it can be damaging and hurtful.
So what do you do? Well in this rare occasion we have found a loophole that can allow your negative search results to nearly disappear and not display so prominently on page 1 of Googles search results when your name or businesses name is typed in. We welcome the opportunity to help you out and to help you regain your good reputation in the Jacksonville, Duval, Daytona, and North East Florida region.
Online Reputation Management is the practice of helping you to regain control of how you appear in the search results. Our services can help replace and in some cases completely remove unwanted webpages and search results that appear from news sites like Jacksonville.com.
Source: Profile Defenders
It is estimated that almost half of the world’s population is online. Surely, it would be hard to find a person not online in developed countries. One of the most popular aspects of being online is having the ability to access social media platforms.
Social media is so popular that one in three online users are on this medium. This online platform has given people the opportunity to share stories, thoughts, photographs, art, and much more. Positive conversations and effective political activism has been born through social media, but there is always another side to the story.
Social media has also created a virtual environment where people get to wear masks for their social identities. In essence, some people have begun to use their virtual identities to engage in antisocial behavior.
It is no secret that one of the most devastating behaviors that comes from online usage is cyberbullying. This social affliction has plagued people for some time. It has gathered much attention, especially after teenagers came out to confess the kind of damage it has caused. School officials, psychiatrists, and even politicians began to take notice of the problem. Regrettably, some of the people affected by cyberbullying have actually developed mental issues or even committed suicide.
It is great that cyberbullying has been getting a lot of attention lately. This is good as it may lead to solutions, but there is another aspect of it that deserves attention, too.
Those who have read a few articles online or watched a video might have noticed the comment section where online users speak their minds. Most of the time, the comments are pleasant or encouraging, but some comments are very negative to the point that rational readers become offended. This form of cyberbullying is known as online trolling.
Some people troll post images, comments, or messages that are meant to provoke a response or get under the skin of others. It seems a troll wants to instigate anger or equally upsetting behavior. Most of those who are paying attention to this type of behavior notice that those who troll attempt to make themselves a part of the group where they are posting, but their real intention is to antagonize.
The people who attempt to antagonize others usually use language that is hurtful, politically incorrect, or racially motivated. Those that respond to these posts are sometimes motivated by their own desire to defend the people the trolls are attacking, but this is all in vain. The fact of the matter is that trolls are just looking to provoke while they sit back and amuse themselves. In essence, they find it amusing to set fire to a building just to watch the aftermath.
A survey was conducted to find out how many Americans have engaged in trolling, and it seems that it is more than a quarter of the population.
Experts note that online harassing behavior such as cyberbullying or trolling are usually the outcome of issues such as depression or low self-esteem. These psychological issues also provoke offline bullying, which is the reason the two are often compared.
Still, it is very easy to see that there is a major difference between offline bullying and online trolling. The amount of trolls and their sheer disregard of others is simply not matched by offline harassment, making it a grave concern.
Who are These Trolls?
Trolls are described as mythical creatures with inhumane tendencies, which seems to fit online trolls. These people take on fake identities to torment strangers just for kicks. Their secret identity gives them the freedom to victimize people they do not know.
Offline bullying does stem from psychological issues, and the bully usually targets specific people who mirror something that makes him or her uncomfortable. This is completely different online because the victims are strangers, which makes this harder to understand.
There are many online organizations that are trying to battle this problem such as anti-troll.org and the Zero Trollerance online group. Organizations like these are trying to act and do something positive, but the truth is that trolling continues, and it causes divisiveness among online users.
It is clear to see that online trolls are trying to take away the pure enjoyment that the world wide web provided.
Has a Trolling ‘Type’ Been Identified?
This is a hard question to tackle because there is an answer, but it is not necessarily concrete. Most experts would say that trolls likely have traits that fall under the “dark tetrad” set of traits. This includes traits such as narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and sadism. All of these traits are quite scary, and it makes sense why experts would link online trolls to them.
It is generally understood that these traits are related to social manipulation and deception. People who develop these types of traits are ruthlessly looking to advance themselves in this society or have no empathy.
Narcissism, for example, usually stems from feelings of superiority and ego while psychopathy is linked to impulsiveness and callousness. People who exhibit Machiavellianism have been found to easily manipulate or exploit those around him or her. Of course, sadists get a kick out of inflicting pain or suffering on others.
A study found that people who have some of the traits mentioned above are more likely to be online trolls. Sadism seems to be the trait that is most associated with trolling. Now, this study does not answer the question fully because many trolls do not exhibit these traits, meaning there is much more work to do.
In simplest terms, trolls are looking to provoke. This means they need interaction in order to feel satisfied. In essence, the motivation is reward.
Now, there are two types of rewards out there, one is typical and the other atypical.
Typical social rewards are done with positive interactions where the outcome is praise or something similar. This is the reason many people engage in helpful or altruistic behavior. Everyone wants to feel that warmth in their hearts or that feeling that something good has been done, but there is an atypical social reward as well.
This atypical reward is negative in nature, which is sometimes called “negative social potency.” It is likely that people are aware of these types of rewards but usually try to ignore that they exist. In essence, it is linked to people who enjoy making people angry or having the opportunity to embarrass others.
Attempting to admit that this dark side of humanity exists is hard, but it is reality, and social media platforms have definitely helped highlight this truth more than ever before.
Linking Personality to Drive
A small group of adults gathered to take a questionnaire that measured their level of the traits mentioned earlier. The group consisted of 75.9 percent of women and 24.10 percent of men. The questions were formulated in an attempt to obtain their desire for negative social rewards.
Of course, the results showed that psychopathy and sadism were the greatest precursors to online trolls. The study also found that men were far more likely to engage in such behavior than women.
The survey also revealed that people were more likely to engage in trolling if they received a certain psychological high from negative social rewards. It was clear that the psychological makeup of a troll is partly made up of personality traits, but something else is more important: To a troll, atypical rewards are like a drug.
Understanding that most trolls are getting a high off of people who are offended or those who talk back means that there is one sure way to battle their behavior, which is to ignore it.
A person simply needs to withhold reactions to trolls like one would withhold a drug from an addict.
This is likely not going to stop all troll behavior because it would require every single person to stop reacting to a troll’s insensitive comments, but it should help diminish their desire to troll.
It is in our experience best to ignore your attackers and work with our firm to fix and repair your reputation.
Source: Profile Defenders