Category: Digital Trends

04- Aug2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
412 Views

The continuing rise of voice search and how you can adapt to it | Search Engine Watch

Google’s I/O developer conference brought several huge announcements about Google’s future direction and projects, including two new technologies which demonstrate just how importantvoice search and natural language processing are to the company’s future development.

The first, Google Assistant, is a voice-activated digital assistant which builds on “all [Google’s] years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions”, as Google’s blog declared. It takes Google’s voice search and natural language capabilities to the next level, while also allowing users to carry out everyday tasks like booking cinema tickets or restaurant reservations.

The second is Google Home, Google’s long-awaited smart home hub to rival the Amazon Echo, which comes with Assistant built in. Google Home – which will be “unmatched in far-field voice recognition”, according to VP of Product Management Mario Quieroz – will give users access to Google’s powerful search capabilities in answering their questions as well as linking together smart devices all over their home.

google assistant

It’s no surprise that Google is focusing heavily on voice search and natural language going forward when you consider that in 2015 alone, voice search rose from “statistical zero” to make up 10% of all searches globally, according to Timothy Tuttle of the voice interface specialist MindMeld. That’s an estimated 50 billion searches per month.

Indeed, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed in his keynote speech at I/O that 1 in every 5 searches made with the Google Android app in the US is a voice query. Bing produced a similar statistic earlier this month when it announced that a quarter of all searches on the Windows 10 taskbar using Bing are voice searches. And statistics like these are only like to increase further as search engines, apps and developers respond to this trend.

Digital assistants: The agents of voice search

Siri. Cortana. Google Now. Alexa. Google Assistant. These are only the names of the most well-known digital assistants from the major technology companies; a search for “digital assistant” on the iOS or Android app store shows just how many different varieties of these voice-controlled AIs there are.

Digital assistants are overwhelmingly the medium through which we interact with voice search and carry out natural language queries, so it makes sense that they, too, are on the rise as companies compete for the biggest share of this rapidly expanding market.

The figures show just how recent much of this uptake of voice search is. Late last year, MindMeld published a study of smartphone users in the U.S. and their use of voice search and voice commands. It found that 60% of smartphone users who used voice search had begun using it within the past year, with 41% of survey respondents having only begun to use voice search in the past 6 months.

mindmeldImage: MindMeld

With that said, digital assistants are not just confined to smartphones any more, increasingly integrated into devices like smart home hubs and game consoles. And the more that we speak to and interact with assistants, pushing the limits of what they’re capable of, the more sophisticated they become.

The newest generation of digital assistants, including Google Assistant and Viv, a new AI from the creators of Siri, are capable of interpreting and responding to long, multi-part and highly specific queries. For example, during a public demonstration in New York, Viv showed off its ability to accurately respond to queries like, “Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?” and “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?”

At the demonstration of Google Assistant at Google’s I/O conference, Sundar Pichai made much of the fact that you can pose follow-up queries to Assistant without needing to restate context. That is, you can ask a question like, “Who directed the Revenant?” and then follow up by saying, “Show me his awards,” and Assistant will know that you are still referring to director Alejandro Iñárritu in the second query. (It’s worth noting, though, that Bing’s web search has been able to do this for a while).

follow-up
Continuing the conversation: Google’s Assistant can now handle follow-up questions to a previous query without needing to hear the subject again

How voice queries are changing search

So how is this upswing in voice queries and technology’s increasing ability to respond to them changing the way that users search?

We don’t search with voice the same way that we search with a keyboard. Computer users have evolved a specific set of habits and expectations for web search based on its limitations and capabilities. So we would start off by typing a quite generalised, keyword-based search query like “SEO tips”, see what comes back, and progressively narrow down through trial and error with longer search terms like “SEO tips for m-commerce” or “SEO tips for beginners”.

Or if we were looking to buy a pair of red shoes, we might search for “red shoes” and then navigate to a specific website, browse through their shoes and use the site interface to narrow down by style, size and designer.

Whereas now, with the advanced capabilities of search engines to understand longer, more specialised searches and the advent of voice search making natural language queries more common, we might start off by searching, “Quick SEO tips for complete beginners”, or, “Show me wide-fit ladies’ red shoes for under £50.”

voice vs keyword searchWe search differently with a keyboard to the way we search with voice

The increasing rise of voice search brings with it a wealth of new data on user intent, habits and preferences. From the first query about SEO, a site owner can see that the searcher is not just a novice but a complete novice, and is not looking to spend a lot of time researching in-depth SEO guides; they want a list that’s easy to digest and quick to implement.

From the second query, a shop owner can tell exactly what type of shoes the consumer is looking for, down to the fit and colour. The price range indicates a budget and an intent to buy.

When mobile users are conducting voice search with location enabled, site owners and business owners can also gain valuable location data. Often, the voice query will contain the important phrase “near me”, which shows that the searcher is looking for local businesses. Mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than text, so optimising for local search and mobile will also help you to rank for many voice searches.

A mobile screenshot of a Google search for "Marks and Spencer near me", showing the three-pack of local results below a small map of the area.

With the growth of voice search, we can expect to see more and more long-tail search keywords and natural language queries, which give increasing amounts of contextual information and useful data about searcher intent. The addition of voice assistants to smart home hubs like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home (Apple is also reported to be developing its own smart hub with Siri built in) will also give the companies behind them access to untold amounts of data on users’ daily life and habits, purchases, interests and more, opening up new avenues for marketing.

How can you capitalise on voice search?

With all of that in mind, what practical things can website owners do to take advantage of this new search frontier?

Look out for natural language queries in your site analytics

At the moment, there’s no way to tell outright which users are reaching your site through voice search, though Google is rumoured to be developing this feature for Google Analytics. But by looking out for natural language queries in your search traffic reports, you can start to get a feel for what users might be asking to find your site, learn from it and use it to inform your SEO strategy.

Think about how people are likely to phrase queries aloud

We need to start moving our approach from thinking of endless variations on different keywords to thinking about different types of questions and phrases that users might search. Ask yourself which questions might bring a user to your site, and how they will speak them aloud. What are the extra words, the ones that wouldn’t appear in a regular keyword search, and what information do they give you about the user’s intent on your site?

Make sure your site is set up to answer searchers’ questions

Once you’ve considered the types of questions a user might be asking, consider whether your site will satisfy those queries. Rob Kerry, in a presentation on the future of search at Ayima Insights, advised website owners to start integrating Q&A-style content into their sites in order to rank better for natural language searches and better satisfy the needs of users who are asking those questions.

Q&A-style content can also be excellent material for featured snippets, which is another great way to gain visibility on the search results page.

Develop content with a conversational tone

Because natural language queries reflect the way that people speak, they aren’t just longer but more colloquial. So consider if there are ways that you can create and incorporate content with a more conversational tone, to match this.

Use voice search!

One of the best ways to understand voice search, how it works and what kind of results it returns is to use it yourself. Search the questions you think might bring people to your site and see what currently ranks top, to get a sense of what works for others. Are there questions that aren’t being addressed, or answered very well? You can take this into account when creating content that is geared towards voice search.

Source: The continuing rise of voice search and how you can adapt to it | Search Engine Watch

03- Aug2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
374 Views

7 e-commerce SEO trends we’re seeing in 2016

Few types of online business can benefit from SEO more than e-commerce websites that allow for direct consumer transactions. Not only can you secure more web traffic (and a larger stream of revenue), you can also optimize specific product pages to funnel traffic to your most profitable or popular pages.

But SEO (and e-commerce in general) is always evolving. New technologies, new insights and new best practices emerge on a regular basis, and the best e-commerce webmasters are jumping on these changes to stay ahead of the competition.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of seven important SEO trends in the e-commerce industry you should be paying attention to:

1. Out-of-the-box SEO is better than ever

SEO technology is developing just as quickly as the search engines that have inspired them. What do I mean by “SEO technology”? I mean the third-party apps, widgets and tools webmasters can use to optimize their sites and improve results — with minimal manual input required.

In fact, some “out of the box” solutions have emerged in the template web design industry, enabling webmasters to ensure the on-site optimization of their sites in just a few steps upon launch. WordPress plugins have also been around for a while that handle a good amount of on-site SEO automatically, such as Yoast SEO.

These products and developments are tempting, and in fact useful, but currently, there’s no solution that can automatically perform every on-site function. You’ll still need to customize things like your title tags, navigation, rich snippets and so on, if you want to see the best possible results.

2. Long-form content is crucial

Until recently, product pages on e-commerce sites were places for short-form content: a title, a brief description, a handful of photos and a few customer reviews. However, user demand and search engine favoritism have shifted toward long-form content in almost every niche.

Longer-form content provides more detail, more long-tail and conversational phrases (which lend themselves to more relevant search queries) and more market differentiation from the increased competition that has arisen in recent years.

I strongly encourage you to develop more long-form content on your company blog, describing your products and offering insights on your company, provided your topics support that length without unnecessary fluff.

3. Sharability is key

Social media has been popular for many years, but it’s still somehow escalating in importance. In a recent survey I conducted of 357 online marketers, What Works in Online Marketing, 52 percent of respondents said they are currently seeing a positive ROI from social media marketing, while 65 percent believe it will become even more important over the course of the next five years. Most notably, 96 percent of respondents said they planned to increase their budgets or keep them the same over the next year.

More users are signing up for high-popularity standbys like Facebook, and newer, cutting-edge platforms like Instagram and SnapChat are shaping up to be major hits for younger generations.

One of the best ways to generate more visibility and more primary and secondary ranking signals (like inbound links and social signals, respectively) is to encourage more social sharing throughout the shopping and checkout process.

Have your users share your products. Have them share reviews. Have them share when they check out or when their products arrive. Keep your audience engaged with social opportunities throughout your site, and your visibility across search engines and social media channels will thrive.

4. Video content is outperforming pretty much every other kind of content

As mobile devices, WiFi availability and video sharing capabilities become more advanced and prominent, users are demanding more video content. Video content can show up as rich media in search results (if it’s hosted on YouTube) and has more potential for virality than any other type of content.

In fact, if you aren’t using video content on your product pages and in your company blog, you’re already behind the times. Video content is only going to become more popular, so get moving.

5. Mobile optimization is now absolutely critical

The basics of mobile optimization were already solidified by Google’s Mobilegeddon update, but merely meeting Google’s thresholds for mobile optimization is no longer enough to stand out in the search world.

Mobile optimization is about offering the best possible content and functionality experience to mobile users, who grow in numbers compared to desktop users by the day.

Mobile optimization is also starting to include app optimization, which Google is favoring heavily with developments like app streaming — and one day soon, e-commerce platforms may need to develop their own mobile apps just to survive in terms of visibility.

6. Voice search and digital assistants are gaining popularity and usage

Just a few years ago, digital assistants seemed like useless gimmicks that failed to recognize voices accurately and provided less-than-stellar results even when they did. Now, more people are relying on voice search, and every major tech company seems to have their own digital assistant capable of extraordinary feats, including Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now.

Savvy e-commerce marketers are beginning to capitalize on this trend, offering more colloquial phrasing, more optimization for long-tail phrases and more “rich answers” that digital assistants can provide directly.

7. Local results are becoming more prominent

Local SEO has undergone a handful of overhauls in the past few years, and it’s likely that new technologies (like wearable tech) will increase the importance of local results even further.

E-commerce companies often don’t think about a local strategy, since they operate on a national level and therefore want to target a larger national audience. However, pursuing a local strategy in addition can help e-commerce companies differentiate themselves from the competition and target a smaller, possibly more relevant niche that their competitors are deliberately trying to avoid.

There may be a clustering effect as more e-commerce companies begin to realize the benefits here, which is good motivation to get involved as early as possible.

Final thoughts

Keep an eye on these seven trends to ensure that your campaign remains relevant and visible in the modern era. Depending on your goals and how heavy a role SEO plays in your overall business growth, the suggestions above should take a high priority in your marketing spend.

That being said, these certainly aren’t the only trends I anticipate developing for e-commerce, and it’s hard to predict exactly what’s around the corner — so keep your campaign flexible, and always be on the lookout for the next breakthrough development.

For those managing search engine optimization for e-commerce websites, contributor Jayson DeMers has some advice for what to focus on to stay ahead of the competition.

Source: 7 e-commerce SEO trends we’re seeing in 2016

21- Feb2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
382 Views

Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar

It seems that Google is rolling out a change to Google AdWords that sees 4 ads at the top of the search results, none on the sidebar at all, and an additional 3 ads at the bottom of the search results.  This replaces the usual mix of top, bottom and sidebar-heavy AdWords ads, depending on the specific search result.

Many of the ads do have additional features like sitelinks, but it is hard to tell if those have increased or not.

It was huge news in December when Google began testing 4 ads at the top of the search results, and quite a controversial one for many.  While advertisers loved it, regular SEOs weren’t so happy since it pushed the organic search results even further down the page.

AdWords hasn’t confirmed it publicly yet, but multiple advertisers are confirming this is what their AdWords reps are telling them.

Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz is reporting their Mozcast data went from less than 0.1% of their tracked search results having 4 ads above the fold to 19% of them.

Which equals a 19,000% increase.

From AdWords:

And then they seemed to be taking a joke in stride while #ppcchat’ers were waiting for the official announcement (even though all evidence points to the change being made).

 

This isn’t a huge surprise when you really think of it.  Google has been bringing their search results closer to the mobile experience over the past year, and this definitely qualifies for it.

It also leaves more room for Google’s Product Listing Ads to show in the sidebar – they are still being run in the sidebar even with 4 ads above the fold. And it shows more PLAs since Google often shows two rows of PLAs in the sidebar while only one row at the top of the search results.  PLAs can still appear above the search results though.

Google Adwords switches to 4 ads top with pla

And also makes it available for other features such as the knowledge panel.

Some are saying the rollout is expected to complete by February 22nd, which is a few days from now.

We will update if/when AdWords confirms the changes.  But all evidence from what people are seeing in the search results currently is that most people worldwide are seeing this change to 4 ads on top, 3 on bottom but none at all on the sidebar.

Update from Google: A Google spokesperson reached out to The SEM Post with the following.

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

Update from Google #2: this change is global and impacts all languages. I asked for clarification on the commercial queries, and they are queries where people express a deep intention to buy.

Source: Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar

16- Feb2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
534 Views

Guardian Owl D I G I T A L (@guardian_owl) • Instagram photos and videos

[G o o d] Morning #digital friends! Not sure where we’d be without ☕️????.#didyouknow Neurofuse, one of the most popular nootropic formulations out there, was originally developed by Harvard students looking to gain an academic edge but not interested in the risks associated with prescription products. They built a safe and effective formula and recently released it publicly. Read the full article —>http://nextshark.com/9-reasons-elite-entrepreneurs-are-using-study-pills-to-crush-work-1/ #google #instadaily#instapic #instagood #guardianowldigital #louisville #coffee #coffeeaddicts#me #love #energy #awake #business #women #girlboss #marketing#professional #life #goodmorning #googlepartners #louisvilledigital #tech #technology #entrepreneur #seo #sem

[G o o d] Morning #digital friends! Not sure where we'd be without ☕️?. #didyouknow Neurofuse, one of the most popular nootropic formulations out there, was originally developed by Harvard students looking to gain an academic edge but not interested in the risks associated with prescription products. They built a safe and effective formula and recently released it publicly. Read the full article —>http://nextshark.com/9-reasons-elite-entrepreneurs-are-using-study-pills-to-crush-work-1/ #google #instadaily #instapic #instagood #guardianowldigital #louisville #coffee #coffeeaddicts #me #love #energy #awake #business #women #girlboss #marketing #professional #life #goodmorning #googlepartners #louisvilledigital #tech #technology #entrepreneur #seo #sem #keurig

A photo posted by Guardian Owl D I G I T A L (@guardian_owl) on

16- Feb2016
Posted By: Guardian Owl
298 Views

Special Edition Batman v Superman Galaxy S7 Edge Coming? | Digital Trends

 

The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel will finally do battle on March 25, with Samsung possibly cooking up a special-edition Galaxy S7 Edge to commemorate the occasion, reports South Korean outlet Naver.

According to the publication, Samsung will launch a Batman v Superman edition of the Galaxy S7 Edge, which will reportedly be decked out with wallpaper, ringtone, and a design based on the movie. However, Samsung allegedly won’t stop there, as the South Korean outfit will also release other special variants of the Galaxy S7 and its curved-edge equal. They include one inspired by the 2016 Winter Olympics, while another will reportedly be done in collaboration with a popular South Korean singer.

Related: Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge rumors and news

Samsung has yet to confirm or deny the existence of any of these special-edition smartphones, let alone the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge themselves. However, it wouldn’t be the first time Samsung ventured into the world of special-edition handsets, as the company released the Iron Man limited edition Galaxy S6 Edge last May.
If the three aforementioned limited editions are anything like the Iron Man smartphone, however, they will be pricey and they will be available in very limited quantities. Not only were there only 1,000 Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge units made, but they were so expensive that one Amazon reviewer wrote he sold his genitalia, left foot, and wife on the black market just to get one. Grim stuff.

Regardless, this makes us wonder what the Batman v Superman Galaxy S7 Edge would even look like. Even though The Avengers: Age of Ultron contained multiple superheroes, Samsung and Marvel opted to go with Iron Man, so it will be interesting to see who Samsung and DC Comics roll with. Our money’s on Batman, since Samsung isn’t exactly known for releasing smartphones with outlandish colors, such as a Superman edition would require, but my personal pick is Wonder Woman, who also has a starring role in the movie.

Also watch: Samsung Galaxy S7 could get upstaged by 360-degree VR cam
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g reportedly looks to continue its release of limited edition smartphones by releasing a special edition Batman v. Superman Galaxy S7.

Source: Special Edition Batman v Superman Galaxy S7 Edge Coming? | Digital Trends