11- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
23 Views

Optimize for voice search by keeping it short and to the point 

Contributor Dave Davies explains the many layers and aspects of Google Voice Search and how to optimize your content for it.

OK, Google … how do I optimize for voice search?

Ask that question and you’ll discover even Google doesn’t know but is trying to learn.

For those of us in the search engine optimization (SEO) field who want to stay up to date, waiting for Google to figure it out isn’t much help. We need to know what’s going on, and we need to know it before our competitors get the jump on us.

Who uses voice search?

Before we dive into the approaches we need to take to optimize for voice search, let’s take time to gain an understanding of who is using it.

Our friends over at Stone Temple Consulting published their findings after surveying 1,000 people on their use of voice commands. Here are some highlights:

  • People are becoming more comfortable using voice search in public.
  • The 35-to-44 age group is the largest segment using voice search.
  • The 25-to-34 age group is most comfortable using voice search in public.
  • The heaviest users of voice search have an income above $50,000 per year.

Add to this the Gartner research that predicts 75 percent of US homes will have a smart speaker by 2020:

It appears we will have a deep saturation of a technology with strong buying power in the near future.

You may be thinking, “Yes, Dave, we know voice search is important, and we know who is searching using voice, but what can we do to get our content in front of it all?”

Excellent question. Let’s take a look.

Voice search ranking factor

Clearly, the environment is changing rapidly, and it is difficult to predict specifically how users will interact with their devices using voice.

The winners in the voice space will be those who pay close attention to the various devices that launch and how they are used.

Understanding the new device capabilities and who is using them is step one.

Recently, Greg Sterling covered a study done by Backlinko on voice search ranking factors.

The study is based on 10,000 Google Home search results and is close to what I’ve experimented with on my own device on a much smaller scale.

In the findings, they note some results may be due to causality, while others may be coincidence or correlation. Understanding what’s at play is crucial to understanding what Google is looking at.

There are several key takeaways from the Backlinko study I feel are important to note:

  • Answers are 29 words on average. When you’re structuring the data you want to become a voice “answer,” make sure it’s short and to the point. This means formatting the page so an answer can be easily drawn from it and understood to be a complete answer to the question.

For example, ask Google what the Pythagorean theorem is and you’ll hear this 25-word reply:

  • The average writing level of a result was targeted to the ninth-grade reading level, so keep it simple.
  • Presently, voice search results seem to serve a more generic audience. I don’t expect this to last long; ranking for the present requires writing to the masses.
  • Google may eventually cater the reading level to the individual searching and implied education level of the query.
  • The average word count of pages used to draw voice search results was 2,312 words. This suggests Google wants to draw results from authoritative pages.

With each page we create, we need to keep in mind the entity we are discussing and the intent(s) we need to satisfy when trying to optimize for voice and general search.

Entities

An entity is basically a noun connected by relationships.

If answering the question, “who is Dave Davies,” Google needs to search their database of entities for the various Dave Davieses and determine the one most likely to satisfy the searcher’s intent. They will then compare that with the other entities related to it to determine its various traits.

When someone searches for Dave Davies, Google usually assumes they are looking for Dave Davies of The Kinks and not the author of this article.

I will get to why in a minute. Let’s look briefly at how Google connects the various entities around the musician Dave Davies.

A very small connection structure to illustrate might look something like:

What we are seeing here are the entities (referenced in patents as nodes) and how they are connected.

So, for example, the entity “Dave Davies” is connected to the entity “Ray Davies” by the relationship “Has Brother.”

He would also be connected to the entity “February 3, 1947” by the relationship “Has Birthday” and the entity “Kinks” by the relationship “has Band.”

Other people in the band will also share this entity point with Dave, enabling them to all appear for a query such as:

OK Google, who was in the Kinks

to which Google will reply:

The band members of the Kinks include Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory and others.

To illustrate further the connected understanding Google applies to entities and their importance, they allow Google to respond to multiple questions without explicit direction and to understand the weight and prominence of specific entities to determine which to rank.

For example, Dave Davies of The Kinks is a more prominent entity than Dave Davies the SEO, so if I ask “who is Dave Davies,” it will reference the Wikipedia page of the Kinks guitarist.

Understanding the entity relationships and how they’re referenced on the web helps Google determine this but it’s also the reason why we can follow up with the question, “OK Google, who is Dave Davies’ brother,” and “Ray Davies” is given as the answer.

This is what will provide us the blueprint for creating the content that will rank in voice search. Understanding how entities relate to each other and giving concise and easily digested information on as many related topics as possible will ensure that Google sees us as the authoritative answer.

And not just for the first questions but also supplemental questions, thus increasing the probability our content will satisfy the user intent.

Circling back

This explains why the Backlinko study found longer content tended to rank better. A longer piece of content (or a grouping of pages, well-connected/linked and covering the same subject) is not just more likely to answer the user intent and potential follow-up questions but also eliminates any possibility that the entity selection is incorrect.

Let’s consider my own bio here on Search Engine Land. Why does Google not accidentally select this bio when answering the query, “who is Dave Davies?”

The bio is on a strong site, is tied to entity relationships such as my position, website and Twitter profile. That is a lot of information about me, so why not select it?

Wikipedia has enough content on the Dave Davies from the Kinks page and enough supporting entity data to confirm he is the correct Dave Davies.

Intents

What we see here is that covering as many related entities and questions as possible in our content is critical to ranking well for voice search. It extends beyond voice, obviously, but due to the absence of anything other than position zero, voice is far more greatly impacted.

Earlier, I mentioned Google determines which entity the user is likely to be referencing when there are multiples to select from.

In the end, it comes down to intent, and Google determines intent based on a combination of related factors from previous queries.

If I simply ask “OK Google, who is his brother” without first asking it about Dave Davies, Google will not be able to reply. Google uses a system of metrics related to authority and relevance to determine which would win in a generic environment.

While not all patents are used, some iteration of their patent “Ranking Search Results Based On Entity Metrics” probably is. According to the patent, Google uses the following four metrics to determine which entity is strongest:

  • Relatedness. As Google sees relationships or entities appear relatedly on the web (e.g., “Dave Davies” and “Ray Davies”), they will connect these entities.
  • Notability. This relates to notability in the field. Basically, it takes into account the popularity of the entity in question and also the popularity of the field as a whole. The music industry is a bit more notable than the SEO industry, and the Kinks are listed as one of the most influential bands of all times.
  • Contribution. Google will weight entities by reviews, fame rankings and similar information. Some may suggest Dave Davies of the Kinks is a little more famous than I am.
  • Prizes. More weight will be added to an entity or aspect of that entity based on prizes and awards. This isn’t referring to a lotto but rather something like a Grammy. Had I won a Nobel Prize for SEO, I might have been selected.

There is more to determining the generic intent reply than a single patent, but this gives us a very good idea how it’s calculated.

The next step in ranking on voice search is to isolate which entities will have these metrics and cover them by writing targeted content well.

Cover the core answer, but also consider all the various entities connected to that answer to reinforce that you’re referring to the same entity and also have the authority and information to give the best answer.

Bottom line

If you want to rank in voice search, you need three things:

  • A strong domain.
  • Strong content.
  • Content divided into logical and easily digested segments.

Out of the three, I feel that easily digested content and weight are the most influential elements.

Of course, getting a site up to par with Wikipedia is a massive undertaking, but I suspect we will see this weighting drop in importance as Google gains confidence in its capabilities to actually determine quality content and context.

Source: Optimize for voice search by keeping it short and to the point – Search Engine Land

04- Apr2018
Posted By: DPadmin
183 Views

What 3,000 voice search queries tell us about the ‘Voice Search Revolution’ 

You may have heard a voice search revolution is upon us. It seems a new article pops up every day saying marketers need to drop everything and get in line.

Usage is up and rising, but does that mean more opportunities for marketers?

Google Home

My family of five in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, has been using Google Home for a little over a year. We use it daily and now have five Google Homes in the house since the kids got Google Home Minis for Christmas.

Google returns personalized data in MyActivity, which you can filter by voice search queries. It’s not easy to extract, but when I did it manually, I extracted a total of 3,188 queries that mostly occurred between October 8, 2017, and January 10, 2018. These were mostly queries using Google Home, but some of them were voice queries from smartphone, desktop and tablet.

I have three kids under 8 years old, so not every query was crystal clear. When I categorized the queries, “unknown” was my sixth-largest category, and it comprised queries like my six-year-old daughter asking Google Home, “Does Google Home belong to me or my little brother” and queries I didn’t know we were making, like “All right, Blake if you’re going to be good you can come down,” after I told my 3-year-old he could come down from his time out.

But the findings largely show what my family uses the Google Home for. I am sharing my findings in hopes it will help other marketers find actual ways to promote their businesses with these devices and will provide value to themselves and to searchers.

Keep in mind while most of these are Google Home voice queries, we also search by voice from our smartphones and tablets, and those voice-based queries are included here as well.

Top queries

By far, the number one thing we asked of our Google Home was to stop, which usually meant to stop playing “Cherry Bomb,” “Ghostbusters,” “Jingle Bells” or some other song my 3-year old decided was worthy of playing 10 times a day.

The next top query for us is “shazam,” which is not the music recognition app in our case, but my programmed shortcut for “turn the lights on.

The 12th most popular query, “hot diggity,” is my programmed shortcut for “turn the lights out.

Of the remaining top queries, none of them go to local or organic search results, which offers nothing for marketers to take advantage of:

Turning the list of more than 3,000 queries into a tag cloud of our most frequently used words shows my family likes to use the smart speaker for playing music, turning the lights on and setting timers and alarms more than anything.

Top categories

When I categorized all 3,000 queries, that’s exactly what I found. Playing music, stopping music, timers, alarms, turning lights on and off and adjusting volume are by far the most popular uses my family has for Google Home, making up a full 72 percent of our usage over three months.

After the “unknown” category at 4 percent, the remaining 24 percent of usage breaks down to 3 percent looking for information on weather, 2 percent looking for information on music, and 19 percent comprised of 56 categories with 1 percent or less of usage.

Although this is just my family we’re talking about, it aligns pretty well with the usage categories mentioned in the Smart Audio report from January 2018 released by National Public Radio (NPR) and Edison Research.

In the report, they cite playing music as the #1 activity by far that the smart speaker is used for socially:

Although the time of day wasn’t something I looked at in my family’s data, the top tasks that Edison Research and NPR found in their survey were top tasks for my family as well:

Maybe of interest to marketers is that only one of the 3,000-plus queries in my dataset was an Actions on Google query, with zero percent of the total usage. My family may be an anomaly, as the smart audio report said that 43 percent of smart speaker owners would be interested in using skills from companies or brands they follow on social media. But for us, Google does a good job doing what we ask, and we don’t feel the need to use another assistant.

Prior to Google releasing the directory of Actions on Google, it wasn’t all that easy to know what skills were available. Hoping this will change going forward as Actions on Google is a clear opportunity for brands if the traffic is there.

Query intent

Even more important for marketers than Category is the specific intent of the query. As I mentioned in my first column on Google Home, the only actionable categories for marketers currently available other than Actions on Google are Facts, Info and Local Guide.

Facts and Info correspond to the query intent Know and Know Simple (as defined by the Google Quality Rater Guidelines), and Local Guide corresponds to the Visit in Person query intent.  However, those intents made up just 23 percent of my family’s usage, with 75 percent going to Do-Device Action queries, which don’t even use search results for their answers:

Effectively, Know Simple query intent is not all that actionable, as it simply reads a short answer without giving context, leaving just 11 percent of the queries that might lead to a site link. And of those, only a little more than 40 percent are powered by search results, and thus possible for marketers to gain visibility for.

If this doesn’t look like much of a voice revolution to you, you’re not alone. When it comes to query intent and categories of queries used by my family over three months, usage may be high, but the opportunity for marketers is relatively low.

Query length

Query length is often mentioned when talking about voice search, as Microsoft and others have said that voice queries are generally longer than typed queries. That is true with my family as well, with the average word count at four and the average length of 20.  Word count and query length differ, though, based on intent.

Source: What 3,000 voice search queries tell us about the ‘Voice Search Revolution’ – Search Engine Land

06- Mar2018
Posted By: DPadmin
29 Views

How Mobile And Voice Will Drive SEO Engagement In 2018

Search-engine optimization is the offensive-line marketing play: unheralded, but full of subtle maneuvering and crucial to success. Here are six SEO pointers for content marketers for the new year, courtesy of Forbes’ experts.

1. Tattoo “MOBILE FIRST” on your body.

“Given that over 50 percent of searches are now happening on mobile,” Richards said, “content marketers should structure their stories for mobile first and foremost.”

Think about page design, Richards said. “How does the page look on a phone? Is the font easily readable? Can users control the zoom if buttons are hard to access?”

Also, make sharing on mobile easy. “Use social icons instead of text, since images are more effective at capturing the eye. That will come in handy when their content is so good that the reader has no choice but to share,” Richards said.

2. Make sure all of your content is available on mobile.

Google is about to move to a mobile-first index that takes into account, and makes visible in search results, only mobile versions of websites.

“If marketers want to maintain their reach, they should make sure all their content exists on the mobile versions of their sites,” Pinsky said. “Websites with separate URLs for desktop and mobile experiences will need to make sure that all their desktop content maps one-to-one to their mobile URLs.”

3. Page speed will become more important than ever.

“No one wants to wait for a phone to load,” Pinsky said, “and that will play a role in SEO.” Page speed, of course, is a key SEO ranking factor.

“Marketers can reduce photo size by up to 40—and sometimes even 90—percent,” Richards said. “That’s a quick win in the battle against slow loads.”

Marketers can also switch to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), Google’s mobile page-speed solution. “Because they lack things like excessive JavaScript, AMP pages load seemingly instantly,” Richards said. “By going AMP, marketers stand to leverage Google’s AMP-specific features in their search results. And it’s the only way to be featured in a top stories carousel.”

Getting AMP’d takes work on the development side, Richards says, but it’s worth it.

4. Get ready for voice search dominance.

While traditional searches consist of two- to five-word phrases, Richards said, voice searches tend to be in full sentences. That implies a different method of structuring content.

Richards advises that marketers “include in their title or subhead the verbally-expressed question that they want to answer, to increase the chances that Google will feature that answer.” For example, if you have a page that answers the question, “Will the bitcoin bubble burst”? make sure that question is right in your page title—verbatim.

“Marketers should use voice search themselves as much as possible,” Richards added. “That will give them a feel for how queries are structured in it, and let them better create content that can satisfy those queries.”

5. Remember how your demo actually talks.

“What words do they use? Optimize for that language, that sound, and those words. People looking for information about Sean Combs will more often than not search for ‘P. Diddy.’”

And imitate success. “Study the sites that Google points you to and you’ll learn how to structure your content the way Google likes it.”

6. Get close to your social team.

“Google is all about making sure users get the most relevant content possible,” Pinsky said. “To gauge relevance, Google may start looking at how content is discussed in social. Marketers should reach out to influencers and share their content on social media.” So make friends with your social team. You’ll need them as the new year develops.

Follow these pointers and you’re on your way to SEO excellence in the coming year.

Source: How Mobile And Voice Will Drive SEO Engagement In 2018

27- Jun2017
Posted By: DPadmin
97 Views

Voice search becomes voice action: A key talking point at SMX London

Described as the “ultimate survival guide to the dynamic and tumultuous world of search marketing,” SMX  — run by Search Engine Land’s parent, Third Door Media — is a conference series designed to highlight the reach and opportunities that can be achieved through search advertising and outline search’s position in the wider marketing mix.

From my own perspective, one of the more enlightening sessions of the London event featured a presentation by Pete Campbell, founder and managing director of Kaizen, on the subject of voice search — a prominent theme given the ongoing battle of the AI assistants.

Despite existing for half a decade — Siri has been around since 2011 — voice search has only recently surged in popularity, with over a quarter (27 percent) of US smartphone users now utilizing voice search assistants once a week or more. This rise in usage is largely due to the shift in focus from voice search to voice command.

Just being able to search for information using voice doesn’t add a great deal of value for the user; it’s not that different to searching by typing. But being able to make something actually happen using voice? Well, that’s a far more useful experience — and it is something Amazon’s Alexa is excelling at.

Through voice commands, users can now order their favorite pizza, schedule an Uber, or even buy a dollhouse – as Amazon Echo’s incident earlier this year ably illustrated. Rather than using voice as an alternative to a keyboard or touchscreen for entering a search, users want to be able to control the world around them by talking to it and driving action, creating a far more personal and interactive alternative to traditional search.

At present, the voice search functionalities available through personal assistants remain within the realm of narrow AI, meaning they can only perform relatively basic tasks. Moving forward, Google’s DeepMind machine learning technology is likely to be integrated into Google Home, shifting voice search toward deeper AI as it starts to learn and adapt itself to the unique needs of the individual. And while it is still fairly new to the B2C space, IBM’s Watson is also expected to drive voice search to a point where it is continually aware and constantly learning.

While the discussion around voice search was one of the most interesting at the SMX London event, the technology is still in its infancy, and advertisers don’t need to be rebuilding their entire search strategies around voice at this stage. While paid advertising is available via the format, the search engine does the heavy lifting, translating voice search into keywords and matching these to ads in the same way as a traditional text search.

Once AI evolves and the technological capabilities allow a better understanding of natural language, the way consumers utilize search could change. Currently, users know they must phrase their questions in a way their device comprehends, omitting slang terms and speaking in a more robotic manner than they usually would.

It will be interesting to observe how common search activities — in particular, shopping — will change as the technology develops. Perhaps at next year’s SMX London, we’ll be discussing new strategies for harnessing the power of voice that we haven’t even considered at this stage.

To really gain the most value out of search — be it voice-activated or not — we need to fill the gap between optimizing search advertising and achieving business goals, and put customer lifetime value ahead of return on ad spend (ROAS) when measuring success.

As the technology develops, companies that use voice search technology that reacts more naturally to consumers’ preferred language will attract more repeat visits and loyalty. And by aligning marketing efforts with inventory management to ensure only those products that are in stock and require promotion are advertised, brands can create valuable experiences that keep consumers returning again and again.

From combining search and social to leveraging moments that matter, last week’s attendees at SMX London gained a deeper understanding of the numerous ways they can optimize their search strategies.

Source: Voice search becomes voice action: A key talking point at SMX London