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Anna K. Sasaki

Anna K. Sasaki

Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:42

How Does Local Search Work?

How does local search work? If you’re a small business owner, you probably wish you knew. All that time you’re putting into your product or services, your customer experience, your social media marketing and all the other things you do on a daily business to give customers the best of what you can do — what does it mean if they can’t find you in search?

We are here to help bridge that information gap. We’ll tell you what goes into local search and how you can harness its power for your business.

Let’s start with the ‘why’— specifically, why is local search important?

  • 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP / comScore)
  • 74% of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
  • 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP / comScore)

Think about that for a moment — three out of four people searching for a business are looking for something in their local area, and almost two out of three local searches result in a purchase. Local search is all about intent to buy. So if you want to catch those potential customers in their moments of need, your business needs to rank in the top of relevant search results.

Most people think search is just about the big name search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) but that’s simply not the case. Discovery of local business through queries happens all over the internet.

Information about your business lives all over the web. Important details like your business name, address, phone number, category, services, hours of operation, and all the other information that matters to someone searching for a business can be found on hundreds of websites.

On average, people are almost three times more likely to discover information about a business on third-party intelligent services like Facebook, Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Citysearch than on the business’s own website. For restaurants, that number jumps up to almost 10 times!

So how does local search work?

In this video, I’m joined by my co-worker, Duane Forrester, VP of industry insights for Yext, who spent years working inside the search engine at Bing. He knows exactly how search works. I personally have spent years, not only as a small business owner but as an agency owner that worked with small businesses — helping them with digital marketing.

Duane and I discuss how search used to work, how search works now, what the future of search will look like, and best of all, what you can do to position your business for the best search engine results.

Source: This article was published smallbiztrends.com By Rev Ciancio

Remember the MOOC?

Just a few years ago, the Massive Open Online Course was expected to reinvent higher education. Millions of people were signing up to watch Web-based, video lectures from the world's great universities. Some were completing real assignments, earning certificates and forming virtual study groups — all for free.

Surely the traditional college degree would instantly collapse.

Today, much of that hype has subsided (though best-selling authors and newspaper columnists are still making the case that "the end of college" is nigh). And new research on 1.7 million MOOC participants offers a more nuanced view of just what these courses are and could become.

One of the biggest MOOC platforms, edX, is run jointly as a nonprofit by Harvard and MIT. And researchers at both schools have been poring over the data from everyone who participated in 68 courses over more than two years. That's 10 million participant-hours. Here's what they found.

A Lot Of Teachers And A Lifeline

In one survey of a subset of users, 39 percent identified as current or former teachers, and one-in-five had taught the subject they were studying. This finding supports the general profile of MOOCsters as being already well-educated.

"Educators are curious about new forms of learning and they are curious to learn from other instructors," observes Justin Reich, a Harvard-based author of the paper. "Certainly, many folks at Harvard and MIT are excited by the idea that one of the ways MOOCs could make a positive impact on education is by being a resource for educators."

The study also found extreme over-representation among citizens of Greece and Spain — not only taking courses but also paying for certification. During the period under study, Greek universities were forced to suspend operations due to austerity measures, and budget cuts in Spain led to national student protests. As a result, did students look online for an education alternative? It's a question for future research, the authors agree.

Linear, Not Exponential Growth

The first MOOCs had over 100,000 registrants each. Predictions were made (and millions of dollars invested) based on the idea that participation would be in the hundreds of millions by now. Actual interest is more modest.

So what happens now — given MOOCs have fallen far short of those early, lofty expectations?

"If we're not going to get to a billion MOOC learners in the next few years (and certainly not a billion active ones), then that realization offers a moment to reflect on what the best possible future for MOOCs might be," says Reich.

Some colleges are looking to expand on-campus applications of MOOCs. Reich points out that 83 percent of MIT undergrads are taking a class that uses MITx resources in some way.

Paid certificates for these online courses are another potential answer, though Reich says they're likely to be most useful in a minority of fast-changing, highly technical fields.

Andrew Ho, a lead author of the paper at Harvard, thinks the value of certificates will increase, "but ultimately be limited by the quality of assessments and assessment security, both areas where greater investment is necessary." Translation: Proving that you and no one else completed that physics problem set costs money.

The simplest answer to "What happens now?" is this: Despite lingering doubts about the power and profitability of MOOCs, companies, and universities are still spending significant resources to create and support them for millions of people, in nearly every country, for free. It's an investment, for now, on faith.

Source: This article was published npr.org By ANYA KAMENETZ

Networking can feel like a bit of a minefield, especially online. Thankfully, Hays’ Jane McNeill is here to share her top tips.

Not so long ago, networking used to be fairly straightforward. It simply involved navigating a crowded room, business card in hand, while scoping out the best people to speak to and then attempting to start a meaningful conversation.

Of course, this face-to-face networking is still important, and always will be, but there’s also a new kid in town.

The rise of online networks has created real, focused, commercial opportunities to network – but there are rules to this new world, particularly when it comes to leveraging your online connections.

Maximise your presence on LinkedIn

While networking events remain important, most networks are grown today on LinkedIn. But, before you start to network online, start with the basics: optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections as they are searchable by others; add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature; review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly, and join relevant LinkedIn groups. Be proactive in writing recommendations and endorsing skills where appropriate.

If you’re wondering if it matters how many relevant first-degree connections you have, the answer is yes because second- and third-degree connections mean you can be one connection away from potentially millions of people. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.

Get an introduction

This doesn’t mean you can automatically interact with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, email your first-degree contact to ask for an introduction.

Do not reach out to the second-degree contact independently; not only is it considered poor form, but people are far more likely to respond when being introduced by a mutual connection.

It’s also good etiquette to say thank you to every person who makes an introduction or helps you in some way. A brief InMail, email or phone call takes one minute.

Timing

So, you’ve just met someone who would be a great addition to your network, but you aren’t sure when to send a connection request.

How soon is too soon? Rest assured, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a request once you are back in the office after meeting the person, or immediately following a telephone or email exchange. Be sure to always personalize your connection requests, too.

Just don’t wait too long – it is standard etiquette to follow up within two days. Similarly, if you make a commitment to someone, such as sending a link or making an introduction, delivered within two days. Remember to also accept invitations in a timely manner, and send a follow-up thank you.

It’s not all one-way

Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect, though. Offer something of value first, such as a link to a relevant article.

When it comes to networking, the general rule is that you should give more than you take. As my colleague, Yvonne Smyth wrote: “Before you need them, help others get what they want first.”

Be active

Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, like and share updates from your connections, and join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in certain areas, start your own LinkedIn blog.

Be genuine, insightful and authentic; show interest in others; ask questions, and be respectful of people’s time. But don’t over-post, otherwise, your communications could be too diluted.

Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented in person. Take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and joining an association or professional group.

With these online networking etiquette tips, you’re ready to build and leverage your connections in a thoughtful, effective and professional manner.

Jane McNeill is managing director of both New South Wales and Western Australia at Hays Recruitment.

A version of this article previously appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blogBy Jane McNeill

Scientists have produced a series of papers designed to improve research on conservation and the environment.

A group of researchers, led by the University of Exeter, have contributed to a special issue of the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution to examine commonly used social science techniques and provide a checklist for scientists to follow.

Traditional conservation biology has been dominated by quantitative data (measured in numbers) but today it frequently relies on qualitative methods such as interviews and focus group discussions.

The aim of the special issue is to help researchers decide which techniques are most appropriate for their study, and improve the "methodological rigour" of these techniques.

"Qualitative techniques are an important part of the curriculum for most undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies in biodiversity conservation and the environment," said Dr. Nibedita Mukherjee, of the University of Exeter, who coordinated the special issue of the journal.

"Yet the application of these techniques is often flawed or badly reported."

Dr. Mukherjee, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, added: "In putting together this special issue, we urge greater collaboration across the disciplines within conservation, incorporating the rigorous use of qualitative methods.

"We envisage a future in which conservation scientists test, modify and improve these techniques so that they become even more relevant and widely used."

The five papers in the special issue include one which examines the use of interviews as part of research into conservation decision-making.

It found that researchers do not always justify their use of interviews, or report on their usefully enough for readers to make informed judgments.

"While interview-based research might not always be reproducible, we should still leave the reader in no doubt about what was done," said lead author Dr David Rose, formerly of the University of Cambridge but now at the University of East Anglia.

Another  looked at the use of . Lead author Tobias Nyumba, from the University of Cambridge, said focus groups are often used but many researchers are "not particularly keen on the process, from planning, execution, analysis to reporting.

"This paper is, therefore, a must read if focus groups must form part of your research toolkit," he said.

A third paper looked at the nominal group  (NGT).

Lead author Dr. Jean Huge said: "While  conflicts are on the rise worldwide, NGT provides a simple yet systematic approach to prioritise management options and could help reduce conflict."

This could inform the choice of criteria in the MultiCriteria Decision Analysis as observed by Dr. Blal Adem Esmail in his paper.

Source: This article was published phys.org

Privacy, brand safety, and other factors will make paid search even more attractive to marketers going forward, according to Forrester Research.

Forrester Research says that search marketing is poised for “a late-stage renaissance.” The firm, which also expects significant mobile, video and social media advertising growth through 2021, cites a number of factors behind its prediction for search-marketing gains.

Among them, it says that privacy measures — especially the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) and ePrivacy regulation in Europe and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention — make paid search more attractive because it is “relatively less vulnerable” to these measures. The company also cites brand safety as a major issue that’s not a problem in search but has become a major issue with social, traditional display and video advertising.

Forrester also points to Amazon’s growth as a product search engine and as an advertising channel for product sellers. Voice search and virtual assistant growth should also benefit paid search marketing, according to the company, because it’s the ad model perhaps most aligned with consumer behavior and the intended future uses of smart speakers. (I would argue that smart speakers are as much a branding and discovery tool as they are a search vehicle.)

According to the IAB, search advertising in the US led all other categories with $19.1 billion in the first half of 2017. It captured 47 percent of all online ad dollars, which was down from 49 percent in 2016 (though real dollars were up).

The growth of mobile has also propelled search marketing. Mobile ad spending was 54 percent of the first-half ad revenue total ($21.7 billion). Mobile paid search represented roughly $10 billion of that figure.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Greg Sterling

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 10:48

New Google Search Console: 16 Months of Data

Google has announced that a beta version of the new Search Console, released a few months ago to select users, will now be available to everyone.

The new Search Console will be rolled out gradually, and webmasters will be individually notified when they receive access.

Still, in beta, the new Search Console will live side by side with the old version. Users can toggle between them in the navigation menu.

As it was the most consistently requested new feature, site owners should be happy to know the public beta has the same 16 months of data that was available in the private beta.

In addition to more data within the Search Performance report (previously Search Analytics report), the new Search Console has been completely rebuilt. It has been designed with a renewed focus on helping site owners identify and fix and pending issues.

With the updated Index Coverage, AMP status, and Job postings reports, site owners will be guided through a simplified process of optimizing their website’s presence in search results.

Index Coverage Report

Google has added “issue tracking functionality” to the Index Coverage report, which alerts site owners when new issues are detected. Search Console will then provide information on fixing a specific issue, as well as verify when it has been fixed correctly.

The State of Local Search 2018: Expert Webinar
Join a panel of the biggest local search experts as we explore how the industry changed in 2017 and predict what search engines might have in store.

Recognizing that fixing webpage issues can often involve a team of individuals, Google has added share buttons within the Index Coverage report. Now a direct link to a specific issue can be shared with whomever it concerns.

AMP and Job Postings

Issues can also arise when creating AMP versions of web pages, or implementing Job Postings markup. The new search console will identify issues related to these two types of “search enhancements,” with more to be added in the future.

In addition to providing information about how to fix an issue, the AMP and Job Postings reports have two unique features. When validating a fix, Search Console will run several instantaneous reports to provide site owners with more immediate feedback.

If you’re testing multiple URLs, then at the end of the process Search Console will provide a validation log. This document will detail which URLs have been identified as fixed, as well as the ones that failed.

As Google works to improve on the beta release of the new Search Console it will be continuously listening to user feedback. The new version does not have all the functionality of the classic version, which is why the two will live side-by-side until the beta is complete.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

OK, Google. What’s in store for SEO in 2018?

The answer to that question might be a little too big for voice search to unpack, but if this holiday season has shown me anything, it’s that voice search is going to play a big role in 2018. Every electronics store I walked into was showcasing their latest virtual assistants, artificial intelligence, and smart home devices.

Voice search is here to stay, and it has hit the mainstream in a big way.

Voice search is also clearly on Google’s mind. Google made 10 big announcements at I/O 2017, and four of them involved Home and Google Assistant. Plus, in early December, John Mueller launched an idle tweet asking the SEO community about what sort of voice search data they’d like to see and why

Voice search is also already having a big impact on SEO as we know it.

There’s strong evidence that voice search optimization is intricately connected to Google’s featured snippets, which occupy the coveted “position zero” in SERPs.

In other words, if voice search optimization isn’t already part of your SEO strategy, it’s time to fix that.

In this article, we’ll look at five big advancements voice search made in 2017, and how to prepare for voice search in 2018 and beyond.

How Voice Search Changed in 2017

1. AI-Backed Speech Accuracy Is Now (Almost) on Par with Human Accuracy

In May 2015, Google’s Sundar Pichai announced that their speech recognition error rate was at 8 percent thanks to their investments in machine learning.

Now, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report, Google’s speech recognition is even better — their English word accuracy rate is now a staggering 95 percent, as of May 2017.

That number also just happens to be the threshold for human accuracy. Sure, it’s still slightly more error prone than typical human dialogue, but the gap is shrinking quickly.

Put into perspective, this means that Google’s AI-backed voice recognition has improved by 20 percent since 2013. And they’re still making “significant breakthroughs” in speech recognition, according to Pichai at I/O 2017. He says we’ll continue to see “error rates continue to improve even in noisy environments.”

2. Voice-First Devices Are Becoming Common Household Appliances

Virtual assistants, smart home devices, and other voice-first technology(e.g., Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the upcoming Apple Homepod) entered the public consciousness in a big way in 2017.

In 2015, almost no one had heard of voice-first devices — only 1.7 million shipped across the U.S. That number shot up to 6.5 million in 2016.

In 2017, VoiceLabs predicts that number will swell to 24.5 million devices shipped. That’s more than a 312 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.

More than 12 million voice-first device sales will occur in Q4 alone, according to Strategy Analytics, so we can expect even more sales next year.

If 2017 was the year that pushed voice-first technology into the mainstream, 2018 will be its heyday.

3. Voice Search AIs & Voice-First Devices Have More Diversified Skill Sets

Google’s doing everything they can to make the Google Assistant part of your daily routine. Now, in addition to getting a traffic, weather, and news update when you say “good morning” to your Google Home, you can make announcements throughout your house, find your phone, and entertain your kids with over 50 new “family fun” skills.

But wait, there’s more!

As of 2017, you can integrate your Google Home device with a Chromecast, effectively allowing you to control your TV with your voice.

Google’s begun rolling out a hands-free calling feature, free in Canada and the U.S., though it currently only supports outgoing calls. And, since Google partnered with Walmart in August 2017, you can now take advantage of voice shopping through your Google Assistant.

Not to be outdone, Amazon Alexa comes equipped with around 1,900 skills out of the box, and it can learn more than 25,000 skills through app support. In fact, Alexa even has a Skill Finder — a skill designed to help you find new skills.

Some of Alexa’s other skills include:

The State of Local Search 2018: Expert Webinar
Join a panel of the biggest local search experts as we explore how the industry changed in 2017 and predict what search engines might have in store.

  • Calling an Uber.
  • Reading ebooks.
  • Placing an order from Starbucks.
  • Balancing your Capital One bank account.
  • Ordering from Amazon and tracking your packages.

But perhaps the most significant change to hit voice search in 2017 was the huge improvements it made to local search.

Now, voice search is able to understand user intent with eerie accuracy through a contextual understanding of a user’s location, recent searches, and personal information.

4. Voice Search Is Even Bigger Internationally

If you thought voice search was a solely Western phenomenon, think again.

Recent global research found that Chinese consumers are leading the way when it comes to voice assistant usage, with a staggering 64 percent adoption rate. They’re closely followed by Thailand, with a 57 percent adoption rate.

In fact, back in 2013 when Siri was still relatively new to the U.S., China was already creating apps that could reach 93 percent voice search recognition accuracy.

Despite leading the race in voice search, Baidu, China’s most popular search engine and the second most used search engine in the world, only just unveiled their new smart home devices in November – on the heels of announcing a speech-to-text AI that can simulate over 2,400 accents and voices.

All of these advances are to push us towards a fully voice-operated future, according to Andrew Ng Yan-tak, Baidu’s chief scientist:

“In the future, I would love for us to be able to talk to all of our devices and have them understand us. I hope to someday have grandchildren who are mystified at how, back in 2016, if you were to say ‘Hi’ to your microwave oven, it would rudely sit there and ignore you.”

5. Voice Search Is Changing the Way We Advertise

Finally, in a change that promises to have a huge impact on advertisers in 2018 and the years to come, Amazon launched a restrictive ad policythat effectively bans third-party ads from Alexa voice apps.

This is a jarring change for brands used to desktop and mobile advertising, where banner-ads, pop-ups, and other ads effectively interrupt a user’s experience. However, it does fall in line how Brian Roemmele, founder of Pay Finders, foresees the intersection voice search and advertising:

“This new advertising and payments paradigm will impact every element of how we interact with Voice First devices. Without human-mediated searches on Google, there is no pay-per-click. Without a scan of the headlines at your favorite news site, there is no banner advertising. Advertising as we know it will not exist primarily because we would not tolerate commercial intrusions and interruptions in our dialogues. It would be equivalent to having a friend break into an advertisement about a new gasoline.”

Amazon’s policy change had an especially profound effect on VoiceLabs, which launched the world’s first ad network for voice assistants. VoiceLabs shut down their “Sponsored Messaging” advertisements shortly after the announcement.

But while the new policy may have quashed VoiceLabs’ current advertising efforts, the company’s CEO, Adam Marchick, is convinced that Amazon and Google will soon to find a way to make ads a more organic part of the voice search experience:

“I believe there will be advertising, but I believe that Amazon and Google will want it to be viewed as additional content, not pop-up ads. How that manifests will be a good question.”

How to Prepare for Voice Search in 2018 & Beyond

At its core, optimizing for voice search is similar to the SEO of yesteryear. You need to:

  1. Create robust, compelling content that answers your users’ most common questions and solves their pain points.
  2. Adopt long-tail keywords optimized for semantic search.
  3. Use Schema to mark up your content and tell search engines what your site’s about.
  4. And, for goodness’ sake, you must be optimized for mobile.

What might be different from your usual SEO strategy is that now you also need to pay special attention both to creating detailed answers to common questions and to answering simple questions clearly and concisely.

Brevity, context, and relevance are essential when optimizing for voice search.

A good strategy that’s already been adopted successfully by many websites is to:

  • Create content or a webpage with a headline that asks a common question.
  • Immediately after the headline, provide a succinct answer or definition to the question.
  • Use the rest of the page to provide further elaborative detail on the topic.

The genius of this strategy is that the rich, robust webpage ultimately appeals to Google’s ranking algorithm, while the short-and-sweet information at the top of the page is optimized for voice search and might even become a featured snippet.

Conclusion

My colleagues in Search Engine Journal’s 2018 SEO trends roundup had some great predictions for the coming year, and voice search featured prominently in many of them.

Christine Churchill predicts:

“Smart marketers will be seeking ways to prepare for this development and will need to optimize to find their way into the answer for voice searches. Voice searches tend to be more verbose so delivering more relevant responses may require different strategies.”

Many notable influences such as Winston BurtonMindy Weinstein, and Eli Schwartz agree with her.

Tony Wright, on the other hand, disagrees. According to Wright:

“Think of voice search like mobile. Every year since 2005 or so, people would predict, ‘this will be the year of mobile.’ When mobile actually did take off, we realized it wasn’t the year of mobile, but a seismic shift in audience behavior. That will happen in voice search too – but not this year.”

Whether 2018 is the year of voice search remains to be seen, but I don’t think anyone denies that voice search is coming, and it’s going to change SEO as we know it.

Friday, 05 January 2018 14:31

5 Tips For Winning At Voice Search & SEO

OK, Google, why should I be optimizing my website for voice search?

Whether your potential customers are asking Google, Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, trust me—you want to be the answer. Google says that 20% of all searches are voice searches and I’m certain that number will only continue to skyrocket in the coming years.

Are you ready to claim a spot in that 20%? Are you even convinced that you should be doing whatever you can to benefit from that 20% statistic? Or perhaps—even if you’re already convinced of the importance of getting in the voice search game—you don’t even know where to start.

Let’s talk it all out. Let’s talk the what, why, and how of voice search SEO.

What Is Voice Search & How Does It Work?

As far as SEO jargon goes, voice search is probably the easiest to understand. Voice search is simply any search a person performs on the internet using a voice command instead of typing or text.

But you probably knew that. Heck, you probably already do it yourself. Maybe you’ve even performed a voice search today. (“Hey Siri, is it 5:00 yet?”)

Even if you do know what voice search is, I’m guessing that—like most people—you’re not entirely clear on how it works.

I don’t want to get too far into it, but I do think a basic breakdown of how things work will be handy before we dive in. Put simply:

  • A user initiates a voice search by pressing a button or addressing the device’s voice assistant with a pre-programmed voice command (“Hey Siri”, “OK Google”, “Alexa,”, “Hey Cortana”)
  • The user asks a question or gives a command, such as, “When Does SEO The Movie Come Out?” or “SEO Movie Release Date”
  • Depending on what kind of technology the voice search system uses, it’ll pick up on little packets of sound—whether those packets are individual syllables, words, or entire phrases and sentences
  • The voice search system will then translate these units of sound into text (using at least 1 of 4 methods) and then initiate that search just like it would a text search.

Whew! The good news is that we don’t need to worry about that too much. But isn’t it cool to know what goes on behind the scenes?

How Voice Search Affects SEO

Voice search is changing the way we use search engines in huge ways.

In short, voice search makes search inquiries way more conversational in nature. Which makes sense, since so many of the digital assistants who aid in voice searches make it feel like we’re talking to actual people sometimes.

This affects our voice search strategy in a number of ways, but we’ll get more into that below.

By 2020, voice search will account for 50% of searches

But that’s not all—voice searches also tend to change the nature of keywords themselves, including question words like what, how, when, and why.

Oh, and one last thing we should keep in mind: most digital assistants answer voice searches solely with—well, their voices. With the spoken word. Which means—for those of us in industries of a more visual nature like art or fashion—we’ll need to get clever about how we’re creating and describing our content.

Let’s get into it!

Use These Tips For Your Voice Search SEO Strategy

So how do we take advantage of the search landscape that’s resulted from an explosion in voice search? With these 5 tips, of course.

1. Use Microdata

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By using microdata, your site can feature rich snippets/cards like those above and can also help Google better understand what your site/content is all about!

Adding microdata like location, phone number, pricing, menus, and operating hours for search engines was crucial before, but it’s even more crucial now with voice search and SEO. Microdata helps search engines understand what is on any given page which is key for Voice Search.

How do digital assistants find this information from your site? By you having an organized and easily readable sitemap. Include all this information in pages labeled on your sitemap to make sure search engines know exactly where to find your microdata. You can also test your microdata with Google’s handy Structured Data Testing Tool.

Not sure what microdata you should cover or how to implement? Check out this guide from Search Engine Land.

2. Talk Like Your Customers Would

It’s not just about keywords anymore (not that it has been for some time anyway). It’s not just about robots and algorithms anymore, it’s about people and how people actually talk (Natural Language). That’s what Neil Patel recommends when it comes to voice search: “Think like a human.”

People aren’t searching for “Amazon Echo” anymore.

They’re searching for “where to buy Amazon Echo near me”, and “best prices on Amazon Echo”, and “Google Home versus Amazon Echo.”

The trend is shifting from short and stiff keywords to more human, more specific, and longer-tail search terms.

In short: phrases and longtail keywords are the way to go. Keep this in mind when you’re creating content and using keywords on your site pages. We’ll have to be mindful now more than ever to be genuine and specific in our keyword use.

3. Ask The Questions Your Target Customers Would

Again, it’s all about keeping language natural here.

It’s not enough to just figure out what your target keywords are and match them up with their longer-tail counterparts. You’ve got to make sure you know what kinds of questions those keywords will be hidden in, too.

What questions will your customers need to ask to find you? That’s what we need to figure out, and those are the keywords and phrases (or actually, questions) we need to include in our site content. (FAQ pages are great for this.)

How do you figure out what questions your target customers are asking? I recommend by starting with a tool called Answer the Public, in which you can type in short and simple keywords and get back data on how those terms fit in with search queries around the web.

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Let’s say you offer content marketing services. How do you find out what potential customers are asking about content marketing? Answer The Public has a few ideas.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

clip_image010Image SourceWay to go Wikipedia! Isn’t it nice to know that Google really just wants to help you succeed, and at no cost to you? Their free tool will grade your site and even point you in the right direction for how to go about improving your scores.

I mean, you should be doing this already. But the rise of voice search makes having responsive web design more important than ever.

That’s because more voice searches are initiated from mobile devices than from desktop computers, and that’s probably because—well, what do you usually carry with you wherever you go? Right—probably not your laptop.

Your first step is to find out just how mobile friendly your website already is, and you can use Google’s free tool Test My Site for that.

The report you get back will help you be able to hone in on exactly what you need to do to improve your mobile friendliness. If you’re really starting from scratch on the mobile responsiveness front, I recommend tackling the basics first.

5. Dive Deeper With Semantics

Semantics may sound like this big, abstract thing, but all it is is the deeper “why” behind what searchers are saying.

For example, you may just be asking Alexa how much Nike Flyknits cost, but Alexa won’t just answer your question with a price tag and leave it at that. She’ll also probably be thinking about your question and learning things about you, namely that you’re in the market for shoes and you’re willing to pay a premium price for them.

Another way search engines use semantics is by making inferences when you ask questions, which is demonstrated fantastically by Wordstream’s in-depth study on semantics in voice search.

To take an example from their study, using semantics in search is like asking, “What planet is Gamora from?” without first having to let your digital assistant know that you're referring to Zoe Saldana’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy.

What does Google’s focus on semantics mean for you? It means that you should not only be focusing on the literal content of search queries but also on the intent behind the search inquiries.

Why are people searching what they’re searching? It’s not enough to know what questions they’re asking—we also have to ask ourselves why they’re asking the questions they’re asking.

If you can dive deeper into this why and weave it into the fabric of your website, you won’t have to worry as much about keyword use. Because—if you can offer valuable content that’ll answer your readers’ questions with authority and a genuinely helpful attitude—Google will recognize that your site is the answer on the most organic level.

Hey Siri, We’re Ready To Win At Voice Search Now

Do you have enough to add to your SEO to-do list now?

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me—the dividends you’ll get back over time are totally worth the upfront work. If you can, try adding just one of these 5 tips to your to-do list each week and tackle them one by one, starting with the least advanced and abstract (using microdata) and ending on the more complicated stuff (responsive design and semantics). And then cheers yourself with a drink.

On that note, let me wrap us with one final question—a question not for Siri or Alexa, Google or Cortana, but for you: Hey Reader, how will you make voice search SEO a priority this week?

Source: This article was published searchenginepeople.com By Sam Algate

Google has quality raters specifically for voice search-related search results. These raters look for information satisfaction, length, formulation, and elocution.

Google has published on the Google Research blog the search quality raters guidelines, contractors guidelines to evaluate Google’s search results, specifically for the Google Assistant and voice search results. It is similar to the web search quality guidelines, but it changes in that there is no screen to look at when evaluating such results; instead you are evaluating the voice responses from the Google Assistant.

Google explained, “The Google Assistant needs its own guidelines in place, as many of its interactions utilize what is called ‘eyes-free technology,’ when there is no screen as part of the experience.” Google has designed machine learning and algorithms to try to make the voice responses and “answers grammatical, fluent and concise.” Google said that they ask raters to make sure that answers are satisfactory across several dimensions:

  • Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.
  • Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.
  • Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.
  • Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

The short, only seven-page, guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF over here.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Google may be the household name when it comes to search, but Microsoft is hoping it can make its Bing search engine the smartest. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced a handful of new features that it says are powered by artificial intelligence. The updates will start rolling out on Wednesday and will continue over the coming week.

The biggest changes enable Bing to be smarter about the information it chooses to display above search results in response to a query. The search engine will now be able to pull information from multiple sources, rather than just one. If a user has a question or request with opposing answers or viewpoints, Bing will be able to aggregate both perspectives and display them at the top of the page.

One example of where users might see this is when typing in a query like “side effects of coffee.” Once Microsoft’s updates start to kick in, Bing will be able to pull bits of information from more than one source and show them alongside one another above results, so that users can see both angles without having to dig through a list of links. Google currently answers this type of question with a featured snippet, which is an informational block that sums up an answer with information extracted from a web page.

Similarly, if a search query involves some type of comparison, such as “yoga vs. pilates,” Bing will surface an information box that breaks down the differences between the two terms, rather than grabbing a snippet from an article. Microsoft’s Project Brainwave initiative, a platform for boosting real-time AI performance, provides the foundation for these additions to Bing, the company says.

Microsoft is adding other features to Bing as well. One can identify individual objects within photos that appear in image search results so that users can shop for those items. Another enables Bing to offer clarifying questions based on a search query in order to help filter results more precisely.

The news comes as Google continues to frequently refine its own search engine. Just this month alone, Google updated its featured snippets section to include more images as well as launched a new program that allows celebrities to answer commonly asked questions in a search. These features may be different than the functions Microsoft is pursuing with Bing, but the two companies are undoubtedly working toward the same goal of helping provide relevant information quickly without forcing users to trove through reams of data available on the web.

Bing also only accounts for a sliver of search engine traffic: Google held 81% of search engine market share across desktop and mobile devices between Dec. 2016 and Nov. 2017, according to analytics firm NetMarketShare. Baidu placed in second with 7.82% of the market, while Bing landed in third with 5.72%. Google also has a major advantage when it comes to mobile, considering its search bar sits on the home screen of most popular Android phones, and Android is estimated to account for roughly 85% of worldwide smartphone shipments according to IDC projections. Microsoft, meanwhile, recently said it has doesn’t intend to release new Windows Phone products. Bing, however, is the default search engine on Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes preinstalled on Windows 10 computers.

But Microsoft’s improvements to Bing are likely about much more than just trying to steal some attention away from Google’s massively popular search engine. Smarter search tools will be important as new tech platforms, like virtual assistants, augmented and virtual reality, and smart home devices continue to spread, particularly if they’re relying on search results and history to answer questions or learn more about a user’s habits. “Search is more pervasive in everything we do as we spend more time online,” says Michael Inouye, a principal analyst for ABI Research. “That digital profile that we have [online] is going to become more valuable, and search is a big part of that.”

Source: This article was published time.com By LISA EADICICCO

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