This article is by Aaron Agius, cofounder and managing director of Louder.Online, a digital marketing agency.

As far back as 2014, we knew, thanks to data gathered by Google and Northstar Research, that more than 50% of teens and 41% of adults surveyed used voice search—the kind used by Google, Alexa, Siri and Cortana—on a daily basis.

There’s nothing to suggest that these adoption rates have slowed down, especially in light of the successful January 2016 launch of Amazon’s voice-only platform Alexa, which grew seven-fold in its first six months.

This rapid adoption has led some to say that voice search will be the end of organic SEO as we know it. I’m not so certain. While it’s certainly an evolution of organic search, it reminds me too much of another “sky is falling” scenario to suggest that CMOs and other high-level marketing execs should be worried.

The Historical Precedent Of Google’s Knowledge Graph

Back in 2012, Google launched Knowledge Graph, which many industry leaders feared for similar reasons. And certainly, businesses that profited by siphoning Google traffic to answer simple questions were threatened by the change.

That said, it’s important to look at the types of queries affected by the Knowledge Graph launch. The searches affected weren’t queries indicative of a desire for deep knowledge; they were quick answers to quick questions (for example, “How tall is George Clooney?” or “What is the capital of France?”).

I’d argue that, at least until we have a fully semantic web, voice search will have a similar impact. Siri can’t walk you through fixing your kitchen plumbing; Cortana can’t give you a detailed tutorial on building a WordPress website. You may use voice search services to locate these resources, but you’ll still be returned search results to browse further—just as you were following the launch of Knowledge Graph.

Rand Fishkin of Moz describes the difference between queries the engines can answer quickly and searches requiring more in-depth content as the “safety dance vs. danger zone.”

Recipes, to his mind, are safe—no voice search technology can currently sum up the ingredients of a recipe, steps, images, comments and ratings. Cooking conversions, he claims, are in the danger zone, simply because it’s more efficient for voice search to give the answer than it is to redirect searchers to another resource.


The Future Of Voice Search

My estimate of the impact of voice search in the near-term is minimal, but that doesn’t mean its impact won’t be felt further down the line. Here’s how your teams should begin to prepare:

1. Ecommerce sellers will be hit harder.

By some estimates, we aren’t far from a future where voice search programs will be able to take action, like placing orders, for us.

Aleh Barysevich, writing for Search Engine Journal, shares research indicating Google is already working on conversational shopping and envisions the impact on queries like “Show me blue jeans / Show me size 12 / Order me the pair from American Eagle.”

This makes proactive optimization critical for ecommerce enterprises who want to be included in these results.

2. Schema context matters.

To ensure your company’s web pages are presented to users in current and future voice search iterations, schema markup will become increasingly important in helping the engines understand your site and how it should be ranked.

The tutorial here can get your developers started.

3. Quality content will continue to dominate organic search.

Think long and hard about the value the content your team offers. Are you sharing quick answers to simple problems? If so, it’s time to shift your company's focus to higher-quality content that will remain relevant as voice search grows in popularity.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2017/03/12/how-alexa-siri-and-cortana-could-shape-the-future-of-organic-search/#778934a857d5

Categorized in Search Engine

The penetration of mobile phones wasn’t fast enough in rural India during the early mobile days over a decade ago. However, the limited users of the handhelds were prompt enough to get carried away with the allurement of the web of free information. For them –long before they could figure out the technicalities of browsers –the gateway to connect with the universe was largely search engines especially Google. The iconic Google search --one of the classic examples of ‘humanisation of tech’, never ceased to entice its users all along. 


The scenario, however, has changed today. From an obtrusive shift in googling habit to domain-based search to an app culture, much has changed since then. People are more onto their apps than on web or online search. And the clear victim is Google. The universe of web –that people used to access primarily through Google Search, is gradually getting scrappy. The dark matter, which Google can’t crawl, index and present on search queries that users conduct, on the other side is gradually swelling at an astonishing pace. 

With 80% of the world information generated over the last two years alone, the web of crawlable information should have more diverse and democratic. However, the information entombed under social networks, single page architectures and most importantly the ever-growing apps is not only growing but also ushering in a new era where much of the information is getting locked for public access. 

With over four petabytes of data being generated by Facebook alone and over five lacs of new users joining the platform every day, the information appearing in search engine result pages (SERPs) isn’t in commensurate with the volume and variety of data being generated today. What happens when platforms such as Facebook and Twitter decide to be inaccessible to Search? After all, why would a reader conduct a web search when there is an app to do just that?

The threats to iconic Google Search

Dark Matter defeats the whole mission of Google which aims to put straight the world’s information and make it handy for everyone. On the flip side is the rise of domain-based search. 

The artificial intelligence team of Facebook has been working hard to ferret out the best search tactics for their platform. Lumos visual search system, developed by Facebook recently, can detect objects, scenes, animals, places, and clothes that appear in images or videos – and return relevant search results for users. 


With over 500 million tweets and 6,000 tweets every single second that are sent every single day, Twitter too has come up with several measures to filter out the noise and get the most relevant information you want. 

Forrester Research found that a third of online users started their product searches on Amazon, compared to 13 percent who started their search from a traditional search site. 

ComScore found that product searches on Amazon have grown 73 percent over the last year, while shopping searches on Google have been flat. Indeed, when it comes to search and overall web traffic referrals, Google is still the top referral source. 

Facebook is now the top referral source for digital publishers. All this translates to severe implications for Google which is increasingly failing to catch up with the change recently. 

The search behemoth makes hundreds of changes in its search algorithm to improve search results for 1.2 trillion searches per year globally. Ironically, some of its major search enhancements were directed towards promoting its own products . The search giant has bought millions of its own ads to display their products atop search results, over those of ad-buying customers. On the business side, too, Google Search revenue saw a decline for the first time in 2016. 


From the usability perspective, the nature of ‘online search’ has changed. But Google search per se is still stuck with Blue Links –despite initiatives such as Hummingbird and Knowledge Graph have been largely useful for users. 

The big fight to be the king of app search

Mobile search and YouTube are still driving Google’s growth and most these revenues derive from mobile. The mobile era is ruled by two giants –Apples’ iOS and Google’s Android. However, with Apple marking a move into web and app search, the big challenge ahead for Google is to prove its relevance in mobile search. 

Apple, which did a revenue sharing agreement with its rival in 2014 and received $1 Billion, is now trying to get more app results in their search tools. Google’s desperation showed up when it released a series of enhancements to embolden search for mobile, including in-App indexing. 

Between October 2013 --when the search giant released app indexing for a limited set of publishers, and August 2016, the company released over 13 enhancements to augment the visibility of app content in search. But is it enough for Google to survive in the app era? Probably not! 

The last words: Is it time to reimagine search?

Amit Singhal –the then chief of Google Search, in an interview with Recode said, ‘Google will not only survive the transition to mobile apps, but will thrive in it.’ However, the story looks different today with new approaches of search coming up.Jelly Search --created by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and recently acquired by Pinterest, reimagines search as a social network which gets you answers from real people. 

When Google first launch semantic search, it was a major search breakthrough which was not only competent enough to decipher complex queries, it also helped users find the most relevant information. 

Can Google turn the tide for one more time before companies like Apple or any other disruptor makes a serious entry? Because ‘search’ will continue to flourish, even if there is no Google! 

Author : Mastufa Ahmed

Source : http://www.in.techradar.com/news/internet/web/whats-wrong-with-the-iconic-google-search/articleshow/57556216.cms

Categorized in Search Engine

Bots” may be something that is just dismissed by many as the latest buzzword of the moment, but their evolution was one of the most significant technological developments of 2016 and it is quickly becoming clear that bots are going to have a huge impact on search.

At the moment, the only way to search for anything on the internet is to Google it. Ok, so there are other search engines, but the rules are the same – you type something in, and if a brand doesn’t immediately pop up on the first page, they’re not doing their SEO correctly. People won’t visit their website, consumers won’t buy from them.

That model is set to change fundamentally in the next few years. Marketers have been busy working on “search” for the last 15 years, and companies around the world have invested millions in keyword buying in order to arrive on the first page of Google, but this is actually a sub-optimal system. Why? Let me explain.


The evolution of bots

When you search for something on Google, or even within a large e-commerce site such as Zalando or Amazon, what actually happens is that you get an overload of results.

For example, if you want to buy a jacket, you get 50 pages of jackets, which is so overwhelming that in reality none of us ever really go beyond the second page. But what if the jacket you really need is on the fifth page?

Search is not working as it should today. Bots, however, are going to fundamentally change the way we search – and in fact, they already are.

Facebook, as you might expect, was one of the first companies to start with bots. They’ve started to allow brands to use artificial intelligence engines to offer customer service through Facebook’s Messenger app. One of the first European brands to take advantage of this was Dutch airline KLM.

Through a plug-in on the KLM site, if you book a flight with them, the last thing that you’ll be asked is if you want to send your inflight documentation to Messenger. If you opt in to that, you’ll get flight notifications and information via Messenger.

The rise of the smart speaker

In recent months, both Amazon and Google have launched smart speakers with personal assistants that use a voice interface, rather than text. Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo both allow you to ‘ask’ them things, from searching for a specific song to play to ordering a cab.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo: a game-changer for search?

The majority of the users of such devices ask quite simple requests, but about one third of the estimated 1.7 million Amazon Echo owners are ordering products through it. This means you already have around 500,000 households buying products on a voice-controlled device that’s been created by Amazon. If this increases in popularity and effectiveness, it’s going to create a new world of search.

What I think is going to happen next, and very soon, is that these voice-controlled devices will be something we’ll have with us all the time, in the same way that we all carry around mobile phones. In fact, they’ll probably be on our phone as well, in the same way that Siri is on Apple phones. And this in turn will hugely affect search.

An evolving customer journey

One good demonstration of how this is going to affect search is if I’m looking for holiday insurance. I’ll ask my bot to search for suitable insurance, and it will start to search and talk to the bots of insurance companies.

The bot will go through the search pages for me, and will then tell me when it’s found the insurance that fits what I asked for. This means that companies will have to ensure that their bots find the bots of consumers.

It’s been interesting to watch the aggressive entrance of Google Home into the market, as you can definitely feel that they’re worried by what Amazon is doing.

Google want to hang onto their current dominance in the future of search, but they now have to chase Amazon in order to do this, and plough a lot of their investments in this direction. They have no other choice than to re-invent search at a high pace as the current model is under pressure.


Completely automated searches

What Google is aiming to do is make the search process automated and based on locations, and therefore hyper-relevant for users. We’re still a way off this, but you can definitely see the first signs of what it will look like in some brands.

London aerial view

Location will play a much greater role in search's future

A good example is on the outdoor clothing company Northface’s website. It’s now switched to a much more customer-orientated search model that asks questions and tailors the results accordingly.

You can type: “I need a rain jacket”. The question “What kind of activity do you want to do with it?” appears, followed by “What colour?” Once the bot has gone through the questions, you then see the jackets that fit your criteria.

Disney is also another company that’s going to be using bots in this way. I’ve seen a demonstration of what they’re planning, where you’ll be able to talk to a bot in the guise of Mickey Mouse (awesome!) to plan your holiday.

These first applications of bots are optimisations of the search process. Looking ahead to the second phase in a few years, the process will be completely automated and based on your personal profile. You’ll have a personal servant – a bot – to go through the search process for you.

So what does this seismic shift in search mean? Well, while it’s going to be fantastic for the customer, brands and companies are going to have to seriously rethink the way they want to be found. It’s going to be interesting to watch.


Source : http://minutehack.com/opinions/future-search-how-bots-shifting-the-customer-journey

Categorized in Search Engine

For large swaths of consumers, the right to access free online content is seen as sacrosanct -- and has been hugely influential over their expectations of what the Internet is and what it should provide. But with ad-blocking on the rise, there is little recognition or willingness on the part of the consumer to accept that ads are at the core of this.

Frustration is the principal driver of ad-blocking at the moment. According to our research, almost six in ten ad blockers are in the “Frustrated” group (saying that ads are intrusive, annoying or that there are simply too many of them). Interestingly, four in ten find themselves in the Selective segment -- those who might be using ad blockers, but who also say they engage with some ads or have found brands/products via online advertising. Large numbers of ad-blocker users are still willing to engage with ads, then; the key is that ads need to be relevant and non-intrusive -- a feat that is possible, if far easier said than done. 


While some publishers have simply denied access to ad-blocker users (a tactic that is risky when so many competitors keep their doors open), others have tried to increase engagement with subscription-based models. The obvious problem here is that so many digital consumers remain reluctant to pay for online content that is currently available via ad-supported models. The substantial discrepancies between the numbers using, versus the numbers paying for, music and movie streaming services are stark reminders of this: far more people will subscribe to free ad-based versions of a service than pay for access to the premium tier.

Certainly, that 16- to-34-year-olds are the most likely to be paying for content is a dose of good news, suggesting that this mindset is likely to become more widespread in the future (particularly in light of Apple Music’s decision not to offer a free tier). In reality, however, willingness to pay is linked very strongly to the type of content on offer. Consumers are a lot more likely to be paying for content streaming services like Spotify or Netflix than they are for news Web sites or premium Web services. And this is where Amazon’s Prime service makes sense, bundling an expanding host of services (music, movies, video, commerce perks, food delivery, etc.) under one monthly subscription plan could well be a glimpse of the future. More services could choose to combine things that people will pay for with those they won't, ensuring that both get revenue.

Even so, stand-alone subscription models remain impractical for much online content. And here it is social channels that offer considerable promise. The almost universal reach of social media and the migration of many online activities onto social platforms has essentially positioned the likes of Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube as middlemen between content creators and consumers.

The ability of most of these social platforms to deliver (comparatively) user-friendly cross-device ads using logged-in data is already a clear strength, but the development of social chat bots and their future marketing potential is where the real value of social shines through. With the consent of the consumer, chat bots could re-engage users on a 1:1 basis in a non-intrusive and relevant manner, in an environment largely out of reach of ad blockers and at the cost of the brand or advertiser.

Such an evolution is in line with how consumer behaviours are changing. Look at the channels people say they use when they want more information about a product, brand or service and, while search engines still top the table in all demographics, the age-based splits are revealing. Older groups remain the most wedded to “traditional” sources such as consumer reviews, price-comparison sites and brand Web sites, but younger groups are leading the charge towards “newer” options such as vlogs, social networks and mobile apps. In fact, social networks are not far from toppling search engines as the top destination for 16- to-24-year-olds. No less important is that 16- to-24-year-olds are about twice as likely as 55- to-64-year-olds to be using voice search/control tools on their mobile devices -- almost one in four are.

Of course, pragmatism is essential here. Some consumers will always resist brand interactions in any form. AI and chat bots are still in their nascent stages, and it will take time for them to become sophisticated enough to handle non-basic interactions without any human intervention. And some brands will find a much warmer reception in social contexts than others (dictated largely by the services and content they have to offer).

Nevertheless, consumers are spending more time each year on social networks and on mobile devices, they are (relatively) happy to engage with brands in social contexts when the value exchange is clear, video consumption and search are both set to expand inside the social arena, and AI/bots will only become more and more sophisticated -- facilitating personalized and relevant conversations in a resource-light way. If free is to prevail, things are therefore likely to become still more social in the years ahead.  


Author : Jason Mander

Source : http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/292596/the-future-of-free-is-social.html

Categorized in Social

Nearly a year ago, Google expanded their search engine to begin instantly answering questions, such as the death of a celebrity or a math problem. The result was a reaction to the true nature of search; nobody was writing something into Google without actively seeking an answer.

That answer may be finding a particular piece or a few different pieces of content, or simply a particular website, but you are asking the question; "where is this thing I want?" The instant responsiveness of Google and its ability to query an entire database of the Internet has made other sites take notice.

That's why sites like Periscope, Medium, Vevo and Hacker News have adopted Algolia's hosted cloud search platform, an API that brings Google's instant to near-instant search capabilities to their sites. The result is that their content is immediately searchable and relevant, so that if a user makes a complex query and/or a typo, they will still receive results that make sense for what they're looking for. "By leveraging the trove of internal data that websites or mobile apps have, we are helping them to deliver an experience that is even deeper and more personalized than what Google does for web searches," said Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO of Algolia. "Our goal is to make search seamless, nearly invisible.

Today we can deliver relevant results at the first keystroke. In the future, all results will be personalized and delivered before the question is even completely formulated." This is an important approach for businesses large and small to take, and closes in on AI; Algolia's technology works to not just index and search your data, but also make sure that it produces the right answer to a query.

This is an interesting comparison to the ever-growing world of the Internet of Things, led by Amazon's Echo. Users, despite their accents, stuttering or other things that make a question "imperfect" are still able to get an answer. Algolia, their competitor Elastic and Google all recognize this, with Algolia in particular even advertising directly on their website that you should try a test search with a typo, to show how the platform can answer the question regardless. Google will even go as far as to suggest what you may be trying to type, if not bringing you the exact answer despite your mistake.

As Quartz's Leo Mirani said, there are over 10 trillion web pages to index, including but not limited to the masses of social media services providing terabytes if not petabytes of information into said stream. This is the same problem that many startups and companies will begin to find, both from the angle of big data overload and the expectations of the user.


The instantaneous nature of search may make users unlikely to even browse the same way, as we move away from the original web's exploratory nature to people visiting each website with a purpose. In the same Quartz article, Mirani speaks to author Stefan Weitz, who wrote the book Search: How The Data Explosion Makes Us Faster, where Weitz argues that search must mature to mirror human nature, and be ready to answer a query at speed.

 "We must think of search as the omniscient watcher in the sky, aware of everything this happening on the ground below," said Weitz. "For this to happen, search itself needs to be deconstructed into its component tasks: indexing and understanding the world and everything in it; reading senses, so search systems can see and hear (and eventually smell and touch!) and interact with us in more natural ways; and communicating with us humans in contextually appropriate ways, whether that's in text, in speech, or simply by talking to other machines on our behalf to make things happen in the real world."

To Algolia's Dessaigne, this approach is a natural course. "Personalization of results is also going to be an important trend for websites and apps, particularly among big retailers and media websites. Along this progression, voice interfaces are going to gain traction. We are still far from truly conversational interfaces, but we'll eventually get there."

While we all dream of a day when we can have an answer as we speak, or even think of the question, we are far away from it. Nevertheless, startups are clearly ready to make the jump for us. We're in a world that's far from the days when having a search bar was a quirky feature; users have a question and to succeed in business, you'll need to have an answer.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/amy-cuddy/3-body-language-books-that-all-leaders-should-read-this-summer.html

Categorized in Search Engine

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