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Source: This article was published thefutureofthings.com - Contributed by Member: Issac Avila

Research is the most critical step when writing an academic paper. It’s nearly impossible for students to impress and inspire the assessor with their academic paper if it’s not well-researched. It needs to contain authentic and genuine information for credibility, and that requires a credible source with authoritative reference materials.

While most academic resources can now be easily accessed online, using search engines like Google can be quite frustrating. The reason is that popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are full of advertisements and click baits that can really deter your effectiveness. And if you’re lucky enough to find some nearly relevant information with the aforementioned search engines, you will notice that it is improperly (rarely) referenced, poorly formatted and casually presented

We both know that you can’t get away with citing WikiHow, Hubspot or Wikipedia in your research paper. So what’s next? You need a list of search engines for students which will provide credible and authentic scholarly material for your use and reference – and for that, we’ve got you covered. Below is a list of the top 9 Educational Search Engines for Students that you will find rich in authoritative, accurate and credible information for your academic projects and assignments.

If for some reason you still can’t find what you’re looking for or you are overloaded with other research papers or essays and still want to provide a high quality work with credible resources, you may try custom writing service like www.copycrafter.net/custom-writing. CopyCrafter company has qualified and experienced authors that will deliver high-quality custom essays or research papers on pretty much any subject area. And for now, you may try yourself, with the help of the following resources:

1.Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free, customized academic search engine designed specifically for students, tutors, researchers and anyone interested in academic materials. It’s the most popular research search engine for students and it lists academic resources across a wide range of sources. It allows students and researchers to find credible information, research papers and search journals, and save them in their personal library.

2.iSEEK- Education

iSeek is another widely used and one of the best search engines for students, educators and scholars. It’s a reliable, smart, and safe tool for your academic research and paper writing. Since the search engine was specially designed with students, educators and researchers in mind, you will be able to find credible and relevant resources that will ultimately save your time.

3.Microsoft Academic Research

Most people can associate with Microsoft products and brands, and there is no denying that the company delivers some incredible quality and consistency in its project. Microsoft Academic Research is no exception; the search engine indexes a wide range of scientific journals and research publications from engineering and computer science to biology and social science. It has over 47 million publications written by more than 20 million authors. Microsoft Academic Research allows you to search resources based on authors, conferences, and domains.

4.ResearchGate

If you’re a science major, you will love ResearchGate. In fact, chances are you’ve already searched for certain academic topics in Google and ended up on the ResearchGate platform. It’s a networking site for students, researchers, and scientists and provides access to more than 100 million publications and over 15 million researchers. Other than accessing the information, the platform also lets you ask researchers questions.

5.Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha presents itself as a computational knowledge engine’ that provides results as answers. All you need is to type in the question or topic that you’re interested in like “What is the diameter of the observable universe?” and the answer will pop up. The best part is it doesn’t make you scroll through tens of pages of results. It doesn’t present search results as the other engines, but it’s great for students looking for quick, snappy answers to bits of questions as they go about their assignments and projects.

6.ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect presents itself as a leading and reliable full-text scientific database that offers access to journal publications, book chapters, and research papers. It’s one of the most popular science search engines for students with more than 20,000 books and over 2,500 journals across various scientific topics and domains. You will be able to access articles, book chapters, peer-reviewed journals and content from topics and subjects like Chemistry, Computer Science, Energy, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Engineering, Materials Science, Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics and so on.

7.RefSeek

RefSeek employs a minimalistic design, which doesn’t look like much at first, but there is a lot going on in the background. It’s probably the most aggressive search engines for students as it pulls from more than 1 billion journals, research papers, book, encyclopedias and web pages. It works more or less like Google, but it only focuses on or academic and scientific results without the distraction of paid links. So you can expect the most results from .edu and .org sites.

8.Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)

ERIC is reliable and informative online digital library that is populated and maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. The platform provides academic and educational resources for educators, students and researchers with over 1.3 million publications. Students can find materials such as books, research papers, journals, technical reports, policy papers, dissertations, conference papers and so on. The platform receives over eight million searches per month, meaning it’s a reliable and authoritative source of academic and research information.

9.The Virtual Learning Resources Center (Virtual LRC)

Virtual LRC is a search engine for college students which allows students to search and explore educational websites with authoritative and high-quality information. The search engine indexes thousands of scholarly and academic information sites ensuring that you get the most refined and relevant results. The platforms and the results you get have been organized by researchers, library professionals and teachers around the globe to ensure that students easily get resources for their projects and academic assignments.

Conclusion

The above-named directories and databases are among the most trusted and highly reputable search engines for students to find credible, authoritative and reliable academic resources. They offer information and references on all subject areas including chemistry, biology, physics, business, social science, mathematics, computer and technology and environmental science.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published icij.org By Spencer Woodman - Contributed by Member: Dorothy Allen

Reporters are navigating a more treacherous environment than at any time in recent memory, and despite a plethora of digital tools to keep them safe – many are failing to adopt new strategies.

It’s a bleak reality: Last year alone, a record number of journalists were killed in Mexico, reporters were imprisoned in Myanmar and journalists in Turkeyfaced criminal charges en masse.

The press’s enemies have been boosted by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has lodged almost daily attacks against journalists, and many have followed his lead. Wealthy private interests have launched their own crusades: a private firm was hired to undermine New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer’s reporting on Koch Industries, and Harvey Weinstein offered big bucks to a military-grade surveillance firm to spy on reporters and their sources breaking the story of his sexual harassment.

“The World Press Freedom map is getting darker,” according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, “and media freedom is under threat now more than ever.”

[Journalists] frequently disregard their sense of insecurity even when they feel unsafe in public or cyberspace.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

These threats are compounded by increasingly potent hacking tools falling into the hands of governments around the world and, in some cases, hackers serving government interests. This makes personal cybersecurity an essential first line of defense for reporters everywhere.

Yet many journalists are failing to utilize some of the most basic tools to keep them and their sources safe from digital attack. A recent study by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression found that some of the most at-risk journalists “frequently disregard their sense of insecurity even when they feel unsafe in public or cyberspace.”

So what can journalists (and citizens) do to better protect themselves online? Here are five security tools that have emerged as among the most commonly recommended for reporters and news organizations as well as their sources.

1. Signal and other end-to-end encrypted apps

Phone calls and digital messaging often comprise the bulk of a journalist’s workday. But conventional lines of communication can leave the contents of conversations vulnerable to hacking. And, even if someone is not able to intercept to the contents of these chats, a hacker can still access extensive archives of related metadata, including who you talked to and when.

But there are an increasing number of options to help you communicate securely with a high degree of confidence.

As we settle into 2018, the app Signal — possibly you’ve already heard of it – is a clear favorite for secure voice calls and messaging between journalists, their editors, and sometimes their civil servant sources.

You can easily use the Signal app on your phone.

“Everyone is really enthusiastic about Signal,” said Harlo Holmes, director of newsroom digital security with the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Right now it’s the state of the art in terms of encrypted communication.”

To the user, Signal looks and operates like a traditional chat app, and also allows you to avoid expensive international call and text fees. But Signal also offers what’s called end-to-end encryption, meaning communications can only be deciphered on the physical devices of the communicating users. Even if a government tried to compel the group of developers that administers Signal to turn over your communications, it couldn’t provide information: Signal simply has no ability to figure out exactly what you’re doing on its platform.

An increasing number of digital platforms are using end-to-end encryption, but some popular products differ from Signal in one key way: While some of these firms may not be able to access the content of your communications, they can often access valuable metadata that may reveal who you were communicating with and when. These apps also may allow users to inadvertently send messages without end-to-end encryption.

To learn more about Signal, Holmes recommends checking out the foundation’s page on Security Planner, a project of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

2. Secure file storage and encrypted sharing

A large portion of our lives is often stored on our laptops and the messaging platforms, social media sites and work portals they access. For journalists, this can mean a lot of sensitive material, including leaked documents, identities of sources and unpublished story drafts.

Bill Budington a security engineer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group dedicated to digital privacy, points to the particularly risky situation of crossing a border and recommends a series of products and measures journalists and others can adopt to keep files safe in the most at-risk circumstances.

His first tip: When most under threat, ditch your primary laptop or smartphone completely. If you have a burner phone or a cheap netbook that doesn’t contain sensitive data, bring this secondary device along instead while traveling.

But when burner devices aren’t an option, Budington says, “the most powerful thing” a person can do to keep devices safe at a border-crossing is to make sure the hard drive is fully encrypted beforehand – helping to ensure that only those with the device’s passphrase will be able to access its files. This step is also among the easiest – for Mac iOS and some Windows users, it can be as simple as clicking a few buttons to activate built-in encryption programs.

Even with an encrypted hard drive, hackers can attempt to “brute-force” a password, potentially gaining access to the encrypted data. (In many jurisdictions, courts and law enforcement agencies can try to compel you to turn over your password under threat of punishment, including incarceration.) An open-source program called VeraCrypt can add an additional layer of encryption, so that, even if hackers get access to your hard drive, they then must enter what amounts to a highly-fortified folder to gain access to your most sensitive information.

Yet even the most highly secured hard drive will provide little help in protecting your data when you inevitably need to transfer a sensitive document to someone else via the internet. Some of the most prominent file-sharing programs, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, do not provide what Budington calls “client-side” encryption by default.

“For cloud storage, the most important feature for secure storage is for the program you’re using to encrypt files locally on your own machine before they are uploaded to the cloud servers,” Budington told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). There are some services that provide local encryption prior to upload – Budington recommends SpiderOak, the Keybase filesystemtresoritand Jungle Disk.

You can learn more about device security and document storage by watching a security talk Budington gave in December.

3. Password managers

As hackers become more sophisticated, maintaining strong and up-to-date passwords that aren’t reused across different services is a must. But for reporters who use numerous online services and databases, this can become burdensome: Memorizing a series of complex and ever-changing passwords isn’t feasible and storing them in your computer or email makes them prone to fall into the hands of hackers.

Chris Walker, Digital Security Advisor at the Tactical Technology Collective, a cyber security initiative based in Berlin, recommends solving this problem with an encrypted password manager, which can both generate and store your passwords for you.

“Writing down your passwords and keeping them all in one place might not sound like a good idea at first,” Walker says, but he assures that with the right password manager, users will be more secure with fewer hassles. These apps can both generate stronger passwords and remember them for you.

KeyPass is just one Password manager available.
 
Walker recommends one tool in particular: KeePassXC, a system he describes as highly secure. “It is well maintained, free and open-source software that relies on well understood, standards-based encryption to protect your passwords,” Walker says. “It is also quite simple. It does not try to store your data online or sync between multiple devices. This simplicity helps protect KeePassXC from many potential avenues of attack.”

KeePassXC also has competitors that have been highly rated, including Lastpass, which both Securityplanner.org and online consumer guide Wirecutter recently recommended.

4. Two-factor authentication and its innovations

But Walker is quick to point out that even the most well-managed passwords must be used, when possible, alongside two-factor authentication – an extra layer of security that most often requires users to enter a temporary code that is only accessible from a personal device, usually a cell phone, in addition to their passwords. The idea is that, even if hackers have cracked your password, they still must somehow get their hands on a physical device that only you carry.

This is a basic step that should be used whenever you need to log in to an online service – including email portals, Twitter, Facebook, bank accounts and wherever else you use passwords to protect and to prevent hackers obtaining sensitive information.

One problem with this: The text messages containing these codes can be intercepted. This year may also see a growing adoption of a new sort of two-factor authentication that security engineers believe may be safer than receiving a code on your iPhone: Google is now offering to provide people at high risk of surveillance a program that requires users deploy two physical authenticator keys as a final step for unlocking an account. The devices can fit on a keychain and use USB or bluetooth technology to communicate with your computer and smartphone.

Google’s two-factor authentication requires an extra login step.

Runa Sandvik, the senior director of information security at The New York Times, is a fan of Google’s new initiative, known as the Advanced Protection Program. “I think the Advanced Protection Program (APP) is a great option for at-risk users,” Sandvik told ICIJ. “I have, personally, used APP for a few months and see no reason not to turn it on.”

For more information on Google’s APP and its physical security key, the New York Times has a good article on it and you can also visit the Google’s website. (Unfortunately, this feature isn’t free – each key costs about $20.)

5. Slack alternatives for your office

Over the past several years, new technology known widely by the brand-named Slack has pervaded American office culture. It’s part chat, part email, highly distracting and can archive everything you say and all the documents you upload. Slack has been criticized for its lack of full encryption, and, last year, a web security researcher discovered that a vulnerability in Slack’s code would allow hackers to gain access to millions of users’ private conversations – a particularly sensitive potential exposure for some, given that Slack’s private channels are infamous for encouraging fierce workplace gossip.

Slack does not offer end-to-end encryption, so the contents of your communications may be retrievable if the firm receives an order from, say, an intelligence agency or law enforcement office. Martin Shelton, a data security researcher who works with at-risk groups, says that, although Slack may be the most user-friendly service of its kind, organizations seeking a higher level of security have other options. Semaphor, designed by the tech security firm SpiderOak, is a prominent alternative to Slack. Shelton recommends it as a “nice choice for an end-to-end encrypted chat,” but notes that its “user experience is a little clunky.”

Shelton also points to Mattermost, another potentially appealing chat application for organizations on perhaps the more established side. Like Signal, Mattermost’s code is open source, meaning that anyone can inspect its architecture for vulnerabilities.

“This is great because it’s regularly audited by security researchers,” Shelton says. “You can also host it on your own server, so you know where your data is located,” Shelton notes that this last feature can, however, mean a bit more work. “News institutions will need administrators who know what they’re doing to maintain the server,” Shelton says.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation reminds us, good data security is a process, not just a series of products. The tools above only offer a start. Some commonly used digital security products that didn’t make the list also include email encryption – which can be a pain to set up but can ensure your encrypted emails are all but impenetrable – as well as secure and private web browsing with Tor and DuckDuckGo.

For more tools and a more detailed explanation of how to use them, take a look at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense project and the Citizen Lab’s SecurityPlanner.org. Threats to journalists may be building, but, luckily, so are our defenses against them.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Barbara Larson

Data nuts, here is your chance to get your data and charts looking pretty in the Google search results snippets.

Google has announced support for datasets markup schema in the Google search results. This makes it possible for searchers to better visualize data represented on a web page directly in Google’s search results.

Google explained that “news organizations that publish data in the form of tables can add additional structured data to make the dataset parts of the page easier to identify for use in relevant Search features.” Google added, “News organizations add the structured data to their existing HTML of a page, which means that news organizations can still control how their tables are presented to readers.”

Here is what it looks like, with the markup version on the right:

Google’s developer site explains this is a “pilot” release of this markup. Google wrote:

Datasets are easier to find when you provide supporting information such as their name, description, creator and distribution formats are provided as structured data. Google’s approach to dataset discovery makes use of schema.org and other metadata standards that can be added to pages that describe datasets. The purpose of this markup is to improve discovery of datasets from fields such as life sciences, social sciences, machine learning, civic and government data, and more.

Around two years ago, Google first announced this as Science datasets in the search. Google is now calling them simply “Dataset” and expanding it beyond the science community to any data-driven agency.

Here are some examples of what can qualify as a dataset:

  • A table or a CSV file with some data.
  • An organized collection of tables.
  • A file in a proprietary format that contains data.
  • A collection of files that together constitute some meaningful dataset.
  • A structured object with data in some other format that you might want to
    load into a special tool for processing.
  • Images capturing data.
  • Files relating to machine learning, such as trained parameters or neural network structure definitions.
  • Anything that looks like a dataset to you.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was published theverge.com By Dami Lee - Contributed by Member: Anna K. Sasaki

Google is working with publishers to make it easier to view data journalism in search results, as announced on its blog today. It’s one of the steps Google News Initiative is taking to make data journalism more visible, with the field quickly growing across media. Over half of all newsrooms now have dedicated data journalists, and this feature aims to pinpoint the most useful results from pages containing data tables.

“Data journalism takes many forms, and it’s not always clear from the headline that there is potentially useful data within that document or story,” Google News Lab’s Simon Rogers wrote in today’s blog post. “It isn’t always easy for Google Search to detect and understand tables of data to surface the most relevant results.”

News organizations have the option to add additional structured data to note which parts of their page will be the most relevant in search results. Adding this structured data to the existing HTML of their page, they’ll be able to control how the tables will be presented to readers when searching. One of the early participants is ProPublica, which has been testing the feature with its interactive databases like the Nonprofit Explorer.

The feature is currently in pilot, so search results may not frequently turn up datasets just yet. Developers can look into how to make their datasets more discoverable here.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was published cnet.com By MATT ELLIOTT - Contributed by Member: Grace Irwin

Want to quietly opt out of an email chain or take back that pathetic note to your ex? Gmail can help.

Google overhauled Gmail with a new look and a host of new features including Smart Compose, and you can get the new Gmail right now. While the new additions are appreciated, Gmail has a number of oldies but goodies that you may have overlooked. Here are seven such features that make Gmail awesome.

Mute annoyingly noisy email threads

Muting group texts are probably the single greatest thing about owning an iPhone at Cricket Wireless) (or at least texting on an iPhone), and Gmail offers a similar ability to mute noisy email threads. If you got put on a group email and no longer care to follow the back-and-forth replies, you can opt out. Open the thread, click the triple-dot button at the top and click Mute. The conversation will be moved to your archive, where it will remain even when more replies arrive. 

If you later get curious about what you missed, you can always find it in the All Mail view of Gmail, which includes your archived messages. You can then unmute the conversation if you so choose by opening the conversation and clicking the Move to Inbox button at the top of the page.

Send and archive for the win

You can add a second send option for all replies and email forwards that archives the conversation with your reply or forward. It's helpful for keeping your inbox orderly. And don't worry, the conversation will pop back up in your inbox if someone replies to it. To set it up, click the gear icon in the top right and go to Settings > General > Send & Archive, select Show "Send & Archive" button in reply and then scroll down and hit the Save Changes button. Now, you'll see a blue Send-and-archive chive button next to the regular Send button at the bottom of replies and forwards.

gmail-send-and-archive
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Set undo send to 30 seconds

There's an undo option for emails you send and then immediately regret sending, whether it's because of a typo or your current emotional state. Or maybe you just hit send by accident when you were in the middle of composing your missive. Go to Settings > General > Undo, select the maximum time limit of 30 seconds and then scroll down and hit the Save Changes button. (The other options are 5, 10 and 20 seconds). After you hit send, look for the banner that pops up at the bottom of the screen that says "Your message has been sent." Click Undo to bring it back.

Hiding in plain sight: Advanced search

With Google behind Gmail, it's no surprise that Gmail offers powerful search functionality. You've likely used the search bar above your inbox to dig up an old email based on a keyword or sender, but it can do so much more. Click the little down-arrow button on the right of the search bar to open Gmail's advanced search panel where you can search for date ranges and attachment sizes, by subject line and with other filters.

gmail-advanced-search
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Preview pane for an Outlook-like look

If you've got a big display, then I encourage you to make use of your luxurious screen real estate and use Gmail's preview pane. It makes Gmail look and feel more like Outlook, where you can view and respond to messages without leaving the inbox. Head to Settings > Advanced, click Enable for Preview Pane and then scroll down and hit the Save Changes button. You'll see a new button at the top of your inbox that lets you toggle the preview pane on and off and choose to split your inbox horizontally or vertically.

Choose your tabs

Gmail does an admirable job of filtering your inbox so the messages you care about go to your inbox while the rest get relegated to the Social or Promotional tabs. Go to Settings > Inbox > Categories and you can choose which tabs you want at the top. Or if you simply ignore all tabs other than your Primary inbox, then you can uncheck all but Primary for a streamlined, tab-less Gmail experience.

Email large attachments via Google Drive

There's a little Drive icon at the bottom of Gmail's compose window. It lets you attach files you have stored in Drive or simply send a link. For Google Drive formats -- Docs, Sheets, Slides and so on -- your only option is to send a link to the file. For other file types -- PDFs, Word docs, images -- you have the option of sending them as an attachment or a Drive link, which lets you share files larger than Gmail's 25MB size limit for attachments.

Categorized in Research Methods

Source: This article was published entrepreneur.com By Neil Pate - Contributed by Member: David J. Redcliff

You probably use Google every day. But, are you using it right?

You may know how to use Google's basic search functions, but in this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Neil Patel wants to teach you some advanced tricks for market research. 

His first tip is to use an exclusion query. By excluding some criteria, you can find out which sites mention you or a keyword of your choice while filtering out unnecessary noise. For example, if you want to see which websites mention you, but have a bunch of mentions from sites or blogs you are associated with, you can use an exclusion query to find new potential partnerships.

Categorized in Market Research

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz - Contributed by Member: Wushe Zhiyang

Google image search on desktop tests tiled image layout with titles and URLs beneath the snippets.

Google Image Search for desktop is testing a user interface and design that makes it more aligned with the mobile image search layout that launched back in March of this year. The desktop version in this test shows the tiled image layout in this white interface, it also shows the titles and URLs beneath each image search result snippet.

Here is a screenshot of the test, which I grabbed from a Google support forum

This brings it more in line with the mobile version of the image search results on Google. Here is a screenshot from my iPhone this morning:

Here is what the current design looks like, without the tiled design and titles and URLs:

Google is often testing new user interfaces, but it does make sense that it would align the desktop and mobile interfaces for image search.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Contributed by Member: William A. Woods

The rate at which Google shows its “People Also Ask” search suggestions, aka “Related Questions”, jumped by 34% this week.

According to data from Moz, Google’s Related Questions are now shown 43% of the time.

Dr. Pete Meyers@dr_pete

Big increase (+34%) in Related Questions ("People Also Ask") on Google SERPs last night. They're on a whopping 43% of all SERPs in the MozCast 10K data set. This number rises and falls, of course, but I've hand-checked and confirmed the increase--

To put that in a different perspective — one out of every two or three searches will now display “People Also Ask” suggestions.

Putting it yet another way — Related Questions are now the fourth most commonly displayed Google search feature out of all the features tracked by Moz.

As you can see in the image above, Related Questions are now shown almost as frequently as AdWords.

Just so we’re all on the same page, this feature is not the same as the “People Also Search For” suggestion box. Although the wording is similar, they are two distinctly different features.

This data strictly applies to the “People Also Ask” suggestion box, as seen in the example below.

What makes this feature unique is that each suggestion has a drop-down button that can be clicked on to reveal a search snippet.

Therein lies the opportunity for SEOs and site owners. With this feature now appearing more regularly, it gives content creators the opportunity to drive traffic by targeting related terms.

For example — instead of going after a highly competitive query with a new piece of content, you might want to consider other ways that question might be typed into Google.

A related question could be less competitive, giving you the opportunity to gain exposure by possibly appearing in the “People also ask” suggestions.

Since this feature usually appears near the top of the first page, ranking for a related questions suggestion could be highly valuable.

Categorized in Search Engine

 Source: This article was published econsultancy.com By Rebecca Sentance - Contributed by Member: William A. Woods

What does the future hold for voice search? If you search the web for these words – or a version of them – you’ll encounter no shortage of grand predictions.

“By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.” Or, “By 2020, 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice.” (I’ll come back to that one in a second). Or, “2017 will be the year of voice search.” Oops, looks like we might have missed the boat on that last one.

The great thing about the future is that no-one can know exactly what’s going to happen, but you can have fun throwing out wild predictions, which most people will have forgotten about by the time we actually get there.

That’s why you get so many sweeping, ambitious, and often contradictory forecasts doing the rounds – especially with a sexy, futuristic technology like voice. It doesn’t do anyone any real harm unless for some reason your company has decided to stake its entire marketing budget on optimizing for the 50% of the populace who are predicted to be using voice search by 2020.

However, in this state of voice search series, I’ve set out to take a realistic look at voice search in 2018, beyond the hype, to determine what opportunities it really presents for marketers. But when it comes to predicting the future, things get a little murkier.

I've made some cautious predictions to the tune of assuming that if smart speaker ownership increases over the coming years, voice search volume will also likely increase; or that mobile voice search might be dropping away as smart speaker voice search catches on.

In this article, though, I'll be looking at where voice search as a whole could be going: not just on mobile, or on smart speakers, but of any kind. What is the likelihood that voice search will go "mainstream" to the point that it makes up as substantial a portion of overall search volume as is predicted? What are the obstacles to that? And what does this mean for the future of voice optimisation?

Will half of all searches by 2020 really be voice searches?

I'm going to start by looking at one of the most popular predictions that is cited in relation to voice search: "By 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice."

This statistic is popularly attributed to comScore, but as is often the case with stats, things have become a little distorted in the retelling. The original prediction behind this stat actually came from Andrew Ng, then Chief Scientist at Baidu. In an exclusive interview with Fast Company in September 2014, he stated that "In five years' time, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech."

The quote was then popularised by Mary Meeker, who included it on a timeline of voice search in her Internet Trends 2016 Report, with "2020" as the year by which this prediction was slated to come true.

So, not just voice search, but voice and visual search. This makes things a little trickier to benchmark, not least because we don't have any statistics yet on how many searches are carried out through images. (I'm assuming this would include the likes of Google Lens and Pinterest Lens, as well as Google reverse image search).

Let's assume for the sake of argument that 35% of Ng's predicted 50% of searches will be voice search, since voice technology is that bit more widespread and well-supported, while a visual search is largely still in its infancy. How far along are we towards reaching that benchmark?

I'm going to be generous here and count voice queries of every kind in my calculations, even though as I indicated in Part 1, only around 20% of these searches can actually be ranked for. Around 60% of Google searches are carried out on mobile (per Hitwise), so if we use Google's most recent stat that 1 in every 5 mobile searches is carried out via voice, that means about 12% of all Google searches (420 million searches) are mobile voice queries.

In Part 2 I estimated that another 26.4 million queries are carried out via smart speakers, which is an additional 0.75% - so in total that makes 12.75% of searches, or if we're rounding up, 13% of Google searches that are voice queries.

This means that the number of voice queries on Google would need to increase by another 22 percentage points over the next year and a half for Ng's prediction to come true. To reach 50% - the stat most often cited by voice enthusiasts as to why voice is so crucial to optimise for - we would need to find an additional 1.3 billion voice searches per day from somewhere.

That's nearly ten times the number of smart speakers predicted to ship to the US over the next three years. Even if you believe that smart speakers will single-handedly bring voice search into the mainstream, it's a tall order.

So okay, we've established that voice enthusiasts might need to cool their jets a bit when it comes to the adoption of voice search. But if we return to (our interpretation of) Andrew Ng's prediction that 35% of searches by 2020 will be voice, what is going to make the volume of voice search leap up those remaining 22 percentage points in less than two years?

Is it sheer volume of voice device ownership? Is it the increasing normalisation of speaking aloud to a device in public? Or is it something else?

Ng made another prediction, via Twitter this time, in December 2016 which gives us a clue as to his thinking in this regard. He wrote, "As speech-recognition accuracy goes from 95% to 99%, we'll go from barely using it to using all the time!"

So, Andrew Ng believes that sheer accuracy of recognition is what will take voice search into the mainstream. 95% word recognition is actually the same threshold of accuracy as human speech (Google officially reached this threshold last year, to great excitement), so Ng is holding machines to a higher standard than humans – which is fair enough, since we tend to approach new technology and machine interfaces with a higher degree of scepticism, and are less forgiving of errors. In order to win us over, they have to really wow us.

But is a pure vocal recognition the only barrier to voice search going mainstream? Let's consider the user experience of voice search.

The UX problems with voice

As I mentioned in our last installment of natural language and conversational search, when using voice interfaces, we tend to hold the same expectations that we have for a conversation with a human being.

We expect machines to respond in a human way, seamlessly and intuitively carrying on the exchange; when they don't, bringing us up short with an "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question," we're thrown off and turned off.

This explains why voice recognition is weighted so highly as a measure of success for voice interfaces, but it's not the only important factor. Often, understanding you still isn't enough to produce the right response; many voice commands depend on specific phrasing to activate, meaning that you can still be brought up short if you don't know exactly what to utter to achieve the result you want.

The internet is full of examples of what happens when our voice assistants don't quite understand the question.

Or what about if you misspeak – the verbal equivalent of a typo? When typing, you can just delete and retype your query before you submit, but when speaking, there's no way to take back the last word or phrase you uttered. Instead, you have to wait for the device to respond, give you an error, and then start again.

If this happens multiple times, it can prompt the user to give up in exasperation. Writing for Gizmodo, Chris Thomson paints a vivid picture of the frustration experienced by users with speech impediments when trying to use voice-activated smart speakers.

One of the major reasons that voice interfaces are heralded as the future of technology is because speaking your query or command aloud is supposed to be so much faster and more frictionless than typing it. At the moment, though, that's far from being the case.

However, while they might be preventing the uptake of voice interfaces (which is intrinsically linked to the adoption of voice search) at the moment, these are all issues that could reasonably be solved in the future as the technology advances. None of them are deal-breakers.

For me, the real deal-breaker when it comes to voice search, and the reason why I believe it will never see widespread adoption in its present state, is this: it doesn't do what it's supposed to.

One result to rule them all?

Think back for a moment to what web search is designed to do. Though we take it for granted nowadays, before search engines came along, there was no systematic way to find web pages and navigate the world wide web. You had to know the web address of a site already in order to visit it, and the early "weblogs" (blogs) often contained lists of interesting sites that web users had found on their travels.

Web search changed all that by doing the hard work for users – pulling in information about what websites were out there, and presenting it to users so that they could navigate the web more easily. This last part is the issue that I'm getting at, in a sidelong sort of way: so that they could navigate the web.

Contrast that with what voice search currently does: it responds to a query from the user with a single, definitive result. It might be possible to follow up that query with subsequent searches, or to carry out an action (e.g. ordering pizza, hearing a recipe, receiving directions), but otherwise, the voice journey stops there. You can't browse the web using your Amazon Echo. You can use your smartphone, but for all intents and purposes, that's just mobile search. Nothing about that experience is unique to voice search.

This is the reason why voice search is only ever used for general knowledge queries or retrieving specific pieces of information: it's inherently hampered by an inability to explore the web.

It's why voice search in its present state is mostly a novelty: not just because voice devices themselves are a novelty, but because it's difficult to really search with it.

One result to rule them all?

Even when voice devices like smart speakers catch on and become part of people's daily lives, it's because of their other capabilities, not because of search. Search is always incidental.

This is also why Google, Amazon and other makers of smart speakers are more interested in expanding the commands that their devices respond to and the places they can respond to them. For them, that is the future of voice.

What does this mean for voice search?

What true voice search could sound like

I see two possible future scenarios for voice search.

One, voice search remains as a "single search result" tool which is mostly useful for fact-finding exercises and questions that have a definitive answer, in which case there will always be a limit to how big voice search can get, and voice will only ever be a minor channel in the grand scheme of search and SEO. Marketers should recognise the role that it plays in their overall search strategy (if any), think about the use cases realistically, and optimise for those – or not – if it makes sense to.

Or two, voice search develops into a genuine tool for searching the web. This might involve a user being initially read the top result for their search, and then being presented with the option to hear more search results – perhaps three or four, to keep things concise.

If they then want to hear content from one of the results, they can instruct the voice assistant to navigate to that webpage, and then proceed to listen to an audio version of the news article, blog post, Wikipedia page, or other websites that they've chosen.

Duane Forrester, VP Insights at Yext, envisages just such an eventuality during a wide-ranging video discussion on the future of voice search with Stone Temple Consulting's Eric Enge and PeakActivity's Brent Csutoras. The whole discussion is excellent and well, well worth a watch or a read (the transcript is available beneath the video).

Duane Forrester: We may see a resurgence in [long-form content] a couple of years from now if our voice assistants are now reading these things out loud.

Brent Csutoras: Sure. Like an audible.

Duane: Exactly, like a built-in native audible, like “I’m on this page, do you want me to read it? “Yes, read it out loud to me.” There we go.

Brent: Yes because in that sense, I’m going to want to hear more. I’m driving down the street and want to hear about what’s happening and I want to hear follow up pieces.

Duane: It immediately converts every single website, every page of content, every blog, it immediately converts all of those into on-demand podcasts. That’s a cool idea, it’s a cool adaptation. I’m not sure if we’ll get there. We will when we get to the point of having a digital agent. But that’s still years in the future.

At first, I was sceptical of the idea that people would ever want to consume web content primarily via audio. Surely it would be slower and less convenient than visually scanning the same information?

Then I thought about the fast-growing popularity of podcasts and audiobooks and realized that the audio web could fit into our lives in many of the same ways that other types of audio have – especially if voice devices become as omnipresent as many techs and marketing pundits are predicting they will.

Is this a distant future? Perhaps. But this is how I imagine voice search truly entering the mainstream, the same way that web search did: as a means of exploring the web.

The future of voice search might not be Google

What surprises me is that for all the hype surrounding voice search and its possibilities, hardly anyone has pointed out the obvious drawback of the single search result or considered what it could mean for voice adoption.

An article by Marieke van de Rakt of Yoast highlights it as an obstacle but believes that screen connectivity is the answer. This is a possibility, especially as Google and Amazon are now equipping their smart speakers with screens - but I think that requiring a screen removes some of the convenience of voice as a user interface, one that can be interacted with while doing other things (like driving) without pulling the user's attention away.

For the most part, however, it seems to me that marketers and SEOs have been too content to just follow Google's lead (and Bing's, because realistically, where Google goes, Bing will follow) when it comes to things like voice search. Is Google presenting the user with a single search result? Everyone optimize for single search results; the future of search will be one answer!

Why? What about that makes for a good user experience? Is this what search was meant to do?

I understand letting Google set the agenda when it comes to SEO more broadly because realistically it's so dominant that any SEO strategy has to mainly cater to Google. However, I don't think we should assume that Google will remain the leader of the search in every new, emerging area like voice or visual search.

Oh, Google is doing its best to stay on top, and there's no denying that it's taken an early lead; its speech recognition and conversational search capabilities are currently second to none. But Google isn't the hot young start-up that it was when it came along and challenged the web search status quo. It's much bigger now, and has investors to answer to.

Google makes a huge amount of revenue from its search and advertising empire; its primary interest is in maintaining that. One search result suits Google just fine, if it means that users won't leave its walled garden.

Marketers and SEOs should remember that Google wasn't always the king of web search; other web search engines entered the game first, and were very popular – but Google changed the game because the way it had of doing the search was so much better, and users loved it. Eventually, the other search engines couldn't compete.

The same thing could easily happen with voice search.

The logos of some of the early search engines that Google out-competed in its quest for web search dominance.

The future of voice optimisation

So where does that leave the future of voice optimisation?

Many of these eventualities seem like far-off possibilities at best, and there’s no way of being certain how they will pan out. How should marketers go about optimising for voice now and in the near future?

Though I’ve taken a fairly sceptical stance throughout this series, I do believe that voice is worth optimising for. However, the opportunity around voice search specifically is limited, and so I believe that brands should consider all the options for being present on voice as a whole – whether that’s on mobile, as a mobile voice search result, or on smart speakers, as an Alexa Skill or Google Home Action – and pursue whatever strategy makes most sense for their brand.

I’m interested in seeing us move away from thinking about voice and voice devices as a search channel, and more as a general marketing channel that it’s possible to be present on in various different ways – like social media.

It’s still extremely early days for this technology, and while the potential is huge, there are still many things we don’t know about what the future of voice will look like, so it’s important not to jump the gun.

Brent Csutoras sums things up extremely well in the future of voice search discussion:

This is an important technology I really think you should pay attention to. What I worry about is that people start feeling like they have to be involved, right? It’s like, “Oh crap, I don’t want to be left behind.”

What I would say is that in this space, it’s like the example of Instagram. Everybody wanted to have an Instagram account and they had nothing visual to show, so they just started creating crap to show it. If you have something that fits for voice search right now, then you should absolutely take the steps that you can to participate with it. If you don’t, then definitely just pay attention to it.

This space is going to open up, it is going to provide an opportunity for just about everyone, so stay abreast of what’s happening in this space, what’s the technology, and start envisioning your company in that space, and then wait until you have that opportunity to make that a reality. But don’t overstress yourself and feel like you’re failing because you’re not in the space right now.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was published martechadvisor.com By Brett Tabano - Contributed by Member: Logan Hochstetler

During the holidays and other peak season times, most consumers will shop around for the best deal before booking travel, which is why comparison search ads - an element of performance marketing and sometimes referred to as vertical search ads - are critical.  In this conversation – a part of our Search and CRO special for July - we explore more about the concept of vertical or comparison search, and how you – the marketer - can apply it practically for better business outcomes. Brett Tabano, Senior Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlpha walks us through 5 key aspects of vertical search that are sure to get you thinking.

1. Search is more than Google: Vertical Search Engines are different from regular search engines.

Brett: When marketers think of search advertising, they often think of running ads on traditional search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. While this type of search advertising is important, it is also critical to consider vertical search or native comparison search, which entails running ads within the native search results from a publisher or platform.

A vertical search engine differs from a traditional search engine because it is specific to one particular product or service category versus the broad results you get from a traditional search engine. For example, KAYAK is a vertical search engine for travel, Zillow for the real estate sector, Progressive for car insurance, and Bankrate for mortgages.

Moreover, vertical search engines often require the user to input a number of structured data fields to get the results they are seeking, versus a typical keyword search from a traditional search engine.

This information is particularly useful because the user is voluntarily inputting information based on the service or product they are seeking a price/quote from versus having to infer data on the user.

2. Vertical search + programmatic is a powerful combination

Vertical search is particularly important for any brand or product in high-consideration service categories where the consumer is likely to compare multiple options before converting to a paying customer. Think auto insurance, life insurance, mortgage rates, credit cards, travel, home services, etc. These are the products and services that consumers typically research and compare quotes/prices before they purchase.

3 ways to search

  • Traditional ‘horizontal’ search: you have a broad idea of what you are looking for
  • Native ‘vertical’ (comparison) search: you know exactly what you are looking for
  • Discovery search – you don’t know what you are looking for but want to stumble upon content

Most ad networks require advertisers to pay an average price for their media regardless of the consumer segments they are trying to reach. When forced into an average pricing model, advertisers pay the same price for everyone, even though each user/impression has a different value to each advertiser. Through a programmatic platform, advertisers can right price each source, user and placement to ensure they are only acquiring traffic that has a high likelihood of converting. Advertisers want to value what they are buying from all supply sources as granularly as possible since each source, and each user has a different value to each advertiser. Without granularity, advertisers are forced to buy media on a one-size-fits-all approach using an average price. Meaning, different prices should be considered for the granular consumer segments you are now able to target through programmatic platforms. Being able to optimize bids for dozens (or hundreds) of different consumer segments in real-time is a benefit only a programmatic platform can offer, but it requires a change in mindset away from the simplicity provided through an average pricing model. 

3. Vertical search, competitor ads could make you money!

A key consideration for implementing a vertical search or native comparison search strategy is centered around your traditional search strategy. If you are actively buying search keywords to drive users to your site to purchase your product/service, how do you monetize the users that do not convert to recoup your marketing costs? Through vertical search or native comparison search, you can not only recoup these costs but more importantly, you can generate a new profitable ad revenue source.

Users search and purchase patterns are changing - and they are looking to obtain the best price/quote before making a purchase decision as quickly as possible. To match these new patterns and enhance the user experience, implementing a vertical or native comparison search is crucial as it allows the publisher to surface additional/competitive offers outside of their own.

It may sound counter-intuitive to showcase your competitors, but there are a number of use cases where you can test the waters to prove this model works.

For example, you are a hotel site and the consumer’s desired dates are sold out. Instead of forcing the user back to perform another search, you can surface additional hotel offers and generate revenue when the consumer clicks through. Or, you’re an airline, and the flight is sold out - the same concept can apply. Or you’re an insurance provider not offering coverage in the user’s state. These are all scenarios in which you should leverage native comparison search to monetize.

4. Vertical search is a performance marketing tactic

One of the benefits of performance marketing is that you are graded on how successful you are at driving sales, or at least, driving high-intent users. Vertical or native comparison search media is typically sold on a CPC (cost-per-click) model then backed into a CPA (cost-per-acquisition). This allows advertisers to quickly measure the success of the campaign and optimize accordingly.

5. Vertical search can directly impact your CRO (converting existing website traffic into revenue)

One of the best ways to determine when and where to display native comparison search ads is through the use of predictive analytics and machine learning. We are seeing many partners implement this strategy as it allows them to better understand the user’s intention. Perhaps the user is early in the decision process and not ready to buy at this time. Or perhaps this user is predicted to have a low CLV (customer lifetime value). This is when you would want to display additional offers in the form of native comparison search in order to generate ad revenue. Since this is a new revenue source, we are seeing many of our partners use this new revenue to attract new customers, typically through traditional search. By monetizing users that won't convert, they are now able to generate revenue which can then be used to attract more customers, that hopefully will. This creates a virtuous cycle for the publisher.

Our take: while a traditional search isn’t going anywhere, one cannot deny that user search behavior – and expectations – are changing (however subtly). At the bottom of the funnel, people will tend to turn to a vertical search engine over a generic one to get more specific, tailored and actionable results. In more B2C environments, they want the information they need to make a decision- irrespective of where it comes from. It is certainly an opportunity worth exploring for advertisers. A great way to start would be to test a small budget over the next buying cycle in your industry to see how it pays off!

Categorized in Search Engine

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