Source: This article was Published technode.com By TIANYU FANG - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

Since Google Search’s exit from China in 2010, homegrown tech giant Baidu has absorbed most of the Chinese search engine market, dominating over 70% of its market share. With rumors that Google is making a return and a state media commentary welcoming its re-entry, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li appears confident about defeating its past rival again; “If Google decides to return to China, we will fight and beat them again,” Li said in a WeChat post.

Many – including the 86% of participants in an internet poll who indicated their preference for Google over Baidu – would encourage Li to reconsider his statement. Even when the two search engines are subject to the same level of control, one could propose a handful of reasons to choose Google Search over Baidu: the Chinese tech giant’s innumerable copyright infringements, blatant disregard for user privacy, and equivocal ethical standards have constantly put it on the spotlight of public outcry.

Be that as it may, it is likely that Google will not beat Baidu in the search engine sector if it returns. Prior to Google’s exit in 2010, Baidu had a significantly larger market share than did its American rival. In China, user acquisition follows a different set of rules than the US, making the turf war between Google and Baidu not a competition between product qualities, but localized marketing strategies.

Long before $99 Xiaomi smartphones became ubiquitous nationwide, China’s internet industry heavily relied upon internet cafés, where many Chinese consumers from lower-tier cities first accessed the internet. The company paid internet café franchises to switch the default homepage of their browsers to Baidu, whereby increasing its visibilities and successfully reached China’s new internet users, as Quartz’s Josh Horwitz concluded.

What accompanied this marketing strategy was the success of Hao123.com, an online listings portal owned by Baidu with a search bar that redirects users to Baidu’s search results. While Google subsequently launched a similar service known as 265.com, Hao123.com’s expansion was way more “aggressive” – it was constantly accused of unauthorized hijackings of browser homepages, and many considered it malware. In fact, if one entered “Hao123” into Baidu’s search bar, “how to remove hao123” would appear in the dropdown list.

Google did not follow Baidu’s path to success for two reasons. First, the company had made little effort building its visibility in less developed regions. At the time when Baidu had built a sizable sales team of four thousand marketers, Google’s China branch had only a few hundred employees, primarily operated through third-party partnerships, and did not even build its own marketing team.

The second was the significant discrepancy between Baidu’s ethical standards and Google’s. The latter is known for its Code of Conduct – the noble motto “don’t be evil” being the most often quoted line – which heavily influenced the corporation’s decision-making. In 2008, the scene in China would be better characterized as “when Baidu went low, Google went high.” As China’s internet industry was back then largely ruled by the law of the jungle, Baidu chose to acquire users by taking advantage of gray areas in China’s legal system, such as offering illegal mp3 downloads.

Eight years later, many of these principles still hold true: as a significant part of its penetration strategy, Baidu expends more than 10% of its yearly revenue on mobile carriers and smartphone manufacturers, which in turn pre-install Baidu’s mobile apps on brand-new Android phones. An inattentive user intending to load one Baidu tool on a Windows laptop but forgets to unselect a hidden box in the corner may end up having five Baidu apps installed and default browser changed.

Baidu has seen its fair share of backlashes, but Chinese users have always had other alternatives, such as the Tencent-backed Sogou, the runner-up in China’s search engine market and a version of Bing has been operating in China for years. There is little chance that Google’s return will change the established scene in China’s search engine sector, although Google might have a better shot in more technically specialized areas: artificial intelligence, news aggregation, autonomous driving, and of course, advertising.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published voip.review By RUGILE BERTULE - Contributed by Member: James Gill

According to a recent report from The Intercept, Google is planning to relaunch its search engine in China, meeting all the Chinese government’s censorship requirements.

Back in 2010, the Internet giant withdrew its services from China due to strict censorship. Now Google is clawing its way back into the world’s largest Internet market, with a censored version of their search engine under the codename “Dragonfly”. The first platform to be developed is an Android app that is expected to be finalized in the upcoming six to nine months, claims The Intercept.

The appeal of 750 million Internet users would be quite tempting to anyone, yet this news about Google has been met with some negativity and may be considered as showing support for the totalitarian regime in China. “This has very serious implications not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and Internet freedom. It will set a terrible precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China’s censorship. The biggest search engine in the world obeying the censorship in China is a victory for the Chinese government – it sends a signal that nobody will bother to challenge the censorship anymore,” said Patrick Poon, a researcher for Amnesty International in his comment to The Intercept.

This renewed drive by Google is said to be initiated by Sundar Pichai, who started his position as CEO of the company in 2015. In 2016, Sundar openly expressed his intentions to return to the Chinese market, and recently the company rolled out their Files Go app and Guess the Sketch game for the WeChat application in China. Despite the lack of official announcement regarding this subject from Google, it is clear that the tech titan is on the way to expand its horizons in the massive Chinese market.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was Published cbsnews.com - Contributed by Member: Bridget Miller

Even if "Location History" is off on your phone, Google often still stores your precise location.

Here are some things you can do to delete those markers and keep your location as private as possible. But there's no panacea because simply connecting to the internet on any device flags an IP address, a numeric designation that can be geographically mapped. Smartphones also connect to cell towers, so your carrier knows your general location at all times.

To prevent further tracking

For any device:

Fire up your browser and go to myactivity.google.com . Sign into Google if you haven't already. On the upper left drop-down menu, go to "Activity Controls." Turn off both "Web & App Activity" and "Location History." That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

Google will warn you that some of its services won't work as well with these settings off. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful.

On iOS:

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to "While Using" the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it's not active. Go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services and from there select Google Maps to make the adjustment.

In the Safari web browser, consider using a search engine other than Google. Under Settings - Safari - Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo. You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Safari Websites, and turn this to "Never." (This still won't prevent advertisers from knowing your rough location based on IP address on any website.)

You can also turn Location Services off to the device almost completely from Settings - Privacy - Location Services. Both Google Maps and Apple Maps will still work, but they won't know where you are on the map and won't be able to give you directions. Emergency responders will still be able to find you if the need arises.

On Android:

Under the main settings icon click on "Security & location." Scroll down to the "Privacy" heading. Tap "Location." You can toggle it off for the entire device.

Use "App-level permissions" to turn off access to various apps. Unlike the iPhone, there is no setting for "While Using." You cannot turn off Google Play services, which supplies your location to other apps if you leave that service on.

Sign in as a "guest" on your Android device by swiping down from the top and tapping the downward-facing caret, then again on the torso icon. Be aware of which services you sign in on, like Chrome.

You can also change search engines even in Chrome.

To delete past location tracking

For any device:

On the page myactivity.google.com , look for any entry that has a location pin icon beside the word "details." Clicking on that pops up a window that includes a link that sometimes says "From your current location." Clicking on it will open Google Maps, which will display where you were at the time.

You can delete it from this popup by clicking on the navigation icon with the three stacked dots and then "Delete."

Some items will be grouped in unexpected places, such as topic names, google.com, Search, or Maps. You have to delete them item by item. You can wholesale delete all items in date ranges or by service but will end up taking out more than just location markers.

Categorized in How to

Source: This article was Published techrepublic.com By Alison DeNisco Rayome - Contributed by Member:James Gill

Worried about cybersecurity? Here are 10 activities that take place on the Dark Web that organizations should watch out for.

In the wake of seemingly constant high profile breaches, organizations are taking precautions to protect against cyber attacks, including raising security budgets and educating employees. However, the cost of a breach can be enough to significantly harm a company's finances and reputation: The average total cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, according to a recent Ponemon Institute report.

The ongoing risk of attack has led some organizations to seek new ways to proactively monitor the Dark Web for lost or stolen data, according to a Wednesday report from Terbium Labs.

1. Doxing of a company VIP

Dark Web and clear websites like Pastebin are a dumping ground for personal, financial, and technical information with malicious intent, the report said. There is often a motivation behind these posts, such as political beliefs, hacktivism, vigilantism, or vandalism. For example, the executive of a wealth management firm was included in a large-scale dox as the result of their political contributions, the report noted.

2. Full PANs, BINs, and payment cards for sale

The economy for payment cards on the Dark Web is strong, with a single card costing between $5 and $20. Sellers update markets with new cards regularly—sometimes even daily, the report said. And business and platinum cards will net criminals a higher price than average cards.

3. Guides for opening fraudulent accounts

On the Dark Web, you can find guides for sale that contain detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to exploit or defraud an organization, the report said. The guide serves two purposes: Criminals learn how to break into a company's systems and processes, and the company's brand name is promoted to criminals as a result of the listing. For example, when a major US bank changed security policies, criminals updated guides with techniques to get around those changes.

4. Proprietary source code

A leak of source code can allow competing companies to steal intellectual property, and also allow hackers to review the code for potential vulnerabilities to be exploited, according to the report. Leaks of source code from tech giants will make the news, but source code from others is regularly leaked on sites like Github and Pastebin, as developers seek advice and input from others, the report noted.

5. Dump of a database

Third-party breaches can put organizations at risk by revealing employee credentials that can unlock other accounts or provide information for phishing attacks. For example, if criminals can post an internal database, it reveals private contracts or partnerships between organizations and employee locations.

6. Template to impersonate a customer account

The Dark Web is full of account templates that allow hackers to pose as customers of financial institutions, telecommunications companies, and other service providers, the report noted. These templates are then used to solicit loans, open accounts, or as part of a broader scheme for identity theft or fraud.

7. Connections between employees and illicit content

Posts doxing individuals who engage in illegal activities on the Dark Web, such as child exploitation, can draw undue negative attention to their employers or affiliated organizations. For example, one post listed the full contact information for a tech company that accidentally provided tech support to a child exploitation site.

8. W2s and tax-fraud documents

Each year before tax season, there is a rush of Dark Web activity to gather compromised identity information and file fraudulent tax returns before the actual taxpayer can do so, the report said. This tax fraud is enabled by the sale of W2s and other tax fraud-specific documents, which can be tied back to the employers where those documents came from originally.

9. Secure access and specialty passes

While most of the materials on the Dark Web are for generalized personal information, vendors sometimes offer special access materials, ranging from amusement park tickets to military IDs. For example, one Dark Web market offered physical press passes designed to help cybercriminals pass as journalists at events, the report found.

10. Inexpert Dark Web searching

Despite the need to keep tabs on Dark Web activity, security vendors can accidentally expose an organization to harm by searching for information related to the company on the Dark Web. For example, one vendor searched for a CISO's name so many times on a now-defunct Dark Web search engine that the name made it to the front page of the site under "trending," the report noted.

Categorized in Deep Web

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

Source: This article was published windowscentral.com By DAN THORP-LANCASTER - Contributed by Member: Olivia Russell

Microsoft's visual search is graduating from beta, now rolling out for everyone on iOS.

following a short period of beta testingMicrosoft Edge is now rolling out an intelligent visual search for everyone. The addition brings the iOS version of the app up to par with its Android counterpart, which picked up a visual search in June. But beyond that, there are a few other neat features tagging along in this update as well, including paste-and-search and the option to choose from more default search engines.

As for the highlight feature of this update, visual search lets you quickly snap a photo or choose one from your camera roll, then search the internet for information based on whatever you snapped. Microsoft is talking up the feature's usefulness for shopping, helping to track down items of clothing, for example, that you like. That's also bolstered by a built-in barcode scanner, which can be used to find deals on items. Visual search can be used to find more information on landmarks around you as well.

Here's a full look at all of what's new in this update:

  • Intelligent visual search gives you a cool new way to find contact info, identify landmarks, or find similar images based on a photo
  • Support paste and go/search in address bar
  • Choose from more default search engine options
  • Performance improvements

And if you're signed in with a work or school account, there are a few other goodies to check out:

  • See your organization's home page
  • Securely access intranet sites from home
  • See mobile browser activity on your PC's timeline

If you're giving Microsoft Edge a shot on your iPhone or iPad, you can check out all of these new features by grabbing the latest update from the App Store now.

Categorized in Search Engine

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

Forget that blue Google search results interface for the local panel -- here is a new fresh look

Google is now rolling out a new look for the local panel in the mobile search results. The new look goes from the blue interface with text buttons to a white interface with rounded buttons. Here is the new look you might be able to see now when you search for a local business on your smartphone:


Here is what this looked like the other day, in the blue interface:


Google has been testing this new interface on and off since January of this year.

If you do not see the new interface now, it might require a bit more time for it to fully roll out.

We have emailed Google for a comment and will update this story when we receive one.

Categorized in Search Engine

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Contributed by Member: Corey Parker

Google’s John Mueller revealed that the search engine’s algorithms do not punish keyword stuffing too harshly.

In fact, keyword stuffing may be ignored altogether if the content is found to otherwise have value to searchers.

This information was provided on Twitter in response to users inquiring about keyword stuffing. More specifically, a user was concerned about a page ranking well in search results despite obvious signs of keyword repetition.

Prefacing his statement with the suggestion to focus on one’s own content rather than someone else’s, Mueller goes on to say that there are over 200 factors used to rank pages and “the nice part is that you don’t have to get them all perfect.”

When the excessive keyword repetition was further criticized by another user, Mueller said this practice shouldn’t result in a page being removed from search results, and “boring keyword stuffing” may be ignored altogether.

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“Yeah, but if we can ignore boring keyword stuffing (this was popular in the 90’s; search engines have a lot of practice here), there’s sometimes still enough value to be found elsewhere. I don’t know the page, but IMO keyword stuffing shouldn’t result in removal from the index.”

There are several takeaways from this exchange:

  • An SEO’s time is better spent improving their own content, rather than trying to figure out why other content is ranking higher.
  • Excessive keyword stuffing will not result in a page being removed from indexing.
  • Google may overlook keyword stuffing if the content has value otherwise.
  • Use of keywords is only one of over 200 ranking factors.

Overall, it’s probably not a good idea to overuse keywords because it arguably makes the content less enjoyable to read. However, keyword repetition will not hurt a piece of content when it comes to ranking in search results.

Categorized in Search Engine

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