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Remember when it was considered weird to use a Bluetooth device in public? Back then, the last thing people wanted was for others to think they were ranting to themselves on the street. Today, using voice search on a mobile phone in public can still have some of the same stigma attached to it, especially in certain settings (like the restroom—more on that later), but that stigma is disappearing rapidly.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we recently surveyed more than 900 mobile phone users to find out how they use voice search, and the results give us insight into the way that digital marketing and SEO are changing.

Google Ramps Up for Voice Search

Google has been preparing for voice search for quite some time. The rise in mobile usage and voice commands, in fact, have led to some pretty significant changes in how Google’s search engine interprets queries.

In 2016, Google officially stated that 20 percent of mobile queries had become voice searches, and in an interview, we did here at Stone Temple Consulting with Google’s Gary Illyes the same year, he mentioned the search engine gets “30 times as many actions queries by voice as by typing.”

The percentage of voice search queries is expected to rise, especially as the younger generations continue to adopt voice search.

How People Use Voice Search

Until mass adoption, trying to understand why people do and don’t use voice search can enlighten our marketing strategies and help us understand how voice commands impact how search engines work to produce the most relevant results. We recently conducted a study of more than 900 users to see how they use voice search. You can see a video on the results from this survey here:

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The results were fascinating. For example, did you know that more than two-thirds of people feel comfortable using voice search at home alone? That number drops to 54 percent when using it at home with people they know.

This is in line with findings of the 2016 Internet Trends Report by KPCB, where most of the voice searches were occurring in the home.

Then there are the pioneers of public voice search adoption—those who felt comfortable conducting voice searches no matter who was around. More than one-fifth of those surveyed were fine using voice commands in more public situations, like amongst coworkers, in a restaurant, on public transportation, or at a party.

A smaller amount of people were okay using voice commands in places like the gym or in the bathroom (which, understandably, could be awkward, to be muttering commands from the toilet), where 13 percent of people seem comfortable with speaking searches to their phone.

Men were much more willing than women to take risks in places like the bathroom, with men twice as likely to use the phone for a voice search in the restroom than women! Men were also three times as likely to use voice search in a theater than women.

Age plays a factor in public voice search adoption, too. Our survey found that folks in the Generation Z category (under age 24) were 33 percent more likely to use voice commands in some of those more “taboo” public settings than those older than 24.

Voice Search Will Grow Even More

Because we see comfort levels using voice commands on mobile devices are significantly higher among the younger generation, it’s reasonable to expect that voice command usage will increase over time. Other reasons for growing adoption will likely include improved technology, as outlined in the Internet Trends Report:

Different folks prefer different technologies when performing their voice searches. If you have an iPhone and know that Siri can take care of what you need, then you’ll likely ask Siri and not bother opening up a dedicated app or browser.

In fact, the Internet Trends Report showed Siri processed more than one billion voice commands per week by June 2015.

Also of interest in that data are the forecasts for continued growth of voice search. For example, Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng believes that at least 50 percent of search queries by 2020 will be performed as a voice or image search.

How to Prepare

Search boxes and browsers will remain with us for the foreseeable future, but their importance is going to decline significantly over the next decade. In fact, a forecast from Strategy Analytics shows that by the year 2020, less than 25 percent of internet-connected devices will be a PC, tablet, or smartphone.


What will those other devices be? They’ll be watches, thermostats, TVs, refrigerators, cars, game consoles, and many other types of devices. Most of these will not have a browser, and the main interface will be via voice.

Digital personal assistants may be the main connecting tissue that binds all these things together. Those are tools like Google Assistant, Cortana, Amazon Alexa, and Siri. This then will become the new key focus of your optimization efforts. When someone tells a personal assistant, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” you’ll need to have taken the right steps to be included in those results.

Some of these new steps will have a lot in common with those needed to show up in today’s search results, but not all will be that simple. For example, if the query is, “How do I change a tire?”, the personal assistant may only return one single response. This may come from what Google calls a   “featured snippet,” the direct answer the search engine gives to queries above the regular search results. It’s the first of three ideas I have for you on how to prepare for this new world:

  1. Learn how to get featured snippets for your site.  The great thing about this is that it both prepares you for the future, and it also will help you drive a traffic increase to your site right now.
  2. Learn the most common questions prospective customers have about products and services like yours. Get out there and learn what they want to know, and then start building content to answer those questions proactively. Being one of the best information sources in your market space will be critical to surviving and thriving.
  3. Start experimenting with conversational interfaces. These are different than traditional web interfaces. For example, on a website, users often navigate to what they want in a step-by-step process. If I want a running shoe, I might navigate in steps like this:
  • Pick sneakers in the menu
  • Pick running sneakers on the menu
  • Pick a brand
  • Pick a size and color
  • Pick a specific product

Imagine a world where I simply say what I want, starting with, “Give me a list of Nike Air running shoes for men, size 10.” In this world, I skip many steps in the process and get to what I want much faster. We won’t get to this world overnight, but we will get there, and the time to start learning is now. You can do this by experimenting with the Amazon Echo (learn how to build an Amazon Skill here) and Google Home (learn how to build an Action on Google here).

The world is changing fast, and we’re approaching a point of major disruption in our industry once again. While this can be frightening, it can also be exciting. One thing is for sure: It’s a time of great opportunity. Start exploring the right ways to set yourself up for success now, and you’ll be in a much better position to do well as the events of the next year unfold.

 Source: This article was published convinceandconvert.com By Chris Stobing

Published in How to

If you've read any 2018 SEO-trend articles, you know that voice search is the wave of the future. Though it may not completely eradicate screen-based searches, it will change the way users interact with content and the way search engines crawl, index, and retrieve website information.

When a user interacts with his or her voice assistant, the device reads back a single, definitive answer to the query. The equivalent for a screen-based search is the featured snippet—the answer box at the top of the search engine results page (SERP)—which shows up for about 30% of searches, according to a 2017 study. And to be the single result for a voice search, your content has to be the featured snippet result.

Note: If you work in marketing, I highly recommend tuning into our Pro Webinar series, where we often go over tips, tools, and examples of how to use data to inform your marketing strategy.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

Also referred to as an "answer box," a featured snippet is the box at the top of a SERP with an answer to the searcher's question. That answer is pulled from the organic listings of Google's first-page results, extracting the summary from the site's content. Google cites the source by linking to that site and displaying the title of the page from which the information was pulled:

Gaining and retaining a query's featured snippet builds credibility. It not only increases visibility and exposure but also inspires a sense of authority and trust as Google's chosen source of information.

There are three types of featured snippets:

  1. Paragraphs. This type of featured snippet most often appears in question-based queries and it is the most common of snippets. To ensure that this type of snippet doesn't diminish your clickthrough rate (CTR), answer the question within the first paragraph of the page and include information that entices the user to click through to learn more.
  2. Lists. List snippets often feature results such as how-to content, recipes, ranked lists (e.g., top schools in an area), or unordered lists (e.g., things to do in a specific destination). The plus side to this type of snippet is that users must click through to see all of the information.
  3. Tables. Table snippets are more popular than you might think. They often appear in search results for lists, pricing, rates, and data. With tables, Google gives itself the freedom to format the table by pulling only the specific information the user is searching for. To rank for this featured snippet, bigger is better: By having more than four rows to your table, you'll increase the likelihood of clickthroughs. Table data is harder to extract for voice search, however.

Optimizing for Voice Search and Featured Snippets

According to Google estimates, by 2020 fully half of the searches will be voice-based. The widespread acceptance of Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the like has increased massively over the past two years as homes become more automated and voice search becomes more fine-tuned. In fact, it's estimated that smart speakers will be in 55% of US households by 2022.

The rise of voice search means that marketers need to place a high priority on long-tail keywords and focus on natural, spoken language and a conversational approach.

Although Moz's Dr. Pete recommends that SEOs and content marketers not focus on voice search alone or throw in the towel on their other efforts, he also explains that focusing on writing content for the kind of questions users ask in your industry can benefit both voice- and screen-based searches.

Focus on Long-Tail Searches and Q&A

Many featured snippets come from question-based searches, and most voice searches are being phrased in the form of a question. For your new content to rank well enough for a featured snippet, focusing on writing content for long-tail keywords can bring the best results.

Often, long-tail keywords bring in less traffic, so marketers shy away from them. However, the traffic they do generate is in pursuit of something very specific; if you have the exact answer the user is looking for, he or she is more likely to convert.

So focus on answering the specific questions that people ask about your product, service, business, or industry. To figure out what people are asking, think about the FAQs that you get from both potential and current customers that could be answered in long-form content on your website.

You can research what people ask online through Answer the Public, listen to call recordings to determine what questions aren't currently being answered by your website, and check your Search Console to determine what queries you have impressions for but not clicks.

Writing content to answer those questions can help you be the "answer zero" in SERPs. For example, a fitness center could write a series on how to do various types of exercises:

It's Not About You! Write Tangential Content

Another beneficial tactic is what Moz calls tangential content. By playing down the direct promotion of your own products or services, you'll reach a wider audience, and the content will have a higher chance of getting inbound links, Moz has shown.

If a pool company writes a blog post on summer pool safety tips, more people are likely to share that with their friends and family than a post about how great the pool servicing prices are. People searching for pool safety information are also more likely to come across this blog post in voice search and featured snippet results because it's not about the company as much as it is an answer to an important question.

To learn about new ways to research potential long-tail keywords and tangential content ideas, check out this keyword research article on Marketing Profs.

Remember the Skyscraper Technique: Revamp Existing Content

If you already have content created in hopes of having it featured, but it's remained stagnant, it may be time revisit and revise that content. Most marketers refer to that method as the skyscraper technique, but because I was raised as an artist I refer to it as a Picasso technique: Steve Jobs attributed the quote "good artists copy, great artists steal," to Pablo Picasso.

I don't mean disrespecting copyright, of course. When good content creators copy, they make sure the reader is reminded of the original work and can easily trace the work back its origin. Though that approach may have success, it lacks original thought. Great artists, however, steal: They take the information, but they breathe new life into it—making it their own.

Because the skyscraper/Picasso technique means adding to old content and making the new content better than the original, it makes that contains the authoritative word on the matter.

If you're revamping existing content, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you answer the key question quickly and concisely within the content?
  • Are your statistics current?
  • Are your images current?
  • Are there new and relevant articles on your site that can link to the older piece of content?
  • Are you thinking evergreen?
  • Is your content the most thorough answer to the user's question?

When aiming for featured snippets, circle back to your understanding of core practices: Continue a methodical practice of technical SEO, create shareworthy content, and monitor metrics for success.

With keyword research that's based on an understanding of user queries and voice search nuances, you can get planning and create content that's worthy of "position zero" down to a science—and reach your target audience.

Source: This article was published marketingprofs.com By Melissa Garner

Published in Search Engine

Google has published a set of guidelines for its quality raters to follow when evaluating voice search results. A similar set of guidelines exist for rating the results in Google Search, this marks the first time guidelines have been put in place for rating results returned by Google Assistant.

More specifically, this document deals with results returned by an eyes-free voice assistant such as Google Home. It does not refer to results delivered on a device with a screen, such as the Google Assistant smartphone app.

Therefore, it’s the quality of spoken results that are being reviewed. Results are evaluated with ‘needs met’ and ‘speech quality’ ratings.

Needs Met Rating

Spoken search results are evaluated based on the following ‘needs met’ scale:

  • Fully meets
  • Highly meets
  • Moderately meets
  • Slightly meets
  • Fails to meet

If a spoken response fully meets a user’s query it will receive a rating of “fully meets.” Ratings go down based on how much additional information would be needed to fully satisfy the query.

For example, if a user asks for the weekend forecast and the device responds with the current temperature, then needs would be moderate to slightly meet. The user received partial information but would have to conduct another search to get all of the information they’re looking for.

Of course, if the query is not answered at all, then it would receive a failing grade.

Speech Quality Rating

In addition to rating the accuracy of the response, answers are also rated based on the following elements of speech quality:

  • Length: Was the length of the response appropriate considering its complexity? Should it have been more concise or more detailed?
  • Formulation: Was the response grammatically correct? Did it sound like something a native speaking human would say?
  • Elocution: Was the pronunciation, intonation, and speed of the spoken response appropriate?

All three of these elements are rated individually for each response, which produces an overall rating for speech quality.

Here is an example of what a quality rater might see when evaluating a spoken result. In this screenshot, the quality rater is evaluating two responses side-by-side.

 

Published in How to

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

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

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

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

What Is Voice Search & How Does It Work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Voice Search Affects SEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get into it!

Use These Tips For Your Voice Search SEO Strategy

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

1. Use Microdata

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

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

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

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

2. Talk Like Your Customers Would

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

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

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

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

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

3. Ask The Questions Your Target Customers Would

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

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

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

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

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

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

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

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

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

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

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

5. Dive Deeper With Semantics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Search Engine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Search Engine

Will advertisers someday be able to buy recommendations?

It’s one thing to build a useful voice skill or app, but quite another for consumers to actually find it. That’s because people need to know a particular skill or app exists before they can use it, and today’s voice discovery tools are about as basic as a Yahoo search circa 1995.

Amazon publishes a directory of its 25,000 voice skills, as well as a bare-bones Skill Finder app, but consumers using those databases still need to know what they’re looking for. Brands looking to rise above the noise will need to figure out how to market and promote their voice skills if they hope to attract more than a handful of users.

“This is not an ‘if you build it they will come’ world,” said Greg Hedges, vp of emerging experiences at Rain, a digital consultancy that created an Alexa skill for Campbell’s, among others. “You really do have to enact the same kind of owned-earned-paid approach as you would elsewhere to generate awareness. And you have to give people a reason to return.”

To invoke a skill, you need to first enable it and call it by name: “Alexa, ask Campbell’s Kitchen to tell me how to make chicken soup.” If you were to simply ask, “Alexa, tell me how to make chicken soup,” however, the device would default to the Allrecipes skill. (An Amazon representative declined to explain why Alexa recommends that particular skill, saying only that “in limited scenarios, Alexa will respond to certain questions by suggesting skills that may be helpful.”)

So far, brands have been unable to lay claim to generic phrases on Alexa. But that hasn’t stopped Amazon from reserving some of them for its own products. For example, if you say, “Alexa, help me with my chores,” it will automatically enable and launch The Tick’s Housework Hero skill, which offers no actual help but plenty of hearty encouragement from actor Peter Serafinowicz, star of The Tick on Amazon Prime.

A bigger issue is voice commerce. Some Alexa skills can add products to an Amazon shopping list. Ask the Good Housekeeping skill how to remove a grass stain, for instance, and it will ask if you want to add bleach, detergent and stain remover to your list, without specifying a particular brand. Will brands one day be able to buy that recommendation? Amazon isn’t saying.

V-commerce is about to get a huge boost, thanks to Walmart and Google. Earlier this month, the retail colossus launched voice ordering on Google Home for more than 2 million products, as part of a bigger partnership with the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant. Meanwhile, Google also announced the $49 Google Home Mini, which will compete head-on with Amazon’s Echo Dot.


To search with love

Brands will need to lean more heavily on search to surface both their voice skills and their products. But when it comes to voice search, the rules are a bit different, cautioned Alex Lirtsman, chief strategist for digital agency Ready Set Rocket.

Rather than optimizing for the top keywords, brands will need to focus on more complex natural language queries, Lirtsman explained. Just as people have learned to use multiple keywords to get more specific results from online searches, they tend to ask more detailed questions with voice.

“Instead of saying, ‘Where’s a storage facility near me?’ they’ll say, ‘What’s the cheapest storage facility within a 10-minute drive?’” Lirtsman said. “There’s an expectation they’ll get pricing and other data. I don’t think a lot of brands have thought through all of these scenarios.”

Voice search also tends to be much more location-centric, Lirtsman added. Brands that lack a physical presence will be at a disadvantage.

And unlike the early days of internet search in the ’90s, the window of opportunity for voice is much narrower. On desktop and mobile, brands are usually happy to land on the first one or two pages of Google search results. But people are unlikely to listen to more than the first two or three search results on a device like an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

That puts even more pressure on brands to be at the top of the results list—assuming there is one, noted Gartner research director Charles Golvin. “For a lot of these searches, there’s just an answer,” he said. “And if you’re not the answer, you’re screwed, right?”

Pay to play?

This puts companies like Amazon and Google—and, eventually, Apple and Microsoft—in position to demand top dollar for placing a brand’s skill at the top of its directory or making it the first result in a voice search.

“It’s analogous to buying spots in the app store for a particular category,” said Golvin. “If someone is searching for word games, you can pay Apple to be the first result.”

Amazon declined to comment on whether it planned to monetize voice searches in the future, while a spokesperson for Google provided the following statement: “Similar to what we’ve done with other products, our initial goal is to provide users with a great Assistant experience. While we don’t have any plans to share right now, we’re looking at ways to create a business model that will also provide that great user experience.”

But some brands, fearing that they will be disintermediated in the same way that they were in the early days of Facebook, are concerned about big companies like Google and Amazon having such a powerful position in the voice assistance market, noted Susan Etlinger, industry analyst for Altimeter Group.

“In 2007, brands were asking, ‘If we create a Facebook page, and Facebook gets all the data, what is that going to look like 10 years from now?’” she said. “And now we know what that looks like. But at the same time, there’s undeniable value in it. So it’s a really tough decision.”

Source: This article was published adweek.com By Dan Tynan

Published in Search Engine

Search has been at the forefront of conversation for advertisers in recent months as the likes of Google, Pinterest and Asos announced their move away from the traditional search to focus on image and voice search. The step back from key words and search engine optimisation (SEO) has also brought around many questions about the use of data, machine learning and the morality of paid search.

At The Drum’s search breakfast, Daniel Wilkonson, head of paid media at Jellyfish, explained why he is worried that brands and marketers might be overlooking image search. Noting Asos’s recent image search update, which allows shoppers to snap an item they like in a shop and find similar items on Asos.com, he said: “I think, especially for fashion brands, image search is a great new way of providing an enhanced customer experience.

“But it can be used for other industries as well, and I think this ties into discovery using image search and discovery. As humans we respond better to images and videos, rather than seeing a text. The search pages, there are more images and videos now. And I think that is going to continue to grow.”

Moving on from image search

While also excited about the advancements in search, Thom Arkestal, head of insights EMEA, Microsoft Advertising, said: “image search will be one of the searches of future,” but noted that this is nothing new dubbing it “a big industry secret.”

He added: “If you look at where the industry is heading in digital advertising in general, search is becoming core to almost everything.”

However, while image search is expected to become important to brands and marketers, he also believes the future is automation and machine learning. “I wouldn’t talk about AI necessarily, but machine learning. It has automated bidding which is core as a search advertiser. I actually think in one or two years from now, it will question what I am going to do on a day to day basis.” Arkestal said.

“AI and machine learning are all about image search and voice search. Those capabilities and technologies are going to be core to search and that is where search and consumer engagement is headed.”

Due to a surge in customer data, brands and marketers alike are now able to use AI and machine learning to find a customers need and promote better results in search using these insights. This is something the likes of Amazon is already promoting with its repurchase function.

Can digital assistants provide paid search result?

A point that seems to be echoed throughout the industry however is how brands will be able to monetize voice search. While Google is the most trusted place for searches, Jon Hunter, search director at Every1, explains that this is due to their years of generating natural search results. While Google does use a user's data and machine learning capabilities to perhaps promote ads, the search results are predominantly natural.

However, when it comes to voice search, there is the problem that very few people will want to hear a list of results and will therefore result in only one response spoken back - this could be an issue which will bring to light the integrity of a digital assistant's search results if they are to promote paid search. Hunter asked: “How are search engines going to be able to deal with one value? All you’ve got to do is give one paid result that is bad and the trust is gone.

“There is a certain element where the natural search results are so important and based on trust that if we replace too much of it on advertising it will damage the overall trust values.”

Earlier this year, Amazon dipped its toe into paid voice search however as it stands nothing has come of the trial. Arkestal noted the attempt and suggested that all digital assistant companies are working to solve the problem of paid voice search. He said: “The fact is that the core of digital assistants future is consumer trust. If there is no trust, people are not going to use them and then they cannot be monetized.

“It might actually be more of what Amazon is doing with Alexa at now with a repeat purchase prospective and a chance to reengage with a customer. It is further away from discovery and current search but it is about building a loyalty with customers.

“If you already are using your voice, then the digital assistant will already be learning what your preferred brand is.”

Source: This article was published thedrum.com By Jenny Cleeton

Published in Search Engine

In the age of digitalisation, users are opting for innovative and efficient ways to find out answers to their queries. The recent development in technology has made the whole scenario of searching for information much easier and more convenient for users. The introduction of innovative search tools has allowed users to get their hands on the latest information within the blink of an eye.

Despite the fact that modern and latest voice search tools are making their mark on the market, there are several factors that make traditional search tools a preferred choice among regular search users - we’re talking about the good old Google.

Although numerous apps, such as Siri and Cortana have already made a mark in the history of technology, their capabilities are far from those of traditional search.

Hence, to give you an insight as to why voice search is still far from replacing traditional search, here are the five main reasons.

Clear-cut wording is still required

Despite the fact that traditional searches require some sort of precision while searching for information, voice search technology ‘demands’ an accurately structured question in order to provide you with a satisfying answer, making it an exhausting task if your query goes beyond the typical ‘How old is Barack Obama’.

However, as search engines are still incapable of hosting all of the information in the world, the vast majority of voice queries are being pulled up from traditional sources - articles. With the introduction of voice search, developers are now beginning to focus on accuracy and relevance of the information, thus increasing chances of their content being picked up by the ‘voice’ engines.

Never dying ranking factors

There are over 200 ranking factors that come into play when it comes to prioritising one piece of content over the other. Some of these factors include the quality of the content, website authority, technical set-up and even the speed of the site.

Google and other search engines have spent decades crafting and adjusting their algorithms to provide the best possible result for the user. Hence, a voice ‘engine’ on its own is very far from being able to determine and process all of these factors to give an instant answer to the searcher. Thus, it still has to ‘communicate’ with the ‘traditional’ algorithm before providing the answer. Hence, this means that traditional search is still pretty much the foundation of any search query.

A variety of information

Traditional searches generate dozens of sources for the particular type of information, thus giving the user a choice to select one that looks more appealing. For instance, when you search for the term “Technology”, you will be given around 4.5 billion results consisted of personal blogs, news, developing stories, social media accounts, forum discussions and so much more.

Whereas if you voice search ‘Technology’, you will be given a single result (usually to a Wikipedia page or a vague definition).

Thus, the variety of sources allows users to select the most relevant piece of information, and move to the next one if they don’t find it reliable.

Advanced search options

Unlike voice search, traditional searches allow users to filter results by flipping the advanced search options.

The advanced search options allow users to refine and search for the information based on a publishing date, country, type and more.

However, with voice search, it’s practically impossible (or very challenging) to refine the search query and be sure that the content has been filtered correctly.

Precision

Traditional search allows users to be more precise and accurate when searching for results. For instance, putting quotation marks around the set of words will bring up search results that contain an exact phrase you’ve searched for. As there are dozens of search operators, making it work for voice search the same way it works with traditional search is almost unachievable (unless you’re willing to learn all search operators by name).

Source: This article was published bdaily.co.uk By Dev Sharma

Published in Search Engine

Twenty percent of Google mobile searches now happen via voice, according to the 2017 Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker.

For search engine optimization, the implications of voice search are subtle, but increasingly important. In her 2017 Internet Trends report this week, Mary Meeker, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, highlights the rise in voice search compared to manually typing queries into a search box on a smartphone.

What Is Voice Search?

Simply speaking commands into your device to receive a resulting answer constitutes a voice search. Many top technology brands offer personified voice search, including Google’s “OK, Google” Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s Bixby.

Over half of all Google searches now originate on a smartphone. Of those, 20 percent happen via voice commands — without the searchers touching their screen. Extrapolated out, that means that something like one in every 10 Google searches comes from voice search.

Voice recognition is also becoming more accurate, approaching 95 percent of the English language, which is equivalent to a human’s voice recognition accuracy, according to Google.

Part of the growing voice search use comes from the increase of in-home digital assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google’s Home device, which have no manual interface and rely entirely on verbal requests and commands.

The Echo, in particular, has been very successful as a mainstream voice-interface device. Eleven million Amazon Echo devices have been sold in the U.S., enough for 3.5 percent of homes. Amazon’s devices are able to accomplish 12,000 different built-in capabilities such as turning on the living room lights or playing Jeopardy with you. The combination of voice interface and skills that make the Echo both fun and useful lends itself well to humans forming a sort of pet-like attachment to their devices, which only strengthens the tendency to speak to them naturally, as if they were alive.

Amazon’s Echo is now in roughly 11 million homes in the U.S., accomplishing roughly 12,000 tasks. Source: Meeker 2017 Internet Trends Report.

Amazon’s Echo is now in roughly 11 million homes in the U.S., accomplishing roughly 12,000 tasks. Source: Meeker 2017 Internet Trends report.

The rise in conversational search is one of the most important trends for search engine optimization. Google reports that 70 percent of the queries that Google Assistant receives consist of natural language. That means that searchers are speaking to their digital search devices in the same way that they would ask a question of another person.

How Do Google’s Search Results Reflect Voice Search?

Google is making strides in two related areas that stem from voice search and its impact on SEO: conversational search and answering questions. In other words, Google is learning how to interpret the words that humans use. This helps Google ferret out intent, which helps deliver relevant search results.

Google search results for the factual query "Where can I buy shoes?"

Google search results for the factual query “Where can I buy shoes?”

Google search results for the opinion-based query "Where should I buy shoes?"

Google search results for the opinion-based query “Where should I buy shoes?”

Google search results for the neutral query "where to buy shoes."

Google search results for the neutral query “where to buy shoes.”

For example: Google’s search results adjust to three nearly identical search queries regarding the purchase of shoes. Compare the search results for the above three searches.

The top image is a purely factual request: “Where can I buy shoes?” The middle image shows an opinion-based query: “Where should I buy shoes?” In the last image, the search result is a blend of both because the verb that indicates intent is now neutral: “Where to buy shoes?” The differences here highlight the degree to which Google places meaning on slight variations of search phrases, the intent behind each variation, and the ability to serve search results specific to each intent.

In other cases, the answer is more straightforward and Google can answer it directly on the page. Whether the answer is the simple sum of two numbers or instructions for a project, Google’s goal is to be a one-stop shop for surfacing information directly in its search results.

This is not unlike what happens when you ask Siri or Alexa a question; you expect a single answer, not 10 pages to scroll through to find an answer. Google Search is accomplishing the same goal as Google Assistant (for voice search): answer the question with one definitive answer.

Google Answer Cards for the search query “how to grill a frozen pizza.”

Google answer cards for the search query “how to grill a frozen pizza.”

Brands and ecommerce sites tend to bristle at the concept of answer cards, fearing that the traffic that would have been driven to their site is now absorbed by the answer card with searchers not clicking on any result. As true as this may be, the reality is that answer cards are here to stay. You can either compete to win them or you can let your competitors win that strong brand impression and the possibility of the click.

Source: This article was published practicalecommerce.com By JILL KOCHER

Published in Search Engine

In the age of voice search and assistants, columnist Andrew Ruegger discusses how marketers should be adjusting their strategies to stay competitive.

Generation Z and early Generation Alpha will likely be the last of us to type.

Keyboard users are a dying population. Who is the next generation? Voice users. If you spend time with young kids, you’ll notice that they favor voice assistants over keyboards. And who can blame them? People rarely turn down easier ways of doing things!

Marketers need to be thinking about this shift, because voice search will have a significant impact on content discovery through search. Although currently there is no simple or precise way of identifying voice vs. non-voice queries, “Okay Google” queries are becoming far more common in search query reports for our clients, and they’re even showing up as rising terms in Google Trends.

To be successful in this shifting landscape, marketers need to start fine-tuning their strategies across media and content types, including text, image and video.

For website content, it may be in your best interest to have specific natural language pages that come from CRM (customer relationship management) exchanges so that search engines can index them and return more accurate information to consumers based on past conversations. Queries like “best running shoes” will start to fade, and hyper-specific requests tailored to that individual, like “Okay Google, I need a size 10 and a half running shoe with a 5-star rating that’s on sale in-store on Newbury Street,” will start to increase.

For images and videos, traditional SEO factors such as naming, tagging, descriptions, titles, transcripts and where the assets reside will continue to be crucial to help map natural language queries to the best content. So if you’ve optimized toward head terms like “running shoes,” you may want to revisit the core value propositions of your products and work toward always winning on specific and critical points of differentiation.

You can then optimize toward these specific attributes, because it’s unlikely that someone is going to use “Okay Google running shoes” as their voice search query.

What are people actually talking to Google Voice about?

The first step in pivoting your strategy to account for the rise in voice assistants is to understand how people are using them. The good news is that all marketers who run paid search can see all the things people are saying in voice when they receive an ad impression.

You can download the raw data from Google AdWords Search Query Report and filter for “Okay Google.” Technically, I don’t think the activation line “Okay Google” is passed in every time there is a voice query. Also, I think many instances of “Okay Google” queries are from individuals who got a bit impatient and said the activation phrase multiple times, thus logging it.

However, at this time, filtering by the activation line is the only way to clearly identify a voice query from a typed one, although some voice queries are easy to identify when looking at mobile-specific queries.

Overall, it’s clear that a class on “How to Speak to Voice Assistants” would go a long way. Although I’m sure all the voice assistants would love to be your friend, they are simply not there, and there’s a specific way you need to speak to actually get what you want. That fact, however, doesn’t seem to prevent people from attempting to shoot the moon.

Below are examples of real voice queries, and I find them to be hysterical, but also very informative. If you invest heavily in paid search, this data can be extremely valuable for many areas of your marketing, including your digital strategy, product development, and brand communication, which brings us to point one:

1. Consumers talk to their assistants like they’re people, not programs

Overly complicated queries with multilayered requests are hard for assistants to answer.

“Okay google go get the number for Ken Gop for me in San Bernardino California and also Dallas please”

Close, but not quite. I don’t think Ken Gop is a real person. I looked into it.

2. Consumers are struggling with the basics of using voice assistants

Consumers specifically struggle when Google Voice is already on and they don’t realize it:

“you know I don’t like asking it it creeps me out, okay google when does tempe marketplace close?”


Not bad, but I doubt Google will give you the closing time if you call it creepy.

To be fair, voice assistants commonly join the conversation without being invited. My favorite moments during work meetings these days are when someone who has placed their phone on the conference table unexpectedly has their voice assistant join in after believing it heard an activation phrase.

3. Consumers who appear to understand voice functionality tend to get specific, sometimes disturbingly specific

“okay google find the closest place my seven year old son can get white skinny jeans”


C’mon brands! Where is the organic content that showcases 7-year-olds’ skinny jeans?

Creating content with as many characteristics and dimensions as possible is going to be important for voice assistants. When I talk to my voice assistant, I’m going to ask for jeans that are 32w 30l, dark, on sale, high ratings — and if you serve me an ad that gives me anything but that, I will leave. I simply don’t have the time to click around. I’m a millennial after all.

4. People get personal and honest with their voice assistant

“Okay Google, I want to get him trashy pajamas for Christmas.” Poor guy.


So, Kohl’s… ouch. Google thinks you have the trashiest Christmas pajamas. But if there are sales to be had, I can’t blame you.

In all seriousness, this highlights an important point for brands, especially as voice integration becomes common everywhere: You don’t want to be discovered for bad things.

For example, when using Alexa to browse Amazon to buy pajamas, I’ll say, “Alexa, I want to see the highest-rated pajamas that are on sale.” In return, I’ll receive a list of 10 pajamas, and they look great.

Then I will ask, “Which of these pajamas has received the greatest drop (or increase) in ratings in the past three months?” I know that Amazon is saturated with ratings from a variety of sources, and something that has a 4.5 average with over 10,000 ratings may be holding onto legacy quality that the company or product is actually failing to maintain.

These are the types of things brands will need to consider in the age of voice search and assistants.

Author : Andrew Ruegger

Source : http://marketingland.com/marketers-thinking-voice-search-208662

Published in Search Engine
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