Voice is the future of search

Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile.  It stands to reason that, given the hands-free capabilities of handsets and mobile phones, voice would eventually take precedence over text-based search. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, it was only a matter of time people discovered the immense convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.

But what does this mean for a small business, and how should you change your digital marketing strategy given this trend? Let’s look at some ways in which businesses can make their content voice search-friendly.

1. Focus on Phrases and Longtail Keywords

The search focus has shifted from terse, awkward keywords to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences. That’s because voice searches make use of natural language. The way we talk is decidedly different than the way we type. The phrases and keywords that we use while speaking to digital assistants would therefore be different than those we use when entering text in Google search.

“What is the weather like in Miami today?” is an example of a conversational/natural language query more likely to be spoken to a digital assistant, as opposed to “weather miami,” which we would type into a search bar. Content optimized for voice SEO would therefore need to focus on this very important aspect of the nature of voice search.

2. Anticipate Specific Questions Asked in a Conversational Manner

Voice search might use entire sentences, but it’s also specific in nature. People do not ramble on when speaking to a digital assistant, possibly because a more specific question leads to a more accurate answer.

A query such as, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” with the user’s location enabled can return precise results for users. Business owners would therefore want to optimize their websites and content for intuitive but specific queries. This can be accomplished via a detailed FAQ page or a blog containing authority content created around longtail keywords and conversational but specific questions. This would require you to research the kind of questions your target audience most frequently poses to digital assistants and produce content around those queries. It’s a good idea to take each of those questions and flesh out the answers in the form of quality blog posts.

As long as your content answers customer queries in the best and most useful manner possible, expect Google to take notice of it and rank the website/mobile site accordingly.

3. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Research has found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up to date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in Seattle?”

For a coffee shop owner, this would mean including accurate opening hours in their profile, including the precise location of the shop, and optimizing the content on the website to be found via keywords such as “best coffee” or something more specific, such as “best spiced chai latte.”

Find out the kind of questions your target audience is most likely to pose to a digital voice assistant, and create content that provides specific answers to these queries.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Ready for Voice Search

According to Google, micro moments (moments during which users need immediate, relevant, and ready-to-use information) are key to capitalizing on any kind of search, especially voice search. Since our smartphones are our constant companions, it is natural that with internet at our fingertips, they are going to be our first source of information. Google has therefore been encouraging businesses to be cognizant of the increasing use of mobile in internet search and accordingly optimize their sites for mobile.

We now have mobile and voice search to pay attention to. Businesses that take advantage of these micro moments stand a good chance of racing ahead of the competition:

  • Anticipate at which stage(s) a user is most likely to need the services your business provides.
  • Anticipate the nature of information they need to make a decision.
  • Provide users with the relevant information at that stage in order to help them make a decision, or leave them with clear further guidance.

For this to happen, businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile, for local SEO, and for voice search. In order for a mobile site to be of use to someone during a micro moment, it needs to load quickly, be user-friendly, contain relevant information (local SEO), and produce the right answers in response to a voice search query. Taken together, this maximizes the chances of a user choosing your service.

Making the Leap

The nature of search and the evolution in search algorithms, based on changing technology and shifting consumer habits, require businesses to move in tandem with newer trends. That is the way for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.

There will be 13 networked devices and connections per person, up from eight last year

The number of Internet connected devices that people have is going up, especially in North America.

There will be four networked devices and connections per person globally by 2021, according to the latest annual visual networking index forecast by Cisco.

However, in North America, there will be 13 networked devices and connections per person, up from eight last year.

The means that beyond smartphones and connected TVs, North American consumers will be adopting many more connected gadgets.

North America is well above the average by region when it comes to getting connected. For example, here are the projected number of networked devices and connection per person by region by 2021:

  • 13 – North America
  • 9 – Western Europe
  • 4 – Central and Eastern Europe
  • 3 – Latin America
  • 3 – Asia Pacific
  • 1 – Middle East and Africa

The end result is that all those connected devices will be creating new and massive data streams, much of which will be used to mine for new consumer insights.

During the same timeframe as the mass connected device adoption, broadband speeds will nearly double. Some of those speeds are already being delivered in the U.S. today by Verizon.

The speed and additional connections don’t necessarily mean that consumers will do things faster.

However, it does mean that consumer access to information and content, especially streaming video, will be accessible more quickly via more devices.

Over time, consumers are likely to lean more on their smart devices to automate tasks for them.

Today, this can be as simple as asking Amazon’s Alexa to order a coffee from Starbucks.

Tomorrow, this could involve the connected technology, powered by artificial intelligence, to know, in advance, when to order that coffee. And from where. And have it delivered via any number of means now in trial.

The Era of the Empowered Consumer: Insights From the Gartner Digital Conference

Marketing is getting smarter.

Jake Sorofman, a research vice president at Gartner, said that CMOs are on track to spend as much (or more) on technology than their CTO and CIO counterparts this year; more than one-fourth of every marketing dollar is spent on technology.

Dan Curran, CEO of PowerPost, a client of ours, was really intrigued by this finding. “The conference certainly left everyone feeling optimistic regarding the evolution of content marketing technology,” he said. “However, every stage of the content supply chain must evolve.”

And as marketing evolves to become savvier and more intelligent, so will the content it’s creating for audiences. Most audiences and content consumers have grown to expect somewhat more personalized content from the brands they interact with, and that content marketing trend is only going to continue with a move to “atomic content.”

2. Customer journeys are discovered, not created.

I’ve seen plenty of marketers waste time and resources by trying to develop buyer personas and engineer their customers’ path to their company and then create content around what they’ve put together. However, the best customer journeys aren’t created; they’re discovered.

And with additional players in the game — especially social media platforms and other tools that make it easy to distribute content — your audience members’ journeys are more complicated than ever. Andrew Hsu, CEO of Spotlight, noted, “Marketers must acknowledge the remarkable roles Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google play in their customers’ lives. From customer acquisition to relationship building through customer servicing, marketers will be borrowing moments from, shaping experiences within, and co-existing beside these market-shaping platforms.”

To improve your customer experience, study what your customers actually do, what kind of content they consume, and where they go for it. Use data to discover how your best customers are coming to you, and create content that enables their journey.

3. Content is your best tool for hitting trust touchpoints.

Marketing is expected to create exceptional brand moments at every customer touchpoint, and audience members touch six different channels before they become customers.

Think of touchpoints with your audience like moving targets: It’s not going to be easy to hit each one every time, but as marketers, it’s up to you to hit as many as you can — and content can be your biggest help. The more you hit, the better you keep your audience engaged and the more trust you build with them. So listen, learn, and engage with triggered, personalized content.

https://www.inc.com/john-hall/the-era-of-the-empowered-consumer-insights-from-the-gartner-digital-conference.html

Google Assistant is seriously awesome. 

Yesterday we learned that Google Assistant is about to offer more capabilities on your phones and gain several smart and interesting features, but there’s one other piece of interesting news: it’s also now adding support for more smart home devices and appliances.

Google has updated its support page for partners and services to add 11 new companies. Here they are with a short explanation of what they do:

All of these new devices and services will be natively supported in the Home Control section of Google Assistant, by simply tapping the floating + button to add new products.

But there are other additions as well, except they’re “Actions on Google,” i.e. they’re third-party implementations that you can find under Assistant apps and not the regular Home control section. These are like Alexa’s skills, you have to ask to talk to them or say their name specifically, and you will get an answer with a different voice than the regular Google Home or Assistant voice.

However, they’re proof that more and more companies are getting on the Assistant bandwagon, even if they don’t have the full blessing of Google to go directly into the directory of smart home products. And there are big names here:

  • iRobot (support page), the maker of the Roomba robot vacuums
  • GE (source) and its Geneva connected fridges, ovens, washers, dryers, AC units, and more
  • LG (announcement) for its Signature washer, dryer, fridge, oven, air purifier, AC unit, and robot vacuum
  • Blossom (official site), a company making smart sprinklers.

There might be more that we haven’t spotted yet, so let us know if there are other new additions to the Assistant apps selection and what your favorites among all of these are. I’m excited about Nanoleaf since I have an Aurora, but there are more companies that have piqued my interest in the list that I might be taking a closer look at.

http://www.androidpolice.com/2017/05/18/google-assistant-can-now-control-appliances-smart-home-devices-including-roomba-lg-ge-d-link/

Been thinking about local

A year ago, Google location searches exploded –  “closest,” “nearby,” and “near me” searches were performed 35 more times than they did in 2011.

People demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google. Because of this, it likely comes as no surprise that Google has had to make many complex updates to its algorithm to keep up. Gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” search results. Google now strives to deliver the most customized, local search results possible. A Brooklyn pet owner, for example, searching for “veterinarians nearby” will get totally different results than a pet owner in the Bronx searching the same keyword phrase – all thanks to Google’s local-search result algorithms.

Amazing Local Search Stats to Consider

Here are some specific local search trends that are good to be aware of if you are trying to put together a local marketing strategy for your client or business:

How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches on Google

It’s one thing to understand the latest local search trends, but It’s another thing to know what to do about them. Here are some specific tactics that veterinary practices (and other local businesses) can use to improve their rankings for high-volume, high-value “near me” keywords:

  • Keep your Google Map listing up to date. Make sure your Google map listing is claimed, and has accurate information about your clinic, including address, hours, services offered, and website URL. After you’ve set up your map listing, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it updated ongoing.
  • Get those reviews!  These days, pets are considered family members. Location matters, but what matters even more is quality medical care, which is something that can be gleamed easily by reading online reviews. Small businesses that have many reviews, and a high star rating to go with, will benefit from higher rankings, and thus more exposure on Google.
  • Include information on your website about the locations you serve. Instead of targeting broad locations, focus on less competitive areas and neighborhoods.
  • Focus on your mobile site. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to be! People are increasingly searching on their mobile devices, so your website must be (a) mobile-friendly and (b) deliver a great user experience. This will play a big role in your SEO efforts.

“Near me” searches are not slowing down, but the real takeaway is that we live in a mobile age, wherein we demand instant answers to all our questions.

Let me get you to a human faster

A recent article on millennials at salesforce.com referred to them as the Convenience Generation. Perhaps it’s just me – and it wasn’t the apparent intent of the author — but that moniker seems to have a negative connotation, like millennials can’t be bothered to drive to a store, make a telephone call or get off the couch to change the channel.

It’s not an inaccurate characterization, but why is convenience so important to them? Perhaps it’s because they’ve never lived without it.

Technology has grown to a point to where we don’t have to go to a store to make a purchase, go to a library to do research, install a shelf to store our books, make a phone call to talk to a friend, or heaven forbid, step across the living room to switch stations on the television.

Millennials have never known a world without remote controls, cell phones or the Internet. Smartphones have become advanced to the point where we’re essentially carrying computers around in our pockets. And new apps are developed every day that eliminate the need to stand in lines or call ahead to place an order.

It isn’t millennials fault that they’re accustomed to these conveniences – and it shouldn’t be surprising that they’ve come to demand them.

That’s why successful businesses today must not only know their customers, but also the many devices and apps they use in their everyday lives, the social media they use to communicate and the media through which to reach them.

As salesforce.com blogger Tamar Frumkin notes, a business must anticipate the needs of millennials – and all its customers — and save them time by offering smart self-service solutions across a variety of devices and formats.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that millennials’ love for technology and convenience means the human element is no longer important. While an Aspect Software study found that nearly three-fourths of millennials prefer to solve customer-service issues on their own, it’s not the human that’s often at the other end of the typical customer service call that’s the problem – it’s the inconvenience of getting to that human.

Millennials crave human connection as much as any other generation, but the media in which those connections are made have changed. Where Baby Boomers went to the store and met with salespeople directly and Gen-Xers spoke with them on the telephone, online chatting or social media solutions are among the ways to reach the newer generation of consumers.

The goals are the same. You want to make a sale. They want to be satisfied with their purchase. But the tools are different. And to be successful with a generation whose collective purchasing power is expected to exceed $3.39 trillion by 2018, you’ve got to keep up.

Mobile Usage Trends on YouTube [Infographic]

Last week, YouTube announced an amazing stat – the platform now serves a billion hours of content per day to viewers. That figure towers over last reported numbers from Facebook (100 million hours of video content per day) and underlines why YouTube is still the key destination for online video content.

Yes, Facebook video is on the rise, and live-streaming is growing, but YouTube has become part of our interactive process – searching for something on YouTube is now as commonplace as ‘Googling’. Any brand planning a video content strategy needs to consider YouTube in that mix.

And here’s another YouTube stat to consider – according to this new infographic from comScore, 70% of all time spent on YouTube is now conducted via mobile device. comScore’s data underlines the importance of mobile for YouTube – which lead to them creating a new data report on mobile video metrics for YouTube and its channels.

While YouTube content is obviously optimized for mobile by default, the data underlines the importance of considering the mobile experience when creating YouTube content, along with some important mobile consumer trends to keep in mind.

Check out the full infographic below.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/mobile-usage-trends-youtube-infographic