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.

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.

Internet Industry Group Issues IoT Security Guidelines

With recent IoT-related cyberattacks, organizations and at least one government agency are now focusing on preventative security measures with another set of recommendations just released.

In addition to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s IoT security principles, the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) just outlined its recommendations for IoT device security.

The guidelines are intended specifically for the area of consumer-facing IoT devices, although most of the recommendations are for increased process and oversight in the supply chain of those devices.

Most of the recommendations are simply to follow current best practices that have already been established in other similar devices, like personal computers and other consumer electronics.

BITAG recommends using current best practices for software standards, device naming and addressing, security and cryptography. The group also recommends that the IoT devices industry comes together to explore the creation of a more formal cybersecurity program.

Most of these guidelines seem to be similar to the principles for IoT security that DHS recently released.

Those guidelines include incorporating security at the design phase of IoT products and services and enabling security by default through unique usernames and passwords.

However, there has yet to come a legal governance for IoT device security. Rather, the guidelines from both DHS and BITAG are recommendations for IoT device manufacturers.

Here are the IoT device security recommendations outlined by BITAG:

  • Follow current software best practices
  • Follow current security and cryptography best practices
  • IoT device communication should be restrictive, not permissive, by default
  • IoT device core functionality should work if the internet connection is disrupted
  • IoT device core functionality should work if the cloud service fails
  • Support naming and addressing best practices
  • Ship with a privacy policy that is easy to understand
  • Disclose if the device functionality can be remotely limited by the manufacturer
  • IoT device industry should establish a cybersecurity program
  • IoT device supply chain should be actively involved in addressing privacy and security

 

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/289800/internet-industry-group-issues-iot-security-guidel.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=readmore&utm_campaign=98404

202 Million ‘Connected’ Appliances Projected; Fridge Seen As Hub Of Smart Kitchen 11/02/2016

A flood of connected home appliances is on the way.

There has been a limited number of new products and market movement recently, but that is about to change, based on a new study.

The number of connected home appliance shipments will hit 202 million units globally by 2021, up substantially from 17 million this year, according to the Smarter Kitchen, Smarter Shopping study by Juniper Research.

Smart appliances will be dominated by large vendors, unlike the smart home ecosystem that was developed by small startups, according to Juniper.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/288101/202-million-connected-appliances-projected-frid.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline&utm_campaign=97758

CUSTOMERS REPORT GREATER SATISFACTION WITH SMART HOME SERVICE PROVIDERS THAN DEVICE MANUFACTURERS

Smart home service providers like Vivint, Alarm.com, and Xfinity Home are getting more positive online reviews than smart home devices makers, according to a new report from Argus Insights. This shows that customers prefer to have a service provider who comes in and installs their smart home devices for them.

The report analyzed more than 56,000 online and social media reviews of smart home devices and apps. Looking at the app reviews, Vivint’s Sky app had the highest satisfaction rating in the report. Other service providers including Xfinity Home, Alarm.com, and Cox Communications are all seeing improving app satisfaction and subscriber growth, according to Argus. In comparison, smart home apps from device makers like Nest, Philips, and Belkin are lagging behind in satisfaction, the report found.

The big difference between the service providers and individual device makers is that the service providers will install customers’ devices for them. When consumers buy an individual smart home device like a Nest thermostat they have to setup and install the device on their own.

Unfortunately, many smart home devices are plagued with technical glitches that can make installing them very difficult for the average consumer. If a customer is experiencing technical problems with their device, it will likely reflect on their satisfaction with the app that controls that device. So smart home service providers are carving out a space for themselves in the nascent smart home market by solving this technical challenge for customers.

the cost of fixing technical problems and making repairs to devices estimated 10-33% of operational expense for industrial IoT deployments

BREAKING DOWN OPERATIONAL EXPENSES FOR INDUSTRIAL IoT DEPLOYMENTS: Jasper, which provides a software platform for connecting and managing IoT devices and was recently acquired by Cisco, released a study this week breaking down operational expenses for industrial IoT deployments, and explaining how companies can save on those expenses.

The cost of operating IoT devices can vary widely for enterprises depending on a multitude of factors including the type of devices, the type of internet connection it uses, and where it is deployed. This makes it difficult for enterprises to estimate the full cost of deploying IoT devices and their ROI on IoT initiatives.

The study grouped operational expenses into three categories:

  • Network communication: This is the cost of providing a data connection for the devices. Jasper estimated that this usually makes up one-third to one-half of the operational expenses for industrial IoT deployments.
  • Administrative labor: This is the cost of managing and monitoring devices, and creating reports from their data. This makes up anywhere from 20-50% of the total operational costs of IoT initiatives, the study found. 
  • Technical support: This is the cost of fixing technical problems and making repairs to devices in the field. Jasper estimated this makes up 10-33% of operational expense for industrial IoT deployments.

Companies can reduce these expenses with certain solutions and strategies. For example, if a company’s data usage for its IoT deployments fluctuates monthly, it can opt to pay its data subscription on a per megabyte basis instead of paying the same amount every month.

The study also found large disparities in costs for devices depending on whether they were connected to a software services platform. The study estimated that administrative costs per 100,000 connected devices dropped from $2 million per year to $800,000 per year if they’re connected to a platform. Jasper is one of the major providers of such platforms, so the finding is certainly helpful for its business. However, if platform providers can provide such steep cost reductions for their enterprise clients, then it could be a major boon for enterprise IoT adoption.