All posts by Jim Yu

Mobile & desktop SEO: Different results, different content strategies

You can't simply make your site responsive and truly call it mobile-ready, argues contributor Jim Yu. To really adjust to the dramatic rise of mobile search, you need to understand how people are using these devices for finding things. The post Mobile & desktop SEO: Different results,...

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5 ways to balance technical & non-technical SEO

Though tactics and strategies differ greatly for technical and non-technical SEOs, columnist Jim Yu believes it’s critical that they find ways to work together. Each is powerful on its own, but it’s in the combined efforts of both that the real magic happens. The post 5 ways to balance technical...

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5 essential aspects of technical SEO you cannot neglect

Eighty-eight percent of B2B marketers now report using content marketing in their promotional strategies, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Developing content and using SEO to drive rankings and traffic has become a fundamental part of digital strategies, not just for the thought leaders of the industry, but it has become standard across the spectrum.

Thanks in large part to this massive development of online content, there are now more than one billion websites available online.

This tremendous growth has resulted in an increasingly competitive online market, where brands can no longer find success through guesswork and intuition. Instead, they must rely on more sophisticated strategies and means of enticing new customers.

The art of SEO lies in helping customers find your relevant, helpful content when it would benefit them and then creating a pleasant experience for them while they visit your website. Hence, it is vital that marketers do not neglect their technical SEO.

Sites still need to be built and structured well so they can be found, crawled, and indexed, hopefully to rank well for relevant keywords. There are a few technical SEO strategies in particular that we believe brands should be paying close attention to get their site in front of their competitors.

How does technical SEO impact the bottom line?

According to research performed at my company, BrightEdge, over 50 percent of the traffic on your site is organic. This means that the majority of the people visiting your page arrived there because they thought your listing on the SERP appeared the most relevant to their needs.

Those who neglect their technical SEO will find that this can damage the rankings their pages receive on the SERPs as well as the engagement on the actual site. In other words, not applying these core technical SEO concepts will negatively impact the number of visitors received, and thus revenue for the brand.

Customers have reported that how well the site runs greatly impacts their decision about whether or not to make a purchase. More than three quarters of customers – 79 percent – report that when they encounter problems with a site’s performance, they are less likely to buy from them again.

These customers also hold sites to a high standard, with a single second delay in page loading lowering customer satisfaction by 16 percent. Other common consumer complaints about websites include sites crashing, poor formatting, and error notifications.

Technical SEO makes it easier for users to find the website and then navigate it. It has a direct impact on rankings and traffic as well as the overall user experience. It should be clear, therefore, the tremendous impact that poor technical strategies and orphan pages can have on the bottom line for any organization.

5 essential aspects of technical SEO that cannot be neglected

1. Site accessibility

Site owners should periodically verify that the site is completely accessible for both search engine spiders as well as users. Robots.txt, for example, can be useful at times when you do not want a page to be indexed, but accidentally marking pages to block the spider will damage rankings and traffic.

Brands should also look closely at their Javascript coding to ensure that the vital information for the website is easily discoverable. Since customers also regularly complain about error messages and sites failing to load, brands should be checking for 404 pages and related errors.

Given that more searches now occur on mobile than desktop, and the impending switch to a mobile-first index on Google, brands should also ensure that any content published is constructed for mobile usage.

When speaking about the user experience, visitors themselves also pay a considerable amount of attention to load speeds. Brands should optimize for load speeds, watching site features such as cookies and images, that can slow down pages when not used correctly.

Things to do to improve your site’s accessibility:

  • Check that robots.txt is not blocking important pages from ranking
  • Make sure the robots.txt contains the sitemap URL
  • Verify that all important resources, including JS and CSS are crawlable
  • Find and fix any 404 errors
  • Check that all content, including videos, plays easily on mobile
  • Optimize for load speed

2. Site structure

Navigation throughout the website should also be a main priority. Look at the organization of the site’s pages and how easily customers can get from one part of the site to another. The number of clicks it takes to get to a desired location should be minimized.

Many sites find it to be convenient to build websites using a taxonomy hierarchy. Creating clear categories of pages can help websites organize their content while also reducing the number of steps that visitors must go through to adequately engage with the brand.

As you explore your site navigation, also verify how well the pages have been interlinked so that prospective customers engaging with one piece of content are easily led to other material that they will likely enjoy. Check also for orphan pages and other content that might be hard to find. The key to a strong site structure is to consider the user experience so that useful material can be found intuitively.

Things to do to ensure your site structure is optimized:

  • Create a hierarchy that ensures important pages are 3 clicks from the home page or less
  • Uncover orphan pages and either delete them or add them to the site hierarchy
  • Check links for broken or redirects and repair them

3. Schema markup

Schema markup provides search engines with even more information about the pages on your site, such as what is available for sale and for how much, rather than leaving it open for interpretation by the spiders and algorithm.

Although Google does tend to be relatively accurate about the purpose of websites, schema markup can help minimize the potential for any mistakes. In a increasingly competitive digital ecosystem, brands do not want to leave themselves open to errors.

Schema has also been attracting attention because of its potential to help brands trying to gain extra attention on the SERP in the form of Quick Answers and other universal content. Brands that want events included in the new Google Events SERP feature, for example, should use schema to call the search engine’s attention to the event and its details.

Things to do to make sure your site has the correct level of schema markup:

  • Markup pages that have been optimized for Quick Answers and other rich answers
  • Markup any events you list on your page or transcripts for videos
  • Check for common schema errors including spelling errors, missing slashes, and incorrect capitalization
  • Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure the markup has been completed correctly

4. Site tags

As sites become more technical, such as developing content in multiple languages for overseas versions of the site, brands will similarly need to pay closer attention to the markup and tags used on the pages. Correctly-used hreflang tags, for example, will ensure that the content is correctly matched with the right country.

Although Google might be able to tell that a website has been written in English, an hreflang tag can help ensure that it shows the UK version to the English audience and the US version to those in the United States. Displaying the wrong version of the websites to the audience can damage the brand’s reputation and ability to engage with the audience.

Many brands will also find canonical tags to be highly useful. Using these tags will signify to Google which version of any particular content is original, and which is the distributed or replicated version. If a marketer wants to publish syndicated content on another website, or even create a PDF format of a standard web page, canonical tags can help avoid duplicate content penalties so that weaken content visibility.

Things to do to ensure your site content is tagged correctly:

  • Use hreflang tags to ensure that Google knows which country and language the content is intended for
  • Verify that hreflang tags use proper return tags
  • Use only absolute URLs with hreflang tags
  • Use canonical tags to avoid duplicate content when necessary

5. Effective optimization

While this might appear to be rudimentary SEO, it remains one of the most important steps as well. As we create this spectacular content that is tailored for specific user intents and lives on a well-constructed website, it still remains that the page itself must be well optimized.

If the page does not have the right keywords, then it will be a challenge for the search engines to understand where the content should be ranked and placed. Carefully determine keywords through keyword research, and then construct sentences that link the terms and long-tail keywords together to make your topic and expertise clear to the search engines and those considering consuming your content.

Things to do to improve technical SEO today:

  • Use keyword research to find important and in-demand search topics
  • Create sentences that effectively link different keywords together to show context
  • Place keywords in the page title, H tags, URL, and naturally in the content

Even as the industry matures with micro-moments and data-driven strategies, technical SEO remains critical to successfully building strong websites.

We believe that all brands should ensure that these five areas of technical SEO are a part of their digital strategy.

Key notes on optimizing for voice search: Conversation, content and context

Voice search is growing in popularity, yet many search marketers still don't have a plan for it. Columnist Jim Yu discusses the state of voice search and provides some tips for marketers looking to the future. The post Key notes on optimizing for voice search: Conversation, content and context...

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Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

If we can agree that the ultimate purpose of marketing is to attract attention and generate interest, then combining SEO and content marketing is a no-brainer for smart brands and marketers.

SEO is all about creating brand visibility – it ensures that customers can find your website. Engaging content is what will make them click and stay on your website.

SEO and content marketing, when combined effectively and intelligently, become an unbeatable one-two punch that defines the experience – and success – of your brand.

Today’s digital world is insanely competitive; it’s always shifting and evolving. More than a billion websites are competing for the attention of today’s consumers. Millions of new pieces of content are generated every minute of every day – blog posts, whitepapers, infographics, videos, GIFs, social media updates, and much, much more.

All of this is done in the hopes of influencing people when they are in the market to buy a product or a service. Customers are seeking out solutions on their own terms. They find brands using any number different devices, channels, and platforms. In fact, 66 percent of customers use more than one channel during the entire purchase decision journey.

To meet and convert customer demand, it’s up to brands to be visible, be persuasive, and wow consumers at every possible micro-moment with amazing experiences. Content is the key to building these relationships. It should encourage readers to think deeply and it should invoke emotions.

As much as people like to think their choices are based on logic or concrete facts, emotions and psychology are important parts of making decisions. People remember experiences, not text. That’s why stories resonate. Creating content and stories that resonate with an audience is key to content engagement.

Content and SEO: One in the same?

Because so much of the buyer’s journey happens via digital, brands must have content that is optimized, engaging, and reaching customers wherever they are. And to do this, marketers must optimize for intent.

The types of searches users conduct can help marketers learn a lot about their intent. Searches typically fall into one of three types:

  • Navigational: The user knows a brand and uses Google or another search engines to find that specific website (e.g., “Microsoft”).
  • Informational: The user wants to learn something about a company, product, or service (e.g., “how much does Microsoft Word cost”).
  • Transactional: The user enters a highly commercial query, signalling that he or she is ready (or nearly ready) to buy a product or service and (e.g., “buy Microsoft Office 2016”).

By combining SEO and content marketing efforts into one function, marketers can influence consumers whether they are in the discovery phase or purchase stage.

According to new research from BrightEdge (my company) over 97% of digital marketers now believe that SEO and Content Marketing have become one and the same.

SEO is vital to content discovery. Discovery tends to start via the organic search channel. Did you know that organic search:

  • Drives 51 percent of all visits to B2B and B2C websites
  • Has no direct media cost and extremely high returns
  • Impacts all digital marketing channels and offline sales
  • Builds brand awareness
  • Helps increase revenue?

So it’s critical to identify keywords that demonstrate commercial intent. With this data, marketers can better understand the intent of customers and create and optimize intelligent content that is more likely to convert.

Combining SEO and content isn’t just good in theory. Cross-channel marketing is helping marketers achieve a higher ROI. Integration results in higher conversion rates, engagement, customer retention, and brand advocacy.

It’s critical to understand what will resonate with customers and help influence them during the decision-making journey. But to create the intelligent content that engages and converts, marketers need intelligent data. You need to know who your target audience is – their ages, demographics, locations, interests, habits, and preferences.

How do you market with intent by combining SEO and content marketing into one function?

Developing a powerful content optimization program takes time and careful planning, but there are five things marketers can do to establish a strong foundation.

1. Know your audience

Everything a brand does must revolve around the customer – the products, experience, and marketing strategy. Defining an audience allows marketers to create content on interesting and relevant topics that will grow loyal audiences and achieve business objectives.

Yet, a surprising number of brands – 80 percent – say they don’t know their customers,

Brands that intimately understand the motivations, pain points, and processes of their audience are best set up to deliver better and more impactful content that helps drive revenue, growth, and long-term sustainability.

Here are three keys to marketing with intent to your audience:

  • See how people engage. Examine how customers consume and engage with your content. Identify what generates interest and results in people taking action. Adjust and optimize content as needed.
  • Think about the customer journey. Consider how customers engage with different types of content across channels and devices, at different stages, and in different states of mind. Understand conversion and buying behavior as customers move between devices (smartphones, tablets, and desktops).
  • Do ongoing customer analysis. What customers are interested in or desire today can quickly change. Performing regular analysis of customer-brand interactions. Listen and gather insights to keep up with the trends and continue delivering the right experiences.

2. Have a purpose

Just as a brand needs a mission statement – a stated aspirational or inspirational purpose for existing – content also must have a purpose. Every piece of content you create should have a reason for existing. Generally, the purpose of content is to inform, educate, persuade, entertain, or inspire.

Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

Keep purpose top of mind when developing a content strategy by incorporating the following:

  • The goal of creating and publishing content is to become a valuable resource and tell memorable stories. Incorporate customer pain points and interests into the content strategy and creation process. Also, remember these three Es:
    • Experiment: Try different content types.
    • Experience: Make your audience feel.
    • Engage: Keep them coming back for more.
  • Consistency: A brand’s voice should mimic the way its customers speak, whether it’s conversational, edgy, or professional. This voice should be consistent across all content, regardless of who creates it or where it’s published.
  • Goals: Set realistic and concrete goals for your content, whether it’s to drive awareness, organic search traffic and rankings, social engagement, conversions, or revenue.

3. Create & optimize content

After nailing down a target audience and a purpose, the next step is creating and optimizing content for maximum visibility. Failing to optimize content is a suicide mission. People who can’t find content, no matter how great it may be, can’t engage with that content – or the brand that created it.

Every piece of content can always be improved through optimization, whether that content is for your website, social media, or email campaigns. Some tips:

  • Choose relevant topics: Content should be customer-centric, not brand- or business-centric. Topics should appeal based on demographics, behaviors, and interests.
  • Use the right keywords: Ditch the corporate jargon. Use words people actually use when searching for your products or services.
  • Map content to specific personas and purchase funnels: Customer journey mapping helps set up content for success from the start.
  • Mobile optimization: This is especially critical for mobile. Brands that fail to optimize for mobile get 68 percent less traffic.

4. Combine quality & quantity

Many marketers believe consumers are simply overwhelmed by all the content we’re creating. After all, U.S. adults consume an astounding 10 hours and 39 minutes of media every single day. According to Smart Insights, every minute 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube; nearly 150,000 emails are sent; nearly 1,500 new WordPress posts are published; 3.3 million new Facebook posts are published; and 448,000 new tweets appear on Twitter.

This had led many marketers to one conclusion: focus on quality, not quantity. It makes sense in theory. After all, more content doesn’t usually mean better content.

Yes, there is an enormous amount of content on the web in aggregate. Global Internet traffic is forecast to hit an unfathomable 2.3 zettabytes by 2020, according to Cisco.

However, the average person has no desire to consume every piece of content that exists on the web. They want to consume intelligent content that is personalized, relevant, and helpful to them.

  • Does quality matter? Absolutely! Poorly crafted content is ineffective, won’t help you attain your goals, and can turn off potential customers.
  • Does quantity matter? Yes! Consistently telling stories and starting conversations with customers through memorable and compelling content helps keep brands top of mind.

5. Measure results & iterate

That which isn’t measured can’t be improved. Luckily, marketers have access to a wealth of real-time data to gain content performance insights and track metrics to determine ROI.

Brands can learn from every content campaign, whether it failed or achieved its goals.

  • Content failures: Compare underperforming content to previously successful content (both your own and that of third parties). See where it falls short. Pay close attention to traffic, conversions, and revenue attributed to or influenced by content.
  • Content wins: Figure out what made your best content stand out. Try to replicate the success and turn anomalies into more regular occurrences.

Below is a great framework on how best to approach SEO and content in your organization:

Marketing with intent: The combined power of SEO and content

Conclusion

Optimization is critical to maximize the value of content. The right audience must be able to find the content. And the content must drive business results. Ensuring your content is search engine-friendly and optimized across the buyer’s journey is critical to the success of a combined content and SEO team.

SEO and content convergence: Making the most of moments that matter

Columnist Jim Yu notes that as the digital marketing industry matures, SEO and content marketing are becoming more and more integrated. The post SEO and content convergence: Making the most of moments that matter appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 massive SEO and content shifts you need to master right now

What can today's industry shifts tell us about the future of SEO and content marketing? Columnist Jim Yu discusses some current trends and their implications. The post 5 massive SEO and content shifts you need to master right now appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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International SEO: 5 ways to scale performance

The digital revolution has truly become a global phenomenon.

In the European Union, Internet penetration reaches over 80 percent, with some countries reaching well above 90 percent. In China, there are 731 million internet users, representing only 53 percent of the population —  leaving plenty of room for growth.

The Internet offers brands an unprecedented way to reach their customers across borders and regardless of language or cultural barriers. Reaching different populations requires an understanding of what people want in these different countries and then producing content to meet these needs.

It’s not a matter of simply translating content into different languages, but of applying basic SEO principles of relevancy and localization on a global scale — while also ensuring technical SEO content is delivered in the correct language to the appropriate population.

As you get started with your international SEO strategy, here are five ways you can scale your practices to maximize your potential.

Understand demand variations from region to region

When completing a global search, you will find that even within Google, content types and SERP layouts will vary from country to country. For example, a particular keyword might trigger a Quick Answer in one country, but in another it will not. In each region, Google models its SERPs based upon local trends and interests to provide an optimal user experience.

Not only will content and SERP layouts change, but so will keywords and traffic rates. Keywords cannot directly translate from one language to another — you must take into account cultural interests, population, slang, and local vocabulary.

Different regions have different expectations from brands within the same industry in terms of what they want to see before they make a purchase decision.

As you develop an international search strategy, you must understand that ranking well for a particular term in one country does not mean ranking well for related terms in another. You must optimize locally and build content and user experience precisely for that local audience. Before taking any steps toward building an international search strategy, you must understand keyword demand and traffic within that country.

Build a global framework for your international SEO

As you create an international search strategy, you’ll find that incorporating technical aspects of SEO will be necessary. Primarily, you will need to employ hreflang tags.

A hreflang tag is a piece of code that helps Google understand the intended language and country for your content. This will ensure your content is displayed in the right region. For example, a Spanish language site written for an audience in Argentina will not provide the optimal user experience for those in Spain because there are differences between the two countries in the vocabulary used, even though both speak Spanish.

The hreflang tag helps to ensure that the consumer audience sees the content that has been written specifically for them to provide the most relevant and helpful experience.

The tags also reduce the threat of duplicate content, because they inform Google that your content has been written for different audiences. Your content for an audience in the United States might overlap with content written for audiences in the UK, therefore, the hreflang tag is necessary to reduce the threat of duplicate content.

There are three main strategies to ensure content is correctly marked with the hreflang tag.

  1. Place the tag in HTTP Header and ensure it is present on every page.
  2. Place the tag in the site map.
  3. Mark up the page itself.

As you begin to mark up content, it is important to use the ISO 639-1 format for all languages, and restrict the size of all site maps to be no larger than 50 mg or 10,000 URLs. If yours will be larger, it is possible to split the map to stay within these guidelines.

Localize the content you create

Once you understand how to create the framework for your global audience, you must also create content for the region-specific site. Recognize that you do not want to simply translate content for one site word-for-word into another language.

The content itself should be localized so that it appeals to the audience within the new region. This means creating content to reflect local search trends and interests and performing keyword research specific to each country. You also want to incorporate local vocabulary and slang, and work with native speakers to ensure your content resonates with those reading it.

If you have multiple locations for a particular business, make sure you implement separate landing pages for each one. Be sure to create content for different landing pages that reflects the region, such as incorporating local landmarks, pastimes, and interests to boost the appearance of each landing page in the SERPs.

Unify differing strategies

For an effective global strategy, you must bring together your global, local, and mobile optimization strategies. Rank countries in order of where you are most likely find customers. Use these rankings to help you identify priorities. Use your global framework to ensure search engines understand where to display your content to maximize your relevance to the intended audience.

Your local and hyperlocal strategies will then guide your content creation process. With local keyword research and by working with a native speaker to identify regional dialects and vocabulary, you can then produce content that appeals to the local audience.

Finally, make sure your content is available for users on mobile devices. Globally, mobile now outpaces desktop, and in some regions, it represents a large segment of the population.

For example, more than 95 percent of the Chinese internet-using population also uses mobile devices. Brands that want to succeed need to ensure that their content is ready for the on-the-go user. This includes responsive design, creating content for the “I-want-to-go” micro moment, and ensuring all web pages are mobile-friendly.

Measure your results

As with all SEO strategies, expanding globally requires you to take careful measurements of your progress. You can use the information from your metrics to see where you still need to improve and build a more effective international SEO strategy.

  1. Take measurements of your presence and ranking in different countries before, during, and after you implement a concrete global strategy. This will allow you to clearly see your progress throughout and narrow down potential areas for improvement.
  1. Track your page rankings to assure pages rank correctly in each country. Errors with your hreflang tags and keyword rankings, such as ranking a term common in the US in the UK, can reduce your relevancy to the local consumer base, ultimately hurting your rankings and ability to engage prospects and leads.
  1. Measure success and impact of alternate digital channels, such as the Twitter account for a particular country.
  1. Consider the potential for PPC when expanding into new markets. When you begin your international SEO efforts, it may take time to gain high rankings for your site. Using PPC can help you gain traction in a new territory. Measure your success with these efforts to better understand search behavior and conversion rates in new territories.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and the importance of digital marketing spreads throughout the globe, brands looking to grow their organizations must understand how to engage audiences beyond their native borders.

There is more to building an international website than simply translating content, and these tips should help you move in the right direction. Incorporating global SEO should be an important addition in the toolbox of any marketer to help them improve marketing to international customers.

 

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. On 8th June at Share London leading global brands will be sharing insights on how to build global SEO campaigns. You can register here at Share17.

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Top tips on voice search: Artificial Intelligence, location and SEO

By 2020 it is projected there will be nearly 21 billion internet-connected devices, or “things” in the world.

The explosive ubiquity of this mobile-connected technology has led people to depend on these devices more regularly, with 94 percent of smartphone users claiming that they carry their phones with them frequently and 82 percent reporting that they never, or rarely, turn their phones off.

These numbers fall in line with a trend that is longer-standing, with Morgan Stanley reporting as early as 2011 that 91 percent of mobile users have some kind of mobile device within arm’s reach 100 percent of the time.

Corresponding with this increase in mobile device usage is the rise of what is called “voice search,” as well as the increasing prevalence of devices that contain “personal assistant” software like Alexa and Siri. People have become increasingly accustomed to the idea of speaking directly with computer devices and accessing information on the internet wherever and whenever they might need it.

Naturally, like mobile usage in general, these emergent technologies have begun to influence search, and the impact will likely become even more apparent as usage grows.

Much in the way mobile devices have disrupted search by bringing on-the-go, local queries and results into the equation, voice search is introducing new methods of query and different results-experiences for users. Now, when a person activates voice search, particularly on personal assistant devices, most personal assistant technology will only deliver what is considered the best answer, essentially reducing the SERP to one result.

That means that brands either occupy the first position, or, as far as voice search is concerned, they do not receive any attention at all.

Of course, the single-result SERP isn’t uniformly true for voice search. For voice-activated technologies connected to visual displays like smartphones and laptops, there is a greater possibility for more results. Even so, brands still need to remain focused on appearing in the top results.

When someone uses voice search because they are on-the-go or they need an immediate answer, they don’t intend to scroll through pages. Rather, they’re looking for Google rich answers, such as a Quick Answer (which provides a high-quality, immediate answer to a query), Rich Card (information-rich content previews), or other top-featured results.

Google’s new Rich Cards

Over the past few years, we have seen the transformative impact of mobile on search and consumer behavior, including the shift towards the mobile-first algorithm. Voice search is the next major trend that brands will need to focus on to ensure they remain competitive.

The more we understand about voice search and personal assistant devices, the easier it will be to optimize for them and ensure that your brand is represented across devices.

The role of personal assistants

As devices with artificially intelligent personal assistance software have become increasingly mainstream, so too has the use of voice search.

According to Google’s Gary Illyes, the number of voice queries in 2015 doubled from the number in 2014. Developers are now beginning to understand there are particular types of search queries people are more fond of using voice for, rather than text. For example “when is my meeting?” Users are 30 times more likely to use voice for these types of queries, rather than text.

These personal assistants, which have been put forth by several different brands, have empowered customers to remain even more connected to the internet at all times, even when engaging in hands-on activities like cooking or driving. Customers can ask about the cook time for chicken, for example, while in the middle of preparing the meat without having to remove themselves from their original task.

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report looked at the reasons why customers use voice search, as well as which device settings are the most popular. The report indicated that the usefulness of voice search when a user’s hands or vision were otherwise occupied was the top reason that people enjoyed the technology, followed by a desire for faster results and difficulty typing on certain devices.

Where do users access voice search? It turns out that, more often than not, consumers are opting to use voice-activated devices is at home, followed by the car and on-the-go.

These personal assistants, along with voice search in general, are creating an increasingly connected world where customers expect search to be ever-present and capable of addressing their needs immediately.

Top tips on voice search: Artificial Intelligence, location and SEO

How Artificial Intelligence powers voice search

Artificial intelligence powers personal assistance capabilities for mobile users. AI helps voice search and the associated algorithms to better understand and account for user intent. This intelligence, using semantics, search history, user proclivities and other factors, is able to process and understand the likely context of queries and provide results accordingly.

Natural language triggers, such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how,” for example, make it easier for AI to understand the user’s place on the customer journey and the likely goal of the search. Voice-activated devices can then direct users to where they most likely want to be on the web.

AI is essentially able to sift through voice search queries and identify the most important information, as well as the understand the intent regardless of an array of speech errors. For example, a query that changes direction mid-sentence, such as “How was the… what was the score to the White Sox game last night?” will be correctly answered. This enhances the conversational capabilities of the voice search, understanding the reason behind a query even if it is not asked in a precise way.

Voice search in practice

Voice search makes it even easier for customers to ask hyperlocal queries, which is significant in the context of a mobile-rich environment. Consider how users execute search queries differently when speaking to mobile devices rather than exploring the web via a desktop computer.

Voice searches tend to contain slightly different words, such as “close” or “nearby”, which are not commonly used on desktop computers. Why? Because people tend to use mobile devices to access personal assistance software, and mobile devices are most often employed to find businesses or other locations while on-the-go. The aforementioned language triggers, “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why,” are also common, setting the context for the query and what the user likely wants to find.

These queries are also most likely to contain longtail keywords, conversational phrasing, and complete sentences. All of these factors impact how brands should optimize their content to maximize its appearance in voice search.

Voice searches have also become increasingly complex. For example, users might ask, “Find a French restaurant near me” and then follow up with, “Call the first one.” The voice search algorithm is able to interpret the second query as related to the first and act appropriately. The ability of the voice search algorithm to understand the related context of these queries enhances user experiences and maintains the conversational tone.

Voice search and local search: How the SEO marketer can succeed

Knowing that voice search is an emergent technology that will impact marketing at large is one thing. Understanding how to take advantage of that fact is another. For that reason, marketers should develop an array of best practices to ensure success in the wake of this incoming trend. Here are some tips to get you started:

Tip 1. Use keyword and intent analysis to better understand the context of the queries. For marketers to be able to accurately create and optimize content for voice search, they need to know the replies that users expect when they make a particular voice search query. Then, tailor the content to meet the needs of the users.

Remember to consider synonyms and alternate means of phrasing the same query, such as “How do I get to the store?” versus “Give me directions to the store.”

Tip 2. Incorporate important location keywords into the content that could impact voice search. For example, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, or Golden Gate Park might all be landmarks that people use to find a suitable restaurant in San Francisco. Incorporating these terms into your content will boost your hyperlocal presence and make it easier for you to rank for voice search.

Top tips on voice search: Artificial Intelligence, location and SEO

Tip 3. Use markup to ensure that your content is ready to be displayed by Google rich results. Rich answer boxes, such as Google Quick Answers and the Local Three Pack, play a big role in providing rapid answers to user queries on-the-go. Making sure that all your content is marked up with schema will help ensure that your content is prepared to be displayed in any rich boxes that become available.

Tip 4. Make sure that each physical business location has its own site and that each site is individually optimized. This means you need to do more than just translate keywords to other languages or optimize all sites for the same terms. You need to optimize each site for the context and desires of their specific targeted audience.

Learn what interests customers in that particular area through targeted keyword and intent research and make sure that each site is ready to compete within its own local sector.

Tip 5. Since a large part of succeeding with voice search is having a strong local presence, paid search and organic search teams can work together to maximize the brand’s presence. Research valuable keywords for the organization, intent, and how the brand ranks.

Identifying the opportunities where having a paid ad would be the most beneficial and where organic search will be able to establish the brand can help organizations maximize their resources.

Tip 6. Do not neglect your apps. Remember that apps dominate a significant portion of the mobile experience. In fact, an estimated 90 percent of mobile minutes are spent on apps. Your data from your research about local search and natural language voice search will help you construct your app to maximize the user experience.

Use deep linking within your app to ensure that customers who engage with you through voice search are able to find the content that originally interested them.

Top tips on voice search: Artificial Intelligence, location and SEO

Source: Smart Insights

Voice search continues to become a dominant force in the world of digital marketing. Businesses need to be prepared to respond and keep their brands recognizable as people become more accustomed to immediate answers wherever they might be.

SEO & intelligent content: Discovery, connection and improved performance

Jim Yu explains how search data can be used to better understand your customers, allowing you to create targeted, "intelligent" content that will really move the needle. The post SEO & intelligent content: Discovery, connection and improved performance appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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