Category Archives: SEO

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Google Voice search

The Next Evolution in SEO is Voice Search

The future of SEO is here: understanding and marketing to specific and defined audiences through search engines.

Adam Audette, senior vice-president of organic search at Merkle

This statement may have been true at one time, but in today’s world, the future of SEO is still coming — and it’s coming fast.

Google, Siri, and Cortana are currently in the midst of permanently altering the way people search online.

As these voice activated personal assistants continue to proliferate digital technology and people’s daily lives, folks are realizing that searching in this manner is faster and easier than typing in queries; especially on mobile devices.

One year ago, Google engineer Behshad Behzadi gave a keynote speech at SMX West indicating that voice search is the fastest growing form of search.

This seems to be a fair assessment considering that just two months later Google CEO Sundar Pichai said  voice search accounted for 20 percent of the queries posed through its mobile app; and this number is steadily growing.

ComScore has predicted that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be initiated by voice commands.

MediaPost believes that by that same year, 30 percent of searches will happen without a screen.

A report from Technavio indicates the possibility of voice recognition becoming a $601 million industry by 2019.

What all of this points to is a major transformation in the way people search online. And with a massive alteration in search patterns, SEO is sure to be altered forever.

So how exactly will SEO change? Let’s explore.

The (Potential) Death of Short Tail Keywords

There has been some debate as of late about if Google is actively trying to kill keyword research through its algorithm updates.

The prominence of voice search might just deal the death knell to short-tailed keywords.

As conversational queries are typically longer than typed questions, short-tail keywords are beginning to lose their potency.

This means that brands must begin to optimize their sites for long-tailed conversational keywords by incorporating these phrases into content and on-site materials.

While short tailed keywords are not likely to die off completely, they surely will be playing a much smaller role in the voice-activated Web.

Mobile Search Rules the Roost

Mobile has already toppled desktop when it comes to searches. A recent report from Hitwise claims that mobile searches in the U.S. have reached a staggering 58 percent of search query volume.

This information, coupled with the sizable increase of Smartphone adoption or upgrades year-over-year, means that millions upon millions are purchasing devices preloaded with these types of virtual assistants. In fact, one VoiceLabs report shows that in 2017 “. . . 25 million devices will be shipped, bringing the total number of voice-first devices to 33 million in circulation.” 

Back in 2014, Google released a blog detailing that 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults use voice search multiple times per day. Since then, the number has skyrocketed in correlation with the number of voice-driven devices.

What all of this means, in conjunction with Google’s mobile-first index, is that small screen devices are where the future of search lies.

Marketers should be prioritizing this format above all others.

Love for Locals

Considering that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to relate to local solutions than text-based queries, brick-and-mortar business owners have massive opportunities ahead of them.

In order for local shops to capitalize on the evolution of search, they must optimize keyword strategies to top the mobile SERPs and be found by customers.

Local businesses can begin to see a mobile rankings boost by including any notable landmarks in their copy, incorporating neighborhood descriptions in natural language, and including intent based keywords.

These types of indicators will help drive mobile searchers to find local businesses with greater ease.

Plus, this information ties in to the next major shift to the SEO landscape:

Content Intent

Intent is likely the most significant change to come to SEO via the voice search movement because natural language communicates an individual’s intentions much more clearly.

People who search on desktop versus those who search on mobile are often asking two entirely different things. For instance, a person who types their query into an engine from a desktop computer is likely in some sort of research phase. Those who are speaking their question into a mobile device, however, are far more likely to be searching for an instant answer or a local solution to the quandary.

For now, businesses still need to cater to both crowds, while placing higher importance on mobile for action-oriented queries.

Ultimately, this will have a significant impact on ad bids and content production.

The key to achieving higher rankings for mobile voice commands is to establish which questions and phrases are of highest value to your organization. Afterwards, begin optimizing for those keywords.

It is also recommended to include filler words in the questions you seek to answer; words like “to,” “the,” “me,” “for,” and other commonly used words when asking questions.

These need to be as conversational as possible considering this is how mobile voice users will present their questions.

Voice search is not going away anytime soon. The longer this technology exists, the more prominent it will become in society and the more impactful it will be on the SERPs.

As more and more personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are introduced into the consumer marketplace, the more controlling long-tailed, conversational queries will become.

Don’t wait until the movement has already taken effect. Begin implementing these changes to your keyword strategy, on-site copy, blogs, ads, and other digital creatives immediately because the change is already underway.

What changes have you made to begin preparing your business for the voice activated future of search?



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seo-quality-relevance

Guide to Mastering SEO in 2017

SEO is one of the essential components of digital marketing. If you are just getting started with learning digital marketing, SEO might look like a very complicated concept. But in reality, SEO is very simple. There is a lot to learn in SEO, but let’s first understand the fundamentals of SEO.

Think about why you use the search engines for in the first place. You enter “keywords” in a search engine looking for something. It could be for information (news & education), entertainment (movies & music) or transaction (buying products or services).

In all the above cases, you are searching for something that you know that it exists. Search engines are just an evolved form of yellow pages. You look for products and services that you already know about. That’s why the traffic from search engines are always of higher quality.

People are searching for something and already know what they want. If they land on a site to find what they were looking for, they are highly likely to convert.

What does a Search Engine or Google Want?

You want free traffic from Google. You want your articles to be ranked high in the search engines. That’s what you want. But Google is not in the business of sending free traffic to your websites. They are in the business of running a search engine and making revenue from the ads!

The only way to get good search rankings for your web pages is to think about what Google wants and give it to them. If you help other people get what they want, there is a high chance that you will get what you want.

A search engine like Google wants internet users to use their search engine frequently. And they can achieve that only be delivering quality and relevant results. (Who uses Yahoo or Bing anymore? We don’t use it because Google gives us better results).

So that’s what Google wants. But Google needs your help in delivering high-quality results. Because Google doesn’t create all the content in the world by themselves. They need your help in creating content. You are the content producer. If you create good quality content, then Google can help you market it. It would be a win-win.

Ideally, Google would want to review each and every page on the internet manually and rank them on the search engine result pages, for every keyword, based on the quality and relevancy. But the internet is too large, and there are hundreds of millions of pages.

So they have built an algorithm that automates this process. The algorithm checks each page for quality and relevancy and then ranks it accordingly. The algorithm is the core of the search engine. It mimics human intelligence, and that’s their greatest asset.

For Google’s algorithm to decide which pages are useful and which pages are not, they need signals. What signals? Quality and Relevancy signals! Who sends those signals? Your website users and you, the website owner (webmaster).

Two Important SEO Factors: Quality and Relevancy

When you think about search engine results, there are two important factors involved in it. One is quality, and the other is relevancy.

Quality: If you are searching for “top 10 laptops” and if there are 50 websites who have written articles about top laptops in the market, you would want the highest quality result to appear on the top. You might not want to read lower quality articles.

Relevancy: If you are searching for “top 10 laptops” and if the search engine shows results for “top 10 mobile phones”, the result will not be useful for you even if the page about the top 10 mobile phones is of superb quality. It is not relevant to you and hence not useful to you.

So the results have to be both of high quality and high relevancy. Otherwise, it will not be useful to the internet users. Quality signals are sent mostly by the web users based on their behavior, and we call it off-page SEO. Relevancy signals are mostly sent to Google by Webmasters, and we call it on-page SEO.

User Signals (Off-Page SEO)

Search engines track user behavior on a site to try to find out the quality and the relevance of the website and the pages inside it. There are many user signals recorded by the search engines, but the major ones are obvious.

Primary User Signals:

  • If a user finds an article useful and relevant, he will share it on social media. (Social Signals)
  • He may link to the article from his blog or a discussion forum. (Backlinks)
  • He will spend a lot of time on the page reading the article. (Time spent on site)
  • He will not hit the back button on the browser after clicking on your link in the search engine results. (Low bounce rate)

Off-page optimization is done by your users by communicating these signals to Google. These signals are predominantly signals of quality but have relevancy signals too. User signals are not under your control.

Webmaster Signals (On-Page SEO)

Google also wants signals from webmasters (website owners) about the type of content that is available on our websites. These signals are predominantly relevancy signals than quality signals. Because every webmaster would claim that their content is of the best quality!

Webmaster Signals:

  • Title of the page and website as a whole
  • Meta description of the pages
  • Images and image alt tags on the pages

SEO Factors that Webmasters can Control

Apart from sending relevancy signals, there are other things that webmasters can do to improve their website’s search friendliness. Here are some of the major ones.

  • Give a good user experience (make it mobile friendly, easy to read)
  • Have a good hosting and high page load speed
  • Help users navigate through the site in the best way possible

Once you have got these SEO basics right, you can master SEO. Tactics and strategies to achieve the above will keep changing over time.

SEO Fundamentals Do Not Change, Ever

Any new SEO technique that comes up will fit into the above framework. All you need to do is check if it helps your users and the search engines and if it is a yes, you can go ahead with it. That’s the only long term SEO strategy that you can have.

For example, the latest trend in SEO is AMP (accelerated mobile pages), but it is just another factor that helps with good user experience. Internet users would like to get the web pages fast and not wait for it.

Many webmasters try to game the system by bending the rules. For example, webmasters may try to send false user signals of quality and relevancy.

Such practices are termed as ‘black hat’ SEO. They may build backlinks themselves instead of earning links organically. They may boost fake social shares.

With such practices, some webmasters may get results in the short-term, but in the end, if you have to win the SEO game forever, you have to make it a win-win-win situation for your users, the search engines and yourself.



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SEO-in-2017

5 top SEO Trends for 2017

Right about now, nearly every SEO on the planet is devising his or her blueprints for gaining organic traction on the SERP’s in 2017.

While there are more than 200 different factors that contribute to a brand’s overall placement for particular queries, there are certain trends emerging and steadfast rules for ranking that are important to consider as we move into the New Year.

If you are on the hunt for the latest trends and SEO rules of engagement for 2017, look no further. Here are the top five practices you should be concerning yourself with throughout 2017.

Rule 1. A Mobile-First Focus

No major revelations here. Over the past several years, mobile’s importance has continued to grow and its impact on SEO has become increasingly dramatic.

Google has, in no uncertain terms, laid out its agenda as it relates to mobile; and it is soon to top the list of search priorities.

Over the course of 2016, SEOs, marketers and business owners saw Google ramp up the uses of Accelerated Mobile Pages by introducing it organically into the SERPs, advertisements and even eCommerce offerings.

This was only the tip of the iceberg, however — the biggest mobile-related announcement came in November when Google revealed its mobile-first indexing exercise.

While these are only a couple examples of how Google is turning its attention toward mobile, the overall consensus is that your business should be doing the same.

It is now a necessity to have a mobile version of your website. Moreover, it is becoming vital that your company adopt AMP for content offerings, increase mobile page speeds, and hone in on a truly unique and beneficial user experience.

Rule 2. Quality Over Quantity Prevails

This is one of those things that remains a staple in 2017 SEO practices; and will likely always be around in one form or another.

In the past few years, content marketers have generated more articles, blogs and videos than people can consume; and much of it is the same rehashed drivel.

Don’t worry so much about meeting a “content quota,” instead, your main goal is to produce truly useful materials as it relates to your niche; that’s what users care about, and that’s what Google cares about. Quality content is the entire focus of the Panda algorithm update.

Forget about article spinning and other ways to crank out content for the sake of content. Place your focus on creating highly-informative, evergreen content; something that users can leverage for years to come.

This leads us into our next content-related rule:

Rule 3. Deep Diving Content is a Must – Kind Of

In-depth content that intimately covers a given topic is not something new to 2017, but there are some changes on the horizon.

Over the past couple of years, various studies have been produced which clearly show the benefits of long-form content. One particular study even showed that the top slots in the Google SERPs went to content that contained more than 2,000 words.

Of course, the goal is not to create ultra-long content stuffed with fluff; it is to generate serious value for readers. Something that can genuinely help them understand a topic and improve.

The mobile-driven future, however, likely has other plans for content. While it is still ideal to create comprehensive materials for desktop, small screen devices will begin to require information-dense articles that are relatively short.

This is mainly because mobile devices are not optimized for long-form content but are emerging as the most favorable platform for the masses. As this trend continues to mature, so will the nature of the content that is served to mobile users.

Rule 4. Semantics are Significant 

Google has been focusing more and more on user intent in recent years. And the proliferation of voice search technology has only served to amplify that pursuit.

Google is on a path of constant improvement as it relates to user experience. This means the company is continually trying to provide the most relevant and helpful links for user queries; the best way to do that is to understand the user’s intention for the search.

In 2017, SEOs will need to continue to adjust their keyword strategies to further identify key-phrases that relate to why users would seek out their website, product, or service. Keywords are often too broad to understand a user’s motive. By really focusing on detailed phrases, you are far more likely to reap SEO benefits in 2017.

Rule 5. Other Search Engines Matter

A lot of SEOs and business owners get so caught up in feverishly trying to rank on Google that they completely neglect other platforms; ignoring other search engines is a mistake.

In late 2015, Bing attained a 21 percent market share and is currently growing faster than Google. Considering that there are roughly 3.4 billion Internet users, this translates to approximately 714 million users that are missed by not leveraging Bing.

More importantly, these figures could see massive growth in 2017 as personal assistants Siri and Cortana utilize Bing as their default engines; Cortana already has more than 100 million monthly active users.

In 2017, put significant effort toward understanding Bing’s best practices, ensuring your pages are indexed with the engine, and optimizing your pages for better results. It wouldn’t hurt to secure some advertising space on the platform either.

Creating a powerful SEO strategy in 2017 comes down to focusing on what makes for a better user experience; that’s what Google is after. The more you place a spotlight on user intent, user-centric content, and great mobile offerings, the more Google will acknowledge your efforts.


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