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India’s ride-hailing firm Ola is now in the credit card business, too

May 15, 2019 No Comments

A day after India’s largest wallet app Paytm entered the credit cards business, local ride-hailing giant is following suit. Ola has inked a deal with state-run SBI bank and Visa to issue as many as 10 million credit cards in next three and a half years, it said today.

The move will help Visa and SBI bank acquire more customers in India, where most transactions are still bandied out over cash. For Ola, which rivals Uber in India, foray into cards business represents a new avenue to monetize its customers, as TechCrunch previously reported.

With about 150 million users availing more than 2 million rides on its platform each day, Ola is sitting on a mountain of data about its users’ financial power and spends. With the card, dubbed Ola Money-SBI Credit Card, the mobility firm is also offering several discounts and savings to retain its loyal customer base.

Ola, which is nearing $ 6 billion in valuation and counts SoftBank and Naspers among its investors, said it will offer its credit card holders “highest cashback and rewards” in form of Ola Money that could be redeemed for Ola rides, and flight and hotel bookings. There will be seven percent cashback on cab spends, five percent on flight bookings, 20 percent on domestic hotel bookings (six percent on international hotel bookings), 20 percent on over 6,000 restaurants, and one percent on all other spends.

“Mobility spends form a significant wallet share for users and we see a huge opportunity to transform their payments experience with this solution. With over 150 million digital-first consumers on our platform, Ola will be a catalyst in driving India’s digital economy with cutting edge payment solutions,” Bhavish Aggarwal, cofounder and CEO of Ola, said in a statement.

Why credit cards?

Ola appears to be following the playbook of Grab and Go-Jek, two ride-hailing services in Southeast Asian markets that have ventured into a number of businesses in recent years. Both Grab and Go-Jek offer loans, remittance and insurance to their riders, while the former also maintains its own virtual credit card. Interestingly, Uber, which also offers a credit card in some markets, has no such play in India.

The move will allow Ola to look beyond ride-hailing and food delivery, two businesses that appear to have hit a saturation point in India, said Satish Meena, an analyst with research firm Forrester.

In recent years, Ola has started to explore financial services. It offers riders “micro-insurance” that covers a range of risks including loss of baggage and medical expenses. The company said earlier this year, it has sold over 20 million insurances to customers. Using Ola Money to facilitate cashbacks also underscores Ola’s push to increase the adoption of its mobile wallet, which according to estimates, lags Paytm and several other wallet and UPI payment apps.

The company has also made major push in electric vehicles business, which it spun off as a separate company earlier this year. In March, its EV business raised $ 300 million from Hyundai and Kia. The company has said that it plans to offer one million EVs by 2022. Its other EV programs include a pledge to add 10,000 rickshaws for use in cities.


Startups – TechCrunch


The SEO metrics that really matter for your business

May 4, 2019 No Comments

Whether you are a business owner, marketing manager or simply just interested in the world of ecommerce, you may be familiar with how a business can approach SEO.

To every person involved, the perception of SEO and its success can vary from a sophisticated technical grasp to a knowledge of the essentials.

At all levels, measurement and understanding of search data are crucial and different metrics will stand out; from rankings to the finer details of goals and page speed.

As you may know, you can’t rely solely on ranks as a method to track your progress. But there are other, simple ways to measure the impact of SEO on a business.

In a recent AMA on Reddit, Google’s own Gary Illyes recently urged SEO professionals to stick to the basics and this way of thinking can be applied to the measurement of organic search performance.

In this article, we will look to understand the best metrics for your business when it comes to understanding the impact of SEO, and how they can be viewed from a technical and commercial perspective. Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that this article has used Google’s own demo analytics account for screenshots. If you need further info to get to grips, check out this article, or access the demo version of Google Analytics.

Each of these are commercial SEO metrics — data that means something to everyone in a business.

Organic traffic

This is undoubtedly a simple, if not the most simple way of understanding the return of any SEO efforts. The day-to-day traffic from search engines is the key measure for many marketers and any increase can often be tied to an improved level of search visibility (excluding seasonal variation).

In a world where data drives decisions, these figures are pretty important and represent a key part of any internet user’s session, whether that is to get an answer, make a purchase or something else.

In Google Analytics, simply head follow this path: Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels to see the organic traffic received within your chosen time period

Identifying traffic sources in Google Analytics

You might be asking, “how can I know more?”

Google might have restricted access to keyword data back in 2011, but you can still dig down into your traffic from organic search to look at landing pages and locations.

Organic traffic data – Filtered by landing page 

Not all traffic from search hits your homepage, some users head to your blog or to specific landing pages, depending on their needs. For some searches, however, like those for your company name, your homepage will be the most likely option.

To understand the split of traffic across your site, use the “Landing Page” primary dimension and explore the new data, split by specific page URL.

Understanding the traffic split using Google Analytics

Organic traffic data – Filtered by location

Within the same section, the organic search data can be split by location, such as city, to give even further detail on the makeup of your search traffic. Depending on how your business operates, the locations shown may be within the same country or across international locations. If you have spent time optimizing for audiences in specific areas, this view will be key to monitor overall performance.

Screenshot of search data filtered by city

Screenshot of the city wise breakdown of the search traffic in Google Analytics

Revenue, conversions, and goals

In most cases, your website is likely to be set up to draw conversions, whether that is product sales, document downloads, or leads.

Part of understanding the success of SEO, is the contribution to the goal of a business, whether that is monetary or lead-based.

For revenue based data, head to the conversions section within Google analytics, then select the product performance. Within that section, filter the secondary dimension by source/medium to show just sales that originate from search engine traffic.

Screenshot of the product performance list to track search originated sales

If your aim isn’t totally revenue based, perhaps a signup form or some downloadable content, then custom analytics goals are your way of fully understanding the actions of visitors that originate from search engines.

Within the conversions section, the source of your goal completions can be split by source, allowing you to focus on solely visits from organic search.

Graph on source wise split of goal conversions

If a visitor finds your site from a search and then buys something or registers their details, it really suggests you are visible to the right audience.

However, if you are getting consistent organic search visits with no further actions taken, that suggests the key terms you rank for, aren’t totally relevant to your website.

SEO efforts should focus on reaching the relevant audiences, you might rank #1 for a search query like “cat food” but if you only sell dog products, your optimization hasn’t quite worked.

Search and local visibility

In the case that your business has web and/or physical store presences, you can use the tools within Google My Business to look further into and beyond the performance of the traditional blue links.
Specifically, you can understand the following:

  • How customers search for your business
  • How someone sees your business
  • What specific actions they take

The better your optimization, the more of these actions you will see, check these out!

Doughnut graph of search volume seen in Google Analytics

Graph of customer actions

Graph of listing sources for Google my business

Average search rankings

Rankings for your key terms on search engines have traditionally been an easy way to quickly get a view of overall performance. However, a “quick Google” can be hard to draw conclusions from. Personalized search from your history and location essentially skews average rank to a point where its use has been diminished.

A variety of tools can be used to get a handle on average rankings for specific terms. The free way to do this is through Google Search Console with freemium tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, which also offer an ability to understand average rank distribution.

With search rankings becoming harder to accurately track, the measure of averages is the best way to understand how search ranking relates to and impacts the wider business.

Graph on average positioning of the website in search

Technical metrics – Important but not everyone pays attention to these

When it comes to the more technical side of measuring SEO, you have to peel back the layers and look beyond clicks and traffic. They help complete the wider picture of SEO performance, plus they can help uncover additional opportunities for progress.

Search index – Through search consoles and other tools

Ensuring that an accurate index of your website exists is one thing that you need to do with SEO. Because if only a part of your site or the wrong pages are indexed, then your overall performance will suffer.

Although a small part of overall SEO work, its arguably one of the most crucial.

One quick way is to enter the command “site:” followed by the URL of your site’s homepage, to see the total number of pages that exist in a search engine’s index.

To inspect the status of a specific page on Google, the Google Search Console is your best option. The newest version of the search console provides a quick way to bring up results.

Screenshot of the latest Google Search Console

Search crawl errors

As well as looking at what has been indexed, any website owner needs to keep an eye out for what may be missing, or if there have been any crawl errors reported by Google. These often occur because a page has been blocked, or the format isn’t crawlable by Google.

Head to the “Coverage” tab within Google Search Console to understand the nature of any errors and what page the error relates to. If there’s a big zero, then you and your business naturally have nothing to worry about.

Screenshot of viewing error reports in Google Search Console

Click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate

In addition to where and how your website ranks for searches, a metric to consider is how often your site listing is clicked in the SERPs. Essentially, this shows the percentage of impressions that result in a site visit.

This percentage indicates how relevant your listing is to the original query and how well your result ranks compared to your competitors.

If people like what they see and can easily find your website, then you’ll likely get a new site visit.

The Google Search Console is the best go-to resource again for the most accurate data. Just select the performance tab and toggle the CTR tab to browse data by query, landing page, country of origin, and device.

Screenshot of a CTR performance graph on the basis of query, landing page, country of origin, and device

If someone does venture onto your site, you will want to ensure the page they see, is relevant to their search, after all, search algorithms love to reward relevance! If the page doesn’t contain the information required or isn’t user-friendly, then it is likely the user will leave to find a better resource, without taking any action, known as a bounce.

In some cases, one visit may be all that is needed, therefore a bounce isn’t an issue. Make sure to view this metric in the wider context of what your business offers.

Mobile friendliness

Widely reported in 2015, was the unveiling of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. This is crucial to the evolution of browser behavior, with mobile traffic, often greater in volume than desktop for some sites.

Another report in the ever useful Google Search Console gives a clear low-down of how mobile-friendly a site is, showing warnings for any issues. It’s worth saying, this measure isn’t an indication of how likely a conversion is, but more the quality of your site on a mobile device.

Graph for tracking the mobile-friendliness of a website

Follow your metrics and listen to the data

As mentioned at the start of this article, data drives decisions. In all areas of business, certain numbers will stand out. With SEO, a full understanding comes from multiple data points, with positives and negatives to be taken at every point of the journey.

Ultimately, it often comes down to traffic, ranks, and conversions, the numbers that definitely drive business are made up of the metrics that don’t often see the light of day but are just as important.

As a digital marketer, it is always a learning experience to know how data drives the evolution of a business and ultimately, how successes and opportunities are reported and understood.

Matthew Ramsay is Digital Marketing Manager at Digitaloft. 

Further reading:

The post The SEO metrics that really matter for your business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Oracle turns to innovation hubs to drive cultural and business shift to cloud

April 23, 2019 No Comments

Oracle was founded in 1977. While it’s not exactly IBM or GE, which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries respectively, it is old enough to be experiencing a fair bit of disruption in its own right. For a good part of its existence, it sold databases to some of the biggest companies in the world. But today, as the market changes and shifts from on-prem data centers to the cloud, how does a company like Oracle make that transition?

Of course, Oracle has been making the shift to the cloud for the last several years, but it would be fair to say that it came late. Plus, it takes more than building some data centers and pushing out some products to change a company the size of Oracle. The company leadership recognizes this, and has been thinking at the highest levels of the organization about how to, from a cultural and business perspective, successfully transform into a cloud company.

To that end, Oracle has opened five innovation hubs over the last several years, with locations in Austin, Texas; Reston, Va.; Burlington, Mass.; Bangalore, India and Santa Monica, Calif. What are these centers hoping to achieve, and how will it extend to the rest of the company the lessons learned? Those are big questions Oracle must answer to make some headway in the cloud market.

Understanding the problem

Oracle seems to understand it has to do something different to change market perception and its flagging market position. Synergy Research, a firm that tracks cloud market share, reports that the company is struggling.

“For cloud infrastructure services (IaaS, PaaS, hosted private cloud services) — Oracle has a 2 percent share,” John Dinsdale, chief analyst and managing director at Synergy told TechCrunch. He added, “It is a top-10 player, but it is nowhere near the scale of the leading cloud providers; and its market share has been steadily eroding.”

The news is a bit better when it comes SaaS. “Along with SAP, Oracle is one of the leaders in the ERP segment. But enterprise SaaS is much broader than ERP and across all of enterprise SaaS it is the No. 4-ranked provider behind Microsoft, Salesforce and Adobe. Oracle worldwide market share in Q4 was 6 percent,” Dinsdale said.

The company knows that it will take a vast shift to change from an organization that mostly sold software licenses and maintenance agreements. It pushed those hard, sometimes so hard that it left IT pros with a sour taste in their mouths. Today, with the cloud, the selling landscape has changed dramatically to a partnership model. The company knows that it must change, too. The question is, how?

That will take an entirely new approach to product development, sales and marketing; and the innovation hubs have become a kind of laboratory where engineers can experiment with more focused projects, and learn to present their ideas with goal of showing instead of telling customers what they can do.

And the young shall lead

One way to change the culture is to infuse it with fresh-thinking, smart young people, and that’s what Oracle is attempting to do with these centers, where they are hiring youthful engineers, many right out of college, to lead the change with the help of more seasoned Oracle executives.

They are looking for ways to rethink Oracle’s cloud products, to pull the services together into packages of useful tools that helped solve specific business problems, from prescription opioid abuse to predicting avocado yields. The idea isn’t just to have some section of the company where people work on dream projects. They want them to relate to real business problems that results, eventually, in actual sales and measurable results.

Hamza Jahangir, group vice president for the cloud solution hubs at Oracle, says they look for people who want to dig into new solutions, but they want a practical streak in their innovation hub hires. “We don’t want just tinkerers. If the only problem you’re solving is that of your own boredom, that’s not the type of person we are looking for,” he said.

Executive buy-in

The idea of the innovation center actually began with co-CEO Mark Hurd, according to Jahangir. He had been working for several years to change the nature of the sales force, the one that had a reputation of strong-arming IT pros, with a new generation, by hiring people right out of college with a fresh approach.

Hurd didn’t want to stop with sales, though. He began looking at taking that same idea of hiring younger employees to drive that cultural shift in engineering, too. “About two years ago, Mark challenged us to think about how can we change the customer-facing tech workforce as the business model was moving to the cloud,” Jahangir said.

Hurd gave him some budget to open the first two centers in Austin and Reston and he began experimenting, trying to find the right kinds of employees and projects to work on. The funding came without of a lot of strings or conditions associated with it. Hurd wanted to see what could happen if they unleashed a new generation of workers and gave them a certain amount of freedom to work differently than the traditional way of working at Oracle.

Changing expectations

Jahangir was very frank when it came to assessing customer’s expectations around Oracle moving to the cloud. There has been a lot of skepticism, and part of the reason for the innovation centers was to find practical solutions that could show customers that they actually had modern approaches to computing, given a chance.

The general customer stance has been, “We don’t believe you have anything real, and we need to see true value realized by us before we pay you any money,” he said. That took a fundamental shift to focusing on actual solutions. It started with the premise that the customers shouldn’t believe any of the marketing stuff. Instead, it would show them.

“Don’t bother watching a PowerPoint presentation. Ask us to show you real solutions and use cases where we have solved real material problems — and then we can have a discussion.”

Even chairman and company founder Larry Ellison recognizes the relationship and selling model needed to change as the company moves to the cloud. Jahangir relayed something he said in a recent internal meeting, “In the cloud we are now no longer selling giant monolithic software. Instead we are selling small bites of the apple. The relationship between the vendor and the buyer is becoming more like a consumer model.” That in turn requires a new way of selling and delivering solutions, precisely what they are trying to figure out at the innovation hubs.

Putting the idea to work

Once you have a new way of thinking, you have to put it to work, and as the company has created these various hubs, that has been the approach. As an example, one that isn’t necessarily original, but that puts Oracle features together in a practical way, is the connected patient. The patient wears a Fitbit-like monitor and uses a smart blood pressure cuff and a smart pill box.

The patient can then monitor his or her own health with these tools in a consolidated mobile application that pulls this data together for them using the Internet of Things cloud service, Oracle Mobile Cloud and Oracle Integration Cloud. What’s more, that information gets shared with the patient’s pharmacy and doctor, who can monitor the patient’s health and get warnings when there is a serious issue, such as dangerously high blood pressure.

Another project involved a partnership with Waypoint Robotics, where they demonstrated a robot that worked alongside human workers. The humans interacted with the robots, but the robot moved the goods from workstation to workstation, acting as a quality control agent along the way. If it found defects or problems, it communicated that to the worker via a screen on the side of the unit, and to the cloud. Every interaction between the humans, goods and robot was updated in the Oracle cloud.

Waypoint Robotics robot inspecting iPhones. Information on the display shows it communicating with the Oracle cloud. Photo: Ron Miller

One other project worked with farmers and distributors to help stores stay stocked with avocados, surely as good a Gen Z project as you are likely to find. The tool looks at weather data, historical sales and information coming from sensors at the farm, and it combines all of that data to make predictions about avocado yields, making use of Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, Oracle Analytics Cloud and other services from the Oracle cloud stack.

Moving beyond the hubs

This type of innovation hub has become popular in recent years as a way to help stave off disruption, and Oracle’s approach is actually in line with this trend. While companies sometimes isolate these innovation hubs to protect them from negativity and naysayers in an organization, leaving them isolated often prevents the lessons learned from being applied to the broader organization at large, essentially defeating the very purpose of creating them in the first place.

Jahangir says that they are attempting to avoid that problem by meeting with others in the company and sharing their learnings and the kinds of metrics that they use in the innovation center to measure success, which might be different from the rest of the company.

He says to put Oracle on the customer agenda, they have to move the conversation from religious battles, as he calls how people support or condemn tech from certain companies. “We have to overcome religious battles and perceptions. I don’t like to fight religion with more religion. We need to step out of that conversation. The best way we have seen for engaging developer community is to show them how to build really cool things, then we can hire developers to do that, and showcase that to the community to show that it’s not just lip service.”

The trick will be doing that, and perhaps the innovation centers will help. As of today, the company is not sharing its cloud revenue, so it’s hard to measure just how well this is helping contribute to the overall success of the company. But Oracle clearly has a lot of work to do to change the perception of the enterprise buyer about its cloud products and services, and to increase its share of the growing cloud pie. It hopes these innovations hubs will lead the way to doing that.

Jahangir recognizes that he has to constantly keep adjusting the approach. “The hub model is still maturing. We are finding and solving new problems where we need new tooling and engagement models in the organization. We are still learning and evolving,” he said.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Lola.com raises $37M to take on SAP and others in the world of business travel

March 26, 2019 No Comments

Business customers continue to be a huge target for the travel industry, and today a startup has raised a tidy sum to help it double down on the $ 1.7 trillion opportunity. Lola.com — a platform for business users to book and manage trips — has raised $ 37 million to continue building out its technology and hire more talent as it takes on incumbents like SAP targeting the corporate sector.

The Series C is led by General Catalyst and Accel, with participation from CRV, Tenaya Capital and GV. All are previous investors. We are asking about the valuation but it looks like prior to this, the company had raised just under $ 65 million, and its last post-money valuation, in 2017, was $ 100 million, according to PitchBook.

There are signs that the valuation will have had a bump in this round. The company said in 2018, its bookings have gone up by 423 percent, with revenues up 786 percent, although it’s not disclosing what the actual figures are for either.

“As business travelers have become increasingly mobile, Lola.com’s mission is to completely transform the landscape of corporate travel management,” said Mike Volpe, CEO of Lola.com, who took the top role at the company last year. “The continued support of our investors underscores the market potential, which is leading us to expand our partner ecosystem and double our headcount across engineering, sales and marketing. At the core, we continue to invest in building the best, simplest corporate travel management platform in the industry.”

Co-founded by Paul English and Bill O’Donnell — respectively, the former CTO/co-founder and chief architect of the wildly successful consumer travel booking platform Kayak — Lola originally tried to fix the very thing that Kayak and others like it had disrupted: it was designed as a platform for people to connect to live agents to help them organise their travel. That larger cruise ship might have already said, however (so to speak), and so the company later made a pivot to cater to a more specific demographic in the market that often needs and expects the human touch when arranging logistics: the business user.

Its unique selling point has not been just to provide a pain-free “agile” platform to make bookings, but for the platform’s human agents to be proactively pinging business users when there are modifications to a booking (for example because of flight delays), and offering help when needed to sort out the many aspects of modern travel that can be painful and time consuming for busy working people, such as technical issues around a frequent flyer program.

Lola.com is not the only one to spot the opportunity there. To further diversify its business and to move into higher-margin, bigger-ticket offerings, Airbnb has also been slowly building out its own travel platform targeting business customers by adding in hotels and room bookings.

There are others that are either hoping to bypass or complement existing services with their own takes on how to improve business travel such as TravelPerk (most recent raise: $ 44 million), Travelstop (an Asia-focused spin), and TripActions (most recently valued at $ 1 billion), to name a few. That speaks to an increasingly crowded market of players that are competing against incumbents like SAP, which owns Concur, Hipmunk and a plethora of other older services.

Lola.com has made some interesting headway in its own approach to the market, by partnering with one of the names most synonymous with corporate spending, American Express, and specifically a JV it is involved in called American Express Global Business Travel.

“Lola.com offers an incredibly simple solution to corporate travel management, which enables American Express Global Business Travel to take our value proposition to even more companies across the middle market,” said Evan Konwiser, VP of Product Strategy and Marketing for American Express GBT, in a statement.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


How to Hire the Right Paid Media Professional for Your Business

February 27, 2019 No Comments

Going through the hiring process is hard enough for traditional advertising fields. Getting the right candidate is crucial and can make or break entire departments. The process is even more difficult for a rapidly evolving and growing field like paid media, a field that demands specific skills and abilities that aren’t often easily reflected in […]

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


How to optimize your local business for voice search

November 20, 2018 No Comments

Voice search is growing, a statement appearing time and time again throughout the web. It has fundamentally changed the way people search and it’s here to stay.

With a simple command, users can conduct searches for information, products, services and local businesses.

It’s such a hot topic that our Head of Search and Strategy Stuart Shaw spoke at one of the UK’s largest SEO conferences a few weeks ago to talk about the details of voice search and why it’s important for brands.

While voice isn’t likely to surpass traditional search any time soon, it has spurred us to explore how local businesses can optimize, adjust their marketing strategies and understand the potential voice search could have on their bottom lines.

The opportunity for local businesses

To get information about a local service near to us, we pull out our phones and we search for it:

  • ‘Plumbing services near me’
  • ‘Local pizza delivery’
  • ‘What are the opening times for…’
  • ‘Is so and so open today?’ etc.

In fact, a recent study by Brightlocal highlighted that 53% of people owning smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa & Google Home are performing searches like these for local businesses every day in the US:

Putting that in context for the UK

A recent YouGov study showed that people in the UK owning a smart speaker had doubled between Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 to 10% of the total population.

A study by radiocentre predicted that this growth could reach as high as 40% by the end of 2018.

Looking a little deeper, we could say that per household there is more than one occupant. In fact on average there’s actually 2.3 people per household, according to the most recent UK gov statistics:

Source: Office of national statistics

So, if the 40% of UK households prediction is correct, that is potentially 11 million households exposing voice search content to 25 million people in the UK.

Who’s leading the smart speaker market?

Three-quarters of the market share in the UK in Q1 2018 was taken up by Amazon’s Alexa. This, of course, will change but right now this is where the biggest opportunity lies for local businesses optimizing for smart speakers in the UK:

 

Source: Office of national statistics

Although voice search is still in a stage of infancy, and we have only talked about smart speakers, it’s clear to see just how relevant this technology is to brick and mortar businesses.

And, it’s constantly evolving…

Here’s a timeline from Stuart’s presentation, highlighting significant changes in voice search, and it’s becoming increasingly accessible for more and more people to conduct a voice search every day:

3 Biggest steps to optimize your local business for voice search

1. Take ownership of your digital footprint

Although voice assistants seem all-knowing, they rely heavily on information they can find around the web about your business.

A big part of optimizing for local SEO is ‘citations’ which are online references to your business name, address and phone number (NAP).

Voice assistants use these citations from trusted sources to provide information to users that are conducting local search queries.

So, where should I cite my business?

Each voice assistant relies on different and sometimes multiple data aggregators for answers to local search queries:

  • Siri
    • Search: Google
    • Business listings: Apple maps
    • Reviews: Yelp
  • Alexa
    • Search: Bing
    • Business listings: Yelp and more recently Yext
    • Reviews: Yelp
  • Google Assistant
    • Search: Google
    • Business listings: Google my Business
    • Reviews: Google my Business
  • Cortana
    • Search: Bing
    • Business listings: Bing
    • Reviews: Yelp

So, these data sources are the most important places to make sure your business is correctly cited, up-to-date and optimised:

2. Utilize schema markup

Schema is a type of on-page data markup that allows webmasters to provide search engines with data about their business in a more structured way.

The structured format allows search engines to understand the contents and context of web pages much easier (less algorithmic interpretation) and, subsequently, the engines can better understand the relevance of pages to particular search queries and present richer results.

Schema is only going to play a bigger part in ranking for rich results and featured snippets which are heavily used in for voice search content.

What does schema markup do?

Search engines experiment with how they display rich results all the time and by having your site marked up, you have the opportunity to be featured in new rich results.

For example, Google experimented with a ‘prominent knowledge panel card’ shown on mobile devices which displays when users conduct a branded search for the business. In the knowledge card you can see ‘place actions’ such as ‘find a table’ or ‘book an appointment’ which would direct searchers into an appropriate webpage to conduct the action.

These rich results went on to influence the structure of Google My Business which is now heavily used by local businesses. The point here is that the business websites shown in the example image below were ‘future proofed’ and optimal which qualified them for this rich result.

In other words, as Gary Illyes – web trends analyst at Google puts it:

“If you want your sites to appear in search features, implement structured data.”

The biggest benefit and ‘thing it does’ is help Google understand relevance much more fluently. Another few quotes from Gary Illyes helps explain this:

“Add structured data to your pages because, during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about.”

“And don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly… it leads to better ranks.”

Why it’s important for local businesses

Schema is a tool which search engines and subsequently voice assistants are using to paint a clearer picture of a business website’s central topic and the services the site can offer users.

With structured data present, it is much more likely that your business (if relevant) will be identified as a good candidate for answering local voice search queries.

Using local business schema will:

  • Future-proof your website for richer search features (which voice search content is heavily influenced by)
  • Reinforce your online digital footprint
  • Bolster relevancy signals & geographic accuracy
  • Help drive more conversions both online and offline
  • Indirectly help your website rank better (important for voice)

So how do you take control?

There are hundreds of schema types which can be utilised for hundreds of business and content types.

There are also multiple ways of marking up schema in your page source code. By far the easiest is using JSON-LD. Using the example from above the marked up code looks something like this:

The best way to get your code ready is to go to SchemaApp.com, follow the instructions or use this tutorial and locate the schema types that are most relevant to you and your business.

Types of local business data that can be marked up:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Main email address
  • Business opening hours
  • Geo-location information (latitude and longitude)
  • Reviews
  • Company logo
  • Business description
  • Social profile links
  • Site name

Bear in mind there are guidelines for usage summarized below:

  • ‘Data must not deceive or mislead experience for search users’
  • ‘Use only the most specific types and property names defined by schema.org’
  • ‘Marked-up content must be visible on the page where the script is added’

See Google’s policies for structured data for more information.

Once you’ve gone through SchemaApp, copy and paste the output code into relevant pages before your closing </head> tag or, if it’s content specific schema (such as the review rating above), paste the code before the closing </body> tag in the HTML of your page.

Finally, check your mark up with this structured data testing tool which will highlight any errors once implemented.

Note: Avoid using Google Tag Manager for this markup, apply the code natively where possible.

3. Produce content relevant to voice search needs

There are great ways of optimizing specifically for voice search using your on-site content.

The simplest is to explore the realm of user intent and uncover the types of questions people may want answering, when it comes to your business.

That doesn’t mean you need to create 1000s of pages that are optimized specifically for voice search terms. Instead, search engines such as Google pulls answers to voice queries directly from page content, even if it is a snippet that makes up a small section of the content.

Work long tail queries into long-form content

Conduct some long tail keyword research and look for questions people ask about your local business and work them into your content, where it is relevant to do so. I highly recommend Answer the Public to scale your efforts here.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

This is a query I searched recently that could be relevant to any local business:

‘Does tesco take american express?’

Here’s what was shown at the top in a featured snippet (the content that will be read out if conducting a voice search with Google Home):

And here’s the content that Google has pulled out from halfway down the page from choose.co.uk:

FAQ pages can be perfect for voice search

Written correctly, an FAQ page can serve voice search queries really effectively and if you struggle to work in your long tail optimisation into relevant pages, an FAQ page is a great way to get around it:

  • People use voice search conversationally, which you can naturally replicate on an FAQ page without the content appearing out of place
  • It appeals to long tail voice & traditional searches which widen your reach
  • Voice search often seeks concise information, under 30 words, which an FAQ page can clearly communicate
  • Creating a dedicated page specifically with this key information in mind could help with higher placement in SERPs for voice searches, which is vital for capturing that first click/interaction

Conclusion

However, you look at SEO, voice is the future and it’s growing exponentially and it’s being integrated into more and more of our everyday tech. Local business marketers should be making specific efforts to capitalize on voice search to maximize their online and offline conversion.

The caveat here is not to let your standard SEO practice fall behind. Having a fully mobile responsive website, fast site speed and good quality local backlinks, among many other optimizations, are still, and will remain, vital for ranking in local search and will greatly impact your voice search efforts.

Get a deeper dive to voice search or get help with your voice search strategy.

The post How to optimize your local business for voice search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Websites Are Revenue-Generating Business Tools—3 Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Tips on How to Use Them Wisely

October 24, 2018 No Comments

Websites are revenue-generating business tools, and they’re faced with a lot of competition. Get some tips on how to use them wisely!

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Apple expands Business Chat with new businesses and additional countries

October 2, 2018 No Comments

Apple Business Chat launched earlier this year as a way for consumers to communicate directly with businesses on Apple’s messaging platform. Today the company announced it was expanding the program to add new businesses and support for additional countries.

When it launched in January, business partners included Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. Today’s announcement includes the likes of Burberry, West Elm, Kimpton Hotels, and Vodafone Germany.

The program, which remains in Beta, added 15 new companies today in the US and 15 internationally including in the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Italy, Australia and France.

Since the launch, companies have been coming up with creative ways to interact directly with customers in a chat setting that many users prefer over telephone trees and staticy wait music (I know I do).

For instance, Four Seasons, which launched Business Chat in July, is expanding usage to 88 properties across the globe with the ability to chat in more than 100 languages with reported average response times of around 90 seconds.

Apple previously added features like Apple Pay to iMessage to make it easy for consumers to transact directly with business in a fully digital way. If for instance, your customer service rep helps you find the perfect item, you can purchase it right then and there with Apple Pay in a fully digital payment system without having to supply a credit card in the chat interface.

Photo: Apple

What’s more, the CSR could share a link, photo or video to let you see more information on the item you’re interested in or to help you fix a problem with an item you already own. All of this can take place in iMessage, a tool millions of iPhone and iPad owners are comfortable using with friends and family.

To interact with Business Chat, customers are given messaging as a choice in contact information. If they touch this option, the interaction opens in iMessage and customers can conduct a conversation with the brand’s CSR, just as they would with friends.

Touch Message to move to iMessage conversation. Photo: Apple

This link to customer service and sales through a chat interface also fits well with the partnership with Salesforce announced last week and with the company’s overall push to the enterprise. Salesforce president and chief product officer, Bret Taylor described how Apple Business Chat could integrate with Salesforce’s Service Bot platform, which was introduced in 2017 to allow companies to build integrated automated and human response systems.

The bots could provide a first level of service and if the customer required more personal support, there could be an option to switch to Apple Business Chat.

Apple Business Chat requires iOS 11.3 or higher.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


New Uber feature uses machine learning to sort business and personal rides

August 14, 2018 No Comments

Uber announced a new program today called Profile Recommendations that takes advantage of machine intelligence to reduce user error when switching between personal and business accounts.

It’s not unusual for a person to have both types of accounts. When you’re out and about, it’s easy to forget to switch between them when appropriate. Uber wants to help by recommending the correct one.

“Using machine learning, Uber can predict which profile and corresponding payment method an employee should be using, and make the appropriate recommendation,” Ronnie Gurion, GM and Global Head of Uber for Business wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature.

Uber has been analyzing a dizzying amount of trip data for so long, it can now (mostly) understand the purpose of a given trip based on the details of your request. While it’s certainly not perfect because it’s not always obvious what the purpose is, Uber believes it can determine the correct intention 80 percent of the time. For that remaining 20 percent, when it doesn’t get it right, Uber is hoping to simplify corrections too.

Photo: Uber

Business users can now also assign trip reviewers — managers or other employees who understand the employee’s usage patterns, and can flag questionable rides. Instead of starting an email thread or complicated bureaucratic process to resolve an issue, the employee can now see these flagged rides and resolve them right in the app. “This new feature not only saves the employee’s and administrator’s time, but it also cuts down on delays associated with closing out reports,” Gurion wrote in the blog post announcement.

Uber also announced that it’s supporting a slew of new expense reporting software to simplify integration with these systems. They currently have integrations with Certify, Chrome River, Concur and Expensify. They will be adding support for Expensya, Happay, Rydoo, Zeno by Serko and Zoho Expense starting in September.

All of this should help business account holders deal with Uber expenses more efficiently, while integrating with many of the leading expense programs to move data smoothly from Uber to a company’s regular record-keeping systems.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


WeWork expands its Flatiron School education business to London with £1M in scholarships

March 13, 2018 No Comments

 WeWork — the co-working startup valued at $ 20 billion with some 200,000 members across 200 locations globally — is continuing with its strategy of expanding into a wide array of adjacent operations to grow its business. Today the company announced that it will be expanding the coding-focused Flatiron School abroad, starting in London this June. Alongside this, it’s also… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch