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Tag: Search

Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times

March 28, 2020 No Comments

The events of the last few weeks have had a dramatic effect on millions of people’s lives. Uncertainty over health, childcare, work, food and the wellbeing of loved ones has dominated all of our thinking over the past few days.

Not only has it changed the way we’re shopping and interacting with others, an expert at online search specialist Epiphany, Paul Norris, has looked at how it has impacted what users are turning to the internet for and advises how businesses can adapt their search strategy during this tricky time.

The Prime Minister’s speech on 13th March 2020 served as a catalyst for many to search for “working from home essentials” with searches such as computer chairs increasing by 185%.

As a nation, we also considered our options for emergency deliveries, including “wine delivery” services, which nearly tripled in just one week.

search strategy and trends in tricky times

As people’s searches change to reflect new (increasingly home-based and socially distant) situations, it’s important that marketers adapt to the shifts in search behavior.

Here are a few ways to navigate the next few weeks and to prepare for when we emerge from the current situation:

1. Identify and capitalize on emerging trends

Monitor your search query reports closely – look for increased use of convenience and supply modifiers as availability and fulfillment is valued more. Searches containing “near me” have started to fall as queries for “online” services have increased.

If your business offers quick deliveries (and can still fulfill them), ensure it’s prominent in messaging, listings and on-site. Searches for next and same-day delivery will only continue to grow.

2. Listen to your visitors – use your site search reports and Hotjar polls

Your on-site search function is an absolute gold mine in times like these – demand and behavioral changes from your visitors are picked up directly. Use the Site Search report in GA (found under “Behaviour” on the left-hand side) as a listening board.

closely monitor site search reports to effectively work on your search strategy

Surface the most-searched-for products and services on relevant high traffic pages. Rethink, test and measure your carousels and other key product and service listing elements where relevant. Enabling Hotjar (or similar) polls can also enable you to get more specific insight.

3. Shift budget into investment channels

If you’re pulling back on sales activation because demand is dropping, look to move that budget and resource into a medium and longer-term activity that will pay dividends when demand picks up. With the previous points in mind, conduct a meta-data review and weave more highly valued services such as next day delivery into titles and descriptions. Has content taken a back seat? There are some definite benefits to content strategy, planning, and creation with the headspace you’re afforded when working from home.

4. Bypass dev queues and do what you can from your CMS

Prioritizing your activity in a busy dev queue can be difficult at the best of times. If dev time is booked up because the team is completely promo and sales activation focused, do what you can. Are you able to edit content and optimize existing pages in the CMS? Can you create new landing pages in your CMS without tech intervention? If so, now is the time to utilize those capabilities.

5. Maximize performance where demand is strong

Identify where demand remains strong (or has even picked up) and do what you can to capture and convert it. Your top landing pages and product reports are a good first port of call and can provide you with some quick wins. Segmenting and analyzing site performance by product/area/service (depending on your sector) can help you identify and capitalize on bigger emerging trends. If you’re a retailer, think about splitting out essential and non-essential products.

Paul Norris is Senior Strategist & Head of London Operations at Epiphany.

The post Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Searching for CX: The impact of search in the age of customer experience

March 17, 2020 No Comments

With customer experience (CX) becoming an integral part of doing business today, CXOs across industries are working feverishly to delight consumers along each step of the buyer journey. At a high level, ensuring a positive CX means eliminating the friction between the customer and the brand.

Today, an overwhelming majority of these journeys begin on search engines. However, recent research shows that a pervasive confusion with how search works are having a negative impact on customer experience.

With brands continuing to deploy hefty budgets towards their online campaigns, and search engines continuing to evolve how they display results, it’s more crucial than ever for marketing teams to understand just how search is impacting CX, as well as what they can do to safeguard the experiences they’re providing.

Consumer confusion is growing as ad spend skyrockets

With paid search surpassing $ 100 billion for the first time in 2019, and accounting for almost a fifth of total global ad spend, there’s no doubting the important role it plays in today’s digital marketing mix. In fact, by the end of this year, companies are projected to increase their spend on search even further as it grows to represent a third of global spending.

Consumer confusion is growing alongside this spend, resulting in 63% of US consumers reporting that they don’t know how search engine results work. Just 37% understand that they’re in fact categorized by a combination of both relevancy and spend. Compounding this issue is the fact that more than one-in-three-consumers state they don’t believe search engines do a good job of labeling ads.

As modern consumers develop increasingly high expectations of the brands they do business with, it’s easy to see why this is alarming. And as consumers place more weight on CX, brands are at risk of losing loyal buyers if these expectations aren’t met. This, combined with dwindling patience and a growing distrust of sponsored content, signifies an important conundrum for brands. In order to meet their expectations, they must ensure they’re easy to find online or risk losing business to competitors.

In search, there is no second place

When you consider consumers’ lack of understanding of how search results are served up, it is not surprising that around 54% say they trust websites more that appear at the top of the SERP.

These sentiments are certainly reflected in real-life click-through rates. The first organic search result is twice as likely to be clicked than the second result (30% CTR versus 15% CTR), while the likelihood of your website being seen declines dramatically the lower your ranking falls.

Of course, this means brands must fight to secure the coveted top spot, which leads them to spend more on paid search ads or adopt nefarious approaches like infringing on competitors’ trademarks and breaking affiliate agreements.

Consumers feel misled by search engine results

It’s no secret that consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of advertising. Trademark-infringing search strategies and tactics to increase positioning certainly aren’t helping either.

In fact, a staggering 76% of consumers admit to at least sometimes feeling misled by search results when searching for product information online. Meanwhile, one-in-four says they often end up somewhere unexpected that isn’t relevant to their original search query.

This is bad news for brands, as it creates an exasperating customer experience and suggests that they aren’t getting optimal ROI out of the spend they are allocating towards their search campaigns.

Regain control of your ad campaigns

What does this mean for marketers? To put it simply, search has a real potential to negatively impact the customer experience. While it’s impossible for marketers to control the changes that Google or Bing makes to the SERPs, there are some important steps that they can take to ensure that their search campaigns are working for and not against them.

1. Design campaigns with CX in mind

It’s crucial for digital marketing teams to regularly refer to their customer journey map before committing to any strategic moves, and it’s an especially important step for PPC teams.

2. Make monitoring a priority

Brands must regularly check to see if partners and affiliates are abiding by their partnership agreements and if competitors are following search engine trademark rules. While you may not be able to outspend competitors with deep pockets, you can maximize click-through rates and minimize cost per clicks as you identify and submit infringing ads for a takedown. This also allows you to deepen relationships with partners that are playing by the rules and driving incremental revenue.

3. Stay on top of evolving policies

It’s crucial to stay informed of changing search engine rules and advertising policies. These policies impact how you and your competitors advertise, especially in highly-regulated industries. With the search engines updating their platforms up to several times a week (some changes going largely unnoticed and others garnering media attention) –  digital marketers need to keep up with these changes and their potential impacts on customer experience.

Your search results are the front door to your brand. However, with confusion abounding, customers often find themselves walking into an experience that they didn’t expect, which impacts their overall CX and negatively impacts the perception of your brand. By taking back control of the role that search plays in the overall consumer journey, marketers can ensure their customer experiences are optimized and on-brand.

Dave Naffziger is the CEO of leading online brand protection company BrandVerity.

The post Searching for CX: The impact of search in the age of customer experience appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to Address Low Search Volume Keywords in Google Ads

March 12, 2020 No Comments

Keywords labeled as low search volume in Google Ads is all too common. Learn how to address this through unique audience tactics.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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SETI@Home Is Over. But the Search for Alien Life Continues

March 4, 2020 No Comments

Although the public part of the worldwide experiment is coming to an end this month, the world’s greatest extraterrestrial hunt is far from finished.
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Display and search advertising: Top three strategies to expand your audience across channels

February 24, 2020 No Comments

Omnichannel advertising can be complicated. Digital marketers today have an unlimited number of tools at their disposal to get their message in front of the right audience through search advertising and others. While your channels or tactics may change, the goal of all marketers remains the same – to grow your brand and build your business.

But how do you know which channel or channels to use to achieve these goals? Many marketers with smaller advertising budgets start with paid search as the first channel to target, because of the simplicity of setting up a PPC campaign in Google Ads. There are no creative assets or media buyer required, and no fancy technology to learn or understand. Search also has advanced targeting abilities, offering companies the chance to get in front of in-market shoppers the minute they start their search. And the results of search campaigns are quantifiable, with insights into exactly which terms are resonating most.

Programmatic display advertising, on the other hand, can be a bit more difficult for some marketers to get started with. This channel has traditionally been considered best for brand awareness campaigns, as display ads can appear virtually anywhere your potential customers are online. Taking advantage of display requires either a direct relationship with a demand-side platform, or DSP, or a relationship with an agency to manage the campaigns on your behalf.

But choosing the right mix of channels for your advertising campaign doesn’t need to be an all or nothing affair. In fact, combining display and search together can have a positive impact on your return on ad spend (ROAS).

Here are three strategies to effectively combine search and display advertising for maximum results:

1. Cast a wide net

If you’re looking to find more new customers and don’t have a ton of traffic on your existing site or searching for keywords you’re targeting with search, the first step is getting more site visitors. This is where programmatic display advertising comes in handy — it offers a scale that paid search campaigns can’t, at a better price point. If you have a big promotion coming up in a few months, it’s a good idea to increase spending on brand awareness tactics well in advance, in order to have larger retargeting and lookalike pools ready to go when your promotion is ready to launch. So start by casting a wide net with display, and then continue to adjust and refine your targeting parameters as time goes by to optimize performance and find your next best customer.

2. Retargeting

Once you have brought all these new visitors to your site, it’s time to introduce cross-platform retargeting. For example, if you are running a paid search campaign for sneakers and roughly only 13% of this paid search traffic becomes a paying customer, that leaves another 87% of the audience you already paid for who abandoned the site without ever converting. Now that they have already visited your site, you can use retargeting to show them a new series of messages in the hopes of bringing them back to continue further down the sales funnel. Your specific retargeting tactics can be simple or sophisticated, but the bottom line is that they will help keep the conversation going with the visitors most likely to convert down the road.

3. Contextual targeting

If you have already identified your best-performing keywords from your search campaigns, you can use this same keyword list to add contextual targeting to your programmatic campaign. While this strategy doesn’t directly link the two channels, it does allow you to further refine your audience targets. For example, if “athletic shoes” is something that a lot of people are searching for and is driving people to your site, you could create an “athletic” contextual segment to target with display advertising.

Each of these tactics are a great way to build awareness for your brand and products right when your prospects are actively shopping, and a great way to complement ongoing search activity. If you already rely heavily on paid search for a large part of your advertising, consider adding display, along with some targeting strategies to increase the efficiency of your campaigns and decrease your cost per acquisition.

Jason Wulfsohn is Co-Founder and COO of AUDIENCEX, a programmatic advertising and trading desk.

The post Display and search advertising: Top three strategies to expand your audience across channels appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services

February 15, 2020 No Comments

Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.

Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.

Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience

Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.

Google for branding - Google Marketing Platform

Source: Google support

Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.

When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.

Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.

Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of

  • What actions your users take
  • Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
  • Check the navigation path they take
  • Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand

Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches

Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.

Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.

Google for branding with Google My Business

Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.

Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.

Using Google My Business to view ratings and info of a business

Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to  Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.

Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server

G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.

G Suite

Source: Rohutech.com

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.

Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels

Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.

Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.

Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.

Google for Retail

Source: Google for Retail

Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.

YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.

Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.

YouTube video ad formats

Source: TipsforSEM

Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.

The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.

The secret key: NAP

NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.

How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.

Examples of good and bad NAP

Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.

Conclusion

Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.

Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.

The post Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to Use Creative Sets to Make the Most of Your Apple Search Ads

February 14, 2020 No Comments

Can you use Creative Sets instead of A/B testing? Read to find out Apple Search Ads best practices & insights for using Creative Sets, pros and cons of this tool.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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The changing face of search: Dynamic content and experiences that perform

February 14, 2020 No Comments

As that last page of the calendar flips over, we’re always reminded to look back, refocus, and prepare for the year ahead. Take yourself back for a moment to the beginning of 2010 – could you even have imagined how much search would change in the last decade?

At a macro level, the last decade has brought about a transformation from search as a perfunctory information-finding task to a complex journey with many touchpoints across devices, networks, and channels. Simply browsing has given way to desires for the convenience of instant answers. As social media has been plagued by “fake news” and rampant misinformation, search has proven far more effective at crowdsourcing the verification of data, whether it’s business location information, answers to informational questions, claims about products, and more.

In fact, ten years ago marketers were hard-pressed to get their messaging in front of people who actually wanted to hear it. Today, over 60% of people expect brands to give them the information they need when they need it, and less than half of them feel that brands are delivering (Google). The face of search is changing and SEOs, more than anyone, need to track the trajectory of these changes to stay relevant.

How the evolution of the consumer is driving changes in SEO

Voice search is undoubtedly one of the most impactful consumer trends affecting SEOs, and you can expect that to continue over the next decade. Google first introduced Voice Search in 2002, but it’s only in the last several years that consumers have really grown comfortable conversing and engaging with their devices in the way we now do. People are no longer pecking words into the keyboard and hoping Google understands their intent, they’re asking questions and even having ongoing conversations with technology. Longtail is the new norm.

They’re not only asking Google or Alexa, either. Even though Google dominates traditional search engine market share, search is happening on platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube, too. Getting the answer to a single question might span multiple networks as increasingly savvy searchers compare answers from different sources.

Zero-click search

SEOs are having to adapt to a zero-click environment, where Google curates so much information that searchers’ needs are answered without ever leaving the SERP. As a result, SEOs are having to make better use of Featured Snippets and other space available to them throughout the search ecosystem. Schema.org has been around since 2011 but it’s only in the latter part of this last decade that structured data really became one of the core tenets of SEO.

Mobile experience

The mobile experience has been an area of focus for many years, but in 2018 it was made mission-critical as Google introduced the mobile-first index and mobile speed updates. Snippets became smaller, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches, and video became a far more commonly used content format in the SERPs. SEOs had to move beyond thinking of “mobile-friendly” only in terms of web development and consider how mobile users search for and consume content, as well.

Today, we’ve moved beyond mobile-friendly to mobile-first, where websites need to do a lot more than just work on smartphones. Mobile-first design thinking offers a seamless, intuitive experience with careful thought given to content, navigation and site structure, CTAs in the context of the customer journey, and more.

EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust)

Many have long assumed that the Quality Rater’s Guidelines were the keys to understanding algorithmic ranking factors, but it wasn’t confirmed by Google until VP of Search, Assistant and News, Ben Gomes told CNBC in 2018,

“You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go.”

EAT (expertise, authority, trust) are categorized as “very important” in the Guidelines. This is not new or earth-shattering, but it’s clear that content quality and author/business authority aren’t going anywhere. Crafting authoritative content, citing reputable sources, developing your digital footprint and online profile, and being involved in your niche are all going to be critical in the years to come.

Machine learning, entities, and NLP

“People come to Search for all types of information to help them form a better understanding of the world and the topics they care about most. […] Now, we’re using the latest in machine learning to bring this approach to top stories in Google Search, making it easier for people to dive into the most useful, timely articles available.”

Duncan Osborne, product manager at Google

SEOs are being challenged by machine learning on two fronts – the first, in how Google uses it to evaluate and rank content. But secondly, SEOs have a huge opportunity to scale and maximize their own performance with smart automation and tools that incorporate machine learning.

First, the October 2019 NLP-based BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update, designed to use machine learning to help Google better understand the relationships between queries and content, rolled out affecting 10% of all queries. Google called BERT the “biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of search,” so you can bet this is an area SEOs want to focus in the coming years.

As for how SEOs can use machine learning and smart automation, I’ve written about this in recent columns; check out How AI is powering real-time SEO research: Insights and optimization and Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization for more.

Technical SEO is as important as ever, but SEOs are being forced to think more holistically about searcher experience and the entire journey from discovery to conversion and loyalty.

Data and AI-driven SEO strategy

The IDC predicts that in 2025, 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of new data will be created around the world. As the role of SEO has evolved inside organizations, we increasingly find ourselves as the point resource for interpreting and activating marketing data.

In the coming years, we’ll have even more rich and diverse sources of data to draw from, too. For example, marketers now have access to crowdsourced open-source data via Google’s Dataset Search, just out of beta.

“The majority of governments in the world publish their data and describe it with schema.org. The United States leads in the number of open government datasets available, with more than two million. And the most popular data formats? Tables–you can find more than six million of them on Dataset Search.”

– Natasha Noy, Research Scientist at Google Research

Again, I can’t overstate the importance of smart automation for SEOs given the pace of the flood of data organizations are up against. Embracing automation there’s no possible way to perform in a real-time world without them. AI is enabling marketing to target demand, deliver on consumer expectations for real-time personalization, make smart content optimizations content that speaks directly to consumer needs at each stage of the journey across channels and devices, and more.

Video and visual

Video and visual SEO will be increasingly important elements in a comprehensive SEO strategy going forward. The next generation of search continues to push our understanding of what’s possible and develop particularly around how consumers find and consume multimedia content.

SEOs are now able to optimize for the awareness and consideration stages with voice content. Currently, Google Assistant is on over a billion devices and Google Home makes up 24% of the U.S. installed base (Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo accounts for 70%). Amazon uses Alexa as a loss leader to get consumers to spend money elsewhere on Amazon, while Google treats voice search as an extension of the search experience; as a more conversational way to find answers to life’s every need and problem.

Mike Levin, co-founder and partner in Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, said Amazon and Google’s strategies of offering lower-priced devices so people can own more than one in their home seems to be working. “Now, about one-third of both Amazon Echo and Google Home users have multiple units.” The report said 35 percent of owners have more than one device as of the December 2018 quarter, compared with 18 percent the previous year (CNBC).

Knowing that two of the world’s most prolific tech giants are duking it out to ensure there’s a voice search device in every home, car, and pocket, SEOs would be remiss not to make voice search an area of focus.

Don’t forget about your visual content, too, including video. Over two billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month and every day people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views. What’s more, greater than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, according to YouTube. The platform is a massive search engine in its own right. Original content is a great opportunity. But SEOs can also increase the online footprint of their company or clients by creatively repurposing content to capture traffic here and point it back to the next relevant step in the customer journey.

The changing face of search puts SEO front and center at the marketing table

As the various facets of digital marketing continue to collide and converge, SEOs are uniquely positioned to lead. Last year (according to BrightEdge research) organic channel share expanded to 53.3% of website traffic. At some point in recent years, your SEO tasks could have touched on not only technical SEO and data analysis but social media, email marketing, blogging, PR, web design, and more.

The evolution of search is creating the necessity for a sort of Sherpa inside organizations; for hybrid marketers with equal parts analytical and creative thinking. Whether that person is in-house or a contracted extension of the team, the need for this bigger picture conductor who understands the challenges and opportunities of each channel is growing.

Bright edge stat showing the changing face of SEO

Source: BrightEdge

In this next phase of SEO, optimizing for search engines and optimizing the consumer experience truly become one. Business leaders will rely more heavily on the insights that SEO provides to make decisions in every department and will look to SEOs for guidance on how organizational data is used. As SEOs continue to bridge the gap between departments and disciplines, we enter a new era where the delivery of dynamic content and SEO is helping to create new experiences across the whole digital journey.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.

The post The changing face of search: Dynamic content and experiences that perform appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Report: Future of search in 2020 according to SEO specialists

February 8, 2020 No Comments

A survey of SEO specialists published at Best SEO Companies has revealed some interesting analysis on the state of the SEO industry and gives insights about the future of search in 2020 and beyond.

Nearly 500 digital marketing experts offered their responses to the survey, highlighting the tactics which they feel will be important within five years, as well as what factors they expect Google to look upon favorably as the search giant continues to update its algorithm.

Let’s take a look at some of their predictions.

1. Majority of SEOs think the practice is increasing in importance

A significant 75% of respondents believe SEO will be more important in the future.

Future of search in 2020 practice

This isn’t surprising in and of itself, but some more granular detail is quite revealing about how changeable the industry is.

37% plan to stay in SEO for just one-to-three years and a sizeable 23% describe their jobs as precarious in light of Google’s algorithm changes.

Additionally, a massive 80% are concerned that algorithm changes will negatively impact their career. While respondents are broadly optimistic about the need for SEO, they are not universally confident that their own jobs in the sector are entirely permanent.

2. SEOs need to stay current

When it comes to reflecting on their outlook for the future, there is a wide range of strategies SEOs are planning to implement in order to keep abreast of industry changes.

Stat showing SEOs being current for search in 2020

Free online courses and training were cited by 45% of respondents as the best method for SEOs to stay current while operating in this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.

42% plan to diversify their skills and 40.7% point to news/blogs as good ways to keep up-to-date.

38% say attending conferences and seminars will help them stay current and when asked if they will be attending any SEO conferences this year, 54% said they would be.

3. AI optimization is the key tactic for the future

Responses about the significance of specific SEO tactics within the next five years were a little more long-tail.

That said, 31% of respondents cite AI optimization as effective and worthwhile and 29% see this tactic as being important within the next five years.

AI optimization for search in 2020

Mobile remains a big potential growth area for SEOs. 20% see mobile optimization as gaining in importance over the next five years.

Voice search optimization and targeting featured snippets are also predicted to be increasingly important among SEOs in the future.

4. Most think quality content will be the biggest priority for Google

When SEOs are tasked with predicting areas that Google will increasingly take into consideration when ranking sites, content comes out on top.

Stat showing content as a priority for Google

46% of respondents said that the quality of content will be a priority for Google in the future. But, again, other factors were not far behind.

Social share, accessibility, and mobile-friendliness were all cited by more than 40% of those surveyed as being priority areas for the search giant.

5. SEO sentiment and ethics

The survey also highlights some interesting trends about general sentiment SEOs have towards working in the industry and questions of ethics.

69% of respondents reported job satisfaction, with “creative”, “engaging”, and “intelligent” being the top three descriptors cited for how they perceive the work they do.

Stat on SEO sentiment and ethics

The search industry can be frustrating, however. 44% cited short deadlines as a common frustration. Other process-orientated issues such as changing project scopes and, simply, frustrating clients were also cited as some of the more negative aspects working in SEO.

14% of SEOs also admitted to being frustrated by unethical competitors and, when asked directly, a significant 39% of respondents said that they themselves have used unethical – or black hat – SEO tactics.

Takeaways

While the digital marketing industry is broadly optimistic about the importance of SEO in the future, this research certainly highlights that the search community is more than wary of the need to be agile in an industry where key players such as Google can have as much impact on an individual’s job as emerging technologies and client/customer demands do too.

Factors like quality of content, mobile, and AI all appear to be top – or near top – of the list for SEOs when it comes to anticipating key areas of focus over the next few years. But there is actually great diversity in the ideas across the community as to which tactics will be the most important, and where Google will most likely place more weight when generating their rankings in the SERPs.

One key takeaway is that the SEO sector is as changeable as it ever was. It is still evolving. And still subject to disruption from new tech. But with 69% of those surveyed reporting that they are satisfied in their job, it is clearly a challenging and rewarding vertical to work in.

The post Report: Future of search in 2020 according to SEO specialists appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Google Product Search and Learning about New Product Lines

January 28, 2020 No Comments

It’s interesting seeing patents from Google that focus on ecommerce topics. The last one I recall had Google distinguishing between products and accessories for those products in search results. I wrote about it in Ranking Search Results and Product Queries.

New Product Lines in Product Search

A new patent from Google is about when new products appear in existing product lines, like a laptop that comes with more Ram or a bigger hard drive, or a camera with a zoom lens that it didn’t have before.

This patent is about determining in product search whether a query is looking for a particular product line, from within a specific brand.

Searchers frequently search for products offered for sale. Google is trying to understand the intent behind shopping-related search queries.

For Google to be able to do that well, it has to understand different aspects of product categories. This can include such things as:

  • Whether a product as an association with a brand
  • Whether a product is in a specific product line

The patent tells us it is essential to detect terms designating product lines from within product queries from searchers.

That includes associating detected product line terms along with their corresponding brands, to let Google keep up with new product lines and retiring product lines soon after changes occur.

Under the new Google patent is a process aimed at determining product lines from product search queries:

  • A product query might be classified to identify a product category
  • A brand may be identified for the product query
  • The brand may be chosen from a list of known brands for the product category

Unknown Product Lines

The patent tells us that unknown product line terms may be identified within a product query.

A metric may indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand.

The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric compares to the specified threshold.

A product search may be performed using the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.

This product lines patent can be found at:

Detecting product lines within product search queries
Inventors: Ritendra Datta
Assignee: GOOGLE LLC
US Patent: 10,394,816
Granted: August 27, 2019
Filed: December 27, 2012

Abstract

Systems and methods can determine product lines product searches.

One or more computing devices can receive a product query of search terms. The product query may be classified to identify a product category. A brand may be identified for the product query. The brand may be selected from a list of known brands for the product category.

One or more unknown product line terms may be identified within the product query. A metric may be computed to indicate how well the unknown product line terms correspond to an actual product line within the brand. The metric may be compared to a specified threshold. The unknown product line terms may be designated as a new product line of the brand if the metric favorably compares to the specified threshold. A product search may be performed on the product query. Product search results may be returned according to the product search.

High Precision Query Classifiers

This patent shows Google trying to identify new products and product lines, so it can distinguish them from older product lines.

Interestingly, Google is looking at search queries to identify products and product lines. As the patent tells us:

Product lines associated with product brands may be determined from analyzing the received product search queries.

The patent refers to a “high-precision query classifier,” which is the first time I have seen that mentioned anywhere at all.

How does a “high precision query classifier” work?

As described in this patent:

  • A search query may be automatically mapped to a product category
  • A list of known brands within the product category may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying the product brand
  • Similarly, a list of known category attributes may be used to identify terms within the product query specifying attributes of the product being searched
  • Attributes of Products

    Product Attributes

    The patent provides some examples of attributes for products:

  • A number of megapixels for digital cameras
  • An amount of RAM memory for laptop computers
  • A number of cylinders for a motor vehicle

Product Query Forms

We are told that the forms that a product query may take may vary a bit, but we are provided with some examples.

A product query could take the form “[B] [PL] [A].”

In such a query form, one or more terms [B] may indicate a brand that is a known brand within a list of known product brands, and one or more terms [A] may indicate attributes that are known attributes of the category. One or more unknown terms [PL] may then be identified as a potential new product line. Such an identification may be strengthened where [PL] is in a form associated with product lines. The identification may also be strengthened where [PL] is found with brand [B] frequently over time within various product queries. The identification may be further strengthened where the terms [PL] are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand [B] throughout many product queries over time.

A metric is calculated by comparing what might be the attributes of products from a new product line, with attributes of a actual product line associated with a brand.

This metric may consider the number of unique product queries containing the terms [PL] having the correct structure and/or category along with the extent to which [B] dominates among every query that has a brand preceding [PL].

Why would Google be looking at Queries to learn about new product lines from brands instead of from product pages that describe the attributes of products?

Identifying Product Lines

How this identification process may work:

  • Software for product line resolution may identify product lines associated with brands for product categories determined by the query classifier
  • Product line resolution may use a category attribute dictionary and a product brand dictionary to establish pairings between brands and product lines
  • The product query and the determined brands and product lines may then be provided to a product search engine
  • The product search engine may then provide search results to the searcher
  • The query classifier may map the product query to a product category
  • Product line resolution can use product category information with the category attribute dictionary and the product brand dictionary to identify terms from the product query about specific product lines relate to product lines
  • The unknown terms identified by the product line resolution module for a category may be fed back into the category attribute dictionary as attributes for that category
  • Each identified product line may also be related to a particular brand listed in the product brand dictionary
  • The product brand dictionary can provide a list of known brands within various product categories
  • The known brands may be used to determine and resolve terms associated with product lines within each brand
  • The product line terms may then be used to identify a potential new product line

The identification of a new product line may be strengthened:

  • When unknown terms information is in a form associated with product lines
  • Where the unknown terms are found with a brand frequently over time within various product queries
  • Where the unknown terms are infrequently, or never, found with brands other than the brand identified throughout many products queries over time

Identifying When Unknown Terms Maybe in a form associated with product lines

Here are some observations about the form of product lines:

  • Product line terms generally start with a letter
  • Product lines generally contain few or no numbers (differentiating product line terms from model numbers or serial numbers
  • Product lines may be related to a category or a brand (One brand may generally have single word product lines while a second brand may use two word product lines where the first word relates to performance and the second word is a three-digit number

These kinds of patterns or forms about product lines could be used to associate unknown terms within a product query as product line terms.

Using a Category Attribute Dictionary to Resolve Product Line Terms within Product Queries

The category attribute dictionary can provide a dictionary of attributes associated with various product categories and brands.

Terms from the category attribute dictionary may be used to resolving product line terms within the product query.

When unknown terms are often found within product queries along with brand information, those unknown terms could be seen as product line terms associated with a specific brand. When known attribute terms are found in the category attribute dictionary to be consistent with brand [B] or the category associated with the product query by the query classifier.

Product Query Processing

The patent includes this flowchart to describe the process behind the product search patent:

Where does Google Learn about product lines?

The patent doesn’t mention product schema, or merchant product feeds. It does tell us that it is getting a lot of information about product lines from searcher’s queries.

Google also collects information about products and product attributes from web sites that sell those products, in addition to looking at product queries, as described in this patent.

Collecting such information from site owners may be the starting source of much information found in the product and category dictionaries and product attribute categories that are mentioned in this patent.

The process of updating information about products and product lines from product queries from searchers is a way to crowdsource information about products from searchers and get an idea of how much interest there might be in specific products.

It is quite possible that Google can learn a lot about products from product data feeds that merchants submit to Google. Google is trying to get merchants to submit product feeds even if they don’t use paid product search, to make those products visible in more places on Google in Surfaces across Google as described on this Google Support page: Show your products on Surfaces Across Google.

We saw that Google is using product feed information to help it distinguish between product pages and accessory pages for those products as I wrote about in the blog post I linked to at the start of this post.

Google also describes product markup on their developers page Product. Google tells site owners that they should include that markup for their products because:

Product markup enables a badge on the image in mobile image search results, which can encourage more users to click your content.

By collecting information about products from product feeds, Product Schema, product web pages, and product queries from searchers Google is collecting a lot of data about products, which could enable it to be pretty good at providing answers to product queries, and to understand when new product lines are launched.


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