Tuesday, May 31, 2016

SearchCap: Google AdWords hack, SEO ROI & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google AdWords hack, SEO ROI & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Google App for iOS Gets a Speed Boost by @SouthernSEJ

The Google app for iOS is now faster according to an official announcement from the company. In addition to cutting down loading times the app is been updated with the new features that are designed to help people save time and get information more quickly. Opening the app and conducting a search will be just a bit quicker now than it was before. Google says this incremental boost in speed will save users a collective 6.5 million hours this year. For the first time Google's accelerated mobile pages will now be surfaced in the Google app for iOS. AMP articles […]

The post Google App for iOS Gets a Speed Boost by @SouthernSEJ appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Monday, May 30, 2016

7 essential Google Analytics reports every marketer must know

You may be using Google Analytics, but are you using it to its full potential? Contributor Khalid Saleh lays out 7 key reports with which every marketer should be familiar.

The post 7 essential Google Analytics reports every marketer must know appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Will Intelligent Personal Assistants Replace Websites?

Posted by Tom-Anthony

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]


Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) are capable of radically disrupting the way we search for and consume information on the Internet. The convergence of several trends and technologies has resulted in a new interface through which people will be able to interact with your business. This will have a dramatic impact - if your long-term marketing/business plan doesn't account for IPAs, you may be in the same boat as those people who said they didn't need a website in the early 2000s.


Your website is an API to your business


If we look to pre/early Internet, then the primary interface to most businesses was the humble phone. Over the phone you could speak to a business and find out what they had in stock, when they'd be open, whether they had space for your reservation, etc., and then you could go on to order products, ask for directions, or place reservations. The phone was an interface to your business, and your phone line and receptionist were your "API" - the way people interacted with your business.




As the Internet matured and the web gained more traction, it increasingly became the case that your website empowered users to do lots of those same things that they previously did via the phone. They could get information and give you money, and your website became the new "API" for your business, allowing users to interact with it. Notice this didn't necessitate the death of the phone, but lots of the requests that previously came via phone now came via the web, and there was also a reduction in friction for people wanting to interact with your business (they didn't have to wait for the phone line to be free, or speak to an actual human!).


Since then, the web has improved as technologies and availability have improved, but fundamentally the concept has stayed the same. Until now.


The 5 tech giants have all built an intelligent personal assistant


The 5 tech giants have all built an Intelligent Personal Assistant


Intelligent Personal Assistants apps such as Google Now, Siri, Cortana, and Facebook M - as well as the newer appliances such as Amazon Echo, the new Google Home, and the rumored Apple Siri hardware - are going to have a profound effect on the way people search, the types of search they do, and the way they consume and act upon the results of those searches.


New entries, such as Hound and Viv, show that intelligent personal assistants are growing beyond just something phone makers are adding as a feature, and are becoming a core focus.


In the last couple of years we've discussed a variety of new technologies and their impact on search; a number of these are all feeding into the rise of these personal assistants.


Trend 1: More complex searches


The days of searches just being a keyword are long since over. The great improvements of natural language processing, driven by improvements in machine learning, have meant that conversational search has become a thing and we have seen Hummingbird and RankBrain becoming building blocks of how Google understands and handles queries.


Furthermore, implicit signals have also seen the rise of anticipatory queries with Google Now leading the way in delivering you search results based off of your context without you needing to ask.


Contributing technologies & trends:



  • Implicit Signals

  • Natural Language

  • Conversational Search

  • Hummingbird & RankBrain


Watch this video of Will Critchlow speak about these trends to hear more.


Trend 2: More complex results


Search results have moved on from 10 blue links to include the Knowledge Graph, with entities and direct answers being a familiar part of any search result. This has also meant that, since the original Siri, we've seen a search interface that doesn't even do a web search for many queries but instead gives data-driven answers right there in the app. The earliest examples were queries for things like weather, which would turn up a card right there in the app.


Finally, the rise of conversational search has made possible complex compound queries, where queries can be revised and extended to allow the sorting, filtering, and refining of searches in a back and forth fashion. This phase of searching used to be something you did by reviewing the search results manually and sifting through them, but now search engines understand (rather than just index) the content they discover and can do this step for you.


Contributing technologies & trends:



  • Entities / Direct Answers

  • Faceted search

  • Data driven answers


You may like Distilled's Searchscape which has information and videos on these various trends.


Trend 3: Bots, conversational UI, and on-demand UIs



More recently, with the increased interest in bots (especially since Facebook's F8 announcement), we can see a rise in the number of companies investing in various forms of conversational UI (see this article and this one).


Bots and conversational UI provide a new interface which lends itself to all of the benefits provided by natural language processing and ways of presenting data-driven answers.


Note that a conversational UI isn't limited to purely a spoken or natural language interface, but can also provide an "on demand" UI for certain situations (see this example screenshot from Facebook, or the Siri/Fandango cinema ticket example below).


Contributing technologies & trends:



  • Conversational UI

  • Bots

  • On-demand UIs within the IPA interface


Trend 4: 3rd-party integration


Going back to the first versions of Siri or Google Now, there were no options for 3rd-party developers to integrate. They could only do a limited set of actions based on what Apple or Google had explicitly programmed in.


However, over time, the platforms have opened up more and more, such that apps can now provide functionality within the intelligent personal assistant on the same app.


Google Now, Amazon Echo, Cortana, and Siri (not quite - but rumored to be coming in June) all provide SDKs (software development kits), allowing 3rd-party developers to integrate into these platforms.


This is an opportunity for all of us integrate directly into the next generation search interface.


What's the impact of all this?


More searches as friction reduces


Google published an (under-reported) paper on some of the research and work that went into Google Now, which when combined with their daily information needs study indicates how hard they're trying to encourage and enable users to do searches that previously have not been possible.


The ability of intelligent personal assistants to fulfil more complex search queries (and of "always listening" search appliances like Amazon Echo and Google Home) to remove the friction of doing searches that were previously "too much work" means we'll see a rise in search queries that simply wouldn't have happened previously. So rather than cannibalizing web-based searches that came before, a large segment of the queries to IPAs will be wholly new types of searches.


Web rankings get bypassed, go straight to the top


As more and more people search via personal assistants, and with personal assistants trying to deliver answers directly in their interface, we'll see an increasing number of searches that completely bypass web search rankings. As 3rd-party integration becomes more widespread, there will be an increasing number of dynamic queries that personal assistants can handle directly (e.g. "where can I buy The Martian?," "flights to Berlin," or "order a pepperoni pizza").


This is a massive opportunity - it does not matter how many links and how much great content your competitor has to help them in "classical SEO" if you've integrated straight into the search interface and no web search is ever shown to the user. You can be the only search result shown.


The classic funnel gets compressed; checking out via IPAs


This part is probably the most exciting, from my perspective, and I believe is the most important from the impact it'll have on users and businesses. People have modeled "the funnel" in a variety of different ways over time, but one common way to look at it is:




The search is separate to the browsing/checkout process, and that checkout process happens via a website. Apps have had some impact on this classic picture, but so far it hasn't been a big part.


However, conversational search/UI combined with the ability for developers to integrate directly into IPAs opens up a huge opportunity to merge the interfaces for the search step and the steps previously fulfilled by the website (browsing and checking out). There are already examples of the funnel being compressed:




In this example, using Siri, you can see I was able to search for movies playing nearby, pick a particular movie and cinema, then pick a particular showing and, finally, I can click to buy, which takes me to the Fandango app. I am most of the way through the checkout process before I leave the intelligent personal assistant app interface. How long until I can do that final step and actually check out inside the personal assistant?


Integrating with intelligent personal assistant apps currently normally happens via the app model (i.e. you build an app that provides some functionality to the assistant), but how long until we see the possibility to integrate without needing to build an app yourself - the intelligent personal assistant will provide the framework and primary interface.


Summary


Intelligent Personal Assistants bring together all the recent developments in search technology, and as integration options improve, we will see an increasing number of queries/transactions go end-to-end entirely inside the personal assistant itself.


People will conduct searches, review data, and make purchases entirely inside that one interface, completely bypassing web search (already happening) and even checking out inside the personal assistant (within the next 12 months) and thus bypassing websites.


IPAs represent an absolutely massive opportunity, and it would be easy to underestimate the impact they will have (in the same way many people underestimated mobile initially). If you've been on the fence about building an app, you should re-evaluate that decision, with a focus on apps being the way they can integrate into intelligent personal assistants.


What do you think? I'd love to have a discussion in the comments about how everyone thinks this will play out and how it might change the landscape of search.


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

The 10 Things People Still Get Wrong About Local SEO by @neilpatel

We're still seeing a lot of myth and incorrect information surrounding local SEO. Here are ten myths that you should be aware of.

The post The 10 Things People Still Get Wrong About Local SEO by @neilpatel appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Twitter Automation by @mgeorgiou22

Twitter automation is a great help for small businesses and busy individuals. But it's just a tool programmed to function a certain way. Don't let it lull you into a false sense of security.

The post The Pros and Cons of Twitter Automation by @mgeorgiou22 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Length of Titles and Descriptions is Just a Test, Google Says by @SouthernSEJ

After much speculation as to whether or not the extended length of search snippet titles and descriptions is a test or a permanent change, we finally got confirmation from Google's John Mueller.

The post New Length of Titles and Descriptions is Just a Test, Google Says by @SouthernSEJ appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

How to Research the Path to Customer Purchase - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Moving your customers down the funnel from awareness to conversion can make for a winding and treacherous road. Until you fully research and understand the buying process inside and out, it's far too easy to make a misstep. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand steps back to take a higher-level look at the path to customer purchase, recommending workflows and tools to help you forge your own way.



How to Research the Path to Customer Purchase Whiteboard

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to chat about the path to customer purchase and how to research that path. The reason this is so critical is because we have to understand a few things like our content and conversion strategy around where do we need to be, what content we need to create, how to position ourselves, our product, our brand, and how to convert people. We can't know this stuff until we truly understand the buying process.

We've done a lot of Whiteboard Fridays that involve very, very tactically specific items in one of the steps in these, like: how to understand the awareness funnel and how to build your social media audience; or how to get into the consideration process and understand how you compare against your competition; or how to convert people at the very end of the buying cycle on a landing page.


But I want to take a step back because, as I've talked to a lot of you out there and heard comments from you, I think that this bigger picture of, "How do I understand this research process," is something we need to address.

Buyers: Who are they?

So let's start with: How do we understand who our buyers actually are, and what's the research process we can use for that? My general sense is that we need to start with interviews with a few people, with salespeople if you're working with a team that has sales, with customer service, especially if you're working with a team that has customer service folks who talk to lots of their audience, and potentially with your target demographic and psychographic audience. Demographic audience would be like: Where are they, what gender are they, and what age group are they? Psychographics would be things around their interest levels in certain things and what they consume and how they behave, all of that type of stuff.

For example, let's say we're going to go target Scotch whisky drinkers. Now, I am personally among that set of Scotch whisky drinkers. I'm big fan of a number of scotches, as are many Mozzers. In fact, I have a bottle of Ardbeg - I think it's the Uigeadail - in my office here at Moz.

So I might go, "Well, let's see. Let's talk to the people who sell whisky at stores. Let's talk to the people who sell it online. Let's talk to the customer service folks. Let's do interviews with people who are likely Scotch buyers, which are both male and female, perhaps slightly more demographically skewed male, tend to be in a slightly wealthier, maybe middle income and up income bracket, tend to be people who live in cities more than people who live in urban and rural areas, tend to also have interests around things like fashion and maybe automobiles and maybe beer and other forms of alcohol." So we can figure out all that stuff and then we can do those interviews.

What we're trying to get to is a customer profile or several customer profiles.

A lot of folks call this a "customer persona," and they'll name the persona. I think that's a fine approach, but you can have a more abstract customer profile as well.

Then once you have that, you can use a tool like Facebook, through their advertising audience system, to research the quantity of people who have the particular attributes or affiliations that you're seeking out. From there, you can expand again by using Facebook and Twitter. You could use Followerwonk, for example in Twitter specifically, to figure out: What are these people following? Who are their influencers? What are the brands they pay attention to? What are the media outlets? What are the individuals? What are the blogs or content creators that they follow?

You can also do this with a few other tools. For example, if you're searching out just content in general, you might use Google Search. You could do this on Instagram or Pinterest or LinkedIn for additional networks.

There's a very cool tool called FullContact, which has an API that essentially let's you plug in let's say you have a set of email addresses from your interview process. You can plug that into FullContact and you can see the profiles that all of those email addresses have across all these social networks.

Now I can start to do this type of work, and I can go plug things into Followerwonk. I can go plug them into Facebook, and I can actually see specifically who those groups follow. Now I can start to build a true idea of who these people are and who they follow.

What needs do they have?

Now that I've researched that, I need to know what needs those folks actually have. I understand my audience at least a little bit, but now I need to understand what they want. Again, I go back to that interview process. It's very, very powerful. It is time-intensive. It will not be a time-saving activity. Interviews take a long time and a lot of effort and require a tremendous amount of resources, but you also get deep, deep empathy and understanding from an interview process.

Surveys are another good way to go, but you get much less deep information from them. You can however get good broad information, and I've really enjoyed those. If you don't already have an audience, you can start with something like SurveyMonkey Audience or Google Surveys, which let you target a broad group, and both of those are reasonable if you're targeting the right sorts of broad enough demographics or psychographics.

The other thing I want to do here is some awareness stage keyword research. I want to understand that this awareness phase. As people are just understanding they have a problem, what do they search for? Keyword research on this can start from the highest level.

So if I'm targeting Scotch, I might search for just Scotch by itself. If I plug that into a tool like Keyword Explorer or Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, I can see suggestions like, "What's the best Scotch under $50?" When I see that, I start to gain an understanding of, "Oh, wait a minute. People are looking for quality. They also care about price." Then I might see other things like, "Gosh, a lot of people search for 'Islay versus Speyside.' Oh, that's interesting. They want to know which regions are different." Or they search for "Japanese whisky versus Scotch whisky." Aha, another interesting point at the awareness stage.

From there, I can determine the search terms that are getting used at awareness stage. I can go to consideration. I can go to comparison. I can go to conversion points. That really helps me understand the journey that searchers are taking down this path.

It's not just search, though. Any time I have a search term or phase, I want to go plug that into places like Facebook. I want to plug it into something like Twitter search. I want to understand the influencers on the networks that I know my audience is in. That could be Instagram. It could be Pinterest. It could be LinkedIn. It could be any variety of networks. It could be Google News, maybe, if I'm seeing that they pay attention to a lot of media.

Then once I have these search terms and awareness through the funnel, now I've got to understand: How do they get to that conversation point?

Once I get there, what I'm really seeking out is: What are the reasons people bought? What are the things they considered? What are the objections that kept some of them from buying?

Creating a content & conversion strategy.


If I have this, what I essentially have now is the who and the what they're seeking out at each phase of this journey. That's an incredibly powerful thing that I can then go apply to...

Where do I need to be?

"Where do I need to be" means things like: What keywords do I need to target? What social platforms do I need to be on? Where do I need to be in media? Who do I need to influence who's influencing my audience?

It tells me what content I need to create.

I know what articles or videos or visuals or podcasts or data my audience is interested in and what helps compel them further and further down that funnel.

It tells me a little bit about how to position myself in terms of things like style and UI/UX.

It also tells me about benefits versus features and some of the prototypical users. Who are the prototypical users? Who should I showcase? What kinds of testimonials are going to be valuable because people say, "Ah, this person, who is like me, liked this product and uses it. Therefore it must be a good product for me."

Lastly, it tells me about how we can convert our target audience.

Then it also tells us lastly, finally, through those objections and the reasons people bought, the landing page content, the testimonials to feature and what should be in those. It tells me about the conversion path and how I should expect people to flow through that: whether they have to come back many times or they make the purchase right away. Who they're going to compare me against in terms of competitors. And finally the purchase dynamics: How do I want to sell? Do I need a refund policy? Do I need to have things like free shipping? Should this be on a subscription basis? Should I have a high upfront payment or a low upfront payment with ballooning costs over time, and all that type of stuff?

This research process is not super simple. I certainly haven't dived deep on every one of these aspects. But you can use this as a fundamental architecture to shape how you answer these questions in all of the web marketing channels you might pursue. Before you go pursue any one given channel, you might want to try and identify some of the holes you have in this.

If you have questions about how to do this, go through and do this research first. You'll have far better results at the end.

All right, everyone. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

SearchCap: Google iOS app, food and brand queries & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google iOS app, food and brand queries & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


11 Landing Page Optimization Case Studies to Read Now

Are you really happy with the conversions you're getting from your pay-per-click campaigns, or can you squeeze out a little more lift? Here are 11 landing page optimization case studies to get your neurons firing

The post 11 Landing Page Optimization Case Studies to Read Now appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Know your SEM? Prove it. Enter the SMX Biggest Search Geek Contest

See if you have what it takes to outsmart your peers! The Biggest Search Geek Contest, sponsored by Marin Software, is where the world's brightest search marketers compete to outsmart fellow search geeks from across the globe. The contestant who answers the most questions correctly in the...



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Why AdWords' Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers by @LarryKim

AdWords unleashed an easier way for the small business to machete its way through the jungle of code typically required to track paid search performance, and it's called “smart goals.”

The post Why AdWords' Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers by @LarryKim appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

New Search Engine Omnity Said to Be “Smarter Than Google” by @SouthernSEJ

The Washington Post reports that a new search engine called Omnity is on the way, which is targeted at researchers and students. Not only is it being recognized for unique features that Google doesn't offer, many publications are calling it “smarter than Google”. Reports indicate that Omnity separates itself from the pack by serving up results which best match the search term entered in. There's also the added capability of indicating how those results relate to one another. If you're researching a subject you know little about, for example, you can type it in as a search term and immediately […]

The post New Search Engine Omnity Said to Be “Smarter Than Google” by @SouthernSEJ appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

SearchCap: Voice search SEO, SEMPO survey & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Voice search SEO, SEMPO survey & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.