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Optimizing for Voice Search: Four Tactics for 2018

With all the talk about the future of marketing, we marketers forget about the changes happening right now, right in front of us. Voice search is one of those phenomena, and it’s affecting search results as you read.

And it’s a trend that marketers can easily capitalize on with the right optimization techniques.

How important is voice search optimization today? Some 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to comScore, and Google voice search queries were up 35 fold in 2016 from 2008 levels, according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report.

In short, it’s time to optimize your website for voice search.

Fortunately, doing so is not rocket science. You can have your website ranking for certain phrases within a few weeks, if you start using the following four strategies today.

1. Questions Over Keywords

Sure, keywords are vital to search engine optimization (SEO). And, yes, that still applies when we talk about voice searches. But voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords.

If you’re trying to optimize a website for a flower shop, you wouldn’t focus on short-tail keywords like “fresh flowers” or “[insert city] flower shops.” Instead, you’d aim to address a consumer’s specific question, such as “how to setup a flower arrangement for a patio area?”

This favoring of long-tail keywords is the prevailing trend in SEO, in general, but it applies most aptly to voice search.

The easiest thing you can do to start addressing those sorts of questions is to add an FAQ page to your site. If you can answer a series of questions with “value,” drawing on your industry expertise, Google’s search bots will recognize these efforts and reward you with a prominent voice search result, as will other search engines. Like so…

Voice-search-courtesy of marketingprofs.com

If you’re having trouble formulating a good set of consumer questions to address, don’t be afraid to perform some outreach. Join forums and message boards, and use Quora to interact with consumers and fellow marketers alike. You can also reach out to your email list to identify which areas your customers need the most help in.

2. Local Search Optimization

Have you ever found yourself visiting a city for the first time and relying on your phone to tell you the best restaurants and places to visit? That is one of the largest applications of voice search today, and it’s a growing trend.

Optimizing for voice search means optimizing for local SEO. Here are the two main areas of overlap between the two:

  • Google My Business listing: Make sure your business address, phone number, and website are listed accurately.
  • Reviews: You want to collect lots of positive Google reviews. When somebody asks Siri for “best Thai restaurants in LA,” they’ll be shown places with the most reviews first. (Study after study comes to the same conclusion: Consumers use positive reviews to inform their purchasing decisions.)

3. Mobile-Responsiveness

It goes without saying that most voice searches are performed on some sort of mobile device. So you’d better make sure that your site is good to go on mobile.

Moreover, Google has announced mobile-first indexing, which means that it doesn’t really matter how responsive your desktop site is; if your mobile site is a dud, your search ranking will be a dud, period.

Creating a positive mobile experience means your content must be digestible to the user. Long paragraphs should be reconsidered in favor of short, 2-3 sentence tidbits.

Think about your own experience reading content on a mobile device. How many times have you given up on an article for no other reason than it was too long and clunky to read?

Content for a mobile site should be succinct and concise, and it should clearly answer the question you’re trying to rank for in voice search. If it’s too roundabout, if it fails to directly address the question, and it’s written like a 500-page novel, don’t expect to be rewarded in voice search results.

4. Video Content Creation

Finally, a great way to sneak into voice search rankings is to post a YouTube video that answers the specific topic you have in mind.

It turns out that YouTube videos do show up in voice search results.

Here’s an example for “how to tie a tie”:

video-content-screenshot-courtesy of marketingprofs.com

We’ve known for a while that YouTube videos can outrank static Web pages in normal SERPs, but this is apparently true for voice search as well.

If you’re camera-shy, fear not. You don’t have to go in front of the camera if you don’t want to. Instead, you can answer a question using graphics and voiceover: in short, explainer videos.

The Main Point

Poring through all the statistics, data, and case studies about voice search can be headache-inducing; so, rather than overthinking your strategy, which can lead you to crash and burn, try to break it down into the basic principle of answering your consumers’ questions.

Of course, figuring out those questions is where the grunt work comes in (keyword research). But once you’ve decided on a set of questions, created content with actionable solutions, and optimized it for voice search and local SEO, you might well be surprised to see how much your hard work pays off!

Article by Michael Peggs. Originally published on MarketingProfs.com

Need help with any of these options? Get in touch!

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Common Mistakes Made in an Ecommerce Business

(Originally published in the Shopify.com Blog)

Building an online business can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time. However, just because it’s your first time doesn’t mean you need to make first-timer mistakes. There’s a famous quote that says “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

In this post, we will look at seven of the most common mistakes new ecommerce business owners make and how you can avoid them.

In no particular order, here they are:

“If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality

They won’t. Building your business (and traffic) takes time, energy and effort. According to Internet Live Stats, the internet has about 1,202,012,086 websites at this very moment, and according to WorldWideWebSize there are 4.44 billion pages. Take a moment to think about that. When you create your store, you will be website number 1,202,012,087. How are people going to find you?

Building the most beautiful site and filling it with great products won’t make customers come. When you start a business, you have to realize that launching your store is just the first step in a great journey to building your business. There are however many steps that come after launch.

No Logo

A logo is usually the first thing a visitor sees and one of the first impressions of your online store. Most if not all ecommerce platforms will display your shop title in standard text if you don’t upload a logo yourself, but this isn’t good enough.

So why do so many people launch stores with no logos?

Usually it’s because most people still think that in order to get a logo made, they need to find a designer and spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. The fact is though, this isn’t true. Far from it. There are so many options available now for creating a free or very inexpensive logo that there’s no reason your shop should be using a default text logo.

No Proper About or Contact Page

A lot of store owners end up underestimating the sales potential of their About page. Have a look at your own analytics and you’ll likely find your About page is either the second most visited page or in the top three. That means this page is important to visitors.

Even though this is one of the most important pages for your visitors, many new online merchants tend to skimp on this page. Don’t.

Let’s look at some of the biggest mistakes people make on their About and Contact pages:

No Story – Who exactly are you? How did your store come to be? What’s the story of your products? How are they made? You don’t need to create an elaborate story, however, a few paragraphs that store visitors can relate to are hugely beneficial.

No Location Details – Yes, you’re an online store, but that doesn’t mean people don’t look for an address. Many visitors still want to know where you’re located and where your products ship from. For many visitors, it’s just an issue of trust, for others they want to know if they need to consider customs and duties if your products ship from another country.

Using A Generic Email Address – Yes, Gmail is great but that’s not going to cut it for your business. So many first time merchants are guilty of using a generic, throwaway email address. What does that say to customers? Take the time to set up a proper domain name (youbrandname.com) and set up proper email addresses to let your customers know you’re in it for the long haul. (This is my top “Pet Peeve”).

Not Actually Thinking About Overall SEO Strategy

Probably the most common problem with new online stores is not doing any SEO or not doing it properly. It’s not rocket science but it’s not easy either. Coupled with the fact that SEO can take a while to show any signs of success and it ends up being a complete afterthought (if even a thought at all) for most new online businesses.

The thing is, SEO is quite necessary and can be one of your most powerful tools as it can continue to bring in targeted traffic to your site, day after day after day. Unlike channels like Facebook and Google Adwords which stop delivering traffic the second you stop paying.

Can you list the top 10 keywords you’re trying to target in the long term right now? If you can’t, it’s time to actually think about your SEO and keyword strategy.

Focusing On Too Many Things

Business is hard and complicated. Imagine a brain surgeon doing multiple surgeries at one time. It would be disaster! The same holds true for building a business. Sure someone’s life isn’t on the line, but the life of your business likely is.

All too often, entrepreneurs get scattered, chasing their tails, the next shiny app or growth hacking tactic instead of finishing that they started. This leads to a scattered approach that will rarely show positive results for the business.

Building a business is hard work, however, no matter how much work you put in, the small details as outlined in this post can sabotage your efforts and hard work.

Make sure you regularly take some time to take an objective look at your store (or business), your marketing channels and your goals to make sure you’re on the right path and you’ll be well on your way to more traffic and sales for your online store (or business).

 

 

The Best Beginner’s Guide to Digital Photography

Anyone who understands marketing know that photography plays an integral part in selling your product, service, knowledge, etc.

I grew up in a family of photographers. My father, who worked in a big ad agency (right out of Mad Men), took lots of photos of events, whereas my brother started as a teen and built a darkroom in our basement, then went off to Vietnam as an Army photographer.

So it was inevitable that I would come to love being behind the lens instead of in front of it. I started early too. I was using my brother’s old Nikon in high school, taking photos of everything: new adventures, tall ships, people, buildings, travels… you name it.

I remember my first Polaroid SX-70 Camera. I had tons of fun with that one! On of my favorite creative feats was to “alter” a polaroid as it was fixing.

foot bridge

When I finally got my first DSLR, I thought I was in heaven. Except for the fact that I hadn’t a clue as to how to use it! Fortunately, most DSLRs have one or two auto modes. And I use that 90% of the time.

That was until I came across this incredibly simple “How To” article on one of my favorite Photography newsletters – PetaPixel (http://petapixel.com/). This article answers all those nagging basic questions from “What is Exposure?” to “What is Aperture?” and offers great examples. For example, I learned that the higher the Depth of Field “F-Stop” setting, the more that will be in focus. So if you want to have only the thing closest to you in focus, you should use a lower F-Stop like F1.4. Then everything in the background will be blurred.

Sure, I experimented with my Sony A33. I tried to get that cool shot of a waterfall with the water in motion, but I didn’t know what the best settings were until now. (It’s a slow shutter speed, 1/2 second!).

So if you dabble in photography, or you’re a DIY Marketer like me, or you just want to learn how to use your DSLR to it’s greatest effect, then check out this guide:

A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO

 

old-7-mile-bridge-florid-keys
More recent photo: Old Seven-Mile Bridge, Florida Keys

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