5 Things to Know About Voice Search and Bing

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Voice search is growing fast, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. This is an exciting development for marketers since the advent of voice search could alter the SEO landscape, but there is a lot to learn about this technology, and everything could change in just a few years. The more you can get up to speed and get involved now, the better you will be positioned for what the future holds.

Voice Search: The Next Frontier for Search Marketers

Voice search is becoming more popular and prevalent all the time. The SEMrush blog even called it back in 2016. Voice-powered digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are constantly improving, and smart devices entirely powered by voice – like Amazon Echo and Google Home – are enjoying a surge of popularity right now.

Why are tech users starting to shift away from text and towards voice? There are several factors that explain the rise of voice search.

  • Voice search is fast. Most people speak much more quickly than they type.
  • Voice search is hands-free, so users can get information when they are driving, cooking, or otherwise occupied with something else.
  • For people on a mobile device, asking a question out loud is usually easier than typing on a tiny screen.
  • It is getting easier and more convenient to use voice search. As more and more people get smartphones, it is natural that most will try out the built-in voice capabilities.
  • Voice search is still a fun novelty for many people.

This slide below from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report illustrates some of the major reasons people use voice search:

voice-searchAt this point, it is clear that voice is going to play a big role in future search technology. But since voice search is still relatively new, there are lots of ways it could develop, and it isn’t obvious which companies will rule the field in ten years.

5 Things Marketers Need to Know About Voice Search and Bing

Google is currently top dog in most aspects of search, but when it comes to voice, Google might not have much of an edge over its competitors. Microsoft is also a major player in the field of voice technology, and its search engine, Bing, may be poised to dominate voice search in the future. Here is what you should know about Bing and voice search as voice technology goes mainstream.

Voice Search is Here for the Long Haul

In 2017, many people still think of voice search as a novelty or a toy. This perception isn’t going to last much longer. An October 2015 study by artificial intelligence platform MindMeld found that the growth of voice search is happening strikingly fast: 40% of voice search users had only adopted the technology in the last six months, and 60% had adopted it in the last year.

The sharp growth of voice technology is expected to continue through 2017 and beyond. In 2016, there were between 8 million and 9 million voice-first devices like Amazon Echo in use.

In 2017, VoiceLabs predicts there will be 22.5 million devices shipped, leading to a total device footprint of 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.

As voice search continues to grow, it could rival or even overtake text search.

 

A Quarter or More of Bing Searches are Voice-Based

For Bing, voice searches may become the norm sooner rather than later. Search Engine Land reports that in May 2016, Bing representatives revealed that 25% of all searches conducted through the Windows 10 taskbar were voice-based. The percentage may be even greater now, considering voice search’s increasing popularity.

Google hasn’t gone fully public with its numbers on voice searches, but it is probably not far behind Bing. During the same month, Sundar Pichai of Google announced that one out of five Google searches conducted on a mobile device are voice searches. A lot can change in a year, so it will be interesting to see what kind of voice search statistics surface next.

Bing Powers More Voice Technology than Google Does

It might seem surprising that Bing had an edge over Google for voice search in 2016, but there’s a good reason for that. Three of the four major virtual assistants on the market – Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa – use Bing for their searches. Google, of course, powers its own Google Assistant.

Virtual Assistant Technology Still Has Some Improving to Do

Voice technology has gotten much better over the last few decades, but tech companies are still working on perfecting it. There is a lot at stake in this race. Andrew Ng, former chief scientist at Baidu, has said that voice search will really take off when accuracy gets to 99% or better. None of the four major virtual assistants has reached that level of accuracy yet, but all of them are getting close.

The Time to Optimize for Voice Search is Now

Whether you advertise on Google, Bing, or both, you should think about setting up your site and your paid campaigns to snag voice searchers as well as keyboard searchers. If you start working on this now, you will have a leg up on people who wait to optimize until voice searches overtake text-based searches.

Not sure how to optimize for voice searches? The last section of this article will give you a crash course on how to make it happen (it is simpler than you might think!).

How to Optimize Your Site for Voice Queries in Bing and Google

Voice search and text search are fundamentally different, even though they are ostensibly performing the same function. People usually phrase voice searches like they would if they were talking to another person. For instance, you might say, “Siri, where can I find a dry cleaner that’s open late?”. If you were going to do the same search on a keyboard, you would be more likely to type something like, “dry cleaner open late”.

Because they use more natural language, voice searches are likely to involve connecting words (and, to, or, etc.) and to be phrased as a question. Text searches, on the other hand, are likely to be a string of keywords with extra words removed. Unsurprisingly, this means voice searches are usually longer than text searches.

text-searches

This data from Microsoft shows that Cortana voice searches tend to be significantly longer than text searches. You can learn more about optimizing for voice search here.

Unfortunately, neither Bing nor Google lets you separate voice searches from text searches in your analytics yet. But since voice queries look different from keyboard queries, it is not hard to identify them manually. To start optimizing for voice searches, look at your analytics and find the searches that look like natural language. Compile them into a list and look for patterns. Which questions are people asking to find your site?

After that, pick some natural-language, long-tail keywords that will help voice searchers find your site more easily. Make sure they reflect the way people actually talk. For instance, you would want to use the keyword “hire a piano mover in Boise” not “piano mover Boise”.

Another way to get on voice searcher’s radar is to include questions and answers on your website. After all, many voice searchers are asking their digital assistants questions, so you will be more likely to rank in the results if you anticipate those questions and answer them. At the very least for Q&A, you should have a FAQ page. If you are creative, you can probably find natural ways to build questions and answers into your other pages, too.

Finally, make sure all your business’ information is easy to find. Searchers should be able to find your location, hours, and phone number on your website as well as in search engine’s databases of business information. If you haven’t done so yet, claim your Places for Business listing on Bing and your My Business listing on Google.

Why is this so important? Many mobile and voice search users ask questions like, “Where can I find a coffee shop near me” The search engine then uses the person’s location information to find nearby businesses. If the search engine doesn’t have any information about your business, you won’t show up in their list of results.

The Takeaway

Voice search is going to change the landscape of digital marketing over the next few years, but no one knows exactly how yet. One thing is for sure, though: this technology is only going to get bigger, so it is important to start learning about it now. By keeping yourself up-to-date on new developments and optimizing your site for voice search sooner rather than later, you will gain an advantage over marketers who are slower to adapt.

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Google has dropped Google Instant Search

Several years after Google launched Google Instant, they are killing the default search feature to bring search more inline with mobile devices.

After launching Google Instant – Google’s method of showing search results as you type them – several years ago, Google has removed the feature from search effective today.

Why should your website be in multiple languages?

Contrary to the common knowledge, not many people actually speak or use English outside some certain islands in Europe.

True – educated, younger people do often speak 3-4 languages, including their mother tongue and English. But that’s not as big a percentage as you’d think. Worse, knowing a language isn’t the same as preferring or even using it.

Having a multilingual website in Europe is a must. Otherwise you switch off a huge part of your potential audience.

1. On average we use just our native language

Or even worse – in most countries it’s normal to really not know more than one (or two) languages.

Median number of languages a person speaks in the countries of the European Union

2. European nations are really small

Large proportion of your potential customers are from the neighbouring countries and most probably speak another language. Be inclusive, your market can’t possibly end with the borders of your tiny home country.

Populations of EU countries compared to USA (millions)

3. Millions around you don’t share your mother tongue

It would be easy to think that in Belgium, “Belgish” is spoken. But no, there is no such thing. Most of the people there speak either French of Flemish, a dialect of Dutch. But there are millions more, who speak the language they brought from home with them when they came to live and work in the heart of Europe. Address more than just the main language of your country.

5 million UK residents don't speak English as their mother tongue, 15 million in Germany

4. Going English-only is especially bad idea

Outside of UK and Ireland not so many can even speak it not to mention use it for meaningful usage of your website.

5. Never forget Google search results

More than 30% of the visitors on an average website come from search engines. Almost all the searches are done in the native language of the searcher. If your website has no content in their language, they will never even see your site in the results.

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7 Trends That Will Change Social Media in 2017

7 Predictions for Social Media in 2017

1) Live video content will become even bigger.

Live video content is on the rise — in fact, 14% of marketers experimented with it in 2016, according to Social Media Examiner, and 43% plan to use interactive video this year, according to new survey data from Wyzowl.

While there are a ton of streaming sites and platforms out there, both Periscope and Facebook Live are among the most popular — and they have the numbers to prove it.

In its 2016 annual recap, Periscope noted that users watched 110 years of live video every day using the app. And just this New Year’s Eve, live streaming on Facebook reached record-breaking numbers around the globe:

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Source: Facebook

In addition to Facebook Live and Periscope, Instagram and Twitter launched their versions of live video streaming in November and December 2016, respectively.

So where should you be planning to focus your live streaming efforts in 2017?

Good question. First and foremost, you’ll want to consider where your audience already spends time on social media — and try to connect with them on those networks.

As for what to broadcast, there are a lot of brands out there that are nailing this strategy across several use cases. For example, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to live stream events. This approach aims to keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.

At INBOUND 2016, HubSpot shared Facebook Live interviews with speakers so our followers who couldn’t join us in Boston still had the opportunity to learn from the experts:

Brands can also use live video for customer service by hosting Q&A sessions and product demonstrations. These videos drive engagement because hosts can ask for comments, questions, and feedback from the audience.

Brands can also stream multiple live videos in a series, providing more opportunities for engagement, which Facebook said happens at a rate 10X higher with live videos. Here’s an example of a weekly series from Allure, where hosts demonstrate and review a new type of lipstick and ask the audience for questions and what they want to see in the next instalment:

This year, keep an eye out for new features rolling out to the different live streaming platforms to amp up your video strategy. For example, Facebook Live is launching 360-degree capabilities, which would be a neat way to record a crowded event, a beautiful landscape, or a behind-the-scenes tour.

(Read more about successful strategies for Facebook Live in this blog post.)

2) Brands will lean on messaging apps more than ever.

If you’re only thinking about messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat as alternatives to traditional text messaging, think again — messaging apps are used by 4 billion users worldwide, and there’s tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage this presence.

More specifically, many brands are using messaging apps to communicate one-on-one with customers, which is completely changing the way customer service gets done. These apps provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, rather than being placed on hold or waiting for a returned email. Deploying messaging for customer service is more scalable and cost-effective for businesses, and by providing a better experience for the customer, brands can solve their problems quickly and retain them more easily.

For example, Hyatt uses Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service, where guests can make reservations, ask questions, and get recommendations for their trips:

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Source: Digiday

HubSpot Vice President of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, predicts that messaging apps will eventually become a part of every online interaction. “Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all,’ Anderson notes, “but rather as an evolving infrastructure.”

So far, Anderson’s theory is well-supported by the stats: A quarter of all apps that are downloaded are abandoned after just one use — except for messaging apps. In 2017 and beyond, marketers should anticipate less social networking and more messaging for instant, real-time connection with audiences.

3) Social media ecommerce will become a powerful avenue for sales.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest offer ways for users to purchase products from directly within their apps, and Snapchat started testing and rolling out ecommerce features in the spring of 2016. Check it out below on Instagram:

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According to a survey from Aimia, 56% of consumers said they followed brands on social media to browse products for sale, and 31% of online shoppers say they’re using social media specifically to look for new items to purchase.

Brands should leverage these shopping habits when thinking about their social media strategy for 2017. People come to social media to interact with interesting content, so instead of sharing a photo of a product on Instagram with a “Buy Now” call-to-action, share gift ideas and product trends (24% and 16% of survey respondents relied on social media for these, respectively) and encourage online shopping without directly asking for it.

Another idea? Product demonstration videos on social media. According to research from Animoto, 4X as many customers prefer to watch a video about a new product, so share them on social media to encourage online shoppers. Here’s an unconventional “Will It Blend?” product demonstration from Blendtec to get the wheels turning:

4) Virtual reality will find its way into more and more marketing experiences.

Virtual reality is still new to the marketing scene, and in 2017, we predict the market will get even more popular. What’s unique about virtual reality is that it encourages engagement by offering an immersive, memorable experience unlike any other medium — and brands are quickly recognizing that value.

For example, TOMS uses virtual reality to shed light on the mission and impact customers are having. Its mission, “One for One,” refers to its pledge to match with each pair of shoes purchased a new pair for a child in need around the world. While visiting children who received new shoes during a trip to Peru, TOMS shot the following 360-degree virtual reality video to create a firsthand account of the impact this initiative is making:

What’s so great about this video is how transportative it is. Most customers might not be planning a trip to Peru, but all of them can see the direct impact of their purchase. The experience is improved when they use a VR headset or viewer, but the video is still viewable on mobile or desktop devices, so the brand can effectively share its story.

This year, video streaming will represent almost 75% of all internet traffic, and since audiences want more video content, brands should continue experimenting with different formats — including virtual reality — to see which audiences respond best to.

5) Ephemeral content will continue to find its place and purpose.

HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Marissa Emanuele artfully coined the term “Frankenfeatures,” which are born when a social media platform launches its own version of another platform’s successful feature.

One example? Snapchat started the ephemeral, or disappearing, visual content sharing trend, and Instagram recently launched a similar disappearing video feature — but with the ability to share live ephemeral video, too.

We’re not suggesting that you abandon professional photography and marketing video production, but ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram is a great way to showcase the “other side” of your brand’s personality with authentic, unscripted, unpolished content. Content ideas for ephemeral stories include:

  • How-to videos
  • Behind-the-scenes looks
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Recipes
  • Interviews
  • “Takeovers,” or when a different user chooses what content to share
  • Live events
  • Daily or weekly video series
  • Holidays
  • Announcements or product reveals

“The most important part of ephemeral content is to be human. This is a unique opportunity to show an unpolished, lighthearted side to your brand, so don’t be afraid to share content that’s humorous or otherwise ‘flawed’ in some way,” urges Emanuele.

(For more ideas on how to brainstorm ephemeral content ideas for Snapchat or Instagram, here’ a roundup of some of the best brands on Snapchat right now.)

6) Many brands will make the shift from Snapchat to Instagram for Stories.

Instagram introduced its Stories feature in August 2016. After just two months, BuzzFeed News reported that Instagram Stories were experiencing 100 million daily active viewers — this represents two thirds of Snapchat’ total user base, period. For this and other reasons, Emanuele predicts that brands will start transitioning from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing Stories (photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours).

At 600 million users, Instagram offers a vastly bigger audience than Snapchat at 150 million users. And because Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram advertisers can target based on Facebook and Instagram insights, which means there is a bigger target audience on Instagram than Twitter.

Not to mention, Instagram lets users publish photos and videos in a permanent portfolio in addition to ephemeral Stories, so users can more easily share content with their friends.

BrandFire CEO Adam Padilla agrees with Emanuele’s prediction, also noting the adoption of Instagram by a larger number of celebrities and public figures, and a slicker Instagram interface.

Despite its rapid growth and sheer volume of content being shared, Snapchat offers fewer means of measurement and analysis for social media marketers, so Instagram may offer greater ROI in 2017.

7) Mobile advertising will grow more competitive.

In 2017, marketers should expect greater investment in mobile advertising. Here’s rundown of what that will look like on some of the largest social networks:

Facebook is the behemoth when it comes to social media ad revenues, bringing in more than $7 billion last year — 80% of which came from mobile ads. Facebook’s News Feed algorithmic changes now prioritize content from friends and family first, so the 75% of brands on Facebook that pay to promote ads will have to get creative and design visual, engaging ads to get noticed first.

Twitter’s ad revenue is increasing, especially in the mobile format, and in 2017, they’ll likely continue experimenting with visual content, such as sponsored hashtag icons and stickers, to provide a variety of ad options to users.

As we’ve discussed previously in this article, Snapchat and Instagram will be competing for a lot of attention this year, and advertising revenue will be no exception. Where do they stand in terms of developments? Well, Snapchat recently launched a new advertising API that makes it easier to buy ad space, in addition to a greater variety of video ads and sponsored filters. Instagram, on the other hand, is doubling down on ecommerce with the introduction of Shoppable Instagram, a feature that lets users buy products directly by clicking on a CTA in the app.

According to an Adweek survey among millennial Snapchat and Instagram users about their experiences with ads, the results are roughly split — with a few noteworthy distinctions. While a greater percentage thought Instagram ads were more memorable than those on Snapchat, more millennials loved Snapchat ads than Instagram ads:

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Source: Adweek

In short: Marketers should experiment with ads on different platforms to see which perform better among their audience and take advantage of the cool new features each rolls out.

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Researchers Build Search Engine for Discovering and Debunking Fake News

Hoaxy is a new search engine designed to help reporters, researchers and the general public find information on the spread of unverified news stories.

Researchers at Indiana University have developed a search engine designed to explore the means in which fake news is spread. The engine, appropriately named Hoaxy, is a joint project between the University and the Center of Complex Networks and Systems Research.

Using web crawlers – bots designed to automatically scroll through and identify specific types of web content – Hoaxy finds fake news articles that line up with links that appear on independent, third-party fact-checker sites like factcheck.org and Snopes.com. An API then scans the path these links take through social networks.

Indiana University researchers are collecting the data, which will ultimately feed into a visualized dashboard. While Hoaxy is not built to definitively determine which content is verified versus “fake,” it does present related articles and content to provide more context and information.

This utility could be helpful to reporters and researchers who want to see where a story came from, how it was spread and if any contradictory perspectives exist on the web that might serve to debunk its content.

For example, one particular fake news site – designed to look like ABC News – shared a story about President Obama signing an executive order to ban the pledge of allegiance in schools. By entering the URL into Hoaxy, you will see the content debunked by two third-party sites (in orange). Below that, purple rows show the top spreaders of the news.

The same researches behind Hoaxy have been studying fake news for more than a decade, and a prior experience found that nearly three-fourths of people placed blind faith in content shared by their friends – even to the degree of sharing personal information on phishing sites shared within their close networks.

What’s more, they learned – even ten years ago – that fake news can drive ad revenue. In a test, the researchers placed ads on a fake news site that contained a disclaimer stating that the content above was completely false and meaningless. Despite this message, the team received continual earnings from the ads.

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