Search Engine Marketing

Google Assistant Vs Amazon Alexa: What Voice Search Means For Local Businesses

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voice SEO, voice search engine optimization

Voice search is dramatically shaping the future of search engine optimization (SEO). Marketers should embrace the changes and learn more about voice SEO techniques that are associated with the mobile age.

Bing stated that voice search accounts for up to 25 percent of all organic searches on its platform although this technology is still under development. However, this does not mean that marketers should pay less attention to the voice search, which goes back to the early 2000s when Google began exploring how voice recognition software could apply to its suite of services. Google’s voice searches have increased significantly since 2008.

Research studies revealed that the ability to get faster results is one of the most important motivators for using this type of search. This trend demonstrates how voice search changes the way users find the right content online. Intent plays a major role in voice searches than traditional queries.

Over the years, the technology has evolved and it has been adopted by several tech giants, including Apple that introduced Siri, its voice search application. Although Siri is associated with the iOS, Apple’s operating system, it is an independent application developed by a third party developer. Apple eventually acquired the application and integrated it with the iPhone 4s in 2011.

What’s the Difference? Typed Searches vs Voice Searches

Text-based and voice searches deliver relevant results that are closely linked to the users’ intent. Search engines rely on advanced algorithms to determine the context of the spoken or typed keywords. However, text and voice searches provide varying experiences when it comes to results.

Voice queries are becoming more functional and accurate as voice recognition software evolves. According to a report published by Google, the majority of users turn to voice search for quick queries. These include searching for the nearest restaurant and other queries linked to local search engine optimization. Traditional search is used mainly for complex or sensitive subjects, such as healthcare.

Many people also prefer text-based searches for queries involving adults-only intents. On the other hand, it is rare for users to conduct voice searches when it comes to social media. Experts attribute this trend to concerns surrounding the possibility of voice-enabled technology spying on user activities.

Phrasing, tone and word choice are key factors that differentiate between typed and voice searches. This means search engine marketing (SEM) practitioners need to focus on the vocal communication patterns of their customers. Unlike traditional search queries, voice search typically comes in the form of questions. Users express themselves through natural language.

It’s common for the searches to reflect a conversational tone and the queries are aimed at obtaining quick answers. For this reason, marketers should strive to adapt their voice SEO strategies accordingly. Long-tail keywords play an important role when aiming to attract traffic via voice search. The same applies to optimizing site content for direct answers to common questions posed by user’s queries.

For their part, search engine algorithms have become more accurate when detecting user’s intent thanks to artificial intelligence.

Google Home Assistant Vs Amazon Alexa

Google voice searchAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant provide high-quality products for the living room. It comes as no surprise that the two brands have been hogging the limelight in the digital assistant market. The products are compatible with smart speakers, phones and a wide range of smart home devices.

Google Assistant is powered by advanced artificial intelligence software. It allows users to enjoy an interactive experience when using a Google Home speaker and Android phones. It is Google’s version of Siri.

Alexa works with Amazon’s products like Echo smart speaker and the Fire TV remote control. The digital assistant makes it easier to enjoy added convenience at home or on the go. Users can receive a traffic update or dim the lights using a voice command. Google Assistant and Alexa are both compatible with a wide selection of third-party products designed to promote smart living.

Here’s a real-time graph of interest (based on the number of searches worldwide over the last 12 months) comparing Amazon Alexa vs Google Home:

The technology behind the digital assistants is getting smarter by the day thanks to continuous research and development efforts by Amazon and Google. Many people find Assistant impressive because it offers a more natural experience. Google taps into the vast knowledge derived from its internet search platform to provide an intuitive experience.

As a result, Alexa has been playing catch up and it began showing significant improvements in recent years. Assistant has the ability to answer more questions than Alexa. Advanced artificial intelligence displayed by Assistant is impressive. It can answer complex questions like “When are taxes due in Australia?” The technology can even skip to the next song when the user provides an adverse comment about a track that is playing on Spotify.

Meanwhile, Alexa does not support thumbs up and down, thus spoiling the experience. On the upside, the product has its own set of strengths that users will find useful. The digital assistant allows users to take advantage of short words (wake words) to activate a device. In addition, it offers a number of apps designed to expand functionality. With the apps, users can play music on radio stations, perform guided meditations or peruse recipe books. The features are known as ‘skills’ and users have a choice of more than 25,000.

Google’s version of the ‘skills’ is available in the form of ‘actions.’ However, Assistant offers a limited number of options than Alexa. Users can choose from hundreds of actions.

How Businesses Should Adapt to Voice Search SEO

Voice search has dramatic implications on search engine marketing (SEM) and also presents a challenge to SEO experts. Unlike traditional search queries, voice search does not focus on exact keywords. Instead, users are conversational in tone. This means businesses need to respond to the dynamics of voice search by providing quick answers to user’s questions. Long-tail keywords and FAQ-type content reign supreme.

Marketers should not limit the frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections to a static list. It is important to vary the content to provide accurate and relevant answers that meet the user’s expectations. The approach is beneficial for both traditional and voice search.

The content should be optimized for mobile and voice search since a significant number of internet users connect via mobile devices. Good content performs well on mobile and desktop platforms.

What You Should Know Before Hiring an SEO Consultant

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization, seo tips | No Comments

Search Engine Optimization is a rapidly growing industry. Forbes reported in their forecast that SEO related spending by businesses in the US alone would be close to $80 billion. This is likely because companies are starting to realize the importance of targeted marketing over conventional broad advertising. Although traditional advertising mediums such as radio and TV ads have their benefits, they are largely beneficial for branding efforts rather than lead-generation purposes.

SEO compared to conventional advertising mediumsAs large companies have deeper pockets and can afford to invest in branding campaigns to make their brand a household name, most local businesses are not trying to do this. They simply want to generate more phone calls. And it is much more cost-efficient and effective to have your message heard by people who are looking for your service rather than casting wider nets and hoping for the best. That is exactly why SEO investing is on the rise.

However, SEO can be as confusing as it is effective. Unlike paid traffic where you can basically get results within a matter of days (sometimes hours), organic traffic is a much more challenging beast. There are many variables at play and all of them weigh differently in Google’s core search algorithm. As such, unless you have a background in digital marketing, you likely have no idea how to gauge an SEO consultant’s competence (or lack thereof)

In this article, we will cover some of the most important things you should understand before hiring an SEO consultant or SEO services for your business. We will address terms you should be aware of, how to track and measure results of the SEO work being done on your website and much more.

SEO Terminology: What You Need to Know

Organic vs Paid Traffic

First of all, let’s draw a clear distinction between organic traffic and paid traffic.

Paid traffic is any kind of traffic for which you are directly paying the source or channel that the traffic is coming from. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads are all examples of paid traffic because you pay for every click (or impression) that your Ad gets. “PPC” is a commonly used abbreviation which stands for Pay Per Click and is generally used in the context of Google AdWords.

Organic traffic is traffic coming to your website that is the result of your site’s reputation, authority, content etc. Building this authority, having good content and making Google believe that your website adds a lot of value to the Internet (and by extension, your customers) is what search engine optimization is all about!

“Organic traffic gets 94% of clicks while paid Ads only get 6%”

Source: Neilsen

In other words, if a keyword gets 100 searches per month, studies show that 94 of those people will go straight past the Ads and click on the organic listings while only 6 will click on the Ads. Very similar to how most people stop paying attention to the TV when Ads are playing.


What are Keywords?

A “keyword” is not exactly just one word but a “search phrase”. For example, if you own a physiotherapy clinic in Melbourne, one of your keywords could be “physio clinic Melbourne” or “back pain physio Melbourne”.

Keywords are at the core of any SEO strategy or campaign and it is very important that you choose the right ones that are likely to yield the best ROI.


How to Choose the Right Keywords?

Most SEO and digital marketing companies will offer an analysis of your website before giving you a quote for their services. This analysis should consist of recommended keywords and their respective search volumes.

It is VERY important that you know your keywords’ search volumes before you commit to an SEO consultant and start a campaign. Google reports how many people (approximately) are searching (per month) for any given keywords through their AdWords dashboard. Of course, the reason they reveal this information publicly is to convince people to buy Ads.

We can use this information to get a pretty accurate approximation of the potential ROI of ranking at the top for your keywords. Also, give some thought to the buyer intent of your keywords. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers who are typing these keywords into Google and think about how further along the buying process they are. In other words, are they ready to buy right now or are they just doing some research?

For example, someone searching “physiotherapy Melbourne” may be looking for a physio clinic and might make the call if they find a decent website. But someone searching “physiotherapy clinic for neck pain in Melbourne” is more likely to become a customer sooner as their query is more specific. On the other hand, the longer a keyword gets, the less often it is searched which means the search volumes for these types of keywords might be lower. So consult with your SEO specialist and make sure you choose a combination of keywords that are most likely to bring you traffic that you can monetize.

The reason this is important is that the nature of your keywords will have a direct impact on your conversion rates. So if you are 5 or 6 months into your SEO campaign and you feel that the number of phone calls or leads has not been satisfactory, you will need to look into your conversion rate (more on Conversion below).


Organic Rankings vs Local Map Rankings

A common point of confusion for people is the difference between your organic rankings and map rankings. Remember that these are 2 different entities and ideally, your SEO consultant should focus on ranking both of them. They often go hand-in-hand but sometimes, one requires more effort than the other.

“Map rankings” refer to ranking in the “map pack” (also called the “3-pack) which appears at the top for most local keywords. If your keyword has a location in the phrase, such as the name of a city or suburb, then there’s a very good chance that the results will display a “map pack”.

Ranking in the map pack can be very valuable for local businesses, especially for businesses that have a physical location. The majority of searches performed on Google are on mobile devices. The map pack gets a lot of real estate on the small screen of mobile devices and has a direct Call button. This convenience and ease of use for the customers make the map pack attractive to businesses.

However, as there are only 3 spots the competition is higher than ever. If your map ranking is lower than #3, then you do not appear anywhere and have virtually no visibility, unlike organic rankings which yield progressive results.

Organic rankings are shown below the map pack and link straight to your website. Here’s a snippet of what they look like (on desktop), as you have probably seen when you searched something on Google.

Ideally, you want placement in both the map pack and the organic results. The distribution of traffic between these 2 also depends on the industry. People that are looking for someone to fix their problem as soon as possible are more likely to click on the Call button and may not care as much about what your website looks like. For example, if a pipe broke in your house, you probably need a plumber as soon as possible and you’re not going to spend 30 minutes doing research.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lawyer or a surgeon, it’s a much more serious and potentially delicate matter, so you might take the time to do your due diligence and look at several websites and read reviews before making a decision.


How to Measure Your SEO Results?

Rankings are King

The best method of monitoring results of your Search Marketing campaigns is tracking your rankings AKA your website’s position in the search results for your main keywords.

All SEO Agencies have their own methods of reporting and presenting the data to prove that the SEO work being done is getting results. All that is great but at the end of the day, remember that the primary indicator of whether it is indeed working, is to see how well your rankings are progressing.

Sometimes, an SEO company will try to deceive you by showing all sorts of charts and graphs and snapshots from your Google Analytics to try and prove that the website is getting traffic. But any kind of traffic does not lead to getting phone calls from your ideal customers. It is targeted traffic we want and that is why you are investing in SEO rather than other traffic acquisition methods.

Remember that getting a good ROI from local search engine optimization is not about the volume of traffic but the fact that said traffic is highly targeted and your ideal customer demographic.

So above all else, your priority should be tracking your rankings and if they stay stagnant for too long, it is an indication that your SEO consultant has hit a wall and is not able to figure out what is holding the rankings back. This often happens with high competition keywords where your website could get stuck on the lower first page or the second page.


Tracking Traffic

Before your SEO agency starts working on your site, it is important that you note your baseline traffic levels so you can monitor the effectiveness of their work in the coming months. If you are tech-savvy at all, you should be able to install Google Analytics on your website. If not, ask the SEO agency to do so and make sure that you have access to the dashboard.

google analytics helps you track the traffic on your websiteGoogle Analytics can be complicated and overwhelming to look at on first sight. But remember that at this stage, we’re only looking at the number of Sessions and Users on your site. We don’t really want to analyse traffic flow or user behaviour at this stage. That comes much later. Right now, we just want to know how many people are visiting the website over a 30 day period.

Once you have this snapshot, comparing it to the same numbers 4-5 months into your SEO campaign should tell you how well your SEO is working. Now of course, ideally you should know that SEO is working because you’re getting more phone calls but it is not always as simple as that.


Conversion Tracking & Optimization

Once you start getting more traffic to the website, you should start getting more phone calls and leads. At this stage, you should consider studying your website’s conversion rates more carefully.

Of course, you need to make sure that you are building your SEO campaign on the right foundation from the get-go by having a decent looking website. But when it comes to the smaller changes and tweaks that can improve your conversion, it is best to learn from studying your current traffic flow.

For example, if you find that a particular page is one of the biggest “Exit points” for your visitors and it doesn’t quite make sense for it to be so, that page needs more attention as it is clearly losing traffic.

Conversion optimization is a step that many people miss from their strategy. More traffic is great but it is not always the best solution (or the most cost-effective solution) to get more leads. Making the best of the traffic your website is getting will make sure that you’re getting the highest possible ROI on your marketing dollars.


A.P. Web Solutions is a Melbourne-based SEO consultancy working with local businesses Australia-wide to generate more leads through organic and paid search. Call 1300 780 112 to speak to one of our SEO consultants!


Why Do You Get Hundreds of overseas Phone Calls & Emails for SEO?

By | Internet Marketing Service, Search Engine Marketing, search engine optimization | No Comments

If you own, operate or manage a business, you have most likely received hundreds of emails and phone calls from countries like India & Bangladesh offering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services and putting you on the first page of Google so all your troubles would go away. And these are just the ones that made their way through your Spam filter!

To understand this, let’s take a look at the journey of SEO and how often it has been searched on the Internet through the years

As you can see, it is being searched far less frequently in 2016 than it was back in 2004. This is more than likely associated with the fact that Google was advertising and marketing their brand very heavily back in 2004 to get more and more people using their Search Engine rather than Bing or Yahoo. They seem to have won that battle and essentially become the CocaCola of Search Engines.

Now, let’s take a look at WHERE most of these queries are coming from.

Even after accounting for the difference in population, it is curious that the searches for SEO are coming from countries where search engines aren’t actually used as often as they are in countries like Australia and the United States, especially to find local businesses. The same kind of trend also applied to Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing.

The answer is because most SEO and Digital Marketing agencies based in Australia outsource their entire campaigns and work to overseas teams based in these countries. And several of these teams decide to market directly to businesses based in western countries as they realize the demand for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is high.

So how does it affect you as the business owner?

Links are a major part of the equation when it comes to Search Engine Marketing and improving your ranking. When your website is linked to another, it gets categorized as being of similar quality. Think of it as good neighbourhoods vs bad neighbourhoods.

When these links come from bad neighbourhoods (which they will if you have the same team working on hundreds of clients at a cheap rate), they will not only hurt your rankings but also damage your website’s potential for ranking in the future.

So if you have ever wondered why the SEO industry gets a bad reputation, it’s because SEO Agencies outsource their work to the overseas team, who build bad quality links to the website. The business owner is then left with a bad impression of SEO and a damaged website, while the SEO Agency moves on to find other businesses.

Moral of the story is quite simple. If someone promises to rank you for the services you provide, make sure to ask them if THEY rank for the services THEY provide.

At A.P. Web Solutions, we do not outsource ANY work overseas and believe in building your online presence on a firm foundation rather than shortcuts that do not last long-term. Contact us to find out how our SEO experts can help you dominate your industry online!