Voice Search, Local SERP, AMP & Schema: 2017 Priorities for SEOs

So, the end of the year is approaching. We’ll soon be feasting fork over knife, then opening presents, then saying, “I can’t believe it’s Spring already – you know the drill.

For now though, we can take a minute to reflect on the year behind us and the year ahead. And, if you like, let’s consider it through the lens of an SEO. What’s happened and what is likely still to happen that impacts our worlds?

A pretty serious shift this year toward AI has happened. While that may have influence via personal assistants, it’s still a very green field. As far as 2017 is concerned, these the areas SEOs need to focus on in the year ahead:

  1. Preparing for voice search
  2. Taking a continued look into local search results
  3. Rewiring page code to be screaming fast
  4. Marking sites up with schema

1. Get ready for Voice Search

  • What is voice search? Voice search is spoken search.
  • How is voice search unique? Voice search tends to be more question-based, a bit longer, and is in the rise.
  • How do you prepare? Make your content conversational. This really should have been on our minds and something we’re doing already.

According to ComScore 50% of searches in 2020 will come from voice search. 

With semantic search, Google’s algorithm forced us to begin being less focused on one keyword phrase and to consider a broader approach. Include synonyms, speak topically. Be useful.

Being useful has – arguably – been not simply a search manifestation, but a marketing manifestation. With millennials we have a generation larger or as large as any alive. One that also has – like the rest of us – found itself to be tired and untrusting of corporate advertising messages. Bored and ‘done’ with corporate-speak – this generation is looking for brands that can be helpful, human, and handy. I can’t stress that enough. Authentic, genuine, real. Time has come. … Make your content conversational. Write how you speak. It’ll pay dividends with voice search, and with millennials and anyone else looking for a real voice.

2. Continue to Optimize for Local SERP

Continue to look into local search engine results pages (SERP). Things continue to change there, and depending on your type of business this could be a pretty serious battleground.

There are a whole host of variables that play into ranking in local search engine results. Furthermore there are many great articles out there to provide timely insight as to how to optimize for local search engine results.

map-trial

Monitoring (and mobilizing on) these things in 2017, I believe, will continue to be a priority for SEOs.

3. Continue to Model a Mobile First-Mindset

Make your pages screaming fast (and optimized for all users). We’ve know for a while to put the mobile experience first. Google made their preference for a mobile-mindset through a variety of updates this year. 

  • The introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (aka AMP) is one of Google’s bigger directives for webmasters and SEOs in 2016. This project has only just begun. AMP opportunities continue to evolve, allowing more and more pages to be marked up with the mobile-first language.
  • In May of 2016, at their Performance Summit, Google announced many of the changes we came to see in 2016.
    • They got rid of right side rail ads admitting the value of them wasn’t future-oriented 
    • Changed their ad mobile layouts
    • Introduced new mobile ad features
    • Introduced new ad extensions
    • They even updated Google Analytics replacing traditional web metric language with mobile app terminology. 
  • They’ve been recommending that page speeds be a point of interest for a while now (to accommodate at large mobile users), even providing tools for webmasters and SEOs to get site and individual page download speed ratings. Advising site owners to use page speed tools info to deploy optimizations.
  • In 2017 they’ll be making their index mobile-first. There’s some debate as to what this will ultimately mean, but no doubt there’s no excuses not to have a mobile-first mindset. 

4. Elevate Your Schema Game

We’ve seen more and more happening directly in SERP, and will continue to do so.

At-large, schematic markup (which involves applying additional markup for Google to better understand and further showcase page content) is helping inform and colorize general search SERP as well as the aforementioned local SERP.

Instant answers, the knowledge graph, and rich snippets continue to push the envelope on what is bound to show up in text-driven SERP.

The most current recommendation from Google on schema is to use the JSON version. As of November 21, 2016 – restaurants now have their own rich cards.

SEOs need to be familiar with AMP and schema in 2017. No question about it. AMP and schema are being used together in some instances; and Google, in 2017, is set to make it’s index mobile-first. Getting very familiar with AMP, in its current and more than likely continuing to evolve states, is something SEOs should be doing now and into 2017.  

There you have it. We could throw in a note or two about optimizing and including images in your search + content creation plans. Strategize having relevant images to offer the world and search engines.

Too, we could touch on the (6 years in a row) declaration that video is set to explode; and discuss the value of such a rich media, but let’s end here.

We’ve got plenty to do with the main four notes above.

Keep in mind these trends are only directional anyway, each of those areas is likely to continue to grow, expand, and tighten in the next week, month, and quarter. Get ready. Take 2017 by the horns.  

If you’re an SEO, webmaster or marketer looking to dive into the particulars of some of the items shared above, here are some good resources to get you started.

Google’s recent blog post and introduction to resturant-specific rich cards: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/local-businesses#restaurant-lists

Google’s documentation and testing tools for developing schematic pages. https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/

A great AMP by example resource: https://ampbyexample.com/

An index of all things schema: http://schema.org/docs/gs.html

Chatbot Watch: August 2016 Roundup

What’s new and news in the world of Chatbots? Here are a few articles discovered recently, as of early September, 2016.

Chatbot Roundup

– Curated and Summarized Reads
Article #1
Why WingStop is Betting Big on Chatbots 

Kevin Fish of WingStop has written an article published in VentureBeat that reads a bit like a pitch to the C-suite, albeit – they are in the F-ing space y’all. Getting into bots at the brand level has my esteem. While, I’d love to hear more about the particulars, (to really test this thing out) and to have a patient, long-view chat with Kevin about their vision, plan, and results – the article provides some insight into their plans on developing Wingbot (which has actually been difficult for me to find) and for reaching millennials ‘where they are’.

Here are a few quotes from the article:

Wingstop provides FAQs and an ordering system in the bot, which is what millennials are demanding.

chatbot-wingstop

Restaurant brands have it particularly tough when compared to top-of-mind apps like Facebook, Netflix, Pandora, email, photos, and videos. The space occupied by daily-use apps makes it increasingly difficult for a less frequently used food-ordering app to earn that prized spot on the home screen. That doesn’t mean mobile apps don’t have a solid place in ecommerce strategy; rather, it just reinforces that brands must continue to find innovative, additive ways to fuel the growth of their digital ecosystems.

Facebook is calling the shift toward chat an “evolution of conversation,” and they presented a multitude of statistics earlier this month to support that assessment. The one that stands out the most? In July, the company surpassed one billion active users on Facebook Messenger. The rise of this and other chat-based platforms, like Slack, is a clear indication that the most convenient way of communicating is informal conversation and chat. The rise of chat as a transitory typed digital medium mirrors the succinctness of a quick phone conversation, as opposed to a carefully crafted email or formal meeting.

Article #2
What the Guardian Has Learned from Chatbots 

Apparently, the Guardian (newspaper) has tested a chatbot that helps readers determine what to cook. A nifty little bot, the Sous Chef enables users to provide a list of what’s in their cupboards and refrigerators and the bot will provide them recipe ideas based on the ingredients they have.

Hear tell, the recipe bot was a test to gather information and insights to help construct another bot that the Guardian plans to release.

More on Chatbots  

 

The Role of Sensors in the Food Industry Internet of Things, Predicted Scenarios

What might the future of the food industry look like given the impending probabilities of the Internet of Things? Here’s an interesting article that aims to answer ways artificial intelligence may reshape the food industry. 

Here’s a key bit of the article:

Food decisions could become simple confirmations. Confirmations of health-algorithm derived recommendations, hyper-personalized based on data from our DNA, stress levels picked up by sensors, and observed interactions with various foods. And hopefully your personal favorites.

I’ve talked with this author and plan to get a copy of the survey results when they publish.

So, while that article makes some very interesting predictions, this next article does well to illustrate practical scenarios for how sensors work, and may help power the IoTs. 

It provides some great examples and use cases on the role sensors can and will play in the evolution of artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of things.

That article provides technical and philosophical meanderings on how it sensors can be used to innovate artificial intelligence and the Internet of things.

It takes the position that humans are the ultimate sensing ‘machines’ and that they can / should be used as models for how to improve manufacturing and other robotics tied to IoT – via sensors. Pretty wild stuff.

If Rephrasing Your Goals Can Increase the Likelihood You’ll Reach them/ Then You Should

The Harvard Business Review recently shared 4 Tools to Help You Identify the Skills You Need to Grow, wherein article author Dana Rousmaniere provides a lead-in and jump to a nifty self-assessment tool.

Prior to the assessment, however, Dana makes this lasting observation:

According to research, we fail to achieve our goals 50% of the time. But motivational science shows that phrasing your goals as if/then statements can increase the likelihood of reaching them.

She goes on to suggest, “If/then statements prompt action by taking advantage of how our brains are wired. Stating “If it’s Monday morning, then I will sit down and plan out my week” creates a trigger in your brain so that when it is Monday morning, you automatically know that it’s time to plan your week.”

See more of this article, including the assessment.

 

Take care.

On Google: Local Business Reviews Shakeup & AMP Landing Pages

Local business reviews have become an area of discussion again for the search giant. On August 4 Google announced that “food- and drink-related searches will now return reviews from top critics and include best-of lists”. Beyond web searches, the Google (search) app is also seeing an update when it comes to how local business reviews are handled.

Here’s the rub:

Google has been featuring specific critics’ reviews – arguably – in an attempt to provide relevant and yet qualified content based on user interest. (Sure, it’s helpful to get reviews on places, right?)

A bit of contention, however, was added to the mix as Google’s list of local business critics included Zagat (a Google owned company), and it did not/ does not include the likes of Yelp, or TripAdvisor.

This obviously is/ was a slight to the Yelp and TripAdvisor crowd (in their eyes), outcry or possibly a tinge of conscience has since compelled the search giant to make the August 4 announcement to open it’s list of critics’ reviews (even to Yelp and TripAdvisor critics) if users apply for the qualification.

Arguably, this is a clean set of moves. Or, do you agree with Yelp CEO that it’s a monopolist play on Google’s behalf? What do you think? Tell me below.

Google AMPed Up

Another entry into the news of late for Google includes the addition of landing pages as a content type that can qualify for being shown as Google AMP content.

Here-to-date AMP pages (or accelerated mobile pages) have been limited to news article or blog related content types. Yet, there’s incentive to make more of the web instant.

Blog1

As Media Post points out, About 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load — and still, in July 2016 the average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds, according to Google data. It’s no wonder that Google estimates that 40% of those navigating to a landing page from an ad will likely not bother continuing to the page and instead click away.

About 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load — and still, in July 2016 the average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds, according to Google data.

The latest update and announcement to include landing pages as AMP pages, further qualifies and suggests a continued path for likely adoption.

I anticipate that the number of page types allowed in will continue to grow. It’s possible that other page types – say, sales pages, or functional pages such as navigational or directional pages could be added to the list.

Aside from speculations, we know, Google continues to refine and redefine what it serves up to users in SERP – rich cards are a good example of how the engine and SERP continue to evolve. (Rich cards are an evolved form of rich snippets announced in May of 2016 – for more on that see – Introducing rich cards.)

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to tell me what you think about what you think below. You do have an opinion about that, right?

Take care.