How Voice Search Is Changing SEO

By 2020, half of all searches will be performed as voice search. Up until now, Internet users typed what they wanted to find into a search engine’s search bar. Typed keywords don’t make much sense because people know that Google will get the gist of it and give them the results they need. But since speaking is much easier than typing, people are more likely to make complete statements. So, how will this change SEO?

By 2020, half of all searches will be performed as voice search. It’s easy, fast and effective.

Up until now, Internet users simply typed what they wanted to find into a search engine’s search bar. The words people type in are known as keywords, and usually the words don’t make much sense. For example, “Italian restaurant NYC” rather than “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC.”

Typed keywords don’t make much sense because people know that Google will get the gist of it and give them the results they need. Since speaking is much easier than typing, people are more likely to make complete statements, such as “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC.”

So, how will voice search change SEO? Let me explain.

How SEO Is Now

SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for keywords Internet users use when searching for products, services, or information the site offers.  For instance, the website of an Italian restaurant in NYC would try to rank for “Italian restaurant NYC” by using these words across its site.

Besides using the words that searchers would put into the search bar, a site will also ensure it adds content regularly, has active social media accounts, and reaches out to share its knowledge with other websites. In the instance of this example, all of the content relates to Italian restaurants located in New York City.

What Voice Search Will Do to SEO

Voice search is going to change the way content is written and what it is optimized for in a number of ways.

  1. People speak more than they type, so keyword phrases will be longer. For instance, “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC” is what content will need to address, rather than just the “Italian restaurant NYC.” Content may include benefits of eating at a particular Italian restaurant in the city, or it may identify menu items at the Italian restaurant.
  2. Keyword phrases are more specific with voice search. People are more likely to go into detail when they search by voice, so they may say, “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC with seafood and cozy atmosphere.” Websites with content that identifies them as an Italian restaurant in NYC that serves seafood in a cozy atmosphere will be ranked higher and shown to searchers.
  3. Content needs to be written in a way that can easily be spoken by mobile devices. This means articles need to include short, clear statements. Think about how you would answer the question, “Where is the closest Italian restaurant in NYC?” You would likely say, “The closest Italian restaurant in NYC is Mama Rita’s on 21st.” This type of statement needs to be in your content for voice search results to share it with users.

SEO isn’t going to be based off what people type into search bars anymore. It’s going to be based off what people say when they are searching by voice. This means that your content is going to need to change to cater to what people say when they want to find something online.

Getting Ready for the Changes

Over half of all teenagers use voice search already, and more than 40 percent of adults use it. It’s now time to start implementing SEO that will cater to voice search. By the time everyone is using it, you want your site to be ahead of your competitors. The only way to do that is to make your website have exactly what voice search technology needs as well as what voice searchers need.

Want more tips to improve your SEO?  Click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

PPC Shockers and Secrets

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales. I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now. Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales.

I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now.

Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

First, I’d like to clear the air about a big shocker … or actually a fallacy … that you need a big budget to run an effective PPC campaign.

You don’t. If you happen to have a large budget, your ads will be shown more and you can spread out your ad groups and test different types. With a smaller budget, you do need to be more judicious with your efforts. But if you market smarter, not broader, your campaigns can still produce positive results.

I have run PPC campaigns with total monthly budgets of $1,000. I have run campaigns with total daily maximum budgets ranging from $25 to $50. These campaigns brought in both sales and leads, despite their limited spending. But they do require active management, strategic thinking, deep PPC knowledge and refinement/optimization.

The PPC Tri-Pod
What is going to determine the cost and return of your campaign are three simple things I call the “PPC Tri-pod”, as it supports your entire PPC efforts:

  1. Keywords
  2. Creative (or banner ad, if it’s running on the display network)
  3. Redirect URL

So in order for you to get the most bang for your buck with PPC, you should be aware of a few things regarding the PPC Tri-pod:

Keywords. The more popular the keyword, the more cost per click (CPC) it’s going to have. So it’s very important to do your keyword research before you start selecting your keywords as you’re setting up your campaign.

I like to use Keywordspy.com. The “lite” version is free, but you can also upgrade to the full version and see more results and have more capabilities for a monthly fee. Google used to have its Keyword External Tool, which has since morphed into Google AdWords Keyword Planner. You need a Gmail account to access this free tool.

Either of these tools will allow you to enter keywords or keyword phrases and then view popularity (actual search results), as well as what the average CPCs are. This is important for your keyword selection and bidding. You can also type in your “core” or focus keywords and get additional ad group/keyword ideas. To help refine your search terms, you can also choose broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match.

If you pick a word that is too vague or too under-searched, your ad will not see much (or any) action. Impressions will either not be served, or if they are served (in the case of a vague word), it may cost you a high CPC. In addition, a vague keyword may not be relevant enough to get you a good conversion rate. Because you pay by the click, your goal is to monetize that click by getting an instant conversion. And conversions, my friends, will be the role of the landing page. I’ll talk about that more in a moment.

Creative. This is your text ad (or banner ad, if you’re running in AdWords’ display network). For Google to rank your ad favorably, and more importantly, for you to get the best conversion results possible—there needs to be a relevancy and synergy between your keyword, text ad and landing page. Google will let you know if you’re not passing muster by your ad’s page position and quality score. Once you’ve carefully researched and selected your ad group keywords, you’ll want to make sure those keywords are consistent across the board with your ad and landing page. Your text ad has four visible lines with limited character count:

  1. Headline (25 Characters)
  2. Description Line 1 (35 Characters)
  3. Description Line 2 (35 Characters)
  4. Display URL (35 Characters)

Your keyword must appear in your text ad, as well as follow through and appear in the content of your landing page.

This will give you a good quality rank with Google, but also help qualify the prospect and carry the relevancy of the ad through to the landing page. Why is this important? It helps maintain consistency of the message and also set expectations with the end user. You don’t want to present one ad, and then have a completely different landing page come up.

Not only is that a “bait and switch,” but it’s costly. Because you’re paying for clicks, a great ad that is compelling and keyword rich, but not cohesive to your landing page, will not convert as well as one that is. And your campaign will actually lose conversions.

Redirect URL. This is your landing page. Different goals and different industries will have different formats. A lead generation campaign, which is just looking to collect email addresses to build an opt-in email list, will be a “squeeze page.” This is simply a landing page with a form asking for first name and email address in return for giving something away for free—albeit a bonus report, free newsletter subscription or similar. It got its name because it’s “squeezing” an email address from the prospect. Some retail campaigns will direct prospects directly to e-commerce sites or catalog pages (as opposed to a sales page). Direct response online marketers will drive their traffic to a targeted promotional landing page where it’s not typically a Web page where there’s other navigation or distractions that will take the prospect away from the main goal. It’s more streamlined and focused. The copy is not technical, it’s compelling and emotional, like promotional copy you would see in a sales letter. The anatomy of your redirect URL will vary on your goal and offer. It will take optimization and testing to see what’s working and what’s not. And that’s par for the course. If you’re testing, I suggest elements that scream and not whisper, such as long copy vs. short copy, or headlines and leads that are different themes. However, no matter what your goal, whether it’s going for the sale or the email address, you still need keyword consistency between all creative elements.

Tips And Tricks For Maximum ROI
Whether you have a big or small budget, there are a few things I’ve learned during the years that help the overall performance of a PPC campaign. Some of these are anecdotal, so if you’ve seen otherwise, I suggest testing to see if it makes a difference to your particular industry.

Ad and Landing Page. In general, I have noticed that shorter, to the point, landing pages produce better results. And the rationale is quite obvious. People searching the Web are looking for quick solutions to a problem. This means your creatives have to not only be keyword rich, but compelling and eye-caching. You have seconds to grab a Web surfer’s attention and get them to click. In the same sense, the landing page has to be equally relevant and persuasive, and typically shorter in copy. Keep in mind Google has many rules surrounding ad copy development. So write your text ads in accordance to its advertising policy.

Price Point. Again, in my personal experience, most Web surfers have a price threshold. And that’s items under about $79. When running a PPC campaign, think about price points that are more tolerable to “cold” prospects; that is, people who haven’t built a relationship with you or know anything about you. They have no brand loyalty. They don’t know you from Adam. So getting a sale at a lower price point is an easier sell than a product you have that costs hundreds of dollars. Luxury items or items with strong recognition and brand loyalty are the exception to that rule. As a direct response marketer, I urge you to price test and see for yourself.

Campaign Set-up. There are a few tactics I notice that help with ad exposure, clicks and saving money. When you’re setting up your campaign you can day-part, frequency cap and run ad extensions. Day parting allows you to select the hours of the day you’d like your campaign to run; ad extensions allow you to add components to your text ad to help visibility and call to action—such as location, site links, reviews and more; And frequency capping lets you set a threshold on how many times you’d like a given person to see your ad (based on impressions).

PPC Networks. It’s smart not to put all your eggs in one basket. In addition to Google AdWords, try running campaigns on other PPC networks, such as Bing/Yahoo, Adroll (retargeting through Facebook), Advertising.com/AdSonar.com, SiteScout.com (formerly Adbrite.com), and Kanoodle.com. Then see where you get the best cost per click, cost per conversion and overall results.

I’ve only touched the surface here. There are more tactics and features that can help a PPC campaign’s performance. So get yourself familiar with it, read up on the best practices, and don’t be afraid to put your toe in the water. As with any marketing tactic, some channels will work for your business, and some won’t. But you won’t know unless you test. Just remember the foundation of success hinges on the PPC Tri-Pod. The possibilities are endless.

5 Tips for Top Positioning (And Converting) Page Titles

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles.

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles.

The page title appears in the top bar of your Web browser and it’s also the clickable link on the search engine results page (SERP)—the page you see after entering a Google or Bing search. From an SEO perspective, a keyword phrase-rich page title can help boost search positions. And from a conversion perspective, a well-written page title can tempt prospects to click on your SERP listing over the nine other competing listings.

In short, page title creation is a highly important SEO skill set. Here’s how to do it:

1. Give your copywriter “control” over your page titles
It’s easy to think that page title creation is firmly in IT’s realm—after all, they’re part of the back-end code and often considered “too techie for marketers to deal with.” However, because the page title is the first thing people see after completing a search, it acts as an attention-grabbing headline. Although IT can create a page title that “works,” marketing can create top-positioning page titles that scream “click me” on the search engine results page.

2. Make your page titles unique for every page
Unless your company has an SEO-savvy IT department—or your Web designer knows her way around search engine friendly coding—your site may be lacking an important element: Unique page titles for every page. Take a peek at your pages and see if the page titles change, or if they’re highly similar (or worse, exactly the same.) Yes, you will have to make every page title unique—which can seem like a daunting task. However, the good news is, you should see increased search positions simply by writing unique page titles and editing your content (assuming you write your page titles right, that is!)

3. Focus on your most important keyword phrases
You may be tempted to shove every important keyword phrase into your page title, hoping that one of them will “hit” and gain the rankings you’ve always wanted. For example, don’t do something like this.

Garden supplies, gardening tools, gardening gifts, hand gardening tools, tools for gardeners, garden tools, tools for gardens: GardenNow.com.

From an SEO perspective, keyword phrase-stuffing your page title won’t help you position. And from a conversion perspective, there are better ways to create your page titles that will gain more powerful results (more on that in a bit.) When you focus your page titles on the top two to three keyword phrases that you targeted in your writing, you’ll see much better success rates.

(As a side note, make sure that you’ve done proper keyword phrase research before rewriting your page titles. If you’re not sure about how to do this, a content marketing strategist can help set your keyword phrase strategy.)

4. Get over yourself
Many companies lead their page titles with their company name, screaming their branding all over the SERPs. However, that may not be the best option. If your company name is long—say something like Pristine Printing Services, you’ve already sucked up 26 characters (with spaces)—and best practices dictate that you want to keep the main “meat” of your page title to 70 characters with spaces. Consider placing your company name at the end of the page title—if at all. That way, you’ve focused your page title on the keyword phrases and the user experience—and you have more characters to create a compelling page title.

(The one exception to this rule is when your brand is so trusted—such as “IBM”—that it’s more beneficial to lead with the company name.)

5. Give your prospects something to click for
Do you offer free shipping? Does your company offer a unique benefit? Because page titles are instrumental in getting people to click on your listing over the nine others on the SERP, how you say what you say is crucial. Instead of a page title like:

Garden supplies: Outdoor gardening tools from GardenNow

Consider something like:

Outdoor gardening tools and garden supplies—free shipping and 25% off retail

See what I mean? Just because you’re using keyword phrases in your page title doesn’t mean that you have to write something that sounds like a laundry list of keywords. Remembering the “page titles are like headlines” mantra should make them easier to write (and more powerful from a conversion perspective.)

Tweaking your page titles takes time, effort and a whole lot of creativity. However, all that work can result in some incredible returns. It’s well worth it.