Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Future Of Voice Activated Commands

Personal voice-enabled assistants such as the revolutionary Apple Siri, the Amazon Alexa and Echo, and Microsoft’s Cortana have taken the tech world by storm.  Users can now engage directly with the Web using only their voices.  What was first seen as a novelty when the technology was introduced in 2010 by Apple has now been adopted by young and old alike.  As many as 45% of all mobile device users engage with their devices through voice searching, with the higher percentages of specific tasks skewed towards teenage users.
Search engine giant Google recently announced that they were getting into the voice search game.  While voice searching has been available on Android-powered mobile devices for several years, Google had not rolled out a specific device to compete with Echo or the branded voice assistants like Siri and Alexa.  That all changed in May, 2016, when Google unveiled Google Home, a small cylindrical device that houses the Google assistant.  It provides users with the ability to conduct searches using voice alone, automates and manages everyday tasks around the home or office, and streams music linked to Google Play services.
Digital marketers need to know that voice assistants of these kinds have changed the marketing landscape dramatically. New techniques must be implemented in order to leverage the inherent power of voice assistant devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Of crucial concern to marketers is that there is currently no way to access data on how voice search is used or how to optimize web content for the devices that employ voice searching. Besides generalized averages on what types of search queries and tasks are being conducted with voice assistants, detailed information illustrating trends and specific data sets are not available and may not be for the foreseeable future. It is unclear whether third-party analytic applications will at some point be able to gather and review user data from these devices.
Secondly, not every business model is compatible with the power given to users with voice search.  Although the idea behind voice search is to give users the ability to handle everyday tasks using only their voices, some content publishers have learned that Google does not allow control over how that content is used and displayed. Digital marketers have discovered that short-term traffic to websites may improve in voice search, but over the long term as the technology and usage improves, sites that depend on advertising may be adversely effected. This has particular implications for sites that offer unique content in the form of facts and statistics; without being able to control how Google Home answers user queries, site owners may see a reduction in visits over time.
A consideration that many digital marketers have not taken into account is how their clients’ branding could be affected by voice search.  Traditionally, voice assistants have struggled with rendering resource names made up of initials, acronyms, or fabricated words.  A good example is that of ESPN, the sports news site. 
As mentioned by Comcast,  a recent innovation had been developed by the company in the form of a voice activated remote control. 

Until fairly recently, Google’s voice assistant rendered it as an unintelligible word, not as an acronym as intended. Marketers must make efforts to optimize branding to avoid these types of errors as voice search gains more users.   Since there is currently not a solution on the horizon, such as the assistance of a third-party app to render names correctly, it’s a concern to keep in mind.

The final, and perhaps most critical, consideration is how Google Home will integrate all the varying data and resources for the end user.  Google has claimed that in the development process for their assistant that they have end-to-end solutions in place.  What this means for marketers is unclear.  Will voice searches related to products or service require payment using a Google-approved product like Wallet or Android Pay?  How will Google’s assistant deal with competitive apps, such as those like the car-sharing services Uber, Lyft, and HyreCar?  How about paid listings?  Will marketers be able to pay to be listed for the service or product their client offers to customers?  All of these questions pose unique challenges as the landscape changes.  Google may or may not play nicely with other e-commerce providers like Amazon or payment systems like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. In addition, local search directories like Urbanspoon, Yelp, and many others may get cut out of the conversation entirely in favor of Google’s own reviewing tools.
The future of voice search and voice-enabled assistants is exciting, yet unclear, especially when it comes to digital marketing efforts.  Online marketers must remain flexible to the changes yet to come in hopes of leveraging the awesome power of voice assistants.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Reputation Management: Taking Control of Your Brand

95% of consumers research a company’s products or services before making purchases.  Your company’s web presence and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) go a long way toward getting you those coveted top slots in search results pages, and that attracts new customers.  What if, though, there were unfavorable reviews of your company, or someone in your firm made an unfortunate mistake and got into the press for all the wrong reasons?  Guess what – search engines display the bad information along with the good.

What can a company do to repair their status as a trustworthy organization?  Smart companies take advantage of a strategy called Reputation Management.  This method, used by Swell Marketing, Inc., helps to suppress the bad information and get fresh, positive content to appear at the top of search results.  While it is next-to-impossible to actually remove bad reviews or unflattering news about your company, it is possible to push those bad elements further down in search engine’s results pages.

The SEO experts at Swell approach reputation management in a multi-step process.  First, it is important to assess the damage being caused by the bad information.  This is done by researching the crucial keywords that are triggering display of the negative press or reviews.  Researching those keywords gives the SEO professionals a strong idea of what keywords to use in place of the bad triggers.

Next, it is important to formulate the strategy required to suppress the bad information.   Depending on where bad press is located, the strategy may only require some casual assistance, but if negative reviews appear on trusted news sites or popular consumer review directories, more firepower is needed to overcome the bad information.

Finally, it is time to take action.  Swell’s SEO professionals may do a number of things to get the good information out there, including:

The timing of this new content is crucial for the success of a reputation management campaign. Content must appear at regular intervals rather than all at once, ensuring that the search engines will see it is organic traffic.  Swell’s network of trusted media outlets and site owners gives them the leverage to start building links to the new content, which is very important for the purposes of getting the new “clean” content to appear at the top of search engine results pages. In short order, consumers will no longer stumble across those unflattering bits of information.

Reputation management can be a daunting task, and sometimes takes a while before it starts showing its benefits.  Swell Marketing is one of the industry leaders in this method, and their track record with some very high-profile clients proves they have the skills to take care of any bad press your company may have had. 

Swell Marketing 949-494-0007

SEO 101 - Where Do I Begin?

If you own a business, you want customers to be able to find you.  Listing your business online has rapidly become the most effective way to connect with customers, and local searchers make up a sizeable percentage of those customers.  Gone are the days when people flipped through the Yellow Pages to find local businesses; today, over two billion local searches are conducted every month on search engines like Bing and Google.

One of the components of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is local search optimization.  This helps people find your local business when doing an online search.  SEO experts understand that tailoring websites for local searches helps to:
  •  Rank higher in local search databases like the online Yellow Pages or other business directories
  •  Promote your brand and local identity, connecting with customers from your area
  •  Keep costs down by taking advantage of online searches rather than expensive Yellow Page or print ads

Recent studies have indicated that between 59% and 79% of all consumers use search engines to find businesses local to them.  The time is now to optimize your web presence so that you can get more business into your door.

A reputable SEO company can help your business make those important local connections, boosting your business revenue and attracting a steady stream of new clients to your establishment.  Optimizing for local searches comprises several steps, and the best SEO experts will:
  •  Promote your company’s listing in directories
  •  Submit your listings to local databases and directories and prepare them to be indexed by search engines
  • Create new listings for your company or modify existing ones for maximum impact
  • Tailor your listing to include all the relevant information your potential customers are looking for, including hours of operation, contact information, and products or services on offer

The first step is to identify keywords that searchers are using when looking for a business like yours.  Take a look at your competitors; their websites may offer you suggestions on which keywords are effective and how you can separate yourself from a crowded marketplace.  Adding relevant keywords and terms to your site’s content pays huge dividends in search engine placements, especially when considering local searches.

Second, creating social media profiles on platforms like Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter can help you make those important connections with locals, encouraging them to share your information with their peers.  Next, optimize your website content with the local keywords and other information like ZIP codes or city names, helping the search engines index your pages correctly for local searches. 

Another way to boost your local search standings is to capture the mobile market with pages optimized to display perfectly both on desktops and smartphones/tablets.  Consumers spend a lot of time doing local searches on mobile devices, so it makes sense to be sure your website can be accessed through these devices.

Finally, reach out to your existing customers – make sure your web presence has a means of leaving feedback, reviews, or user comments.  This user feedback can boost your placement in search engine results. Having customer feedback put into a YouTube video is a great example of how to optimize your website with content: