Google Speakable markup

How to implement Google Speakable in your SEO strategy

  • What is Google Speakable markup?
  • Search engine intelligence and the future of voice search
  • The benefits of optimising your SEO for Google Speakable markup
  • How you can use Google Speakable to improve your SEO

Voice search used to seem like something from a sci-fi film, but these days it’s becoming the norm. Using Google doesn’t require a screen anymore – in fact, Gartner predicts that in 4 years’ time 30% of searches will be screen-free. A lot of statistics are flying around about voice search right now because it’s on the brink of becoming the next big thing. The announcement of the beta for Google Speakable Markup is a small step into a future of voice search. But what do we really know about it?

The beta of the Google Speakable schema has just been launched. This means that Google Assistant will be able to read marked sections of news content aloud. The new specification is in beta in the US and it’s only a matter of time before it launches around the world. While Google Speakable markup isn’t going to change the world of SEO, it does provide some key insights about the ways SEO is going to change in the future.

In this post, we’re going to dive into Google Speakable and how we think you should be preparing to use it to improve your SEO strategy.

What is schema? was founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex to create a universal data structuring vocabulary. Schema markup (in simple terms) is back-end code that helps search engines classify your content. While HTML tags help browsers understand how to display their content, they don’t give any indication of what that content means. To structure that information, schema provides context.

Schema structures the metadata on your website in a way that search engines can understand and index, so they can return richer results. Schema markup boosts your website’s chance of being featured for a rich snippet on Google, which is important for voice search results because of its short, digestible format. Rich snippets also earn your business the highly coveted spot of ‘position #0’ on Google’s SERP - this will rank your business above even the first result. That alone is a real incentive to use schema markup.

What is Speakable?

Speakable is a schema that lets you markup sections of content that would be suitable answers for voice searches. Speakable will use Google Text-to-Speech (TTS) to read out answers to voice queries. As Google have noted on the beta page for Speakable:

‘The Google Assistant uses Speakable structured data to answer topical news queries on smart speaker devices. When users ask for news about a specific topic, the Google Assistant returns up to three articles from around the web and supports audio playback using TTS for sections in the article with Speakable structured data. When the Google Assistant reads aloud a Speakable section, it attributes the source and sends the full article URL to the user's mobile device.’

While voice search capabilities are available around the world, Google Speakable Markup is currently limited to English language queries on Google Home devices in the US.

Speakable schema markup offers a new opportunity for marketers. They’ll be able to use schema markup to identify content that’s suitable for voice search. In July 2018, Google announced the schema, saying it would allow ‘eligible publishers to markup sections of a news article that are most relevant to be read aloud by the Google Assistant’. Google is the first company to announce implementation of this schema - it’s a significant step towards developing more intelligent search engine results.

A brief history of voice search

Since the launch of Google’s voice search app in 2008, talking to your devices has become totally normal. Amazon followed suit with Alexa, Apple with Siri, and Microsoft with Cortana. Ever since, voice search has become increasingly intelligent. Google have put a lot of work into improving voice search; Google Hummingbird saw the core algorithm of Google become substantially more intuitive. A key part of this was semantic search. This allows Google to predict user intent with context. For instance, after the implementation of Hummingbird, Google can recommend you the best restaurant near your location rather than the best restaurant in the world.

Another huge development was conversational speech. In 2013, Google revealed their improved search experience, saying ‘people communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords’. Conversational speech was significant for voice search, because it allows for a more natural user experience. As Google said in their announcement blog:

‘Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else.’

These developments haven’t just been good for voice search, they’ve revolutionised the way we search for information.

What’s the future of voice search?

It’s difficult to predict exactly how we’re going to adopt voice search. Human behaviour is tricky that way. What we do know though, is that the way we consume content has become more and more streamlined over time. Where we used to have to trawl multiple webpages for exactly what we needed, we can now ask one question that a search engine can accurately answer.

Google published its guidelines for how Google Assistant answers queries. This is a great insight into how not just voice searches, but all searches, are going to evolve. Natural language processing allows us to find what we need in our own terms, and conversational speech predicts what we might want next - we expect quick and simple results. Voice search is a natural progression of what we’ve seen from search engines in the past 10 years. At I/O 2018, Google demonstrated the unbelievable capabilities of Google Assistant – onstage, the AI assistant successfully made a phone call booking an appointment without being recognised as an AI. The technology powering the AI is Google Duplex, and it’s only going to become more powerful.

As marketers, we should be very excited and aware of the progression voice search has made and will surely make in the future.

What are the benefits of optimising your SEO for Speakable?

For businesses, structured data markup is essential. Search engine spiders being able to parse your website will improve your domain authority, which will help you rank higher than your competitors. We don’t know all the details on Speakable just yet, as it’s still in beta, but the schema itself indicates ways we can optimise our content, especially for mobile. Voice search is a format designed for quick and easy questions – you’re more likely to search for a recipe or a news article than you are a treatise on ethics.

In order to optimise your content for voice search, you won’t have to change your SEO strategy dramatically (at least, not yet!). Optimising content for voice search is a similar process to getting a featured snippet: your content should answer a specific question your user has. This format transfers well to voice search, so your SEO strategy won’t need overhauling, just updating.

Let’s look at some things you can do right now to get Google Speakable ready.

How to make sure your SEO strategy is ready for Speakable

Use schema for rich results

Make sure important information is tagged appropriately so that Google can recognise key information like your phone number or business address. Using schema increases your chances at rich results for your website. Google keep their algorithms to themselves, so we don’t know the exact correlation between the two but optimising for both can only improve your SERP presence. Position zero at the top of the page is prime position for your business, so it’s worth using all the relevant markup you can. You can find the full schema list here.

Update your Google business listing

Considering the nature of Google Hummingbird, users are going to be searching for businesses local to them. Keeping your information up to date will increase your chances of appearing as a search result when users search for businesses like yours. High quality images, CTAs, relevant information and good reviews will signal to Google and your leads that your business is trustworthy. Google My Business can also show you how leads are finding your business, giving you a data-based insight to which keywords you should be optimising on your website.

Understand your user’s intent

What voice search indicates about user intent is that there are different ways users will interact with your content. People behave differently when they’re speaking aloud than when they’re typing. Rather than typing the two or three keywords they need, people are more likely to use full sentences when speaking aloud. That means longtail keywords will become essential when you’re optimising for voice search.

If you’re using schema to markup content as voice searchable, it should be content that your users would verbally search for. Your user-intent models should take voice search into account because these users are looking for the simplest information you have to offer.

So, is Google Speakable markup going to revolutionise SEO?

Google Speakable markup is a small step, but it’s a small step in an exciting new direction. It gives us a lot to think about when it comes to the future of SEO strategizing. Between algorithm changes and finding the perfect keywords, marketers are always finding new ways to innovate. By embracing voice search early, we’ll be ahead of the curve.

At Fifty Five and Five we’re invested in staying at the forefront of digital marketing and creating effective SEO strategies. Find out how we can help your business get ready for the future here.

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AI in marketing for b2b

The year of big data and AI for B2B marketers

  • How will businesses of tomorrow use AI to store, control and protect data?
  • Big data offers the most detailed comparison of data points that businesses have ever compiled

It wasn’t too long ago when people were discussing chatbots as an exciting, futuristic technology coming to a company website near you. Today, however, customer-facing chatbots are commonplace – and a good example of AI in marketing. Chatbots can improve the customer experience, answering questions and guiding a customer from the beginning of the sales journey all the way to the register. Increasingly, the technology is being lapped up by companies across the globe.

Chatbots are one of the first major examples of an emerging technology (in this case AI), being adopted on a mass scale by the marketing industry. But it almost certainly won’t be the last. Big data and AI are just beginning their floor-to-ceiling transformation of the digital marketing industry.

To date, however, much of the innovation has come from the B2C sector, with B2B companies just beginning to see the value of the technologies. For that reason, 2019 will be the year that AI in B2B marketing will take centre stage.

Let’s explore how it might look.

Big data and AI in marketing

The phrase big data gets thrown around a lot, but it’s actually quite difficult to quantify. Does big data simply refer to large datasets, or specific ways of compiling, analysing and implementing data? Well, it’s a little of both.

The definition of big data lies partly in its sheer volume, but also in the speed by which it's updated and in the variety of data presented. Big data allows marketers to compile information on the entire population of website visitors, rather than a specified sample.

It’s all well and good knowing why someone landed on your website, but the real value is in comparing that with every other person who’s also landed. Big data allows the widest and most diverse comparison of these data points there is.

Once all that data has been assembled, marketers can use the most cutting-edge AI tools to match up potential consumers with the marketing materials that are most likely to convert them.

How does this work in B2B marketing?

Consumers are driven by emotion, trends, and impulses – a whole range of unquantifiable factors that big data attempts to track. You can’t assume that businesses will buy your product or service simply because it’s the best quality and/or value for money. This remains as true for business leads as it does for consumers.

Big data is not only useful for potential leads. For existing customers, big data and AI can optimise their experience to develop brand loyalty and increase future purchasing potential.

Compiling data allows you to identify what other interests the lead has, what alternative problems their business needs solving, and whether their immediate query is part of a larger problem that an alternative application, product or service could solve. And if there’s substantial interest in a problem that hasn’t been solved, then you may find yourself with the basis for a new product.

Get the right kind of data

Data about the kinds of consumers that visit your website has been available for years: just head over to Google Analytics. The real cutting edge of big data for marketing comes from those who can successfully work out why they’re visiting your site – and what else they might be looking for.

One of the particular benefits of big data is determining not only what a potential lead is looking for, but also their status as a lead. Are they ready to make a purchase when they visit your site or do they need some education before converting? The ability to tailor content to a reader’s knowledge base and progress as a lead is yet untapped potential that big data can unlock for many marketers.

As B2B marketers begin to compile more information on their clients in the coming years, they’ll increasingly find themselves developing more targeted, interactive content, and suggesting sales based on tangible purchasing evidence, rather than abstract guesswork. Now, this is the bit where AI really comes in handy.

How can AI in marketing help?

If big data is the mechanism by which companies compile detailed information databases, then artificial intelligence is the tool that helps them get the most from it.

As datasets become more expansive, big data becomes increasingly difficult for companies to process. This applies to multinationals just as it does SMEs. There comes a point at which the exponential spread of information and potential conclusions you can draw about individuals becomes simply too much to handle.

AI-enabled analytics platforms can automatically process data and from it draw conclusions about consumers and how to market to them. When combined with machine learning technology, it allows the system to create new rules based on observations.

What will this look like in practice?

The rise of Google Analytics and similar platforms have allowed business marketers to identify broad-brush trends among potential customers, and tailor content and products towards them.

The marketing campaigns of the future won’t be targeted towards broad-brush trends; they’ll be targeted towards your business; accounting for any contact you’ve ever made with them – and using that to inform content and suggestions.

The leading marketers of tomorrow already know how they’re going to deliver this. The question is: do you?

Fifty Five and Five are experts at using the power of contemporary data analytics to get the most out of Microsoft Partner’s digital marketing campaigns. Contact us to find out more about how you can identify your perfect audience and how to market to them today.

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conversion rate optimisation

The importance of conversion rate optimisation Part I

  • What is conversion rate optimisation?
  • What are the benefits for your business?

Every day, new ideas surface on the ‘secret trick’ to making websites more appealing. You might hear that “making every CTA red will increase click-throughs by 30%!” but the truth is that there’s no perfect method for improving your conversion rate. Savvy website owners create their own conversion rate optimisation plans – we’re going to help you get started.

Conversion rate optimisation explained

What is a conversion rate?

Simply put, your conversion rate defines how many of your customers are doing what you want them to do. This is calculated as the percentage of people who visit your website and become a customer or a lead. That might mean they buy your product, sign up to an email list or complete any other action that you want them to take.

Ultimately, your conversion rate indicates overall how well your value proposition or current marketing campaign is performing. A higher rate of conversion means more leads and more customers. While it’s too difficult to define a perfect conversion rate, industry specialists estimate that 12% is a successful figure.

The benefits of conversion rate optimisation

Increases your advertising budget

Conversion rate optimisation helps you get the maximum return on investment. Successful conversion rate optimisation means not only increased profits, but increased advertising spend. The two are closely connected, because for every visit you pay for that doesn’t result in a conversion, you lose money on advertising. Better quality traffic saves you money and helps your conversion rate keep growing. By increasing your conversion rate, you’re spending less on paid campaigns. That means more money left over to either reinvest in existing channels or branch out to new ones.

Helps you make better decisions

Conversion rate optimisation is a process that helps you identify and build strengths while minimising weaknesses in your website. Making website changes without a well-researched optimisation plan is throwing away valuable business. Your audience have wants and needs that you run the risk of ignoring if you don’t manage your conversion rate and continually try to improve it.

It’s important to remember that good conversion rate optimisation doesn’t just increase profits, it reduces risks. Instead of spending months developing a new feature only to see it fail, make decisions based on data. You can take the guesswork out of making changes. Reduce risks and you’re saving time and resources which you can spend productively elsewhere.

Discover customer insights

Conversion rates are a metric that tells you what’s working on your website. Regularly reviewing the best performing pages shows you where your customers are and what they want. Instead of focusing on increasing traffic, you should focus on the visitors you already have. Pay close attention to your lead funnel and where leads drop out. This is a map that shows you where you can improve your website.

These customer insights are already tailored to the audience you’re trying to attract. Using these insights means you can create a blueprint of exactly what your customers need and want. Customer personas can be built from your data, allowing you to easily visualise exactly who your customers are. Better optimised pages mean increased trust and a better user experience.

Conversion rate optimisation is free

Not only does this strategy help you save money on advertising, it won’t cost you a penny. The only thing a great conversion rate optimisation strategy requires is time and attention. You’ve done the hard work of building your website, so the key is perfecting the resources you already have. In terms of cost-effective strategies, conversion rate optimisation is your best option.

How can you get started?

While there’s no perfect strategy for conversion rate optimisation, this leaves your strategy open for experimentation. Best practice for netting conversions will also depend on the type of company you are. There are, however, some areas businesses of all shapes and sizes should consider. Creating your optimisation plan often includes some combination of:

  • Identifying where in your sales funnel you’re losing leads
  • Examining your CTAs and how prominent they are
  • A/B testing
  • Heatmaps
  • Creating surveys and sourcing customer reviews for important feedback
  • Creating a KPI framework with detailed optimisation goals

Check back for conversion rate optimisation part II, where we will focus more closely on what exactly you need to do to boost your CRO. With simple, practical steps and expert advice to get you well on your way to better lead generation.

At Fifty Five and Five we know the importance of bespoke solutions. Conversion rate optimisation is done best when it’s thoroughly researched and has the user in mind. Find out more on content generation and digital best practices here.

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5 google algorithm changes in 2019

5 points of emphasis in the new Google algorithm and what that means for your SEO

  • The main Google algorithm changes you should focus on in 2019
  • How you can adapt your SEO strategy to prepare

Google's search algorithm changes a lot. Since 2000, there have been hundreds of large and small updates (you can view the full list here) that affect whether your content climbs or falls down search engine results pages (SERPs). For marketers, this means a new Google algorithm is always on the horizon.

These frequent and tight-lipped algorithm changes lead to much speculation around how businesses can change their SEO strategy to stay at the top of the rankings. While we never know exactly how the algorithm changes, in this post, we’re going to look at five areas you should pay attention to, to help adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

1. Mobile-first index

With 60% of searches now performed on mobile devices, mobile compatibility is increasingly important as Google shifts its focus from mobile-friendly to mobile-first. The search giant has already split its search index in two—one for mobile, one for desktop, and announced back in November 2016 that mobile would eventually take priority:

“Our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

That time has now come. In 2019, Google will combine the two search indexes into one, which will prioritise mobile when crawling.

What should you do?  

Check how suited your website currently is to mobile browsing with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will tell you if your website is easy to use on a mobile device.

You must ensure your mobile site performs as well (if not better) than your desktop site. This means all your site elements must be functional and crawlable on mobile. It’s no longer enough to have a link to ‘view on desktop’ for webpages that don’t perform well on smartphones.

2. More focus on Featured Snippets

‘Featured Snippets’ appear above regular results on SERPs (referred to as position #0). So, if you can rank for them, they can provide a serious boost to your click-through rate and site traffic. Featured Snippets take many forms, from lists or reviews to event dates and answer boxes.

Google are going to continue to expand Featured Snippets in 2019, giving more importance to structured data. Structured data is a line of code that you can add to your site’s HTML that can provide Featured Snippets (also known as rich search results). By adding structured data, you can, for example, score an answer box for a common customer pain point in your industry or create a Knowledge Card for a more visually appealing overview of your company.

What should you do? Here’s what you need to do to add the structured data for Featured Snippets into your HTML:

  • Customize the code snippet
  • Create a Google Tag Manager tag
  • Paste the code into the “Custom HTML” text box and save the tag
  • Create a new trigger
  • Return to “Schema markup” and add the “Page view” as it’s trigger
  • Publish
  • Test using the Structured Data Testing Tool

Look out for an upcoming tutorial post on how-to create featured snippets to get your content up Google’s search rankings!

3. Telling it how it is

Voice search has been one of the biggest growers thanks to AI assistants like Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant. In the past 10 years, voice searches on Google have grown 3,500%, and 40% of adults now use voice search once per day.

As we can expect this upward trend to continue, this puts further focus on mobile optimisation. But voice search also has the potential to change the structure of search terms. We can predict more ‘natural’ search phrases will come through voice search, as people tend towards asking more fully-formed questions.

It's worth noting that voice search will work hand-in-hand with Featured Snippets moving forward as AI like Google Assistant will read featured snippets aloud as the answer to querying search terms.

What should you do? Voice search will use longtail keywords - more conversational phrases should be used when optimizing for voice search. Your keyword strategy should match this. As they are more specific, long tail keywords generally have a lower search volume, but that also results in less competition and a higher conversion rate, i.e. the people searching for those longtail keywords know what they want.

Consider posing your voice search phrases as questions: “How to improve my SEO score?” for example. If you can combine this with Featured Snippet answers, you can make a considerable jump up Google’s SERP.

4. 'Linkless' mentions

In 2017, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes suggested that Google can now associate mentions without a physical link. These so-called ‘linkless mentions’ (i.e. positive reviews, testimonies, and other un-linked mentions of your company) will play a factor in SEO.

What to do: Try to gain as many positive mentions of your company, its products and people as possible. Whether it’s on your blog, website, or on external sites, Google will treat these testimonials favouringly, even if they are not hyperlinked. Don’t neglect real links, though, as these still give these mentions substance and evidence if people want to check what you’re saying is true. This isn’t an excuse to start embellishing your company!

5. Security-centric

Google admitted a while back that they prefer HTTPS sites in terms of security, and so rank them a little higher. In their recent roadmap, they revealed that in 2019 they will start punishing publishers who fail to add an SSL to their site.

What should you do? By enabling an SSL (secure socket layer) on your site, you can ensure any information going to and from your server is encrypted. This is what differentiates “https” from “http” (the ‘S’ stands for secure) and is a must if your site uses things like geolocation, online payments, or notifications that require the confidential transferral of information. Acquiring an SSL isn’t difficult—all you have to do is purchase a certificate and get your site host to activate and install it. The first free SSL certificates are being introduced, too.

Your new Google algorithm cheat sheet

Remember that the specifics of Google’s algorithm will always remain under wraps. But focusing on these five areas will stand you in great stead regarding best practice SEO for 2019. And make sure to keep up with the Fifty Five and Five blog—we’ll be blogging about any future updates to the new Google algorithm as and when they surface!

Do you need help getting your own content to the top of Google search ranking results? Fifty Five and Five are a full-service digital marketing agency. We combine great marketing with an innate understanding of the Microsoft Partner Network.

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