Lab Weekly: Mobile, Penguin 3.0 & Voice Search

Jodie King

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An interesting insight into Google’s future plans has been revealed by their Senior Vice President of Americas Sales, Dennis Woodside. He talks about non-traditional content, mobile and real-time reality. You can access a full breakdown of what he said here. This week’s lab weekly will cover mobile as well as Penguin 3.0 and voice search.

Mobile Takes Over

There has been a lot of buzz around mobile for the last few years and it is beginning to reach its peak. Like most technology once it reaches that peak it will continue to extend it at a staggering rate but we will no longer be saying ‘when mobile…’ anymore because we will finally have positioned it into present tense. Woodside calls it the ‘all-out domination’ of mobile.
It is predicted that mobile will ‘enable two thirds of all purchases, and actually complete the transaction for half’. The reality of this is very clear: if you are in retail and your site does not ace mobile as well as it does desktop, or you are not searchable on mobile, then you will soon be obsolete. Woodside reaffirms that ‘it’s really that critical now’. Woodside also predicts increased competition in digital payment options and the potential emergence of a mobile version of PayPal.

Penguin 3.0 continues

The roll out of Penguin 3.0 is still going strong 18 days after its release. This confirms that Google are managing a slow rollout that is still happening. John Mueller’s exact words on the update were: ‘As far as I know, the whole data is still rolling out slowly’ (Source). We commented on the lacklustre arrival of Penguin 3.0 in last week’s blog so this confirms that a steadier drip feeding of updated algorithms is perhaps the cause for this.
It is still hard to distinguish what is impacting on what with the release of Panda 4.1 and a Pirate update overlapping with Penguin 3.0. Google certainly like to keep SEOs and webmasters guessing!

Voice Search

Jayson DeMers has done an in-depth article on the future of voice search and how it could affect the future of SEO. It is true that voice based search has never been a significant consideration for SEO. This is because there are so many errors typically with voice search. We have all played with our phones, asking them to call people and laughing when the software gets confused and calls the wrong person or tells us they are not in our address book.
But what if those errors did not exist? What if we no longer had to type in our search -queries? How we speak and how we write have stark differences. As DeMers explains: ‘if Google and Apple continue refining their voice-based technologies, search marketers everywhere will need to adjust their strategies to accommodate them’ (Source).
There is already a lot of traction with voice search, more than most people realise: ‘Google reports that 55 percent of teens are now using voice search, with 40 percent of adults currently using it’. This is nowhere near a majority but voice search has a lot of historic fails to make up for and that is not going to happen overnight. Once the public are confident it works – it will already be too late to change SEO strategies and you will have been left behind.
It has a further implication to keywords that Google have pulled away from in recent years after they were abused to over-optimise content on sites. They now use broader and ‘more sophisticated means of populating relevant pages in search results’. Voice search would reduce the use of single keywords down even further. How many people ask for something in a shop by stating one word to the sales assistant? None. There is also a sentence because that is the etiquette and style of speech.
The Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013 brought semantic search analysis to the fore. This enables the software to decipher the meaning behind the search query rather than the search query itself, according to DeMers. This means that Google looks for sites that can answer the overarching question so they hone in on detail, depth of content, and contextual elements.
The future depends on the voice based search technological advancements that are just around the corner. But, it is very clearly on the horizon, particularly because the hands-free implications would be revolutionary. DeMers suggests these additions to SEO strategy to keep it relevant for voice search:

‘Write more content that answers questions. Give users very specific information, preferably in a format that poses and answers a question, such as “how do I change oil in a lawn mower?” or “how do I know what microwave is right for me?”
Forget keywords. Instead of trying to build rankings, focus on giving your customers information on the topics they seem to want most.
Start an online forum. It will encourage natural conversations and exchanges, which will increase your value in semantic searches and naturally bring up topics (again, in question-and-answer format) that people will search for.’ (Source)

So know you know what Google’s algorithms are up to, how important mobile is to search and the future of individual ecommerce sites, and what we should expect from voice search in the future. It looks like 2015 is going to revolutionise digital marketing so do not get blindsided by the inevitable.

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