The Sunday Talk – Take It Offline

Today after work I am going to Brighton for the ‘Take It Offline” conference organized by Gerry White.

I’ve got the strange feeling that it’s gonna be fun.

I am hoping to see there the one and only Mr. Ammon Johns. One of the best Digital marketers in England.

Well, if I call him a digital marketer he would say I am an SEO. If I call him an SEO he would say I am a Digital marketer.
Shut up Ammon – you are a legend. You are a Legend.

So (Tristan – Purple Smudge) just give us an idea why should we come to your event next time?

Tristan Jarman: You should come to the “Take It Offline” digital marketing roundtable meetup because if you’ve got something to say this is the platform for it. If you wanna learn something or consume information or knowledge this is also the place for it.
Come along, enjoy.
Knowledge sharing.

You’ve heard the man, right?

It’s almost one o’clock and I just came back home. One hour and a half to go to Brighton and one hour and a half to come back. Bit it was worth it. We were talking about video. We were talking about voice search.
But you know what it’s not about the ideas or the knowledge.
It’s about the vision because ad digital marketers we work with a lot of numbers but behind the numbers, there are real human beings.

It’s Black Friday and I’m gonna be doing some Black Friday SEO. This is really the only day I can use ‘black’ and ‘SEO’ in one sentence legally.
On the other side, my head is still buzzing from the event last night.
Some of the ideas just got stacked to my brain.
Gerry, we should do it again man. Soon.

And now an SEO joke. What do you call an SEO expert who sells vans?
Danny Sellavan.

After a long week, hard working week we all want to go home, have a glass of wine, relax. But you personal branding cannot take a break.
Or do you think that during weekends people go t0 Social Media less often?

I don’t think so.

Have a good weekend, guys but keep on working.

The Sunday Talk – Do you know your customers?

US Elections 2016

Many people are asking me about Donald Trump, the election, the USA.
I can’t hide it I am a bit disappointed. But then let me tell you something: America is the biggest democracy in the World. One man cannot hurt it. We don’t live in the 60’s. We live in 2016. With the Internet and Social Media, there are no borders anymore.

Augmented Reality

One thing is becoming quite obvious – you not gonna thrive in the future if you don’t understand that the Internet and Social Media are basically the future of business. Not just that. The Internet and Social Media are the future of humanity. Especially with the forthcoming Augmented Reality.

Don’t get fooled by Trump and his borders. In fact, don’t get fooled by any politician. Country borders are thing of the past.

Have you ever been in a fight where somebody was punching you in the face but you kept on going? Well doing SEO is like that. Google is constantly coming up with new updates. But you know what? Nobody ever told you it’s gonna be easy. It’s not about you, it’s about their business. So instead of concentrating on Google concentrate on your customers.

Successful SEO Strategy

Creating a successful SEO strategy means employing a thoughtful, adaptable approach that covers everything from technical SEO to your website’s infrastructure to the customer journey and the one very important to understand is targeted approaches to content marketing.

You need an SEO strategy that not only outlines your basic plans of action but also defines the goals you’re trying to achieve. And I am not just talking about your SEO goals but also your business/company goals.

Digital Marketing is the Future of Business

Are we bad marketers? No, we are not. We are just used to the old ways (of doing marketing). But there is a new kid in town. It’s called Digital Marketing. How do I define Digital Marketing? First find who your customers are. Second follow them and talk to them on every Social Media they spend their time online. It’s that simple.

Now go and read Infuse Your Business Identity With Personal Brand Power by Gina Fiedel.
Have you noticed the new design?

“I hope you’ve managed to make the right moral choices this week in your shopping which means that you are now considering all this from the midst of lakes of coffee and mountains of doughnuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday wherever you are. ” – Mr David Amerland

The State of Digital with Purna Virji

Purna Virji, Omi Sido and friends. Hangout on Air.

Live from London Paddington – Microsoft Office.

November 17, 18:00 UK time.

Get inspired by new ideas and different ways of thinking about marketing.

You may find it difficult to believe but soon it will be time to start preparing our digital marketing strategies for 2017.

  • Is video or podcasts a part of your 2017 plan?
  • In digital marketing, keeping ahead of the trends is especially important. Do you optimize your content for voice search?
  • What do you want out of you ad campaigns in 2017?

Ask any SEO/PPC/ Digital Marketing related question and we will give you the answer.

Purna Virji

Who is Purna Virji?

Named by PPC Hero as the #1 most influential PPC Expert in the world, Purna specializes in SEM, SEO and Voice Search. With over a decade in search, she regularly speaks at conferences across the globe such as MozCon and SMX Advanced and is a columnist for Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch.

An award-winning former journalist, Purna was the CEO of Purview Marketing prior to joining the Bing Ads team. In her spare time, she’s an avid traveler, aspiring top chef and amateur knitter. Say hello @purnavirji

Maria Amelie White

Who is Maria Amelie White?

Maria works as a Brand Journalist and PR Specialist at Greenlight Digital and has been working in digital for nearly 10 years.

Maria specializes in SEO, Brand Journalism and PR Strategy and has worked on behalf of many high- profile clients (UK based as well as international) in sectors including automotive, travel, fashion, finance, small business and consumer technology. She has contributed to industry blogs in the UK, México, and Spain on subjects such as: The impact of language on search, brand journalism and PR, Optimisation for Spanglish in the USA, among other topics. She has also contributed as a political writer for El Universal and Excelsior in México. Say hello @Maria_Amelie

Laura Crimmons

Who is Laura Crimmons?

Laura is Branded3’s Communications Director, having started the PR team she now leads the PR and social media strategy across Branded3’s biggest client accounts.

With extensive SEO and social media knowledge and experience in both traditional and digital PR, Laura knows how to create and execute campaigns which deliver multiple online benefits.

In her own words: “I wouldn’t say that PR is necessarily the new link building for a few reasons, however, I do believe that PR is one of the best tactics for generating high quality, natural links.”

Say hello @lauracrimmons

David IwanowWho is David Iwanow?

Davis is a Director of Strategy at BlueGlass London. Before joining BlueGlass, he was working with eBay classifieds group as SEO Product Manager for 3 years looking after Benelux region.

In his own words: “I play in the digital space and have been doing it since 1994 so I have a good understanding and interest in most topics so please engage with me and feel free to share and comment on anything I share via this channel.

I share a lot of content and ideas that drive me into rants but more often inspire or educate.”

Say hello @davidiwanow

The State of Digital with Purna Virji

Voice Search – Welcome to the Future

Next week Amazon Echo is coming to the UK. Will it bring artificial intelligence into our homes much sooner than expected?

To tell us more about the continuing rise of Voice search and how you can adapt to it I will be chatting to Purna Virji – Senior Bing Ads PPC Training Manager at Microsoft.

On this episode, we gonna be talking about:

  1. What is Voice search?
  2. Who is using it and what for?
  3. What search engine does Alexa use?
  4. Is Voice search set to replace text search?
  5. Is Amazon Echo powered by Bing?
  6. How will Voice search affect SEO?
  7. Is it true that Voice search will affect primarily local SEO?
  8. What are the new SERPs?
  9. What should we be doing now in order to prepare for Voice search in the future?

Omi: What is Voice search and why is everybody talking about it and freaking at the same time?

Purna: Firstly, people shouldn’t freak out about it. I think there’s a lot of amazing things about Voice search that we should look forward to.
I just want to add that there have been a few really amazing people talking about Voice searches as well: Tom Anthony from Distilled is a really great voice on the subject.

So let me talk about what is Voice search. It’s just a way of using a different interface to interact with the different search engines. You can use Alexa as you’re showing it right now or you can even interact regularly with the search engines directly. Instead of typing which sometimes can be troublesome if you’re doing something else like if you’re driving you shouldn’t really be typing on your phone but you may still need to find that information you need. It’s just a new additive layer or interface to talk to the search engines.
It can also be done via digital personal assistants like Alexa that you have but she will use Bing to run searches as well.
Traditionally it’s just like regular searches except it’s been activated via voice and in that way it differs.

Omi: So Purna, tell us who is using it basically and what are the stats? Are people really using Voice search? I know many people we will have this one on their mobile device. I guess and I’ve seen the stats that a lot of people are buying this device (Amazon Echo) in America. So are people using Voice search?

Purna: Very much so. Voice search is being adopted at really increasingly rapid rates. If we look at the stats and even just about a year and a half ago we still found that about forty percent of people above 55 were using Voice search and a much larger percentage closer to sixty-eight percent of people are under 34 were really using Voice search a lot. This study didn’t look at 18 and below but if you think about it now if we look at the people who were born using the voice or are familiar with it like my son who’s almost ten and he uses Voice search almost all the time – it’s just easier it’s familiar – and so we see a large percentage of people already started using it like at the start of 2014. Since then much that the use cases have gone up.
MindMeld did a study at the end of 2015 and they found that since the summer of last year about forty-two percent of people have just started using voice and I think that’s the stats somewhere is now about forty-one percent of people on average across the board use Voice search regularly.

Omi: So from what you are saying is it true that Voice search is basically replacing the normal way we are interacting with our devices? For example, instead of typing on my phone I can just say “okay show me the nearest restaurant”. Do you think that Voice search will replace completely text search?

Purna: I don’t think it will replace it completely. I think it is going to take a lot of the time when the traditional uses where we would have had to use text to use voice. So certainly it will take some of the share. But think about as new technology comes on. Like we had our computers before then we got desktop laptops then we got mobile then we got apps right? When you have your mobile you still use your desktop. Now we have apps but we still sometimes go back and use our desktops to do a traditional search. So we’re just adding on new ways to interact and voice search may steal some market share but it never replaces traditional search completely. You will still use the old one.

Omi: So the next question then would be is this device, Alexa, powered by Bing? Maybe we should ask Alexa first. Alexa, do you use Bing?

Alexa: You can ask me a question and if I don’t know the answer I will perform a Bing search in the Alexa App.

Purna: Alexa is an open platform but all of her searches anytime she needs to do a search she will use Bing. It’s the same thing with both Siri and Spotlight for Apple. Siri will use Bing as her default search engine.

Omi: Many people actually don’t know about Siri powering Apple. How comes? Is this like a secret of the trade?

Purna: It’s certainly not a secret. It’s just that it’s not like shouted out from the rooftops. We’re very open about it telling everybody that yes it’s powered by Bing. Most people don’t notice but if you say ‘where is my nearest restaurant’ she’ll do a search and give it to you but there will be a sentence that says that it is power searched by Bing but I think people just don’t read it because you only look at the searches. But once you notice it you will always notice it.

Omi: So the next question – and all my friends were asking me the same thing when I told them that I would be talking to Purna Virji – how on earth is this thing recognising my voice. Do you use an artificial intelligence of a kind of something like that?

Purna: Absolutely. So all these digital personal assistants Siri, Cortana even Google (OK Google) are all powered on the back end by artificial intelligence and machine learning. She’s (Alexa) trying to essentially build a relationship with you. She wants to get to know you better so she can serve you better.

Omi Sido Page Speed and SEO

Omi: I have noticed that in the beginning, it (Amazon Alexa) was struggling with my accent a little bit. But somehow nowadays even if I make a mistake grammatical or whatever it will still understand me which is amazing.

Purna: She will and that’s also a lot to do with the error rates in the technology. It used to be pretty high before like twenty-five percent two-and-a-half years ago. Now it’s less than eight across the board and Microsoft just had a breakthrough at 6.3 percent which is very very low.

Omi: Because you mention mistakes and errors the next question naturally is: is this device (Amazon Echo) connected to your servers? Many people are freaking out – especially with the arrival of Alexa in England – because they think that if this device is constantly on than companies like Microsoft can tap into their private conversations?

Purna: I don’t know and I can’t comment on what Alexa does because I just don’t know the technology behind. Does she listen all the time does she not. I don’t know enough to comment on that. It wouldn’t be my place to say that. But I don’t think people should be really worrying. l would assume that the big companies have built-in safeguards and everything to respect privacy. And I believe when you sign up there’s all the terms and conditions they explained it greatly.
Now I don’t read all the terms and conditions in detail because really who does that? We’re just like check the box I want to go and use my device but I’m sure the answers are in there somewhere.

Omi: Of course you’ve answered my question but what I really wanted to know is: if I ask Siri or Alexa a question how do you know if I’m served the right answer, in a way how do you know the percentage of errors?

Purna: So basically everything gets saved in your account. You’ve probably noticed that you can go to Google and look at your list of queries. You can look at Alexa’s app on your phone and you will have a list of everything you’ve asked her. They do save it and because you’re signed in into your account she gets to know you better. The only goal of the digital personal assistant is to serve you and to make life more and more convenient for you. It is in its interests to get to know you better. So it will know if you’ve signed in with your Microsoft account, for example, it knows that you tend to search for particular types of things on Bing. So if you are looking for Java then Omi’s been planning a trip to Indonesia and he’s really not looking for the software. So she will understand you better. So if you say ‘I need some info on Java right now she’ll give you the country.

Omi: OK, so is it more like machine learning rather than artificial intelligence then?

Purna: It is both. Because if you think she’s got IQ she’s also got some level of EQ (Emotional quotient). Maybe you’ve noticed she’s got the personality and she will show it to you.

Omi: This was actually my next question. And I am so happy you’ve mentioned it. What about personality? Do you think that with time this device will actually develop a personality talking to me?

Purna: She already does have a personality and that’s an interesting question that the different companies are going to look at. In a way how much personality does your digital personal assistant need? So if I’m the conversation bot from your ATM machine at the bank she probably doesn’t need to have much personality. She is just telling you: do you want to check your balance, do you want a receipt or do you want to withdraw money. But somebody like Alexa or Siri if you talk to them for a little while you’ll notice that they have a personality. They are engaging.

I’ll tell you this one simple example. My son will ask both Siri and Alexa to tell him jokes and then if he doesn’t like the jokes sometimes he’ll be like ‘that was stupid’. So Alexa will say “Oh I’m sorry I’ll do better next time’’.
She would be very humble and she would be like “I’m sorry”. On the other side, Siri will yell at my son it would be like “that’s not very nice”.

Omi: You’ve just reminded me that I can ask this device to tell me a joke. Alex, tells us a joke.

“Q: What did one eye say to the other eye?
A:Between you and me something smells.”

Purna: Speaking of the personality like that’s also something that they’re gonna want you to the need for personality so that you continue to engage with her. There is a difference when you call customer support of a company or if you go into a store and they make you feel welcome. You’d rather talk to somebody that makes you feel welcome and you can relate to. Compare this to banks where it will be more like :ok, here’s your money and now you can go”. Devices like Alexa need to have a personality so you can engage with her more and she can continue to be more widely adopted.

Omi: Good, so on Monday I can tell all my friends that this thing would be “different to me and different to you”.

Purna: Maybe not that different but she should know what you like so I think she might tell you different kind of jokes or different kinds but her core personality will be the same. It’s like you would relate to maybe your boss slightly differently than you would relate to your friend but who you are is the same.

Omi: You’ve touched a very sensitive spot!

Purna: Sorry I didn’t know.

Omi: No, I’m just joking honestly. So let me ask you the next question: How will Voice search affect SEO? And probably this is the question that a lot of people are asking.

Purna: I think it will impact SEO but in a couple of different ways. The first is just the way we search using voice tend to be different than the way we search using traditional text. So it is just your natural language type queries. It’s more action oriented, it’s more local oriented, so what we search for using voice and what we expect is different than a traditional text, so that’s one side.

The other side is how the search engines and how it will impact your branding. So very recently at SMX last week, I was on a panel of voice search and my fellow panelist Jane Slag who runs the SEM polls and talks very closely to people both at Bing as well as at Google and she was mentioning something about Google showing more snippets and more rich snippets when you do the voice search then you do the text search. Her research shows that rich snippets show over 43% of the time for text searches.

So that was interesting and also like Cortana doesn’t do this yet even though she’ll read answers to you if you ask her.
When it comes to the Google App if you say something like “How do I make a paper plane?” it will say “according to XYZ website, this is what you need to do.” So she’ll mention the brand name which is interesting. Cortana won’t do it. We read out the answer but we won’t credit the sources visually.
So that’s the second level is how the search engines will serve your results differently.

The third one is how people are going to expect to interact with your brand. See for example Alexa has all these different skills and you have seen Sky Scanner as well as Kayak, both have signed up to have different platforms with her. You can’t go all the way to the point of sale just yet with Kayak but you can ask Alexa
“hey, where can I go for $300?” or “what’s the best restaurant in this area of Barcelona?” and she will go back and forth and converse with you. So that’s changing also purchase patterns because it’s training us differently. So then as an SEO we have to think about:

If there is going to be fewer results showing up as with voice search you don’t get to see as many. How do you make sure with that?
How do we make sure we are optimising so that we do show up when people are using voice in general and how the search engine showing us now and how can we expect people to buy from us and use voice?

So it’s much more convoluted than a simple like put this natural language keyword here and it will be ok. It’s more about overall action.

Omi: So because we are talking about SEO, my next question will be (and a lot of my SEO fellows or friends are asking me), is it true that voice search will primarily affect local SEO?
For example: “where is the nearest restaurant? Can I buy something from the nearest Tesco?” Or is it going to affect the SEO as a whole?

Purna: It will impact both. Certainly local is big because mobile text is too local quite a lot. Just think of how to use your phone when you are asking about like I want to find my nearest thing. But it’s not only going to impact only local. It’s a big consideration but also it’s going to impact everything else. It’s going to impact a lot of the higher up in the funnel. In a way, it’s going to be really good for the content marketing that will double upping. All of that. If it’s for informational content like “what’s the best way to apply liquid eyeliner” and if you have a video content from a makeup company then that can show up. Or it can be “can I ship this via Fedex?”
Those type of question and answers, so you have a lot of the FAQ content on your site optimised, different stages of the funnel content, you should pay attention to that coz it will surface a lot more via voice.

Omi: Are you basically saying that in a way, we have to concentrate even more on delivering the right content. Recently I’ve been talking a lot about RankBrain. It has a similar approach to search like Voice search. We have to concentrate on branding, more content and then schema (markup). Are you saying that we have to produce even more laser focused content in order to satisfy Voice search?

Purna: It’s sort of a yes or no type of question. I know I’m sorry I hate it when the search engines are like “it depends”.

Omi: It’s a bit confusing for us the traditional SEO’s to understand how those things are going to affect our jobs and, basically our businesses.

Purna: Right and it’s a valid question to ask, but certainly it’s not gonna be too scary. The good thing is a lot of what you are doing already, like a lot of what we are doing already as SEO’s is very good and helpful for voice. Like, make sure you are following all the best practices like making sure you’ve got schema everywhere.
Remember voice search needs a lot more practice; the more you talk to it, the better it’s going to get. So if I give it more information and I’m more helpful to the machine then the machine can just learn about me better and faster. So if you aren’t doing schema which you should have been doing anyway, and you are directly doing it now.

Omi: Listen to Purna, people. Schema.

Purna: Make sure your citations are absolutely perfect, your phone numbers are correct, your address is correct, your hours are correct.
You don’t want to give people bad experiences coz we are seeing now ,Omi, and you’ve noticed this as well, we are seeing this huge rise in searches where people will just look at the SERP and they won’t click through to the website but all the information that they need is what they got. I may just want to find my number from my local B&Q or I just might want to check how late Sainsbury’s is open.

Omi: Strangely enough, this thing (Alexa) can recognise your voice through the speakers better than mine.

Purna: What I found is when the commercial for Amazon Echo comes on my TV and they‘ll be like “Alexa do this” my Alexa will wake up and do that.
So if they say “Alexa tell us the news”, my Alexa would talk. And I’m like shhh, she wasn’t talking to you. They are pretty sensitive because they’ve got good speakers.

I would say Omi, we should look at voice search as a different discipline. If you are thinking about Alexa and the Echo, you should think of her very differently than if you are thinking about Google Now or Cortana or Siri because they have different interactions.

Alexa is only audible – you can only talk to her you can only go back and forth vocally.
On Google Now and Cortana, there is a visual interface as well.

Let’s talk about Google Now and Cortana: yes rich snippets your branding, your question keywords all your content marketing would show up, it would be good.

If you are looking at something like Alexa, you are only captive by what she can tell you and for her, you have to start thinking about your funnels and your transactions and your forms.

For example, if I wanted to subscribe to the Daily Mail, I will be like “okay Alexa, how much is this subscription for the Daily Mail or what’s your 6-month subscription or can I get 1 month free?”
I will have those conversations but I won’t get to see anything else. There will be no chance to say like the Telegraph to post their ads or something else on the screen. It doesn’t apply. And that is interesting. So with those different disciplines, we will have to optimise differently for each.

Omi: This leads me to the next question basically, and this is something that a lot of SEOs are talking about.
What are the new SERPs?

If I ask Alex a question, it will give me only one answer. So basically there are no SERPs.
With more devices like this coming in the future if I ask a question there is only one single answer. There is no number 2 or 3 or whatever. If I go on to my mobile I’ve got a choice.
So what are the new SERPs, because if we understand what the new SERPs are then we will know how to optimise for them.

Purna: I think this is going to be the biggest question.

Omi: Sorry I know the question is a bit strange.

Purna: It’s not strange.

Omi: Traditional SEOs always talk about the SERPs. There is position 1, 2, and 3. But with this thing (Amazon Echo) and with many other similar devices coming there is only one choice. You know in a way, we are even limited. To be honest we are limited because the answer I get here I may not like or may not be the best answer for me. Am I right?

Purna: Yes look that is the biggest question on the table today. Now you know who is the gatekeeper. The digital personal assistance is the gatekeeper between us advertisers and between the audience.
There is a new layer that is coming behind so we need to go and appeal to this. Let’s take a step back and understand why there is this barrier and why they are showing fewer things for you and that will sort of answer a little bit more of what we should do.

Omi: We have to understand (the process) so we can adjust in the future.

Purna: Yes exactly. We have to adjust because we just going to have to play up more and more relevancy in order to get past this gatekeeper. What’s happening now is we have always seen this tradition in the SERPs when the web first came out there was like a million directories. So you look for your local plumber and there was like 5 million result and we thought that was awesome. We thought that was a really good thing. The search engine is so clever it knows 5 million results for my local plumber.

Omi: I’ve just remembered something: a big choice is not a choice.

Purna: It’s not a choice and this was why this was so frustrating. And then it became more like vertical search. And it became like the richer searches where we have images and videos and now we are going more like entities and action based and search is also going to different places so they understand us better. So now we can search on our phones, we can search on our cars, we can search on a device like Alexa. They get to know us better and this gives the search engine ultimately far more intelligence.

We know you better we can identify more patterns and the good about just richer and more data’s that you can start to see different patterns and get more predictive analytics from it. So now we are reaching the point where we are trying to know you better. It’s like now I know Omi really well and he doesn’t like Greek food very much and I know he doesn’t like very spicy food for example.

Omi: Basically I don’t like spicy food. I don’t like it at all.

Purna: Oh you see I predicted it.

Omi: I hope it’s not connected to the Alexa.

Purna: It was just a guess. If you are walking around Chinatown in San Francisco and there are some really good restaurant but some of it has spicy food and you are hungry and you ask Siri, Google or Cortana it would know you enough to say: let’s not give Omi this restaurant and let’s just find him like a good Greek restaurant. Or Omi has eaten Greek food like four times this week he is probably not going to want it again now. So maybe today you want to try an Italian restaurant for example. She will predict that.

You are going to fewer choices. Before if you said “show me restaurants around me” she would have shown you may be like the 15 restaurants around you. But that’s not the case anymore. She knows you now and she will show you the restaurant that she thinks you’ll like. So it’s getting more and more personalised. That’s even fewer results and that’s going to be the problem for you and me sitting at home advertising to our audiences. We are going to each find that one spot of relevancy. So we may show up less often, but when we do it’s going to be far more effective.

And this is the question that we are all trying to deal with now. If I know that I only drink coffee from Costa then Starbucks will be “How do I get Purna to come to my store instead of going to Costa’s”. Those are going to be conundrums that we are all trying to figure out how do we get through the gatekeeper.

Omi: Because you mentioned advertising and because I’m just trying to bring up the subject of PPC the next question is: what’s going to happen with our advertising? How are we going to advertise on devices like Amazon Echo?

Purna: So that’s where I would say I would look at something like Echo more as a purchase funnel alternative as opposed to searching. Because if you think about how much time you’re going to use the Alexa and the Echo she’s great. She’s also similar to your desktop which is more like a stationary device. She sits in one place in your house or if you have multiple (devices) she sits in one place.

Where will you use voice search far more often? Will be on your mobile phone – technology that is always with you. How often are you more than three feet away from your phone? That’s what we should be thinking about. When it comes to Alexa I would think about her more from a purchase funnel standpoint. She has skills is what they call it. Like Domino’s (pizza) creates a skilful Alexa so you can say (I’m not going to name it) but “Echo go and order me a pizza and have it delivered now” and she’ll know what you like. Or her Amazon has, of course, a major scale and interaction with her where you can tell her “hey, go and find me like the cheapest box of pens that have five-star reviews and send them to my house” and she can understand that. Or Kayak so with the problem that’s going to be coming up is going to be not about serving ads on her which of course is going to be a case “do we want audible ads or how do we cut through?” It’s more going to be the case of how do I just transfer my purchase funnel and make it ready for her.
Whereas what we’re gonna have to think about in terms of ads and all that is going to be on the SERPs. With Google, if you have an Android you can just do voice search from the homepage. I have the Google App or I have the Cortana App on my iPhone and I can just go to the app and I can do a voice search. Using the visual interface I’ll still see results. And that’s why I will still see my ads.

So for PPC I think it’s going to be – if I was to personally guess I don’t have any indication from anybody higher up at Microsoft to tell me this – but my personal guess based on what I’m seeing is that probably shopping campaigns like visual is going to be first or local.It’s gonna be one of these two that we’re going to see the ads in there first.
That is where your PPC team should pay attention.

Omi: I understand what you’re saying. It makes a lot of sense. What my colleague has asked me was – and it’s a valid question – are we going to be able to bet on answers. This is exactly what PPC people do, right?

Purna: Yes, of course, it is going to be exactly what people can do. I would say we should do baby steps because that’s what we’re seeing even with voice search and digital personal assistants that were being eased into it. Certainly, artificial intelligence is something that a lot of big companies are banking on. If you saw the news lately you can see that Microsoft formed a new 5,000 person AI team essentially and it’s a big goal of Satya Nadella that he’s announced that we’re gonna tie AI into everything because it’s so powerful.

So yes it would be interesting to see what happens with the Alexa. I think for PPC right now, I don’t know to be perfectly honest what can we do with Alexa. But I know that for the near future right now you should be paying attention to product listing ads. You should be paying attention to local ads, where the visual and vocal connection is very strong. You should be tying your ads to what we see people using voice search for right now. If you see what people are using it for right now, it’s for things like local; it’s when they are second screening. Like driving is the number one use of voice search that we’ve heard from Google. We’ve seen the indications of that here as well. We see it when people are busy and they can’t type, they tend to look for “how do I get here?” or how do I do this?”. Or maybe entertainments, like “what’s a good movie” or “who’s that actor”, things like that.
It’s going more and more and we’ll start searching for “I need to buy this pair of shoes with high heels that are like this, from this brand”. In that case, the visual ads would be the perfect accompaniment. So if you can serve product listing ads, that would be excellent; if not focus on just local or surfing your content. SEO and PPC can get married here very well.

Omi: Finally.

Purna: So we get all of your content, the higher funnel content like “what’s the best way to deep clean my car?”. And then if you are like a car cleaning service, you would probably have content around this. So you can just maybe spend 50 pounds and run PPC ads for a long time, it’s not competitive, it would be cheap, you can still do things like that to promote coz you will come up with the higher funnel queries right now.

Omi: Ok I get it. So to summarise the whole conversation and this would be my last question. What should we be doing now in order to prepare for voice search in the future? Kind of to summarise everything that we’ve said today. Shall we concentrate on content or the technical SEO like we said or schema or stuff like that? What’s the secret to winning the SEPRs in the future?

Purna: It’s actually really simple because there is no competition, no one’s monetizing it right now, you are in a very good place to start now and I would highly recommend you start now. Let’s talk about just some easy steps.

Step one. Just to see how people interact with you using voice. You can do this either by asking you PPC team to give your search query report, or you can look at Bing Webmaster Tools or Google Search Console and find a list of keywords. Try to the sort them by what looks like the longer tail. What looks like it’s a question keyword. If it says “Hey Siri” or “OK Google”, you know for sure it’s voice because that’s initiating voice. But if it doesn’t and there is no clear analytic, try it on voice but if you can find something that’s more than like four keywords usually longer than that like four words and it’s a question, it’s quite likely that it came from voice maybe. So go and see what are people using voice for to search for you. And I look at a lot of different plans, a lot of different accounts, I see some people have it a lot and some people don’t.

Omi: So a quick question here… what’s really the most searched thing? Is it really “something near me”?

Purna: “Near me” is a lot but it’s not always the most and it varies by industry.

Omi: Coz a lot of people when I talk about voice search are telling me I’m not in the industry where people would ask about my business with the question “near me”. And I’m saying I’m not sure this is really the most asked question, I don’t know really.

Purna: It’s high on the list but it’s not the only thing. I would say any businesses needs to be thinking about voice search and optimisation for voice search right now.
Even if you do something B2B, if you are a medical device company, you should also be thinking about it because people are going to be researching you. So think about higher in the funnel queries, the more you can capture attention early on, you can keep them within your funnel and try to earn them.

AII’ve seen really great examples of home improvement companies that you can say “give me cheap kitchen renovation ideas that I can do for like under a thousand dollars” and there are companies that have served ads. You will talk this right? It’s easier to talk than type. I can talk 150 words per minute whereas I can type about 40. So you will say this, and if your content can show up either as SEO or as a PPC ad, to up your chances, you’re in. You can keep somebody then they go to your website then you can then pull them down to you conversion panel. So that’s why it’s important to know what are people using you for.

The second step run and do all your schema, run and get your technical site set up, coz that’s good for you.

Omi: You can call me people.

Purna: Anyway, you can call Omi. Omi is one of the best technical SEO’s in the whole world, and I can truly vouch for that. So yeah, talk to Omi for any technical SEO questions. Make sure your citations are diverse if you have.

The third step is to go and do some keyword research, now I know the sort of intent people are coming from.

Omi: Can I just stop you here for a second? Because for the second time, you’ve mentioned citations. Are they really that important?

Purna: They are that important because people tend to just go and look and they may not even click through save all the information that people are seeing is on your citation and they don’t have a chance to go to your website to find the address, and then yes it going to be really important. Make sure your address is fine, the phone number is correct, hours are correct.

I’ll give you an example. It was Easter weekend, my mum and I wanted to go shopping, and we said okay is any store open? So I did a search for a large retailer here and I asked is he open? And he said yes open until 9am to 9pm so I’m like fabulous. We went. It was closed. It was so frustrating, when I went out, I was like “I’m not going to this stupid store again”. I was so annoyed. And so we looked up another store.Yes, Easter hours, we are only open till 5 but we are open today. So that was good. That was helpful.

Reviews are also really important especially If you are local. Make sure that reviews are what people see first and they may not click anymore to give you more chance to explain.
The first impression is all that is going to matter. So yes even if you are not a local business, sometimes citations just seem, just your reviews online are important.

The third one is: think about the intent and look at only a couple of different places. We’ve seen examples of companies that we’ve consulted with and who’ve started optimising for voice and the results that they’ve seen are lift in traffic and then engagements when they’ve optimised.

So the question is always where do I start? And it’s not that difficult. It’s like prioritise from your top 2 or 3 most profitable keywords – start from that – and look at the longer tail versions that could be most relevant to it. So rather than say Bahamas vacations, “what’s the best family vacation deal for the Bahamas?”.
That’s probably a good keyword longer tail that could be on voice search right? Bahamas vacations might be your number one keyword but like “what’s the best family vacation deal for the Bahamas?” is a really good voice search keyword. It gives you so much more information than just Bahamas vacation. It tells you that they are looking for a deal. It tells you that they are family and they probably have immediate purchase intent. So try to look at those type of queries and then you can think about how do I best optimise, do I have a page that answers that question? Do I have a page that talks about this family vacations? Do I have enough supporting content? And that’s all it is. It’s like think about the intent and the right actions that they are likely to take and optimise just for that.

Omi: Oh my god this is like a content SEO lesson.

Purna: It’s simple but you do this already which keeps me more excited. Honestly, this is the first discipline where I think the PPC folks have to work harder than the SEO folks to optimise for voice. The good news is SEOs are all smart and they’ve already done a lot of these lessons whereas PPC’s we going have to be like “now I’m going to have to create this campaign, now I’m going to do this, now I’m going to think of that”. So you have an advantage so celebrate for once.

Omi: Yes, yes. It’s good to hear to be honest with you. It’s really good here something like this on a Saturday afternoon. As I told you earlier last night I went to bed at 2 O’clock, I am that busy (doing SEO optimisation) so it’s good to hear that it may pay off in the future.

Purna: It will. Just the fact that the intent is so clear is going to make your life a lot easier.

Omi: Yes. Thank you very much Purna. You gave me so much information that probably I had to come back to this and write down everything. So we shouldn’t be freaking out basically because this is how we started this conversation. Voice search is something that is just going to improve the customer experience. Am I right or wrong?

Purna: It is definitely just going to improve the customer experience. If we think about the mobile, before we had the desktop then we had the mobile, then we started getting apps and then remember everyone freak out like “oh my God, what shall I do about my app”, everybody go and write your own app. And now we are going to have like bots and conversations and it’s not that scary. We’ve done it before. We found a way to make it work every time.
Voice search is even better because it’s giving us all of this intent and this insight into personalization so it’s not scary, it is exciting and as long as we start now when there is no pressure, we’ll figure things out as we go along and it will be very good.

Omi: Good to hear. So sadly we are coming to the end of my first interview with Purna. My first interview ever basically. Thank you so much for coming. Let’s her Alexa again before we go. Alexa, tell us a joke.

“I had a really great boomerang joke.

It will come back to me.”

Omi: Alexa goodbye.

Alexa: Goodbye.

Omi: Have you notice. She is so polite.

Purna:She’s very polite, unlike Siri. Siri is very nice, but she’s got a personality.

Omi: Thank you very much Purna. I’ll definitely see you next year at BrightonSEO.

Guys, thank you very much for joining us and basically keep it real. Voice search is coming.

Who is Purna Virji?

Purna Virji

Purna Virji is a speaker and columnist on Voice search, PPC, SEO and Content Marketing.

For well over a decade Purna has been living, breathing and dreaming PPC and SEO. She regularly speaks at digital marketing conferences across the globe such as MozCon and SMX Advanced and is a columnist for Search Engine Land and Search Engine Watch.

An award-winning former journalist, Purna was the CEO of Purview Marketing prior to joining the Bing Ads team. In her spare time, she’s an avid traveller, aspiring top chef and amateur knitter. Say hello @purnavirji.

Page Speed and SEO

One aspect of Technical SEO to never overlook is page-loading speed. Many owners of growing websites struggle with page load times. As traffic increase they see website performance degrade. Keeping a website well optimised requires true knowledge and understanding of how the Internet works.

On the other side, your website performance affects not just the visibility of your business in the SERPS but also the user experience of your customers.

The average attention span online is getting shorter than ever. The simple truth is that if your website doesn’t load quickly, potential clients won’t hesitate to head to your competitors.

To help you start heading into direction ‘better website performance’ we asked three well experienced digital marketers to share their vision.

David Sayce Page Speed and SEO

David Sayce is a digital marketing consultant who helps businesses develop and implement effective marketing strategies that get real results.
Contact David to kick things off. This will be more fun than you think!

Q1. How do you describe your job in a few sentences for someone that knows nothing about SEO

I help businesses grow, using digital channels to increase sales and reach new customers. I help businesses to understand their (potential) customers and work out how best to be found by them within Google.

Q2. Why is website performance such a hot topic right now?

It’s a competitive market! While website performance has always been important it has sometimes been overlooked for a ‘flashy’ website with little thought on how SEO works. For a rather high percentage of my clients, it can be the competitive advantage, with a well-optimised site raising their visibility across organic search (and helping the performance of PPC). Of course, the best part is a well-performing site is a pleasure for the visitor! You often only get one chance to make a great impression, make it count!

Q3. What are some of your favourite (best-loved) tools for checking load times & locating problems in a website’s performance?

First I dive in there myself and get a feel for what is going on, how the site appears, ease of navigation, is it clear what I am supposed to be doing. My first point of call is often GTMetrix, quick and easy, I will often run a site through this a number of times during the initial stage of a project. Google Page Insights is also good to view, the simple scoring can be a useful guide for a client to better understand what is happening on the site. After that, I will normal dig into Google Analytics & Search Console to see what I can find out from there.

Q4. Give us some of your tips of how to decrease page load time.

Old School – Keep It Simple! for so many websites it is often about getting rid of bloat and optimising. One of my favourites is still the client who had uploaded all of their images straight from the photographer and resized in the CMS, the average image size was around 10mb, ouch! Check those page sizes! It is equally vital to get a good developer onboard and make sure the foundations of the website are running lean…. and then there is hosting if after all of that your hosting is unreliable or slow it is time to upgrade or more likely find a new host.

Q5. What are we going to see happen in the next few years in terms of web performance?

Ah, what does the future hold….? Well, I always like Darwin’s quote for this:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

SEO has evolved so much in the last 20 years (it was all so easy in the late 90’s). I think we are going to see smarter businesses become much more integrated, removing silos and dated ways of working. I think we are going to see Search Engines become much more relevant to personalised searches, perhaps to the point where they are guessing what we want next and offering suggestions. Perhaps the search engine of today will no longer exist and it will be more the omnipresent assistant (I like the idea of JARVIS from the Iron Man films).

Q6. Finally, is there something exciting that you or your company is working on in terms of web performance that you can tell us about?

Optimisation and integration are key to what I do, and that is what I continue to investigate, learn and test… no secret labs, or teams of MIT grads working on projects (unfortunately). Over the last 20 years, I have been trying to make the internet a little bit better and that is the plan for the next 20+. Always learning and passing on what I can.


Omi Sido Page Speed and SEO

My mission is to get your message out there to people and companies who need, want and are looking for what you have to offer. Massive fan of football and Chelsea FC.

Q1. How do you describe your job in a few sentences for someone that knows nothing about SEO

“Omi, so what exactly do you do?” This must be one of the most repeatedly asked questions I get. Very often I’d try and give a simple answer. Essentially find ways to increase your online presence on the web, help match your service/product to its correct market audience and be instrumental to improving lead volume or sales.
Sometimes people don’t get it so I would just say ‘ my job is to make your website more visible to search engines’.

Q2. Why is website performance such a hot topic right now?

Have you ever spent a long time waiting for a page to load? Websites that load slowly are a major annoyance for users. Many studies are showing that potential clients tend to leave a website if it loads slowly. This is not ideal especially if you are running an e-commerce website.

And then there is Google. Google is obsessed with page speed. In a bold move in 2010, the search giant announced that page speed may be included in their search ranking algorithm.

Many people have asked me the same question “ do page speed really matter to Google and why’. There is a very simple answer: Yes it does. It creates a better user experience.

It’s true that some aspects of page speed – such as a user’s locale and their internet connection speed – can’t be controlled, but the rest is all up to us. So there is no excuse of not optimising your website for speed. Something I have noticed over the years is that when optimising for speed I also tend to find issues not directly related to speed so optimising for speed is a great place to start in understanding your overall website performance.

Q3. What are some of your favourite (best-loved) tools for checking load times & locating problems in a website’s performance?

Tools I recommend: Checking your website’s page load speed is a simple task. There are hundreds of free online tools that can load your pages from different geographic locations and tell you exactly how long it took to download.

My starting point is always the PageSpeed Insights tool. From render-blocking JavaScript files to CSS in above-the-fold content, this tool will pinpoint most of the factors preventing your page from loading quickly.

My second stop is normally the Web Page Test tool. The cool thing about this tool is the option to select the location from which to run your test. This can be cleverly used to track how your speeds vary across the world. Another cool feature is the way the test is run. It’s divided into a first view and a repeat view. This helps to diagnose and understand what maybe be a 1st time DNS lookup delay. It is very important to understand when running tools like these that a first time DNS lookup will usually be slower. In case you are comparing total load times for your web pages it is sometimes better (and somehow logical) to run a test multiple times and in the end take an average of the results.

Q4. Give us some of your tips of how to decrease page load time.

I cannot really rank them as they are all important but I normally start with prioritising ‘visible content’ on the page.

First, let me answer the question what is visible content (often called ‘above the fold’). In simple words, this is the portion of your website that visitors see before they start scrolling.

Very often websites that look very fast to load are as large as slow websites. Very often those websites have made the effort to optimise the visible part of their website thus giving the impression that the site is loading instantaneously.

Some may call it cheating, but users love pages that load quickly and so does Google. In my experience, this is the quickest and the most effective task you can do to speed up your pages.

As recommended by Google there are two main strategies to “prioritise visible content”.

Structure your HTML in a way that loads the critical, above-the-fold content first.
Reduce the amount of data used by your resources.

I am going to translate those requirements into more understandable language.
To understand the first requirement we should start from ‘ground zero’ and look at how a browser loads a page.

  1. Browser finds your page and downloads the HTML.
  2. Browser looks (parses) through the HTML code.
  3. Browser runs into something it must load so browser stops parsing HTML
  4. Browser loads the external source.
  5. Browser goes back and continues parsing the HTML until it runs into another external source that needs loading.

The external source could be a Javascript file, an image or indeed a CSS file. It is quite obvious by now that for a page to load quickly all of those 3 elements should be modified. On the other side for the content above the fold to load quickly it should not rely on any external resources.

So for the three prime suspects my solution is:

  • HTML – make sure your content is loading before anything else even if you have to introduce separate divs just for the content ‘above the fold’.
  • CSS – either combine external CSS files or introduce an inline CSS block specific only to the loading page.
  • Javascript – postpone (defer) the loading of your Javascript files before the content is loaded. Note: This shouldn’t be done before some careful planning/thinking – as indeed the look of some elements on the page may depend on Javascript – but this is probably the best thing you can do to reduce your page load time.

Explaining the second requirement coming from Google is easy. To reduce the amount of data need to render your page you only have to minify your resources (HTML, Javascript, CSS). Minify is exactly what the name is suggesting – make your resources smaller. A tool I can recommend is the CSS Minifier.

The broader meaning of minifying your resources is deleting files that are not in use.

A good example would be a WordPress Theme. Normally they come in different colours. But just because you’ve chosen the red background it does not mean that the CSS file responsible for the green background is not loading. And what if the theme has a bigger background colour choice. I hope you get my point.

Q5. What are we going to see happen in the next few years in terms of web performance?

As we all know web browsing is shifting to mobile. More than ever people are looking for your products and services on their handheld devices. I can see a lot of companies still struggling with the idea of mobile-friendly web pages.

On the other side, many people say page speed has nothing to do with SEO. They are probably right as firstly the official position of Google about page speed and rankings are quite unclear and secondly, we can’t really measure the impact page speed has on the SERPs. I also see heavily bloated websites still ranking pretty well.

So if we are to combine the two statements above we may conclude that web performance is somehow not important.
Quite the opposite. Google started talking about mobile friendly pages being given a boost in the SERPs and if this was not enough they’ve also introduced the so-called AMP pages.

The AMP project is all about pages that load instantaneously. Although AMP is not yet a ranking factor I am expecting in the near future websites developed with AMP in mind to be given higher ranking than slower and unresponsive sites.
Therefore, the faster your page, the higher you rank and the more your content gets seen by your potential customers. It’s a win-win situation.

Q6. Finally, is there something exciting that you or your company is working on in terms of web performance that you can tell us about?

I am currently working for Daily Mail – the most visited news website in the world – so page speed for us is of a paramount importance. We have just introduced AMP for our most visited sections – news and showbiz – so I cannot wait to start analysing the results.
When it comes to news website Google is giving a special treatment to AMP pages by including them in the AMP news carousel on mobile. This is a massive change, as previously, all news stories were in a neat list. The images on these AMP headlines are more than four times larger than the other news article results. In short, the front page just got a lot tighter.

In my opinion if you care about mobile at all (and you should) it’s time to take the jump into AMP. There is a clear indication that Google is moving into direction faster web with AMP, so you need to get in now.


William Rock Page Speed and SEO

William Rock is a True Geek in every possible way. Having a vast skill set in digital marketing he is in the business of keeping companies SAFE ONLINE and helping them GROW their Internet Traffic into qualified leads.

Q1. How do you describe your job in a few sentences for someone that knows nothing about SEO

My Job Rocks, as I enjoy teaching those who wish to learn more about improving their business online and offline, and setup meetings every month to discuss the progress of the team as well improvements seen within analytics tools along with understanding the core of the company and helping to develop a voice for that business online … No Fluff Marketing 🙂

Q2. Why is website performance such a hot topic right now?

Website Performance has been a big deal ever since we learned how to build sites, however, it is getting a ton of attention these days. Especially since Google has developed free tools helping webmasters better understand load time of simple things such as Image Size, to evaluating your CSS and JS scripts. Keeping in mind that in the last few years we have seen more searchers using their smartphones we need to be concerned with user experience (UX) even more if we want them to engage with the company.

Q3. What are some of your favourite (best-loved) tools for checking load times & locating problems in a website’s performance?

I like to use a combo of different tools such as GTmetrix as well within Google Analytics you can get a ton of details at other tools I use would be SEMRush with a Site Audit looking to improve areas it also found to be problematic for user experience.

Q4. Give us some of your tips of how to decrease page load time.

Start with the basics first 🙂 Rome was not built in a day, so starting with the easy stuff first such as looking at your images and finding out the file size .. Many websites use tools to insert images into the web page however if you don’t start with a nice quality low file size you maybe increasing load time when not needed.

There are tools out there to help decrease the image size without losing too much quality and if you are going to use the image for a thumbnail resize it and save it as a thumbnail to upload vs. just uploading the larger image. Again this is just the basics, next run tools like GTmetrix and see what else you can improve 🙂

Q5. What are we going to see happen in the next few years in terms of web performance?

Technology is always improving, one thing will be more smartphones and depending on their data plans worldwide so if your website is full of large images and or takes to long to load, they may go repeat the query moving a possible interaction with them to a competitor. No one wants to eat up their data plan on your website 🙂 Make it fast, and optimise for performance.

Q6. Finally, is there something exciting that you or your company is working on in terms of web performance that you can tell us about?

We have always focused on improving as technology evolves, however, some clients don’t choose to always take the advice of us making those modifications since the tasks can involve a good amount of time and we have seen clients choose to do other improvements in content, video and or calls to action first then come back to the page speed topic again, all in all still getting the job done.

Can SEO and PR work together?

It was great meeting somebody I was working with in the past. The beer was cold, the pizza was tasty and the SEO talk never really dried up. But one thing kept on popping up – is there any difference really between SEO and PR (Public Relations)?

Nowadays a large portion of our focus is shifting towards attracting high-quality brand mentions by getting other websites to talk about you. Generating this buzz requires a PR approach so making PR part of our search engine optimisation strategy is of a paramount importance for success.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some noticeable differences between SEO and online PR. One of those differences would be inbound marketing vs outbound marketing. SEO is more of an inbound marketing catering for the purposes of fulfilling existing demand, and PR is more of an outbound marketing as it creates new demand for products and services by generating awareness. That said there is a big overlap and combining the two strategies can only increase the end result of our marketing efforts.

How PR and SEO work together

One area of a big overlap is content. If you happen to be working in PR then you are probably producing content every single day, whether it’s a press release or an interview. Doesn’t that sound like exactly what we SEOs are currently doing day in day out? (Content is King, isn’t it?). Of course, we may have to consider some technical details that PR’s don’t, but then again we don’t have to think about spreading the word the way they do demographically.
Good content can earn ‘good’ links. But in order for people to talk about it and link back to it, they have to know about it. Using a PR approach can amplify your social and influencer reach thus significantly increasing you exponential social growth, introducing your articles and brand to potential new customers and channels that could reward you with a link or brand mention.

I’ve mentioned links, yes, lovely juicy links we are all dreaming about. Links are still an integral part of the Google algorithm. But over the years Google started recognising (and punishing) all black hat techniques like link farms and fake blogs. Nowadays Google only favours links that are highly authoritative and this is where SEO and PR really come together.

Those in PR have the skills to gain exposure and build indispensable relationships that are a must-have in targeting media sites, government organisations and the highly valuable by Google education links such as .ac or .uk. As an SEO are you going to say no to a link coming from a .ac website?
Didn’t think so.

Let me give you some ideas.

A typical media partnerships for PR campaigns can be an ‘open door’ to top notch links such as Newspaper and Radio sites.

Ask your PR team to negotiate speaking slots within your industry conferences where your can be portrayed and linked from highly relevant and very authoritative conference websites. The key is to target your niche.

PR stunts can not only gain some great newspaper coverage but also has the potential, with a carefully planned social media strategy, of course, to generate huge interest on the social networks. These types of campaigns (check this one by can build enormous amounts of social shares (social signals also benefit your SEO) and increase the volume of ‘natural’ links too.


The evolution of PR and SEO in recent years is bringing those – at first glance miles away – industries ever closer. SEO and PR can and should work closely together to build your brand’s credibility. The SEO and PR synergy can also vastly increase your search visibility through valuable and relevant content, which accrues quality links. Both SEO and PR professionals should embrace the idea of working together in order to build link authority for your website, improve rankings in the search results and grow brand awareness.

Maintaining SEO on Large, Complex Websites with Omi Sido

Clearly, the Daily Mail has a lot of content and a lot of new content coming onto the site regularly. So what are the main technical SEO challenges for handling a website like that?

One thing that always come to mind first when talking about large websites is the technology used.
A lot of large websites have different parts of the website built using different technologies that don’t talk to each other. Imagine a large website built using PHP and ASP.Net. For a start, you probably have 2 teams as normally PHP developers are not good at writing ASP.Net code. So whatever SEO improvements you do in the PHP part of your website you have to make sure that the same improvements are done in the ASP.Net part. Explaining to more people means increased risk of mistakes and misunderstandings. Plus things are done differently in PHP and ASP.Net so a true understanding of both languages is a necessity.

The second most significant problem is old platforms. In my experience the bigger the website, the older the platform. For example, let’s look at Tesco. Their website was built 20 years ago. For 20 years they’ve been using the same back-end platform. But 20 years ago there was no ‘digital marketing, SEO and I doubt you can call their platform a CMS. Even for the most insignificant SEO change, there is a need of a developer.

The third most challenging issue when it comes to large websites would be dealing with stakeholders and managers. This may sound strange at first but there is a need for making a case for each and every SEO project regardless of the scale. Large websites usually have many parties involved, so sometimes it is really hard to get work done without making an ROI case for each and every project.
The way get around it is to tell people stories about the importance of new development. One of them is AMP. To convince the Daily Mail management that we need this development we had to connect it to the business objectives.

How important are AMPs for news sites? Do you have any tips for successfully implementing them quickly and effectively?

The Google AMP project is getting a lot of attention recently. In short, Google wants to improve our mobile experience by making pages load faster. Many businesses don’t get it and they think it’s only for news websites. Yes, it’s true news website benefited a lot when they started implementing the AMP technology, but the truth is that there are benefits for all types of websites. eBay is using Google AMP – and you should too as browsing in AMP is the future.

Implementing AMP is in fact very easy. It’s the simplest (stripped down version) of HTML. Every developer knows the basics of HTML and the AMP HTML is exactly that: regular HTML tags with some of them replaced with specific AMP-tags. They are called AMP HTML components and they help common patterns to be implemented in an efficient way.

The real question when implementing AMP pages is how to integrate the AMP idea with the monetization strategy of your business. If your business relies heavily on advertising to generate revenue you should carefully consider whether to implement AMP until the standard catches up to your needs or suitable alternatives are identified.

One tip when implementing AMP pages on your website would be to make sure the code is 100% correct. Either using the Chrome extension (called AMP Validator) or the Browser Developer Console make sure your AMP pages validates with no errors. In my experience, even minor errors in the HTML code will exclude your pages from the AMP SERPs.

The same topics/people appear regularly in the news, how do you ensure the most relevant/recent content ranks in organic results?

We have started creating the so-called Hub/Topic Pages. Internal linking for news websites is very important. The risk of producing a lot of content around the same topic is that you can end up with multiple pages which have similar keywords which compete against each other in Google for the same search terms. The answer to this problem is to decide on a page that you want your site to rank for a given keyword or phrase, and concentrate on it. Then all article produced with the same topic should be linked to this page. In the case of Daily Mail, some of those articles are also displayed on this page.

What about schema? How important is it for SEOs to utilise structured data?

  • First, it is a feature that is gaining ground and Google officially stated that it may be something that will go into the ranking algorithm in the near future. So, besides taking advantage of the benefits described below, you also prepare your website for future SEO.
  • Second, structured data enhances your website’s presence on the SERPS with rich snippets which equals to better CTR (Click Through Rate).
  • Third, it’s a way to get into the Google knowledge graph and take advantage of the many benefits this feature offers to website owners.
  • Fourth, is great for Local SEO. With structured data, you can give search engines more information about your local business including address and contact information. In conjunction with a proper Google my business entry, it can boost your local SEO.
  • Fifth, it’s a requirement for running successful Shopping campaigns. When setting up shopping campaigns on AdWords, you need to have microdata on your product landing pages so that Google can verify the data submitted in your shopping feed.
  • Sixth, new technologies like the accelerated mobile pages rely heavily on structured data for some of their advanced features.
    Seven, it increases your chances of getting an entry in Google answers which can be a big boost to your traffic.

The Daily Mail has websites in several different markets – how do you manage the geo-targeting of the content?

For news website the task of geo-targeting is easy. Different news are coming from different part of the world so our job is just to make sure they appear on the appropriate geo page. Unfortunately, this can only be done manually but this is not something we worry about too much.
I always tell people that geo-targeted content helps businesses acquire local customers. The local customer is a lot more likely to buy from you than the international one. Example: If I want to order pizza I don’t expect it to be delivered from Paris. Or if I am looking for a plumber I would have expected him to be able to get to my house in an hour or two and not in two weeks. Geo relevancy is very important especially when it comes to small business.

We always need to look ahead. So what do you think is the next thing to be thinking about SEO in order to bulletproof our future SEO efforts?

Because I’ve got a development background and also from experience I’d like to advise businesses to make sure that their websites are technically sound before thinking about content. Many people think only about content and this is fundamentally wrong.
Having good content is good (and the right thing to do) but if your website has a lot of technical problems like too many pages returning 404 errors or too many redirects it actually stops search engines from discovering and indexing your website. If search engines can’t find or index your carefully crafted content than this content becomes useless.
Yes, content is King, but Kings normally live in castles. So first you have to build the castle so you can give your King a place to live in.

Traffic is useless unless those visitors become customers

Recently I have said something online that caused a bit of controversy.

“Traffic is useless unless those visitors become customers.”

Although I wasn’t talking specifically about ‘money exchange’ I am starting to think that even experienced digital marketers have started developing ‘tunnel vision’ blinded by clever online articles or viral memes. I will repeat again so it’s clearly understood that I wasn’t really talking about ‘money exchange’ and it that matter the word ‘customers’ is probably not the most descriptive one, but I’d like to ask everybody who says conversion rate is not important a simple question:

What business can survive without income?

Heard it so many times “Omi, my site is highly optimised for the search engines and my rankings are great. I don’t understand why no one is buying.”
I will tell you why. Because your SEO (agency or digital marketing guru) like so many SEO’s out there is focusing on ranking your website high thus reporting (blinding you) the good numbers in the end of the month.
So many people nowadays think that SEO is pointless or a black magic. So many businesses don’t even have an SEO strategy because they feel like they are wasting their money.

And the sad truth is so many of them do.

Don’t get me wrong – they are not stupid. Many of them don’t know the true meaning of ‘digital marketing’ and us SEOs want to keep it that way. Bringing visitors is so much easier that making money online, trust me on this one. In fact, so many people that know nothing about SEO or digital marketing are making so much more money than the self-proclaimed ‘digital marketers’. I don’t have to give you examples – you know them.

The idea that once you have web traffic the rest would take care of itself is true only in the SEO world.

But don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of measuring website traffic and working to increase it. I measure and report traffic every single day. But I will be the first to tell you that you should start looking beyond traffic. Measuring subscribers and downloads is a good thing to do, but you should know why. Are downloads the end goal of your business (what business are you in? I wanna work for you.)? Can you pay your bills win ‘referrals’? Didn’t think so.

The talk about potential benefits in the future like referrals and downloads is good, but there is one problem. It can’t continue forever unless you earn enough to sustain your business. Don’t be scared (be stupid) to talk about SEO and money. SEO (and CRO) is a part of the big picture called ‘success’. You need traffic and you need sales. In other words, you need to be an integral part of your business and not something that looks alien to your business partners or superiors.

Let’s see what Bruce Clay thinks about it:

“Conversion optimisation and SEO are two pillars of an overall marketing strategy. Without conversions, there is only traffic, which is no bottom line at all.”

So let me tell you a secret. Conversion optimisation and SEO are not that different. They can and they should work together. Let me give you some examples:
Single product pages. Who thinks that single product pages are not good for search engine optimisation? Single product pages optimised for a specific search term. But did you know that single product pages also vastly increase conversion rate too?

Create unique product descriptions. One of the biggest mistakes eCommerce websites make is using manufacturers’ product descriptions. First search engines may see this as duplicate content, but not indexing this content is probably the biggest worry. Product descriptions are your single opportunity to write distinctive copy in order to entice visitors to buy your products.The best way to differentiate your store from the various copycats out there. Specific product descriptions will also bring more traffic to your website. I can call it SEO and conversion synergy.

Why Is Understanding Your Target Audience So Important?

Know your target audience in order to bring ‘qualified’ traffic to your pages. Keyword research is still one of the most important pieces of the SEO puzzle. Choose the ‘wrong’ keywords and you get low-quality traffic and weak sales. Choosing the right keywords can help you attracting highly qualified consumers and achieving huge sales numbers. Tip: Aim for long-tail keywords – search phrases that contain two or more words. Consumers who search using a long-tail keyword typically know exactly what they’re looking to purchase, so a product page optimised for this has a higher likelihood of attracting and converting a customer who’s ready to buy.
Last but not least unique, gripping and enthralling content. When it comes to SEO content gives you links and traffic. When it comes to conversion optimisation it wins you customers.


Understanding how your SEO strategy connects to real-world business can give you the opportunity to gain more support and investment within your company. SEO is not a separate subject, but an integral part of the overall digital marketing world. Don’t alienate your SEO department by not talking about conversions and revenue. We all do what we do because we love it, but bills are paid with real money. Your business pay you salary so you should be actively supporting and improving the ‘money making’ process.

RankBrain & SEO Simplified

Not a long time ago Google released their new secret weapon – RankBrain.

But what do we know about RankBrain? How does it work? How does it affect your business? And most of all how does it affect your SEO efforts?

As usual, Google is not telling us much. Everything we know about RankBrain is based on some sort of reverse engineering. We know it affects the SERPS. We know it’s responsible for about 15 – 20 % of the results in the SERPS.

To explain RankBrain let’s start from the beginning.

RankBrain is part of the Hummingbird algorithm and to better understand Hummingbird think about a system that takes into consideration the meaning of the whole sentence, rather than particular words.

Example: 10 years ago the query ‘water pill’ would have probably sent AltaVista or Yahoo to look for a pill with water in it. Nowadays Google understands that this is diuretic that causes a person to lose water from his body.

When it comes to RankBrain add to the mix a project called Word2Vec. Now I am not a googler and my understanding of this project is that the tool takes the text as an input and produces the word vectors as an output. To better understand the Word2Vec model think of it as a system that incorporates two parts:

One called ‘continuous skip-gram‘ that tries to predict neighbouring words to a given word.

Skip-gram model

The other one called ‘continuous bag of words (CBOW)’ that tries to predict a word from neighbouring words.

Continuous Bag of Words (CBOW)

By using those two methods/algorithms Rank Brain can understand or shall I say try to guess the meaning of a word it isn’t familiar with.

So now that we know how it works, or at least how we think it works let’s discuss the name. The first part ‘Rank’ implies that it has something to do with ranking. On top of that, Google said not a long time ago that it’s the third most important signal contributing to the result of a search query. So in a way it does affect SEO. Saying that it does not affect rankings.

What is RankBrain and how is it Affecting your SEO?

If you are already ranking for term ‘used cars’ (because you sell second-hand cars) and you were number one before RankBrain was introduced, you will still be number one for ‘used cars’ today.

On the other hand, if before the new algorithm you were also ranking for used steering wheels because there is a topical connection with used cars now RankBrain may re-arrange the SERPS and only display companies that are in fact selling steering wheels and not used cars.

So in a way your rankings haven’t changed but you are no longer present in the SERPS. If you check your favourite software like SEMrush or STATS your website will still be shown as number one for a particular search term but you will no longer appear in the SERPS for terms that are not relevant to your business.

It filters you out of the inappropriate and keeps you current in the appropriate (SERPS) – Zara Altair

A long time ago the way Google worked was that they will crawl your website, gather all the information and when the query comes they will display information based on the keywords in your copy. RankBrain is a shift towards understanding the query first before connecting it to the keywords in your copy. I hope that makes sense.

The second part of the name is Brain and many people are creating link bait articles connecting AI with RankBrain. Machine learning is part of the AI but it is not AI.

What is machine learning?

Machine learning uses statistics to develop self-learning algorithms. In that matter, Google is hoping that in the future RankBrain will be able to run the SERPS without human intervention. Whether this is gonna happen and when nobody can really say. One thing is for sure that the future is algorithms that cannot be gamed.

It is not an “artificial intelligence” as we don’t have that yet. It is a machine learning algorithm. Such algorithms may become a component of any future AI, but they are not yet AI. – Mark Traphagen (Senior Director of Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting)

Why is so difficult to game RankBrain?

To give a concise answer to this question first we have to understand how the new algorithm works.

  1. Historical search data is processed by RankBrain, which then establishes how to make predictions based on that data – so they take the data (the whole process is done offline), and if they think it’s good enough they will feed it into RankBrain. In a way if your website is giving ‘crap’ information it would not be fed into the system and you will lose in the future.
  2. Those predictions are tested and only then they go live.
  3. This cycle is repeated each time there is a new search in the system.

So the above in simple words. The whole process is done offline, Google decides what the input would be and only after the forecast is approved it goes live so gaming is almost impossible.

As this is a webinar of the relations between Google RankBrain and SEO I will give you some tips to take on board and implement in your daily activities.

RankBrain: 4 SEO Tips You’ll Need to Survive

When it comes to Google RankBrain my first tip would be would be to go and read again the Google Semantic Search book by David Amerland. By reading this book and implementing some of the tips given in the book you will not just improve your website authority on the web, but you will also be doing everything the right way in order to satisfy RankBrain.

My second tip would be to create laser-focused content on topics in your niche. Creating thoughtful and quality content is still just as critical to getting found online as it has always been.

Use keyword research to:

  1. First, identify your audience – if you do not know your audience than clearly don’t know who you’re talking to. The only way to identify who your audience is is to perform a keyword research. Check what terms are popular, have big search volume,  in your niche. Then check what keywords people are using to land on your website and try to connect them both.
  2. Secondly, try and find what your audience is talking about and what your audience is looking for online. In simple words the questions they are asking. RankBrain is all about asking and answering questions. Especially questions that have never been asked before. Try and answer those questions.
  3. Thirdly, create content that connects with your audience. If your audience likes sports cars and they are also talking about Formula One, buying tips or the British TV program ‘Top Gear’ include all these in your copy. Then the algorithm will think that you are an authority, I guess and hope that you are an authority already, and your information will be fed into the system.

Now more than ever, you’ve got to be focused on user intent, related intentions the user might have, and identifying gaps in your content, and how your quality compares to your competitors for the same query – Eric Enge ( Why Machine Learning Is Revolutionizing Search)

My third tip: As the main direction in the future for Google is voice recognition create content that sounds natural. Write copy that is descriptive and sounds like the reader is in front of you.

My fourth tip would be: do not forget links. Links provide external trust and applicability to your content. This is another way to show RankBrain that your website is an authority in your niche.

Many people say and try to convince us that Rankbrain is the future and would potentially replace all algorithms. This is simply not true. RankBrain would always be a part of a bigger algorithm whatever the name of this algorithm is in the future. RankBrain will always need links to determine relevancy. Links from other authoritative websites in your niche are basically telling the algorithm that you are an authority as well.


Krystyn Dale: Schema and RankBrain correlation.

Omi Sido: Schema is the best way to show Google what your website is about. Everything started with Google trying to create this database of knowledge (Open Graph). With all the knowledge scraped from the web, Google already knows how the words are connected, how web sites are connected and how different niches are connected to each other. RankBrain is basically refining the search, making sure that all the knowledge Google had before and all the ‘new knowledge’ coming to Google is connected and understood. Marking up the content of your website with structured data is the best way to tell Google if your website is relevant.

Other opinions expressed during the conversation.

Vivekananda Baindoor Rao:

Artificial Intelligence has been in development for a long time but Machine Learning in my view is actually part of it.Artificial or natural intelligence comes once the “learning” has happened and the information is understood. Actually, the results or decisions that are taken based on the learning show the intelligence! 
So the AI research has been going on for a long time and only now we have successfully implemented machine learning which would take us closer to full AI.

Peter Hatherley:

Omi Sido Zara Altair – Actation Now! Personally, I have good reasons to think that RankBrain has a ranking effect … quite apart from the obvious point i.e, the word rank being part of the branding.

In a way, it’s like saying PageRank didn’t have an effect on the rankings during the 00’s. The reality is that it had a huge bearing on the SERPS results during that time and yet quite obviously both these algorithms have the word rank hidden in plain sight within their respective brandings.

I’m quite sure the marketing experts at Google wouldn’t have gone as far as producing a misnomer to throw us off the track ‘:D) In fact, a lot of thought would have gone into naming the RankBrain algorithm to reflect its true meaning just like they did so aptly with PageRank.

Gina Fiedel:

Omi Sido, I really could listen to you for hours. You have a gift and a wonderful style for explaining complex concepts. It’s especially valuable that you’re highlighting the connections between how the semantic web and Hummingbird work and RankBrain’s part in that. And how they are working to “see” connections and relevancy between words, entities, search intent- all that juicy stuff.
(Love the pub example- that’s such a great analogy for listening, being able to hear)

And of course, I love your repeated endorsement of our favourite books. ;o)
Zara Altair, thanks for having Omi and for all your additions in the learning here.

Don’t you ever give up!

One day you will wake up and all your dreams will be a reality.
The Powerhouse European SEO Gianluca Fiorelli opened his eyes on Thursday (May 19,2016) morning and his dream of a conference where knowledge flows like a river opened doors for the first time.
Sleepless nights, cans of coffee and a sea of worries all came to an end.

The best ever European Digital Marketing Conference is a fact.

Organised by a man with a vision for legacy and entrepreneurship this conference surpassed all expectations.

Two days of intense learning with some of the best speakers from all over the world. You could see the wisdom flying in the air (unless of course those were hallucinations coming from the SEMrush drinks/girls. Olga Andrienko, Kate Makulova, thank you very much for you never ending smile and light refreshments). You could sense that a lot of rankings will be skyrocketing from now on fueled by the knowledge shared by the digital marketing elite at this conference.

Omi Sido with Olga Andreinko at Theinbounder 2016

Some of the best presentations:

Marcus Tandler – Welcome to Reality
Fernando Macià – Customer journey analysis and search
Gemma Muñoz – Evolve or Die (all evolution is born from
Will Critchlow – Emerging Trends in Web Marketing
Wil Reynolds – Go where the users are, building a holistic
SERP strategy
Bas van den Beld – How to create the right content at the right
time to the right audience
Kieran Flanagan – Lessons Learnt from Building a Growth Team
for Inbound Marketing
Barbara Mackey – Onsite search: empathy in the fashion world
Valentina Falcinelli – Content Design. How to win
the skimming test
Samantha Noble – Dominating the Paid Media Universe
Lisa Myers – Go big or go home. Successful content
marketing for SEO
Nathalie Nahai – Web Psychology: The science of online
Aleyda Solís – Competitive SEO Analysis: How to identify
opportunities and win your competitors.
Gianluca Fiorelli – Deconstructing Google: practical insights of
its patents
Rand Fishkin – Fight Back Against Back

Meanwhile, let’s not forget the crowd. I saw people like Dawn Anderson, Arnout Hellemans, Eddie GonzalesMark Scully – to name but a few – wandering around. Each one of those people could have been on the stage. Each of those people should probably be on the stage next year.

We all had an amazing time. We all gained so much knowledge and insights straight from the source. If you ever wanted to be somewhere close to the people currently shaping the digital fashion in the world this was your best chance.
I hope you managed to talk to them. I hope you managed to have a selfie with them. And most of all I hope you managed to scribble all the tips they gave you.

Omi Sido and Rand Fishkin at the Inbounder 2016 Global Conference

Do we want more? Well, we are all human beings, and on top of that, we are marketers. Let’s push Gianluca for 3 days (Houston/Arnout Hellemans, we have a problem – there is not enough beer in town). Let’s add the rest of the digital marketing elite like David Amerland, Mark Traphagen and Eric Enge to the mix. Let’s have Google in the face of Gary Illyes or John Mueller answer some of our questions (of course, I am talking about Q&A sessions).
Let’s extend the legacy of this wonderful idea.

Hasta la vista amigos! I know you all had a good time and you all coming back next year.

See you soon.