Bing has confirmed to use the JSON-LD Schema markup

Bing has confirmed to use the JSON-LD Schema markup

While in the official documentation of Bing still appears as if they prefer more Microdata and RDFa formats, Bing has now confirmed that:

  • they are using JSON-LD to interpret and analyze web pages
  • they are preparing a verification tool to help webmasters check the schema.org markup that will also support the JSON-LD format

Bing has been a founding member of the schema.org initiative along with Google, Yandex, and Yahoo! to help webmaster markup their content using a shared data schema.

We’ve been intercepting and sharing, along with other Semantic SEO lovers, the following tweet from Jon Henshaw, Senior SEO analyst for CBS Interactive:

And today the confirmation arrived also from Christi Olson Head of Evangelism at Bing via @MichelleRobbins who published an article on .


“Yes, Bing does support JSON-LD.” Christi said.

What is schema markup?

Schema markup is metadata that you add to your website to help search engines provide more informative results for their users.

Before the arrival of schema.org back in 2011 (the initiative started in June and Yandex joined in November of the same year), there were way too many standards for marking up different types of content on web pages. While the variety of different vocabulary still exists and it is of a great value for the scientific, the academic and the librarian communities it was of little or no help for commercial search engines.

As a result of the diversity of languages, it was difficult for webmasters to decide on the most relevant and supported markup standards to use.

Creating a schema shared and supported by all the major search engines made it very easy for webmasters to add markup, and in return made it easier for search engines to create a better user experience for their users (with all different sort of enriched results, knowledge panels and other semantic powered goodies of the SERP).

Hey Google! How are people using smart speakers?

Hey Google! How are people using smart speakers?

The rise of a new market

In late 2014, Amazon launched Amazon Echo, a voice-activated speaker powered by the artificial intelligence of Alexa. With this move, the e-commerce giant launched a brand new category of products, the smart speakers.

It took two years to Google to follow Amazon, releasing Google Home in October 2016.

Two more years later, in 2018, the market of smart speakers is growing fast and many new players have entered the market. Just to name a few, Soros launched One, powered by Alexa, and Apple launched the Siri controlled Homepad.

Nowadays, according to a study by NPR and Edison Research16 percent of Americans own a smart speaker. We are talking about around 39 million people in the USA only. A recent study from Juniper Research forecasts that voice-activated speakers will be installed in over 70 million U.S. households by 2022, reaching 55% of all homes.

How you can use voice-activated speakers

From playing a playlist to more complicated tasks such as setting an alarm or a timer or even booking an Uber ride, smart speakers entered into our homes and offices as digital butlers, ready to assist us in – almost – everything we need.

They can be extremely functional when they help us interact with smart home devices and appliances, but they can also become funny, telling a joke on command and challenging the entire family with games.

Their main purpose is to assist you with voice search and help you access to many kinds of content from websites to audio books and music. Each smart speaker has slightly different functions and can interact with a certain range of third-party applications.

Are smart speakers becoming a habit?

Smart speakers are replacing traditional media for family entertainment. 30% of users say that they spent less time in front of the tv and more time playing with their favorite voice-activated artificial intelligence.

Moreover, as people get used to the robotic voices of smart speakers, they interact more often with their voice assistants in their smartphones. For 44% of the users interviewed by NPR and Edison Research, smart speakers trigger the use of other voice-activated assistants.

People are becoming accustomed to smart speakers, putting them in the very heart of their homes.

In the infographic below, based on Google‘s data, you are going to find out how smart speakers are used, how this technology affects online shopping and consumes, and what kind of relation do users have with this technology.

It’s not a surprise that voice search queries resemble natural language more than web search queries, but you may find intriguing that so many people feel like they are talking with a friend.

Is Gartner research right when it states that in 2020 we are going to talk more often with virtual assistants than with our partners? ?

Smart Speakers - Infographic

Content writing and voice-activated devices

If you are a web writer and you are trying to figure out how voice technologies are going to impact on your content follow Teodora Petkova’s webinar on how you can engage your readers on screenless devices. Enjoy!

Top trends for SEO in 2018

Top trends for SEO in 2018

As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to prepare your digital marketing team for the year ahead and look at the emerging trends that will rule the search world in 2018.

This is a summary I’ve created with bullet-proof strategies and tested practices that I’ve gathered from the gurus of the SEO industry after attending as a speaker at SMXL Milan 2017. If you, like me, want to make a real difference in 2018 with SEO, this blog post is for you.

What are the top trends for SEO in 2018?

There are a number of aspects in the world of content findability that we have successfully tested in 2017 and that will become even more prominent in 2018. Let’s have a close look at  the top 5:

1. Structured Data and Semantics
2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
3. Mobile-first index, Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps
4. Search is Everywhere
5. Voice search, chatbots and personal assistant search optimization

1. Structured Data and Semantics

This November at PubCom Gary Illyes from Google confirmed that semantic markup is used, way beyond the search snippets, to better index your website and to rank content in Google’s search result pages.

“add structure data to your pages because during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about.”

More interestingly Gary suggested to go beyond the markup recommended by Google on their developers guides for semantic markup.

“and don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly, it leads to better ranks in some sense, because we can rank easier.”

Here is all you need to know about schema.org markup and how to use it to organically grow the traffic on your website. The talks from Richard Wallis, Martha van Berkel and… myself ?  are a great starting point to learn what is schema.org markup and how you can use it on your website to improve engagement metrics, CTR and a lot more (from semantic analytics to building your own chatbot).

As Google anticipated already, we also expect to see the implementation of schema.org markup in different areas of the content industry. The Trust Project is a clear example of news organizations and tech giants like Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter converging on schema.org to markup high quality news and implement fact checking with semantic markup.

Another area of development for schema.org in 2018 is the implementation of Blockchain ID for schema:Person and Blockchain certificates that can enable innovative new ways to do SEO and to share value in the publishing sector.

You might have noticed that Bitcoin is continuing to grow in terms of adoption. What you might have missed, is that, most importantly, its underlying technology called blockchain (a digital ledger that transparently stores any value transactions in a peer-to-peer network) can have a huge impact on how value is re-distributed between search marketing agencies, content producers, website owners and advertisers.

New business models can arise by the implementation of smart contract agreements. In the publishing sector, we’ve seen already in 2017 platforms like Steem – a blockchain-based rewards social networks that monetizes content – using their own cryptocurrency (BitCoin compatible) and other initiatives that could greatly benefit from a broader adoption of Blockchain technologies.

While to this point there are only proposals to add Blockchain ID to schema.org, work has been in progress in the past months and this can really disrupt both the search engine marketing industry and digital advertising.

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

A lot of the discussion on how AI is transforming SEO really has to do with RankBrain and other machine learning algorithms that are impacting how content is prioritized over Google search results — but also on the Facebook news stream, as well as Twitter search results. All these changes boiled down to three aspects:

  1. UX is king. Machines tend to prioritize content that is considered more engaging for the end users. To do so, they need to better understand and disambiguate content (and we’re back to the importance of schema.org and semantic SEO techniques) and to analyze the user behaviours by looking at metrics such as the dwell time (this is really how much time the user is spending on your page). RankBrain is an example here. This newly introduced algorithm, now considered the third most important ranking factor, takes in great consideration the time a user spends on your page. Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean recently explained that the dwell time is when:
    “someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, before going back to the search results page”
    There are also now interesting studies documenting the dwell time and the correlation with rankings (see for instance an industry report from Search Metrics). On average, for a top 10 Google result, the dwell time is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. This is quite a lot of time if you compare it with the average time spent on a page and it’s clear that if a reader engages on a piece of content for so long, it’s most likely that he or she likes the page and finds it informative enough for that specific search intent.
  2. Click-Through-Rate is Queen. Just like dwell time, CTR is one of those metrics that computers can use to prioritize your content. This is true for organic search results as well as for paid advertising. When a user clicks on a content it means that he or she thinks that this content is good. When many users click on a page, above-average CTR for that query (yes, CTR is very relative), the content gets boosted and will stick to the top. This is particularly true nowadays on Google when advertising, featured snippets and knowledge panels make it very hard for a user to land on a webpage and… in 2018 this is just going to get worst.The real interpreter of CTR is Larry Kim and his advice on creating Unicorn content. Larry has been analyzing the polarization of CTR in organic search as well as in social streams and his marketing strategies are a must read for every digital marketers in 2018. Read it up from this article on Medium.What's a good CTR for organic search?
  3. Data is the new oil in SEO. As machines get smarter (or dumber in some cases), marketers need to adjust and from traditional SEO techniques need to move into the realm of digital marketing. From analyzing the correlation between the indexing of your website from Google with your social activity to using machine-learning to prioritize backlinks opportunities the so called “Modern SEO” is all about data.

Michael KingI had the pleasure of meeting in real life, during SMXL Milan 2017, Michael King (iPullRank on Twitter) and his deck on Modern SEO is your definite guide to become a data ninja in the search engine world.

3. Mobile-first index, Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps

Speed gets bigger and bigger. Having a super fast mobile website in 2018 is not going to be an option but a key technical requirement for SEO. With Google that is about to deploy worldwide its mobile-first index optimizing the user experience on mobile devices is becoming crucial.

Remember that already 57% of the web traffic is coming from mobile devices as a recent report from BrightEdge announced a few months ago.

In mobile search, few factors really affect search rankings: a) context of the search intent (here once again, structured data helps) and b) accessibility of the content (this really means the speed at which the user perceives your content).

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages has been, in 2017 one of the most debatable web technologies, but, again, in a lot of cases, you cannot live without it. Believe me. Users reading Google AMP pages are spending 35 percent more time on average than users accessing standard mobile web pages. We’ve celebrated two years since the launch of the AMP project and in 2018 AMP will definitely get bigger.

If you want to master AMP and if your website is not already blazing fast do yourself a favor and study the precious advices of Aleyda Solìs on when and how to implement AMP on your website.

Britney Muller

In the technical SEO space there is a lot going on and a good start is to focus on the three principles of positional SEO by Britney Muller SEO & Content Architect at MOZ:

Start learning about Progressive Web Applications and all the tactics that Britney shared in her latest keynote ?

Also read very carefully the slide deck of Nichola Stott (co-founder of Erudite): “Fast is the Only Speed” – on how to make the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool follow in love with your website.

And remember – as Google points out – that 53% of your users will abandon your website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load!

4. Search is Everywhere

Think outside of the (search) box

Really the best way to find out how search marketing is evolving is to dedicate some time following the advices of Rand Fishkin who literally created this industry a long time ago. Meeting Rand at SMXL Milan 2017 has been truly inspirational.

In the year of the Russian Hacking and Influencing the US Election, Rand had the courage to start his talk on cultural biases and gender inequality.

Yes this is also SEO and it’s worth your attention.

As a pure AI-first approach moves forward and it gets harder and harder to gain organic visibility on search results, marketers need to revamp their digital strategies and look with new eyes to threats and opportunities.

Here is the deck on Cultural Conditioning by Rand Fishkin.

5. Voice search, chatbots and personal assistant search optimization

Last but not least we need to focus on voice ready content, voice search and personal assistant search optimization. Bing in 2017 has already introduced chatbots in their enriched organic search result as well as in paid results and will continue to make it easier for consumer to bypass websites and to hook directly to smart digital assistants and chatbots.

Few steps that you can follow can really help you build voice-ready content that engage your audience:

  1. optimize content for featured snippets,
  2. keep the focus on long tail conversational keywords,
  3. include question and answers in your content,
  4. use entities – structuring content using entity extraction can help search engines and chatbots designers effectively re-use your content within their conversational experiences.

Purna Virji, from Bing, is by far one of the most influential SEO experts in the emerging voice search arena and definitely there is so much to learn from her (including her views on marriage).

Chatbots in 2020

I have been happily coding and experimenting with both voice search and conversational UIs driven by semantically structured content and I foresee emerging techniques to do SEO in 2018 that specifically promotes ‘intents’ (what users ask to personal assistants) and help you analyze conversation metrics (a new area of analytics whose goal is to let you improve your own chatbot by reporting on previous interactions).

Here is an example of how I turned our website into a chatbot and how I plan to make your websites talk in 2018.

It’s been a real pleasure to spend these two days in Milan, learning and sharing knowledge with SEO world-class experts.

Adam Lynch, CMO from our close partner WooRank, was as excited as I was, and here is his final wrap-up for 2018:

It is clear that 2018 is going to be a seminal year for SEO.

The progression towards a customer centric approach and the focus on structured data as a way to achieve this will impact us all. We will have to be relentlessly focussed on the creation of user focussed, high-quality and semantically structured content to stand out from our competition.

I strongly believe the structuring and analysis of this data will become a day-to-day part of an SEO’s job…

Crafting Texts in the Age of Fragmented Reader Experience

Crafting Texts in the Age of Fragmented Reader Experience

Entering the realm of cyberspace, reading and writing change, changing us and the way we perceive text. New modes of interacting with the written word emerge and further exist in brand new environments, across brand new digital surfaces and spaces.

Given the bursts of thoughts and meaning exchange in the digital world, we as writers, are challenged to rethink reader experience and from there find answers to questions like: how can we write differently to meet our readers? where are we to meet our readers?

The answer to each of the questions lies in thoroughly examining and understanding the moving parts of a fragmented, multi-channel reality. One of the rapidly unfolding narratives and living intertextuality. One where our readers are constantly distracted by notifications and have increasingly shrinking attention spans. A reality where content needs growing at electric speed.

Talking about the fragmented reader’s experience,
the index below can help you navigate through this article.
Cool, uh?

Just click colored rectangle besides the names of the paragraphs on the left to skip to those passages, or click the ones besides the entities on the right to better understand the main concepts behind this article.

Readers and Writers: A Life in Fragments

Deconstructing the fragmented nature of today’s reader experience is key to crafting texts that will connect us to audiences in a meaningful way. And the nature of today’s reader very much resembles what Seneca described in one of his Moral Letters to Lucilius – On discursiveness in reading:

…reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

The full text is available at II. On Discursiveness in Reading

Further, the letter continues with Seneca arguing that ”eating” too much of a knowledge is “cloying the consumer rather that nourishing them”.

Similarly, a reader’s experience with digital media, mostly the Web-based one, more often than not appears to be “devouring” bits and pieces of fragmented content – a headline from Youtube here, a Facebook share from there, a piece of a Kindle book and a bit of a pdf, sent from a friend.

Acknowledging the essence of such reader’s experience can give us perspectives and understandings that will help us see and foresee what role our texts might play in such a fragmented environment. As writers, we are tasked to find the common thread in this cornucopia of content and present it to our readers giving them real food for thought and deep thinking. For time well-spent is one of the most valuable experience we can enrich the life of a reader with.

“The story of a shattered life can be told only in bits and pieces”, quotes Rilke, philosopher Zigmund Bauman.

In cyberspace, our texts reach readers converging before their eyes in all possible shapes and forms, surfaced and discovered in all conceivable ways. That is why the texts we write are (or should be) like a kaleidoscopic mosaic, made of various chunks. Chunks that can live separately without looking as if they are not part of our narrative. Such kaleidoscope-like approach, where content pieces are designed as to be brought together and form any picture before the reader, is radiant with possibilities for readers and writers alike.

Text on the Web: A Glorious Symphony of Interconnected Ideas, People and Things

On the Web, texts break boundaries and build networks, as glorious symphony of connected ideas, people and things. Our job as writers, diligently meeting our audience’s needs, is to orchestrate this symphony – with our imagination and with a baton made of technology.

Mixed with the right tools, our creativity would allow us to connect on as many levels as possible. For, remember, in a fragmented reader’s reality we are tasked with finding that common thread that will help the person on the other side of the text see clearly through the noise. We should also keep in mind that in a multimodal interaction with our readers we are not only content creators but to also content curators: we need to be able to assemble meaningfully bits and pieces of texts across social media, email communication, forums and other digital spaces.

To sum up, to orchestrate a good symphony, we need to:

  • find out what algorithmic audiences are all about (how and why they read us)
    seek to create a binding thread across devices, platforms and interactive systems through our writing.

We can accomplish both with a single conceptual shot: if we allow ourselves to conceive of texts outside the website boundaries, that is to think of texts within the context of application, a personal assistant, a chatbot, a voice search environment.

The Curious Case of the Networked Text in a Fragmented Reality

It is only when we as writers recognize and accept that we build worlds of words in an environment that pushes the limits of the written word outside the screen, that our messages will be able to make it to our recipients – on the other side of a screen or through the still awkwardly sounding robo voice of a personal assistant, the algorithms of which have just calculated the best answer for the user.

Impressive problem solvers, algorithms have been around since Ancient times. The oldest algorithm, being the one of Euclides (a method for finding the greatest common divider), as Marcus du Sautoy explains in his wonderful movie: The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms.

Very simply put, algorithms are “a set of defined steps to produce particular outputs”.

Algorithms search, collate, sort, categorise, group, match, analyse, profile, model, simulate, visualise and regulate people, processes and places. They shape how we understand the world and they do work in and make the world through their execution as software, with profound consequences.

Thinking critically about and researching algorithms

That explained, algorithmic audiences are the audiences of various programs that consists of algorithms reading your text in various ways, for a number of reasons – to analyze them, to search through them, to process them and feed them in a larger system. And before we slip into the utopian future of a your vacuum robot reading for pleasure in their spare time, and you thinking about the best text to please it, let me brace you with this first understanding: algorithmic audiences are important and knowing about them will give you a valuable perspective. On one hand it is the human to human interaction that algorithms ultimately serve, on the other, they are still far from being true readers.

The melons
I scolded him about last year,
I now offer to his spirit.
Oemaru (Blyth 1982)

[…] this spare and lovely haiku, can we even say for sure what it tells us? So evocative to a person, surely an eternity will pass before a computer can extract its essence. Let’s try something else.
This haiku was written by Oemaru (a Japanese person), was translated by R.h. Blyth (a British person), and appears on page 763 in Blyth (1982). Which is volume three of a set of books entitled Haiku. […]

Yes, this is more like it. We can represent this kind of information to a computer – specific bits and pieces about something definite.

Thomas B. Passin, Explorer’s Guide to the Semantic Web

As you can see, algorithmic audiences are nothing more than programs designed to make sense, to the extent possible, of our texts in order to better classify, distribute and serve them. Actually, algorithms can be also very helpful when creating content, as Andrea calls them (see WordLift for Digital Publishers and how to create an Open Database of Knowledge), the can be Our New Colleagues simply because they can interpret data and turn it into meaningful content.

And when a substantial part of our work gets algorithmic helpers, i.e. gets automated, we will have the time and mind space to envisage new ways of interacting with our readers, and connecting with them through the power of words. For the courage of creation and the spirit of imagination will never be a question of automation.

And this leads us to the second understanding I want to brace you with: the understanding of the value and the importance of a narrative.

Electronic text is connected on many levels, it is literally a networked text. With its hyperlinks and the openness it exists within it has the potential to give the reader the full benefits of the digital experience. Among the most prominent from these benefits is the benefit of interconnectedness. On the Web, a text is to be connected to as many parts of its story: to related facts, to contextual details, to a network of ideas, people and to the other texts it is made of and exists in. It is to be a network itself. When it serves as a hub for all kind of related media, it also serves the purpose of being a part of a narrative, while simultaneously providing new experiences, new ways of interaction, new ways of content discovery.

The Web Hitchhikers Guide to Thinking, Reading and Writing

To successfully create and nourish our relationships with our readers, hitchhiking, exploring and making the Web a better place to read in, we need to ask ourselves: What we can do for our readers to make their experiences rich and fulfilling?

Take voice search, for example. A growing number of our readers are accessing websites via Google’s voice search. So, there are a number of things we can do to make our texts suitable to be listened to.

As you might have experienced already for yourself text is being increasingly rendered the form of an answer when searched for in Google. So, here, the implications for us as web authors are clear. We are to aim for:

Clarity: Nothing new here. When writing content for the so-called informational searches, we are to use concise, neutral language and to straightforwardly answer questions. There’s no need for verbosity, what the user needs is as much information packed in one sentence as possible.
Reimagined interaction: This is where we need to imagine possible environments. We are to think about the most important information that a user would need to hear or see and the context they are going to be served that information in.
Narratives built of content chunks: We need to be fusionists here. We are to be able to very well combine a text with other content pieces that we believe will best serve the content need of the user.

For more practicalities, make sure to check Silvia’s 5-step checklist to write effective content for voice search.

And now, the hardest part, I am unwilling to skip: how do you write facts in a beautiful, engaging way. How do we combine them with the creative flow of our text, ultimately how do we present something dry in an immersive way?

Fortunately, I don’t know!

The answers to all of these questions are a matter of your own thoughts, feelings, your own “sequence of decisions”, your own intuition, and your own experience. It is up to you to envisage the interaction with the reader and craft the most appropriate piece to serve, delight and inspire them.

What I know is that passion, imagination and the need to express yourself and connect with your readers will never be a question of algorithms or technology. They will always be a question of the web hitchhiker’s hunch.

And Now, Writers, Please Step Up to the Screenless World of Your Readers

As revolutionary and novel this title may sound, I want to remind you something: solitary reading has not always been the primary way of “consuming” a text. Back in Ancient times there were “readers” that read the text from a scroll to an audience. They did not have the neutral voice of the Kindle reader, reading you your ebook or the “faculty” to search through text as fast as Google Voice Search, but they did have a similar role: to be a kind of a medium in this amazing process in which “we come to know a little more about the world and about ourselves to us individually, far away, and long ago”, as Alberto Manguel puts it in the preface of his book A History of Reading.

My point here is that no matter the medium our text reaches our readers through, be it a screenless environment or another “shiny object”, what counts is that we as writers are to be well-versed in this medium and at the same time not to be blinded by its features. We are to only use it as yet another vehicle for our writings to reach our audiences through the highway called intertwingularity.

We are to just keep doing what we’ve always done – weave webs of words, knowing that our message today is amplified on an unprecedented scale and in today’s culture the fragmented reader experience is the yin of shared understanding and our networked texts are its yan.

Wanna learn more? Join Teodora’s class!

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In this free webinar Teodora Petkova will teach you how to craft effective copy that will:

  • Bring more traffic to your website
  • Create an immersive experience for your readers
  • Connect ideas and people together.

Enjoy it!


Teodora Petkova is a philologist and a freelance content writer with an educational background is in Classical Studies and Creative Writing. She helps companies with content creation, writing for their blogs. Enthusiast user of WordLift, she wrote an inspiring, beautiful article about her interdisciplinary journey to structure her knowledge graph using our WordPress plugin on her blog.

How an expert professional SEO evolves in the age of AI

How an expert professional SEO evolves in the age of AI

How the semantic web (r)evolution is affecting the daily work of SEO experts?

In this article, you are going to meet the English SEO Exert Mark Bryce-Sharron and learn from his story why semantics is a game-changing science when applied to the optimization of websites and pages.

While Google is sharpening its semantic weapons with Hummingbird and RankBrain; the line between SEO, data analysis, and content organization is blurring. The Semantic web and schema.org markup are not new concepts for your average digital marketer, nowadays, however, having an understanding of both the theory and application is giving a selected few SEO agencies a competitive edge.

Meet Mark Bryce-Sharron

Founder and Director of the British digital agency Sussex SEO, Mark loves to keep his hands-on and his head learning. He manages clients’ search and social strategies, and he says about himself:

Mark Bryce-Sharron«SEO and social media fuel my passion for self-study as they present an endless exponential learning curve that few careers can match. I devote an average of one/two hours per day, monitoring industry data, IM forums and following case studies thus ensuring that I keep my skill set up to date so changes to such as Google’s Penguin update don’t cost my clients lost business.»

He founded his agency in 2006 with a very smart approach: instead of focusing on a range of keywords his clients should rank for, he works on developing a holistic digital strategy for each client to multiply the sources of traffic and maximize the brand exposure.

It’s a long path, instead of a bunch of tricks and easy patches, but – in the long run – it works, and it’s less sensitive to the latest algos from Mountain View.

We were curious to know the journey that brought Mark and his agency to a semantic approach and how it impacted the SEO operations for his clients.

3 signs and a plot twist

Back in 2014, Mark was already quite familiar with semantic strategies. Though, the enlightening comprehension of the great change that was coming forward was yet to come.

«We were kind of flying the big line at that point, and feeding the search engine what it wanted.» He says.

And how did you realize that something had changed forever in the SEO industry?

«At the beginning of this year (2017) something happened, I noticed a significant change in search results. No longer were web pages being displayed in order of relevance, rather the search engine was offering alternatives. The pattern was pretty easy to spot. Short tail keywords were returning results that offered the user a selection of choices e.g. cost, jobs, general information, legal information, and services. I had known this was coming but it honestly caught me by surprise.

«There had been rumblings that Hummingbird was the most significant update to Google’s core ranking algorithm back in 2014, three years later the penny really dropped for me. What suddenly became obvious was the search engine was now not simply attempting to present the user with results in order of relevance, it was attempting to calculate the user’s intent and provide answers. Where the search command did not supply enough information e.g. short tail keywords, the search engine would supply a montage of different types of results. As you narrow down your search criteria with more specific long tail or conversational queries the answer provided became more specific.

«Like many SEOs I’m self-taught and the way I learn is by testing and talking to other industry professionals (usually in the pub over a pint or several). Networking is key, if you don’t exchange Ideas with others your methodology stagnates. One particular drinking buddy (tentacle.ai) works with big data and artificial intelligence, armed with his laptop and a pint of craft beer he showed me an AI chatbot he was working on. As he explained its inner workings I was surprised to find we were using that same terminology e.g. parsers/classifier algorithms.

«Something clicked, Google was using AI. Rankbrain wasn’t just vapourware it was actively being used to serve improved search engine results.

«Another contact, Robert Adler (BOFU2U), had previously introduced to me to the concept of creating entities within a site and semantic linking using anchor text and the schema.org sameAs attribute.

«At this point, I had an idea of the components required for a case study but needed a mechanism to deploy the code.

«My SEO plugin of choice is SEO Ultimate, it blows Yoast out of the water and contains a set of modules that allow users to inject code into pages. I was after something that could inject the same bit of code info multiple page headers. I reached out to Jeffrey Smith, the founder of SEO Ultimate. He told me that he was partnering with WordLift to offer advanced semantic SEO to his clients and he lead me to your plugin. I took a look at what you guys were doing and yes, it blew my mind: so I took you for a test drive, WordLift provided everything I needed and everything I wanted. I’ve tried WordLift, after spending significant time on content to be sure the copy was good and it wasn’t duplicated, and – sure enough! – things started to move very positively

So, how are you using WordLift for your clients?

«There are a number of approaches.

  • Install and go.
  • Install, go and add unique content to vocabulary pages.
  • Plan a vocabulary by trawling the semantic web, seed existing website copy with your vocabulary (LSI keywords), Order content, install the plugin and replace the vocabulary with original content/create new entities within the plugin.

«A strong starting point is a vocabulary of 120 pages. My vocabulary pages start at 1000 words in length and include question, answers, statistics and I keep building them out.»

«Of course, I don’t just go through and take every single entity the NLP AI extracts, I pick things making some decisions based on common sense: is this entity relevant for my website? And that’s how I build my vocabulary.

«Now, if I just put WordLift on my side, and don’t add any extra copy to those vocabulary pages it still begins to move, but when we start to add links to the pages – that’s when it really started to get interesting

A smooth, gentle traffic uplift

Until today, Mark has used WordLift on 10 different websites of his clients. Quite a vantage point from where to see if the results that WordLift brings to traffic metrics are real, measurable, and repeatable.

«What I noticed is that when you deploy the plugin you get a steady very desirable growth. Depending on how you use the plugin it will depend the results you get: you do have to cope with strategic content research and content creation, to get the most out of it, and also you have to be aware that somehow Google changes, like RankBrain.

«Some people say RankBrain is just a machine learning algorithm, but I see that it is virtualizing some pieces of language of certain types of language: often phrases, or questions, or propositions, or answers… So the key thing you offer is semi-automatically generating schema.org markup, which has a very very smooth potential to website’s use and Google knows it, because Google is gently starting to push the next generation. With the coding, there is just the ability to remove any ambiguity from a piece of text and to help Google work less hard to calculate some meaning behind the text on the page. – I don’t use the word understands, because I don’t believe AI understands at this particular point in time… but it certainly does a very good job in processing the meaning.

«With WordLift what you see is a slow, gentle, constant climate. So it doesn’t happen overnight, it happens in the space of three months. It is like a gentle trigger.»

Wrap-up & lessons learned

When the semantic web meets AI the impact on the web is huge. Think about the effect of RankBrain on a single search, and multiply it for all the existing industries where SEO is relevant for business.

SEO Specialist can’t ignore those transformations – they have to stay on top of them and to find new techniques and reliable tools that really work.

If there is something that Mark’s story teaches us, is that in an ever-changing context, such as the web is, digital pros need to upgrade continually and to sharpen their weapons while the search engines are doing the same on a larger scale.

Who’s using voice assistants and why? Infographic and resources for marketers

Who’s using voice assistants and why? Infographic and resources for marketers

Once there was a keyboard, then a touchscreen. Today there is a voice. A magnetic, robotic voice is becoming the helpful right-hand of Millennials, the caring assistant of busy Gen Xers and the quick memo reminder for Baby Boomers.

According to TechCrunch, 41.7 million people are using Siri, 23.2 million people are using S Voice, 19.8 million people are using Google Text-to-Speech, and while Microsoft Cortana is used by around 700k people, home assistants have stepped triumphally into the market reaching an interesting share — Google Home is already used by 4.7 million people and Amazon Alexa by 2.6 million.

How are people using voice assistants?

Numbers are speaking loud and clear. Since voice search is no more a buzzword, but a growing trend, marketers should better know:

  • what are all these people searching and doing with virtual assistants?
  • how often and for which purposes do they use them?
  • which technologies and devices do they prefer?

There is still a bigger question marketers should be wondering about. The Question. I will get back on this at the end of the article. Now, follow me. ?

In this infographic, Quill.com collected several data about how people use voice assistants. In a glance, you will see which commands are the most used, how different generations are performing different tasks through these technologies, how to use virtual assistants to be more productive, and which are the strengths, weaknesses, and differences between the most widespread solutions.

Not surprisingly, online search is the second kind of command performed by users. Have a look below.

Content marketing in the age of voice assistants

If content marketing is still a thing, it’s time to start thinking about screen-less interactions and to start redesigning content for users who don’t actually read content — but listen to it. And it makes a lot of difference.

Listening and reading are pretty much similar cognitive processes. But they are not the same thing. Most of the times conditions and degrees of attention are different.

Moreover, you have to optimize your content and think its format in order to be picked by machines as a result of a voice search — and you have to think about this technical filter. It’s not like you are going to talk your readers yourself. Nope. A robotic voice will pick your pages and read them, only if the algorithms behind the voice assistant value your content suitable enough for their user.

So, the big question is: how to write good content for voice search?

Here at WordLift, we have studied, written and experimented a lot about this subject. You may find useful the selection of articles below. If you need more, don’t miss our free webinar on machine-friendly content we registered with Scott Abel.

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