How do you optimize content for a voice-first world?

For years, the use of voice search and voice assistants to answer questions has been on the rise. According to Google, 20 percent of all mobile search queries are voice search, and that number will only go up.
Voice recognition technology is getting better and better: Google’s technology is now 95 percent accurate.

Yet for most SEO professionals, not much has changed in the way they optimize content for this new way to search. Now is the perfect time to pay attention to voice search and to start incorporating SEO strategies that can increase your chances to show up in voice results.
Gary Vaynerchuk agrees. From his book, “Crushing It”:
It’s called Voice-First, and anyone currently building a personal brand needs to learn about it fast and early. Its platforms are the equivalent of yet-to-be-discovered Malibu beachfront property, much like Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2012.
Voice search and personal voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Google

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Customer loyalty: A key ingredient for successful local search results

Customer loyalty is often overlooked in local search. The thinking is that people are searching for new places to shop or for things they don’t know about already. If they were a regular or loyal customer, they wouldn’t need to search.
But that’s not entirely true. Due to the  “Google effect” or digital amnesia, consumers process information differently today. We’ve become so inundated with information we have adjusted to relying on search outlets like Google to find information instead of remembering the actual content.
For example, instead of recalling the name of the coffee shop I enjoyed the last time I visited Washington, D.C., I remembered that it was near the train station. Once I pulled up search results for coffee shops on Google Maps, the choices of names and locations triggered my memory.
Loyalty in local search is about being top of mind when choices need to be made and friends ask for recommendations. Below are six ways to

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Google My Business video uploads now available to business owners

Allyson Wright from the Google My Business team announced today that the video upload feature we saw being tested is now available for business owners in the Google My Business dashboard.
Business owners can “view videos added by customers and upload videos about their business for customers to view,” she said. The video maximum length is 30 seconds, and after a video is uploaded, it can take up to 24 hours for it to be visible on the business listing in Google Maps or the local web search results.
Merchants should soon have the ability to flag inappropriate videos through their dashboard, and Google also promises mobile support in the future.
To add video to your business, go to the Google My Business dashboard and click on the “photos,” then select the “video” link at the top. After it loads, select the option to “Post Videos.”

Drag and drop the video to the box.

The video will begin uploading.

After the video is

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How much will privacy regulation disrupt the local search market in 2018?

Most marketing professionals don’t give much thought to the regulatory climate. In the US, unlike Europe, privacy laws are largely industry-specific and targeted toward healthcare and financial services. Thus, marketers have largely been able to rely on lawyers to provide privacy disclosures and then go on to business as usual.
Yet there are a number of indications that a tipping point may be near, giving way to new regulations that demand significant changes in business practice. These changes can have a disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized local businesses. And varying standards across state lines means that companies with local operations in different states may have to make multiple adjustments.
Below, I take a look at the current environment and indicators that major changes are due in 2018. Then I cover seven ways changing privacy laws will impact the local search market.
Deregulation on federal level driving changes on state level
With all the news on Net Neutrality last month, you

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Report: Google exploring sale of Zagat reviews

According to a report appearing in Reuters, Google’s parent Alphabet is considering a sale of reviews publication Zagat. The company was purchased in September, 2011 for a reported $151 million in the wake of a failed deal to acquire Yelp.
At the time Google needed local reviews content to better compete in local search with rivals such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and others. Marissa Mayer was responsible for the acquisition. Less than a year later Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO.
The Reuters report says, “Google has held informal talks in recent months with multiple companies about offloading Zagat . . . Any deal would likely involve the Zagat brand name and website . . .”
Whether the sale will actually happen and any potential purchase price are uncertain. If Zagat did sell it almost certainly would fetch less than what Google paid for it. Its brand has undoubtedly declined in value during the nearly seven years Google has owned and managed it.
Google clearly

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Google again showing third-party reviews in local results

Google is integrating third-party reviews into the Knowledge Graph for hotels. It apparently has been happening since 2016 and is entirely opt-in for the provider.
Google works directly with the third-party review source (e.g., TripAdvisor) to integrate the content. In the example below, TripAdvisor reviews for Southern California hotel Terranea are available under the “view Google reviews” link in the Knowledge Panel.

Google got into trouble roughly seven years ago for “scraping” and incorporating third-party review content from sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp into Google Places without permission. Yelp saw the move as a kind of antitrust “extortion” and mounted a vigorous campaign against it.
One of the provisions of Google’s 2012 antitrust settlement with the FTC was that the company would allow publishers to block Google from including third-party reviews in “vertical search offerings” without their being excluded from the general index. According to the FTC statement announcing the settlement:
Google also has promised to provide all websites the option to

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3 inconsistencies in Yelp’s review solicitation crackdown

Last month, Yelp doubled down on its war on review solicitation. Yelp has long given mixed signals about whether you can ask customers for reviews on their platform, but they seem to now be unifying their message against review solicitation.
In November, they began sending messages like this to businesses and agencies:

Disclosure: We (Go Fish Digital) received the email above. However, they must not have really done a lot of research to compile this list, as we do help clients with reputation management, but we do not solicit Yelp reviews on their behalf. We don’t do any review solicitation.
This new crackdown is a little disturbing, and in many ways, quite misleading. Here are three ways in which I view this all as quite hypocritical.
1. They LITERALLY told us review solicitation was OK
I once emailed Yelp support and asked them directly if review solicitation was OK. The wording on their website was ambiguous, so I wanted a clear answer

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Google adds price tracking features to flight search, hotel search and Google Trips

Google announced it has added features to help you plan your trips, flights and hotel stays for your vacations or business trips. Many of the features are around how you can save money or track prices for a travel destination. Google has been testing many of these features over the past month, so they may not appear new to some of our readers.
Google is showing new “tips” under the flight search results to show you ways to save money for that trip. Google says it uses “machine learning and statistical analysis of historical flights data, Flights displays tips under your search results, and you can scroll through them to figure out when it’s best to book flights.” Here is a screen shot:

Google may also display a new tip above search results when room rates are higher than usual, or if the area is busier than usual due to a holiday, a music festival, or even a business

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5 local search tactics your competitors probably aren’t using

Local SEO is competitive and fierce. With more and more local businesses vying for the Google local three-pack — and ads and online directories occupying a large percentage of the remaining SERP real estate — your local SEO strategy has to be aggressive.
So, what can you do to outrank your local competitors down the street, especially when you’ve all got the basics down? One approach is to use local SEO tactics that your competitors may not know about or aren’t using. Here are five local SEO tactics you can implement to help get ahead of your competitors.
Google Posts
First, every local business should claim their Google My Business (GMB) listing. It’s a must-do. Non-negotiable. If you don’t claim your Google My Business listing, you essentially don’t exist online! (Okay, that’s an exaggeration — but not claiming your GMB listing will significantly diminish your chances of showing up in local search results.)
Of your competitors who claim their Google My Business listing,

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Top 10 local search insights of 2017

Is it just me, or does it seem time flies faster in the local search industry? Another year has gone by, with many changes and developments to boot. Here’s a list of my top 10 insights from 2017:
1. Customer data is the new competitive edge
SMBs often feel at a competitive disadvantage compared to larger companies who benefit from scale at every level, including the purchase of search advertising or other marketing services. Data is helping even the playing field as it emphasizes quality over quantity.
Better data resulting in better targeting means that local businesses experience lower costs, higher conversion rates and greater ROI. And while targeting is not a new strategy, what’s new is the access to and quality of data.
Just as the price of technology drops with increased adoption, data will be cheaper, more accurate and more insightful. The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving growth in data much faster than what could be achieved by

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