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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Google Assistant adds new media capabilities ahead of HomePod release

The Google Assistant has been updated to make entertainment content more accessible to voice control. The company announced today that users can set alarms to play a favorite song, playlist or radio station instead of a loud, unpleasant alarm sound.
Users invoke this by speaking, “Hey Google, set an alarm for 6 a.m. that plays [insert favorite musician].” This is optimized for Google Play Music but will work with other services as well (e.g., Pandora).
Google added that you can now ask for TV show schedules using the Google Assistant. You can also set reminders so you can catch shows at specific dates and times. The Google Assistant can control TV programming as well.
This isn’t entirely new; users can “cast” content to their TVs from the Assistant on Netflix, YouTube TV and a couple of other sources. If you’ve linked your Netflix account to Google Home, you can now say “Watch XYZ show . . . “ and the

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Apple says HomePod is finally coming on February 9, but can it compete?

Having missed the holiday shopping cycle, Apple is finally releasing its HomePod smart speaker on February 9. It will initially be available in the US, the UK and Australia and later “this spring” in France and Germany.
With its higher price ($349) and late entrance, Apple is definitely an underdog versus Amazon and Google. There’s evidence that more than 40 million smart speaker units are already in US homes, the majority of which are Amazon Alexa devices. However, there are roughly 125 million households in the US, so the market is far from saturated, and there’s some indication of demand for HomePod.
Many of the devices sold, however, have been at the low end of the market (Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot). Apple has no such lower-end offering and has positioned its HomePod as a premium speaker, competing with Sonos (which has a version with Alexa). The company is also using HomePod to promote Apple Music.
Unlike Google Home

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Google beefs up mobile shopping results for the holidays, adds more product info & buying guides

Google is beefing up its mobile shopping experience to prepare for the holidays, now showing buying guides for broad categories like “sewing machine” and “coffee grinder” searches and adding more product-related information for specific product searches.
“When you search for a specific product, Google.com now shows you other helpful information, like related items, and allows you to compare reviews, prices and other specs, side by side,” writes Google product management director for Google Shopping, Jennifer Liu on Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google says it has added a “newer model available” label to tech-gadget product listings so searchers know if they’re browsing the most recent version of tech products.
According to the announcement, Google’s recently redesigned mobile shopping experience has helped bring more product information to the forefront with features like a “Quick View” button in Google Shopping ads that lets users preview detailed product information.
Google also noted its recent knowledge panel updates that quickly surface product photos, videos, reviews and

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How machine learning levels the SERP playing field

We don’t ordinarily think of Google when we think about competition in the digital marketing world, since it seems to reliably dominate most areas in which it does business. A recent segment discussing corporate monopolies on John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight“ hilariously referenced Bing as the dominant search engine with a graphic that stated, “Bing. The best place to Google something.”
For the most part, however, the digital marketing sphere has been a fairly competitive landscape, though there were exceptions to this maxim. Established brands frequently dominated top SERP positions because of long-standing trust, fresh domains had to wait their turn in line, and black-hat SEO allowed webmasters to game the system and deliver high rankings for thin content. A decade ago, SEO agencies and webmasters could apply simple heuristics and buzzworthy keywords to rank content regardless of its utility to user intent or actual quality.
The Hummingbird update and subsequent rollout of RankBrain changed all of these notions

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What marketers need to know about Google assistant and Google Home

What started with Siri in 2010 is quickly leading to an age where consumers engage with the internet using only their voices, in much the way Captain Picard engaged with the computer on the USS Enterprise.
Google’s foray into voice search has been calculated and planned for years, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. It currently appears to be based on a closed system owned and overseen by Google, not on an open system like the trillions of websites that populate the internet are built on (i.e., HTML). I predicted this eventuality more than two years ago, after the Nest acquisition.
These are the problems and challenges brought by Google’s new assistant that marketers and SEOs alike need to be aware of.
Google I/O 2016 announcement
On May 18, 2016, Google announced Google Home, a speaker that houses the new Google assistant (Yes, it’s Google assistant with a lower-case a, not Google Assistant) platform and that resembles the Amazon Echo. The Home device seeks

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