Search has changed, are you losing out? (Part 1)

Published: Nov 07, 2017
Search has changed, are you losing out? (Part 1)

A multi-device world

According to ComScore, the average consumer owns almost 4 connected devices. In such a fragmented, multi-device world, it is critical that marketers understand where and how their target consumers are using different devices and search channels to create a plan to effectively engage and inspire consumers. According to Google, more than 60% of search is performed on a mobile device and 65% of smartphone visitors continue over to a desktop or a PC. Often, Marketers still view search as being conducted on desktop and mobile independent of one another. Trends suggest otherwise. ComScore has found that consumers view the same piece of content up to 5 times – often on different devices at the same time. Users migrate between desktop and mobile seamlessly and leverage search history that is archived across devices to help create a seamless experience. Research also indicates that these interactions on mobile devices lead to eventual conversions, today 2% of first time visitors complete a purchase.

Mobile devices started the revolution in search – all the way back to the original iPhone – but a new generation of “headless” devices, devices powered by AI engines like Alexa, Google Home and Siri are poised to push how people search and find information even further. The increasing reliance on voice search has already changed the landscape of search engines – 20% of searches are already being conducted via voice assistants. ComScore predicts that this trend will only grow, with more than 50% of search becoming voice-based by the year 2020 – that’s only 2 years away!

Search is about answers

In this new world of voice-powered smart phones, speakers, home assistants and automobiles, consumers are increasingly relying more on search to provide answers, not lists of results. While a user might type “hotels San Francisco downtown,” that same user is more likely to ask “how many five star hotels are there near downtown San Francisco?” Users are far more comfortable asking long, more complex, and more specific questions using voice than when typing. The improvements in voice-based assistants is driving this even further. Systems like Google are now beginning to provide conversational queries – questions that are related to earlier answers. For example, our same user might follow up the “five star hotels” question with something like “which ones have a pool?” Obviously, with this conversational approach to search, the technology necessary to stay ahead is changing.

Technology and design: The recipe for success

In this changing world of search technology, there are 6 distinct technologies that are “must haves” in order for a modern business to thrive. What isn’t on the top of the list – how “pretty” your website might be.

  1. Schemas: The backbone of modern search

Website schemas are not new technology, in fact, they have been around for quite some time. It’s also no secret that just about any website design company or SEO company claims to focus on website schemas. The devil, however, is always in the details. To understand the critical importance of website schemas we must look at how search engines use schemas. Take the question “How many five star hotels near downtown San Francisco have a pool?” From a search engine’s perspective, that question has x elements to it:

  • Business category: hotel
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Address: Located near geolocation 37.773972, -122.431297
  • Hotel amenities: pool

Each of the elements needed by Google can be represented by corresponding schema tags. The point? It’s no longer enough to have a website with a “business entity” schema. To be successful in the year 2020 you will need to wrap as much of your content in schemas as possible.

  1. FAQs: your answers for Google

So, schemas can help you with voice based searches that are non-branded. But how does a business respond to voice searches that are highly specific, and branded. For example, how do you ensure that your website answers the question: “Does the hotel Nikko have a pool?” Once again, part of the answer lies in schemas, but the bigger answer is in having dynamic and properly formatted Frequently asked questions, or FAQs. Below you can view how the Website FAQ Concierge has been implemented on the hotel Nikko’s website. Built on the Milestone Content management system 6.0, Website FAQ Concierge is a web based module that helps answer user generated question from search. The Website FAQ Concierge module is a technical method to allow your business to be shown in the answer box. This module allows your website to answer the growing voice search questions, and works for your mobile and desktop websites.

  1. Website speed: why it matters

You’ve implemented schemas, you have FAQs and you are now ready for the modern search engine, right? Not quite. There are other elements to being ready for the modern search experience. As we mentioned earlier, more than 50% of search is already happening on non-PC devices – mostly on mobile platforms. That means that having an exceptional mobile website is critical – and that means you need the fastest possible website. According to Google, a website that takes up to 3 seconds to load is likely to see its bounce rate increase by 32%. Increasing the load time to 10 seconds bumps that number up to 123%. More reasons to worry about speed? 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load and, losing visitors means losing business.

Tune in on Thursday for the other three critical items you need to win at voice search.

Milestone’s team of experts work with over 2000 clients to help navigate this rapidly evolving digital and search marketing space. Send us an email at sales@milestoneinternet.com or call us at +1 408 200 9055 with your questions or comments.

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