Google updates Search Console

Google has been testing the new version of search console in beta for a few months and will now start making it available to all verified users. Users will receive a message once their site is available in the new Search Console.

Functionality will include redesigned Search Performance and Index Coverage, as well as AMP status and Job Posting reports. Users will welcome the expansion of data in Search Performance to 16 months, making it easier to analyze long term trends. Google has also added the ability to share reports internally within an organization, to simplify internal knowledge sharing and collaboration.

While #Google continues work on adding features the two versions will exist side by side, and users will be able to move easily between the old and new Search Console via links in the navigation bar.

Search Performance

Search performance is similar to the current Search Analytics. It has 16 months of data, which is something users have been requesting. The data will also be made available via the Search Console API in the near future.

Search Performance

Search Console gives full details about the Search Performance feature.

Index Coverage

The updated Index Coverage report gives a comprehensive insight into how your site is being indexed by Google and makes it easy to find tools to test and resubmit URLs. Google says:

“It shows correctly indexed URLs, warnings about potential issues, and reasons why Google isn’t indexing some URLs. The report is built on our new Issue tracking functionality that alerts you when new issues are detected and helps you monitor their fix.”

Index Coverage

Google’s screenshot outlines the process in these numbered steps:

1.Clicking any error URL brings up page details and links to diagnostic tools to help understand the source of the problem.

2.The new Share button in Search Console lets you share the report within your team to facilitate a fix.

3.Select a flagged issue and click on Validate Fix to confirm you’ve resolved the problem. Google will recrawl and reprocess the URL with higher priority.

4.Google says the Index Coverage report works best for sites that have submitted a sitemap. You can use the sitemap filter to focus on an exact list of URLs.

Search Console’s report on Index Coverage gives more details.

The AMP status and Job Posting reports also focus on providing error data. You’ll be able to see which AMP urls have errors, get diagnostic help, and resubmit once fixed. For those with job listings on their site, the Job Posting report will show indexing stats and any errors.

For full details on the new Search Console rollout, see Google’s blog post.

#ABCO #Technology teaches a comprehensive program for web design. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE #588
Los Angeles, ca. 90304

Build successful web pages today!

The State of Mobile User Experience

The State of Mobile User Experience
By Charles Pascal

Summary: Ten years from the original iPhone, the field of mobile UX has finally reached maturity.

The original iPhone was released in June 2007. In late 2009, when ABCO Technology wrote the research for the first article of our mobile report, most people still had primitive mobile devices with horrible user experience. At the time, anything that was half-way decent was a pleasant experience compared with the misery caused by most mobile devices and most mobile sites.

Three years ago, when the second article of the mobile report came out, we did a thorough evaluation of the state of mobile usability. At the time, we were happy to report that mobile usability was no longer an oxymoron— and we finally saw many sites and apps with decent usability. With the new third 2018 article of our mobile-UX research report, we continue to see progress.

Today, most mobile sites and applications offer a good user experience. There are still the occasional glitches and sacrifices of usability in favor of aesthetics, but we can confidently say that the field has progressed in the past two years since the last article. Most of the egregious errors are not there anymore. When we tried to update the examples for many of our mobile guidelines, we discovered that the companies had fixed their problems and some of the issues that we discussed were no longer common. Yet we also encountered revivals of problems we thought almost extinct two years ago. In the business of usability, mistakes (like trends) tend to be cyclic: one generation identifies them and creates design patterns that avoid them, but later generations, no longer having witnessed the UX problem, make the same error again in their quest for refreshed designs. It’s always two steps forward and one step backward.

Content vs. Chrome

The importance of prioritizing content over UI elements (that is, chrome) was one of the lessons learned from responsive design. The hamburger-menutrend was a consequence of that lesson: designers were trying to minimize the number of UI elements visible on the screen because these took away precious content space. Two years later, designers continue to value the screen real estate on mobile devices — but they’ve reached measure in hiding the chrome. A break has been put on the hamburger trend. It’s still very widespread (as we argue elsewhere, hidden navigation is the only option for some sites), but many have understood that it should not be used if a better pattern (such as a visible navigation bar) is available.

Prioritizing content over chrome has trickled in other design areas: for instance, we no longer see results pages headed by fat filters that occupy half the page. Or, the nested-doll pattern, which involved having users make a sequence of selections through multiple pages before encountering content, is no longer as popular as it used to be. At least some companies have started to understand that it’s better to flatten the navigation structure on mobile: show people a variety of content right away and allow them to later narrow it down to a specific category of interest.

Walgreens.com used the nested-doll navigation pattern, which used to be popular in the past but is becoming less widespread. It required users to make 4 category selections before they could see any products. However, Walgreens tried to create the illusion of content by adding product images to the some of the category-selection pages, which suggests that designers were likely aware of the tedium of this category-based design.

#Google Express for iPhone: Instead of listing all the subcategories under Grocery, a few items were displayed under each. Instead of using a category-based design where users had to decide among different categories, the app rightly used a content-based design.

Use of Gestures

Gestures solve the problem of too much chrome on a too small screen, but they are notoriously hard to discover and learn. Some of the original gesture enthusiasm (embodied by gesture-only apps such as Clear Todos) has dampened down, but gesture use is still one of the more promising directions in mobile design.

Clear Todos for iPhone, whose first version appeared around 2012, used a variety of gestures to compensate for the lack of visual interface elements. These gestures were hard to remember.

Unfortunately, gestures are a chicken-and-egg problem: they won’t become easy to learn and use until a standard vocabulary of gestures used across apps and websites is built, and all applications and websites use these gestures consistently. But, on the other hand, designers are forced to stay away from gestures because they have so little familiarity among their user base.

Apple has had multiple attempts to expand the standard vocabulary of gestures (with the introduction of 3D Touch for iPhone 6S) and to delegate some of the visible chrome to gestures. Their attempts have culminated with the iPhone X — which got rid of the iPhone’s only physical button to replace it with a series of swipe gestures. The result has been a more effective use of the screen at the expense of some initial learning hurdles for people used with the old Home button.

#3D Touch was a promising direction, but it is still relatively rarely used by applications. However, two other (old) gestures are increasing in popularity to the point of being added to that basic gesture vocabulary: the swipe-to-delete for exposing some contextual actions including delete, and the two-finger scroll for moving around a map embedded on a webpage. While the swipe-to-delete simply adds a convenient way to perform contextual actions on a list element, the two-finger scroll solves the problem of swipe ambiguity, often encountered when maps are embedded in web pages. These gestures are becoming more and more familiar to users, although we still recommend that designs which use them add other redundant ways to perform the same actions or at least have good contextual tips to guide users.

The two-finger scroll gesture is becoming a standard for map scrolling and solves the problem of swipe ambiguity (where users attempt to scroll the page and accidentally scroll the map or viceversa).

Better Integration Between the Mobile Web and the App Web

Transitioning from the web to an app used to require a specific user action: on iOS, people had to explicitly choose to open an app and then perform a search inside it. From iOS 9 on, it’s become possible to easily transition between the mobile web and the app web— if I search for a movie in a search engine, some of the search results will seamlessly open corresponding application pages (when users have these applications installed).

When a link to a movie on the search-results page was selected, the control moved from Safari to the iMDb app. The Back-to-appbutton was displayed in the top left corner of the status bar and was labeled with the name of the previously used app (Safari).

This seamless transition from browser to app, or, more generally, from one app to the next ensures that the experience of consuming content is optimal — because, most often, applications will have a better user experience than sites(simply because they are closer to the mobile platform for which they were designed).

Unfortunately, with this design we also see a new burden placed on users: that of keeping track of where they are and knowing how to navigate back. Applications still have to accommodate that need — for example, we still notice that many apps (like iMDb above) do not include logos on their deep pages, which makes it more difficult for users to orient themselves in this new expanded app-plus-web universe.

A notable improvement, possibly related to the increased ease of switching from browser to app, has been a lower number of interstitial app ads. (Almost) gone are the days when navigating to a new site was preceded by an interstitial inviting the user to download the app. Most of the time, the app is simply advertised in a banner at the top of a web page.

Better Use of Phone Features

Although not perfect, more and more sites and apps take advantage of basic phone functionality. Checking out on many ecommerce sites has become a breeze due to integrated systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay. And most sites and apps take into account the user’s current location. Biometric authentication promises to get us closer from the problem of remembering passwords, and can even make desktop login easier by allowing users to easily transfer information (and thus automatically log in) across devices.

When setting up a new iPhone, there was no need to type in credentials to authenticate: they were automatically transferred from a nearby device.

Fewer Tutorials: Stagnation

A few years ago, any respectable app started with a lengthy tutorial that catalogued all the different features available in the app. These tutorials were at worst annoying and at best ineffective — no user could remember the plethora of commands listed in a lengthy tutorial. Nor were they motivated to remember any of them — after all, who could say in advance what features would be actually useful?

Today, those tutorials have been largely replaced with general overviews of the apps, meant to convince the user to go beyond the login walland create an account. Ideally, these login walls should disappear completely and users should be able to experience the app without having to register at all. The initial app overviews play the function of an ad — and most people hate to have to sit through an ad, especially if they’ve already spent the effort to download the app.

Steps Backward

Although overall the responsive-design trend has been a positive influence, the quest for building across multiple interaction modalities has pushed some towards strange solutions like using a split-button for menus or accordions. The intent behind the split-buttonmenu is to replicate desktop’s hover-plus-click interaction for categories in the main navigation — that is, to allow access both to a category landing page and to a submenu. Yet it is a highly unusable solution — not only because it crams two targets in a small space and makes the job of acquiring each of them more difficult for human fingers, but also because it violates users’ expectations and the mobile patterns that they have learned so far.

Another somewhat surprising development has been the disappearance of guest checkout. Sites and apps that used to offer this functionality in the past have eliminated it — some rely on Check out with Apple Payor Check out with PayPalto compensate for the lack of guest checkout. But many still force users to create an account although they may be one-time purchasers. On the plus side, registration has been simplified in many designs — it is fairly common nowadays to be asked only for an email and a password in order to create an account.

The popularity of the overlay has increased, with many sites implementing menus as overlays. Two years ago, many mobile overlays were buggy and created funny effects (such as content behind the overlay suddenly appearing on top of it). Today’s overlays are much better. But they often look like full pages, and people treat them as such — expecting to be able to use the Backbutton to close them and navigate back to the previous view. Often, they get disoriented when that does not happen and instead they are spit out of the site. When an entire flow is moved in overlays (as it is the case with the increasingly popular sequential menus), the opportunity for errors increases even more, with people forgetting to use the menu’s Back button to ensure correct navigation in the overlay and instead using the browser or the phone’s Backbutton.

LATimes.com: The menu was displayed in an overlay that looked like a new page (left). In spite of the Closebutton in the top left corner, people will still be tempted to tap the browser’s Backbutton to close the overlay. If they did so, they would be taken to the previously visited page (the search-engine page — right) instead of to the LA Times homepage.

Conclusion

Ten years from the first iPhone, the field of mobile user experience has finally reached a reasonable level of maturity. It was about time — according to a recent report by comScore, in many parts of the world, more than half of the online time is spent on mobile. So it’s only right that mobile usability catches up with desktop usability. It doesn’t mean that mobile sites and apps have reached a state of usability perfection: there’s no such thing as a perfect design. It simply means that a lot of them offer a decent user experience, and that many flagrant errors of the past have been fixed.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive course for E-commerce. Call our technical college campus today. You can reach us between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build highly successful webpages today!

Google’s assistant competes with Amazon

Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

#ABCO #Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

#Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of #CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

#SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

ABCO Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

Top tips for voice search and mobile usage

Voice search and mobile usage are both on the rise and look set to shape the SEO industry for some time to come. Nonetheless, 62% of marketers have no specific plans for voice search in 2018.

How can marketers take action today to tap into two of the most important trends in the industry?

As mobile usage continues to grow, more and more users are comfortable with speaking to their devices rather than typing their queries.

Of equal importance are the advances in speech recognition technology that have allowed the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple to offer a satisfying voice search experience.

There is plentiful context to make marketers aware of these emerging trends, with both mobile and voice search set to shape the future of the industry:

◾Voice-enabled personal assistants are installed by default on all smartphones

◾Google has revealed that more than 20% of searches on an Android device are voice searches

◾The Amazon Alexa app recently topped the app store charts. The Google Home app occupied second position

◾The Amazon Echo was once again the best-selling item on Amazon this holiday season

◾Speech recognition accuracy is now north of 95% for all of the major technology providers

◾Google’s mobile-first indexis rolling out and will soon be applied to all sites

◾comScore predicts that 50% of all searches will be by voice in 2020.

Though the two are not perfectly aligned, there is a clear correlation between the growth of voice search and the ongoing rise of mobile.

As the Internet of Things takes off, voice will be one of the most important unifying factors across all hardware. Whether at home, in the car, or at work, there will always be a voice-enabled device close to hand.

And yet, a recent study by BrightEdgereported that 62% of marketers are unlikely to implement a specific strategy for voice search over the next 12 months.

This is not due to a lack of awareness of the trend, but rather a lack of direction when it comes to preparing for its implications.

In a clear indication of how significant the shift to voice-based searches will be, Google recently released a new set of Search Quality Rating Guidelines for the Google Assistant.

Though specific to the Google Assistant, we can safely assume that the same rules and objectives underpin the functioning of other digital assistants too.

As such, this document can prove both illuminating and instructive as we look to move beyond the hype that voice search brings and arrive at some tips to direct our mobile SEOefforts.

The findings in Google’s official guidelines for voice search evaluation, along with the best practices we already have for mobile SEO, can help us create a hybrid set of tips to improve any site’s chances of ranking in this new landscape.

This begins with some technical considerations, then moves on to a more nuanced understanding of how consumers are using voice to interact with their devices. Finally, we must create the right content to fit our target contexts, and find a way to measure our progress.

Technical SEO for mobile devices

As with so many aspects of SEO, crawlability is the foundation upon which a mobile SEO strategy for voice search must be built.

Put simply, if a search engine cannot access and understand your content, your chances of appearing in search results are slim. This as always been important, but it takes on a new level of significance when viewed through the lens of voice search.

Often, voice search removes the traditional search engine results page (SERP) and instead aims to provide one answer in response to a query. This is a search engine’s first port of call; it is only when one answer cannot conclusively answer the query that a more traditional list of results will be displayed.

Fortunately, there are some guidelines we can follow to increase the likelihood of our content ranking via voice search:

◾Schema markup: By adding schema markup, we can help to add structure to our website’s data. For example, we can alert search engines to elements that relate to events, prices, and people – among many others. When a search engine is trying to locate a response to a voice search, this extra information can prove invaluable.

◾XML sitemaps: Having a clearly structure sitemap that can be navigated easily both by people and by search engines will increase the likelihood that your information can be sourced quickly in response to a query.

◾Site structure: The structure of a website should mirror the journeys that users typically take when considering and making a purchase. For example, faceted navigation on an ecommerce site should aim to match common query strings.

◾Carry out a mobile SEO audit: Before embarking on any of the more innovative aspects of voice search, conduct a full mobile SEO site audit to ensure that you are in a solid position.

◾It is also worth reviewing the basics of mobile SEO to keep in mind the distinctions that set it apart from traditional SEO.

Understanding context

All language is contextual. The exact same query, at surface level, can in fact mean many different things based on how, when, where, and by whom it is said.

This is not a new discovery, but it is only recently that search engines have been able to understand the context of a query.

In part, this has been due to more sophisticated algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird update, which brought the concept of semantic searchto life.

However, the biggest source of contextual information is the smartphone. Our phones are constantly sending and receiving data, all of which can be processed to comprehend our past, present, and even our future behaviors.

Now, when a user searches for a term like [canon cameras], a search engine can use smartphone data to understand the implied intent of the query:

cameras

This implicit intent, now known to a search engine, can help to shape and personalize the results that the user sees.

There are other effects of this deeper understanding.

Varied queries can ultimately express the same underlying intent. For example:

sunny

The expression of the response may differ, but all variations are ultimately answering the same question. The user wants to know what the weather will be like tomorrow.

This is helpful, as it allows us to see that we don’t need to answer every single possible query that is out there. Many guides on voice SEO suggest creating FAQ pages as a way to grow traffic, but this seems a stop-gap solution when we can do better. SEO needs to move away from creating “SEO pages” on websites that serve no real purpose other than to attract organic search clicks.

Thus far, our industry has focused mainly on what has been said by searchers. We pull a list of keywords with search volumes, difficulty scores and so on, and we map those to our pages. Where a page does not exist for a group of keywords, we create one.

A further level of nuance can be added by segmenting the keywords by purchase stage: informational, navigational or transactional, for example. These can also be categorized as ‘Know’, ‘Go’, and ‘Do’ moments.

That is useful, but it is overly simplistic. What we often end up with is a comforting illusion; a spreadsheet that smooths over the rough edges to provide a digestible view of what people search for, cell by cell.

Reality does not fit so readily into neat compartments.

In a presentationgiven last year, Tom Anthony of Distilled mapped out what the new ecosystem looks like, based on the huge amount of data a smartphone both sends and receives:

tom_anthony

Even this is a reduction, but it does at least provide insight into the broader picture.

What this means is that when working on a mobile SEO strategy, we should identify the contexts in which our content could rank.

These contexts can be strung together to create a map of the typical user journey.

This can be informed by demographic data, as there are telling differences between the generations. In particular, we should note that younger generations are more comfortable with voice search and use it in very different situations to their older counterparts.

voice_search_today

Stone Temple Consulting produced an excellent, in-depth study that goes further still to segment this data by income. voice search seo incomeSource: Stone Temple Consulting

What we find through this report is that there are notable variations at every level of analysis. By location, gender, device, income level, and age, we find that people use voice search differently.

Marketers would do well to perform research of their own to pinpoint the right contexts for their business to target, through qualitative research and quantitative analysis.

Creating the right content at the right time

Once we have plotted out the potential contexts in which we could communicate with our audience, we need to create the content that will hopefully help us rank via voice search.

Though this is a nascent field, there are already some useful studies that can guide us in this process.

Voice queries tend to be longer, due to their closer relationship to natural speech patterns. This provides a significant amount of data for us to analyze, compared with the shorter queries we have grown accustomed to.

Where once we had to infer a consumer’s intent based on feedback signals (click-through rate, bounce rate, conversion rate), we can now start this process much earlier.

We should also bear in mind the anticipated input-output relationship between the consumer and the device. For example, a spoken query that prompts a spoken response will need to be fed by content that is clear, concise, and conclusive.

Google’s Research Blogoffers the following areas for assessment when it comes to this kind of voice search:

◾Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.

◾Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.

◾Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.

◾Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

This insight should flow directly into the site experience. If we know which task our consumer is trying to complete, we can make this process and seamless and as painless as possible.

There are some points that apply to any site aiming to create content for voice search:

◾Remember that a voice search is only the start of the user journey. If your mobile site experience does not match the user’s intent, they will complete the journey elsewhere. Use a user-agent switcher or a site like http://mobiletest.me/to see how your mobile experience matches up.

◾Create content that responds to the most common conversational queries. Provide clear information that can easily be picked up by a search engine as it tries to provide one, true answer for each voice query. Tools like Answer the Publicare useful for this task, but try to assimilate this information naturally into your content rather than creating a host of FAQ pages.

◾Map this content to a logical site hierarchy that is crawlable for search engines and useful for consumers.

◾Google is preparing to add voice queries to Search Console, so we will soon be able to assess and track our voice search performance.

Given that voice searches on a mobile device are frequently completed on the go, it should not be surprising that users often want help with navigation.

Interestingly, the growth in the number of ‘near me’ searches has slowed as people have come to expect Google to understand this implied intent.

Google uses its own Maps product to respond to these queries, so we can optimize our own Maps listings to help search engines and people to navigate better. There are a few tips to keep in mind when working on a voice search strategy for local SEO:

◾Ensure that names, addresses and phone numbers are accurate across all locations.

◾Consider using a specialist platform to manage your local listings and monitor your local search performance. There is a growing range of mobile SEO tools that can help with these tasks.

◾Make it easy for consumers to act on their intentions. This means adding in clear calls to action and directions to further information.

What’s next for search?

It is important to understand Google’s vision for the future of search.

The technology has improved dramatically, but it is still some distance from fulfilling the ambitions of Google and Amazon. When this technology reaches its potential, there may be no need for a query at all, as the digital assistant will be able to pre-empt our actions.

For now, marketers need to assist the assistants in the manner outlined above.

In essence, technology is enabling behaviors that have their basis in pre-existing states of intent. The industry is growing in complexity, but simultaneously it is developing into a more realistic representation of how people want to search.

Through better understanding of both people and technology, marketers can create a voice search strategy that will stand the test of time.

ABCO Technology teaches an excellent course for the Certified Webmaster, which includes search engine optimization. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build successful voice search webpages today!

New breakthroughs in cyber security by Polyverse will create new jobs for programmers and network administrators.

The “WannaCry” virus, which took down, among others, the National Health Services’ computer network in the United Kingdom last May, was formally labeled a North Korean plot by the U.S. last month. Lost in the foreign intrigue were some basic questions. Why had computer administrators in the U.K. and elsewhere not applied the software fix issued by Microsoft months earlier to protect the vulnerable Windows software? Or was the U.S.’s National Security Agency partly to blame for stockpiling malicious code?

Perhaps most important, why hadn’t billions of dollars worth of computer security gear from leading cyber protection companies such as Cisco Systems (ticker: CSCO), FireEye (FEYE), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Symantec (SYMC) foiled the attacks?

Not too surprisingly, the founders of a three-year-old cyber security start-up called Polyverse are convinced their new system “would have completely prevented WannaCry,” says Alex Gounares, the company’s CEO.

The chief technologist of Microsoft’s (MSFT) online unit back in the 2000s, Gounares—who was Bill Gates’ personal technology advisor—says the hackers’ success relied on a simple asymmetry: It costs far less to attack a computer system than it does to protect one. Existing systems build the equivalent of walls and moats around a castle, the so-called firewall that sniffs out intruders and tries to block access. The defenders must guess where they might be attacked and try to anticipate every possibility. It’s a costly and never-ending process.

The problem is that attackers can spend all the time they want studying the situation, looking for holes or ways to get around the protections. If anything, new discoveries have made it easier for hackers far less sophisticated than WannaCry’s creators to take control of a computer.

Polyverse, which has gotten good reviews for its fledgling system, tries to shift the balance of economic power back to the defenders. By replacing the basic instructions inside a computer program with alternate instructions, Polyverse keeps scrambling the code. Doors and windows familiar to hackers disappear quickly, raising the stakes—both on speed and spending—for attackers.

“Dollar for dollar, offense has been winning,” despite billions spent on computer defense, says Bryan Smith, who worked for six years at the National Security Agency and now runs a tech incubator called Bantam Technologies. “Polyverse actually does switch the advantage back to the defender.”

If #Polyverse or a rival does succeed, it will mark the latest shift in the decades-long war for control of computer networks. A computer operates via a series of instructions written by a programmer telling the microprocessor, the brains, to carry out one basic function over and over. That function is to take some values stored in its memory circuits, to perform an operation on them, such as addition, and stick the result back in memory. A hacker tries to gain control of a computer by replacing the programmer’s series of instructions with his own, either changing the operations specified or sometimes changing where in memory the chip fetches and stores values.

One of the last big strategic shifts in the war came in 2007, when a computer scientist named Hovav Shacham showed it was possible to use a computer’s own code against it without injecting new code. Code is a long string of ones and zeros, and the computer chip only knows the instructions by knowing how to divide the ones and zeros into the right sequence of bits that make up each successive instruction. But Shacham realized he could direct the chip to divide the ones and zeros differently, thus changing the instructions.

To complicate hackers’ task, Gounares, 46, conjured ways for them to find not the traditional string of instructions, but a completely different set. Polyverse’s technology is what’s called a binary scrambler. It mixes up the ones and zeros of a program but lets the users’ tasks be completed undisturbed. The exercise turns the attackers’ own game against them, employing different instructions before the attacker can.

AT MICROSOFT, Gounares was well aware of the common complaint that Windows was a “monoculture,” a uniform system that attracted a mass following of developers but also armies of attackers aware of the software’s vulnerabilities. At Gates’ famous retreats to contemplate high-level software issues, the two would occasionally discuss using epidemiology, or the study of the spread of disease, as a guide.

Gounares, who is fond of nerdy references, poses the question, “Why hasn’t the earth been taken over by the zombie apocalypse?” The answer is because human DNA varies enough that no diseases can spread so far they devastate the entire population. But software is like DNA that’s uniform: It can be compromised because it’s reliably the same.

The solution was to create “entropy,” as he puts it—a divergence in the code so that every computer has unique sequences of instructions running through it. Polyverse’s product to date has been for scrambling the Linux operating system. Later this year, it will offer a version that can scramble the entire Windows operating system and programs that run on Windows, says Gounares. Some customers have been given the Windows version to test.

POLYVERSE IS A VERY small company with a promising idea. Funded with just $6 million in private capital, the Seattle-area entity has less than $10 million in annual sales, though Gounares pledges that will rise into the tens of millions over the course of the next 12 months. That’s compared with roughly $2 billion annually in security-related revenue for Cisco, the biggest publicly traded cyber security vendor.

To be sure, Polyverse is not the only company to have thought of what’s known as “moving target defense.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Labs has a rich literature on the subject. But researchers there found problems cropping up: Either the scrambling is limited, leaving avenues of attack, or the scrambled programs degrade in performance.

“We have taken this from an academic approach to an industrial-strength system,” insists Gounares. Polyverse scrambles all the parts of a program, not just some, he says, and without affecting the performance a user experiences.

Steven Potter, a former Navy SEAL who heads sales, sees the military as a key market for Polyverse. There are U.S. weapons systems running on versions of Windows no longer supported by Microsoft. To rip and replace, as they say, those computer systems to make them safer can run into billions of dollars. Hence, a Polyverse sale can be an economical option for government, notes Potter, who served as a contractor in Afghanistan ensuring cargo was safe for the war effort. The firm has already won several military contracts.

Potter, however, becomes most animated when discussing the possibilities offered by the weakness of existing cyber companies. “Where the disruption comes from,” says Potter, “is that with the Palo Alto’s, and the FireEyes, and Symantecs, you can literally take a class and for $1,000, you can hack through any known firewall on the planet.”

Cisco, FireEye, and Symantec declined to comment, while Palo Alto did not return my calls last week.

With the publicity and questions that accompany each new WannaCry-like cyber disruption, Polyverse’s opportunity grows. The system of walls and moats just might be giving this company a great opening.

ABCO Technology offers a complete program for cyber security. Cyber security jobs in Los Angeles are exploding. If you are interested in a career in this exciting field, contact ABCO Technology.

You can reach us by telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through
Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at: 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE #588

Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Cyber security jobs will expand through 2030 says the US Department of Labor. Start your new career today!

Poor website performance is hurting your business

Poor website performance is one of the most widespread problems for business websites, yet it’s the most essential one hurting your company on many levels, from lost customers to a bad online reputation.

These easy-to-use tools will help you solve the problem.

Despite what some people may think, site speed is not a purely technical issue. Marketers have been talking about the necessity to speed up your page load for ages. Not only does poor page load time hurt your site usability, but it also hinders your rankings (by devistating your page engagement metrics), conversions, social media marketing campaign performance and so on.

Fixing the page load time issue is not that simple. It does take a strong development budget and good diagnostics tools. Luckily, I can help you with the latter:

Page Speed Insights

Google’s Page Speed Insights measures your page speed and provides Page Speed suggestions to make your web site faster.

page speed

The Page Speed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A score of 85 or above means your page speed is optimal. The tool distinguishes two main criteria: How fast your page above-the-fold loads and how fast the whole page loads. Each page is tested for mobile and desktop experience separately.

Each Page Speed suggestion is rated based on how important it is.

Pingdom

Pingdom monitors your site and reports if your site seems slow or down. It operates a network of over 60 servers to test your website from all over the world, which is very important for a global business website because your server location effects in which parts of the world your site reports well.

Pingdom also has a free tool you can test here. While Pingdom is mostly known as Uptime monitoring solution (you can read about Uptime here), it also does performance monitoring.

Because I monitor a lot of metrics for many websites, I use Cyfe to integrate Pingdom stats into my website monitoring dashboard:

cyfe

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache turns your dynamic WordPress blog pages into static HTML files for the majority of your users. This way your web server serves static files instead of processing the heavier WordPress PHP scripts.

This plugin will help your server cope with traffic spikes. It makes the pages faster to load, and stops those traffic overloads from happening in the case of a viral hit.

If you operate a huge database-driven website, a better solution for you would be setting up a content delivery network.

Incapsula

Speaking of your website being slow in remote parts of the world, Incapsula is a set of premium tools helping you to solve that problem. The platform offers a reliable Content Delivery Network, i.e. a network of servers all over the world allowing your site visitors to load files from the server located closer to them.

This means your site is fast wherever your future customers choose to load it from.

If you want to know more about how CDN works, here’s a very good resource to read and bookmark.

cdn-for-your-wordpress-blog-infographic

Compressor.io

Compressor.io is a handy tool to optimize your image size to allow for faster page load. As most web pages have images these days, this is a must-bookmark and use tool.

Compressor.io reduces the size of your images while maintaining a high quality. You’ll be surprised to find no difference in your images before and after compression.

The tool supports the following image formats: .jpg, .png, .gif, .svg. I have found it invaluable to animated GIF compression because all the tools I use produce really huge images.

compress

The tool is absolutely free and there’s no need to register to use it. Your files will be stored on the servers for 6 hours and then deleted, so don’t forget to download your optimized images!

If you want to learn how to optimize your website for search engines, call ABCO Technology. We can be reached from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. Call us today at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Start building search engine optimized websites today!

iPhone X Explained

Apple departed from its traditional preview strategy for what it bills as its most important new iPhone in years, prioritizing early access to the iPhone X for YouTube personalities and celebrities over most technology columnists who traditionally review its new products.

Apple provided the iPhone X to a small number of traditional testers for about a week, while limiting most others, The Wall Street Journal included, to a single day with the device before reviews could be published. About a half-dozen personalities on Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube video service were granted time with the device before its release.

The company seeded the iPhone X to at least three influencers with different audiences: actor Mindy Kaling, who shared her thoughts with Glamour; 12-year-old developer Alex Knoll, who showed off the device on Ellen DeGeneres’s television show; and political journalist Mike Allen, who included insights from his tech-savvy nephew in Axios’s morning newsletter.

Apple Is Designing iPhones, iPads That Would Drop Qualcomm Components
Apple Watch Hits Cellular Snag in China
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Traditional publications and tech outlets that in past years received review models for a week of testing were given the iPhone X fewer than 24 hours ago, resulting in crash reviews and first-impression takes from USA Today, the Washington Post, the Verge and others.

In the U.S., BuzzFeed, TechCrunch and Mashable were given a week with the iPhone X, as were the Telegraph and the Independent in the United Kingdom. The device also was given for a week to outlets in Japan, China, Australia and other countries. Steven Levy, among the handful of people to test the first-ever iPhone, spent a week with the iPhone X and posted his “first look” impressions on Backchannel, part of Wired Media Group, a day before most other publications..

The change in strategy meant the iPhone X, which hits stores Friday, got less testing than most of its predecessors before reviews could be published. The handful of reviewers that received the device for a week largely praised its full-screen display, facial-recognition system and smaller physical size. Removing the physical home button meant people would have to adjust to how they operated the device, they said.

iPhone X Review: Testing (and Tricking) FaceID
The number one new feature on the iPhone X is its facial recognition system. WSJ’s Joanna Stern put it to the test with masks, costumes and identical triplets.
Crash reviewers largely echoed those sentiments, adding the caveat that they could discover issues after they spend more time with the device. Most pledged full reviews for later in the week.

The review strategy is “unusual,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research. “It’s possible Apple wanted some reviews out early and those would be the more enthusiastic ones.”

He said YouTube reviewers tend to be more positive when given early access to devices, and that most reviews aren’t overly negative.

“Unless Apple felt like there would be some bad elements in the reviews, why would you hold back?” Mr. Dawson asked. “Why would you be selective about who gets it first?

The unusual approach comes in an iPhone release year marked by anomalies. For the first time, Apple released a trio of new handsets at its big fall launch event—the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. It also increased prices on its suite of new phones and staggered the launch with the iPhone 8 hitting stores Sept. 22 and the iPhone X hitting stores six weeks later.

The iPhone X arguably is the most important iPhone in a decade. Apple billed the device the smartphone of the future, and investor anticipation of strong sales has helped send the company’s stock up more than 45%. Its success has taken on increasing importance amid lackluster sales for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

At $999, the iPhone X is the highest-priced major smartphone ever. It is expected to be in limited supply after production issues over the summer delayed manufacturing by at least a month.
Advanced preorders began last week, and early demand quickly pushed shipment times for the device to five to six weeks from the day of an order—more than double the wait for last year’s iPhone 7.

If you want to learn how to build applications for Apple’s iPhone X along with other smart Phone, it’s time to contact ABCO Technology. You can reach our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. Call us today at: (310) 216-3067.
Email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.
ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304
iPhone X is the smart phone of the future. Build applications for it today!

CompTIA Security + Information

CompTIA’s Security+ is a well-respected, vendor-neutral security certification. Security+ credential holders are recognized as possessing superior technical skills, broad knowledge and expertise in multiple security-related disciplines.

While Security+ is an entry-level certification, successful candidates should possess at least six months of experience working in the areas of network administration and network security. Candidates who want to obtain this certification should consider first obtaining both the A+ and Network+ certification. IT pros who obtain the certificate possess expertise in areas such as threat management, cryptography, identity management, security systems, security risk identification and mitigation, network access control, and security infrastructure. The CompTIA Security+ credential is also approved by the U.S. Department of Defense to meet Directive 8140.-M requirements.

The Security+ credential requires a single exam, currently priced at $311 (discounts may apply to those who work for CompTIA member companies, and to full-time students).

IT professionals who earned the Security+ cert prior to Jan. 1, 2011 remain certified for life. Those who certify after that date must renew the certification every three years to stay current. To renew, candidates are required to pass the most current Security+ exam, pass a higher-level CompTIA exam or complete 50 continuing education units (CEUs) prior to the expiration of the three-year period. CEUs can be obtained by engaging in a variety of activities, such as teaching, blogging, publishing articles or white papers, and participating in professional conferences and similar activities.

Job Outlook for CompTIA Security +

The US Department of Labor states job candidates who have a certification in cyber security, which includes the CompTIA Security + will experience job growth, which is 15% ahead of regular information technology positions in the industry. Organizations large and small are looking for network administration candidates who have a cyber security certification.

The CompTIA Security + certificate informs potential employers that you have the skills to protect their network.
ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for cyber security. One of the courses in this program is the CompTIA Security +. Our next class for CompTIA Security + begins on October 24, 2017.

If you want to obtain a fulfilling career in cyber security, it’s time for you to contact ABCO Technology to receive more information about this cyber security career opportunity. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us by telephone at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can successfully qualify for the funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304
Cyber security is a growing field, get trained and certified today!

Cyber Security, your Pizza orders aren’t safe

Pizza Hut’s customers had their online accounts compromised.
Cybercrime is growing at such a rapid rate, even companies selling products as safe as pizza are under cyber-attack. The increase in cybercrime to this level continues to create more cyber security jobs.

Pizza Hut told customers by email on Saturday that some of their personal information may have been compromised. Some of those customers are angry that it took almost two weeks for the fast food chain to notify them.

According to a customer notice emailed from the pizza chain, those who placed an order on its website or mobile app between the morning of Oct. 1 and midday Oct. 2 might have had their information exposed.

The “temporary security intrusion” lasted for about 28 hours, the notice said, and it’s believed that names, billing ZIP codes, delivery addresses, email addresses and payment card information — meaning account number, expiration date and CVV numbers — were compromised. Would you like to be that special person who saved your company from a devastating cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack of this level could only occur if the network administrators didn’t use or have the correct cyber security skills.
The media fails to report that most cyber-attacks occur over time. Before the attacker intruded into Pizza Huts network, a great deal of time was spent in making login attempts, port scanning, analyzing for network weaknesses and stealing passwords. The activity could have been detected if the company had the right tools in place. The fact Pizza Hut was attacked for 28 hours clearly demonstrates someone in cyber security failed to do their job. You could be the network administrator who picks up where those cyber admins left off.

The skills we are talking about in this article involve cyber security. Courses including CompTIA Security +, Certified Ethical Hacker, Linux Fundamentals and Cisco Certified Network Associate will create a library of cyber skills, which will help any network administrator implement cyber security policies.

A thorough understanding of the computer and network servers is also required for this job. The network administrator must think of any network as an electronic eco system. Maintaining such a mindset will go a long way towards preventing the type of cyber-attack, which occurred at Pizza Hut.

If you want to have an exciting career in cyber security, please contact ABCO Technology. Reaching our Los Angeles campus is easy. We are available by telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at: 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.

Cyber security is a growing field in information technology. Train for a cyber security position today!

How to ensure your local Search Engine Marketing campaign is working for your business

 

For local businesses, having a strong presence in local search results is fundamental to those all-important conversions

Just to be clear, a “local business” refers to any business that has either a physical location that offers face-to-face contact with the customer, such as a showroom or shop, or one that offers a face-to-face service within a certain area.

When it comes to local search, it’s simple: if searchers can’t find you on the web, then frankly, you are web invisible. It’s the way of the modern world.

It’s all very well dominating the SERPs for your more general target keywords, but if you fail to rank highly for location-specific terms then you are missing a great opportunity.

When users are searching for a local term, they are far more likely to be looking for a service or product. Hence why the conversions on local search tend to be higher, and why you need to ensure that your local search engine marketing is on target for your business.

Of course all the usual SEO 101 knowledge applies. Offer an unrivaled user experience, nail your on-site optimization, provide exceptional content and build quality links.

Those fundamentals will set you up for ranking well for local search terms, but there are extra steps you must take to differentiate yourself from the competition and really bolster your local SEM strategy.

Local business listings

The first place to start is with local business listings. Ensure that your business is included in all the major directories (Yell, which is the UK’s local directory, Yelp, Thomson Local, etc.), as well as any industry specific ones. Some listings may already exist, and it may just be a case of claiming your business so that you can take ownership of the listing.

We recommend keeping track of all your business listings in one comprehensive spreadsheet to save you repeating or forgetting any entries. It also enables you to be consistent (more on this in the next point) in your information across all listings.

Remove all duplicated entries, as multiple listings for one business or location can become confusing, both to potential customers but also to Google. And we certainly don’t want to be confusing the Big G.

Be thorough but don’t be reckless. Avoid spammy directories as these could have a detrimental effect on your SEO. Deploy a spot of common sense to identify the spammy directories but if you are really unsure then it’s worth checking the spam score via Moz’s Open Site Explorer or via other similar tools.

Google My Business

So this technically falls under business listings, but it’s so important we’ve given Google My Business its own subheading. Arguably the most important business listing because, well, it’s Google. Remember to implement the following:
◾Claim your business via a verification process
◾Include accurate information: contact details, location and opening hours
◾Carefully select a small number of highly relevant categories to represent your business
◾Ensure up-to-date branding, such as in any images of logos or premises
◾Use high quality images to represent the business

Be comprehensive and accurate in the information you provide in order to strengthen your Google My Business profile and improve your chances of being featured in Google’s three-pack.

For further information, have a read of Google’s guidelines on representing your business. Don’t forget to also cover off the equivalent for Bing and Yahoo with Bing Places and Yahoo! Local.

NAP consistency

NAP consistency sounds a like a fancy term but the concept is very simple. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number, although it is sometimes expanded to NAP+W to include website address too. As mentioned above, it is crucial that your business information appears consistently across the web.

This is particularly important to consider if your business has changed address, contact details or even rebranded. Any mentions of your business will need to be checked and updated to ensure accuracy.

Simply google your business name (do the same with your previous business name if you have undergone a name change) and work your way through the listings. Maintain a spreadsheet of your progress so you can keep track.

Reviews

Reviews can bring both utter joy and absolute misery to any business owner. Unfortunately you cannot simply ignore them, as reviews are indeed used as ranking signals in the eyes of the search engine. This is especially true for your Google My Business reviews.

Not only are reviews important in terms of local rankings, they are also key in terms of click-through rates. According to a recent study by BrightLocal, 74 per cent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

Apart from providing the most incredible customer service you can muster, how else can you seize some control over your reviews? No, this isn’t about getting your mum, brother and great-nan to write a review for your business. It’s about a bit of gentle encouragement and managing a bad customer experience before it reaches the review stage.

It is also important to check the rules and regulations of each review platform, as they all have very different policies on asking customers for reviews and responding to them.

We’ve had several students who have received a negative one-off, anonymous review for their business or website that is either quite clearly spam, or in some cases, a bitter competitor or personal enemy. These situations can get a bit sticky, but sadly there isn’t an awful lot you can do.

Generally people won’t be deterred by one bad review, and the best course of action is to encourage other happy customers to get reviewing. This will push the bad review down and push the average star rating back up.

Many review platforms allow you to reply to reviews. This can be a good opportunity to set the record straight but you have to be careful about it. For this reason, sometimes it is best to get someone who is not as emotionally invested in the business to either write the response or edit it before it gets published. Be professional, remain calm, and kill them with kindness.

Location pages

If you don’t already have location pages on your website, then you could be missing a valuable opportunity to target all the relevant locations. For each key location that your business operates within, create a page dedicated to that location on your website. This is easier if you have a unique physical address in each location, as it is important to include as much location-specific information as possible.

Where there is a physical location, be sure to include an interactive map and images to further enhance the page. If you do not have separate physical addresses, try including testimonials and case studies relevant to each location.

This will help you to avoid duplicating content across your location pages; it’s a fine art to differentiate the copy, but do it right and it can have seriously good effects on your local SEM strategy.

Schema markup

Once you have your location pages set up, the cherry on the cake is schema markup. The whole concept of structured data can sound very daunting to markup newbies, but it’s easier than it sounds. Schema markup simply helps search engines to understand what your website is about.

This is particularly important for local information, as it will help those spiders crawl your location pages and you’ll benefit as a result.

According to a study by Searchmetrics, pages with schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in search results. Now that’s a pretty good incentive. Get your head around schema markup and you’ll have that crucial advantage over your competitors in the local search results.

Ensuring your local search marketing strategy is up to speed shouldn’t be difficult or convoluted. Follow the above steps and obey the usual SEO rules. With some hard work and perseverance, you’ll start dominating those coveted top spots and see your conversions skyrocket in no time.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for web design, which includes search engine marketing and social media strategy. Call our campus to receive information about this program or other classes. Call us between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Build highly successful websites today!

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