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Gone are the days of working face-to-face with a high-street travel agency to plan and book an upcoming holiday, or flicking through Teletext to find a great deal and confirming over the phone.

 

Travel is now an integrated, digital experience, taking you from mobile to desktop and website to app, removing the need to talk to another human should you wish. Some of the most exciting advancements and trends lie in the travel app space, with household favourites and market disrupters challenging one another for the most useful features, the hottest in-app content marketing and the slickest user experiences.

 

Here's our round-up of 2019's best travel apps for anyone bitten by the travel bug.

Trip planning

Trip planning on a map

 

Your latest adventure will probably involve one/some of: transport to an airport, an overnight airport hotel stay, flights, transport to your accommodation, Airbnb reservations, day trips – the list goes on. Instead of scouring emails for different booking confirmations or having to log on to endless websites to collate your itinerary details, information aggregation apps like Tripit are taking the industry by storm.

 

Travellers can say goodbye to fragmented information by importing all of their travel data into one, all-inclusive central hub. Tripit's May 2019 update has seen it perform better than ever, with an optimised Apple Watch design and an Auto-Import feature to manage any cancelled plans. A great example of technology saving-time and making customers' lives easier.

 

Newcomer travel app Lambus offers a similar experience to Tripit but with an emphasis on group travel and collaboration. They're still ironing out the kinks, but it's exciting to see how this app takes the social element of travel and how easy it makes organising and undertaking travel as a group.

 

2019 has also seen new-kid-on-the-block travel app PackPoint come into its own, with a new summer release receiving great reviews on Google Play and the App Store. Its clever technology reviews your destination, the predicted weather and any activities you have planned, pulling together a packing list so that no essentials get missed.

While you're travelling

Lady in front of a flight board in an airport

 

Google Translate has released a 2019 update that has the potential to transform the way travellers interact with new countries and languages. Download the app and use your camera to snap photos of any writing that you need translate, from signs to menus. Google's app will produce an accurate translation purely based on the image – amazing!

 

New social travel app Alpacr may be in its infancy, but is already generating great reviews across Google Play and the App Store. It gives adventurers the ability to share their travel experiences and photos with the wider travelling community. You can research new trips, follow your friends' travels and meet up with buddies along the way. Social media giants such as Instagram have shown us that travel plus community equals a huge hit, so we're predicting big things for this new app.

 

Etihad Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation has announced a partnership this year that will see a variety of wellness solutions introduced via Etihad's app. It will be the first airline to test Panasonic's Jet Lag Advisor, which uses biometric data combined with other travel information to calculate and deliver a personalised, in-flight plan of activities and environmental settings to help prevent jet lag.

 

Travel is one of the most exciting aspects of modern living. Unique experiences, unexpected encounters and a renewed sense of sense and of adventure. With advancements in technology come improvements to how we plan, book and manage our travel, and how we optimise and share those experiences. Travel apps are here to stay, but we can expect to see their experiences and features only getting smarter and more intuitive over time.

Featured snippets are a great piece of real estate to own on search engine results pages (SERPs). There isn’t a decisive way to achieve a featured snippet – only Google really knows how you get there. However, in this article we’ll cover tips that can increase your chances of earning a featured snippet while improving your pages’ usability and rankability.

 

Why bother with snippets?

 

Position 0 is the coveted spot for all websites – this is the highest possible spot you can rank on Google without advertising. And if you have the opportunity for your page to sit at the top spot, you’d be silly not to try and get there. That’s where featured snippets come in. They're great for your travel website, as you can rank above the first organic result.

 

Plus, according to ahrefs, 12.29% of keywords it tracks have a featured snippet – that’s approximately 14 million featured snippet opportunities. In this post we’re going to show you how you can optimise your destination content to achieve a featured snippet.

 

What featured snippets are there?

 

There are three main types of featured snippets you can aim for and here are the ways you can optimise your content for them:

 

1. Paragraph featured snippets

 

Screenshot of google screen snippet

 

Paragraph snippets are pulled through by Google from a website's source page and typically try to answer a question, like above. Usually the search query is answered by looking at the snippet paragraph, but people can click through to more information, as what's in the snippet isn’t everything that’s on the page.

How to secure paragraph featured snippets

 

Paragraph snippets are great for these types of search queries:

 

With this in mind, you should keep your answers short, concise and straight after your H1. Furthermore, use the question itself for the H1, and use H2s that have keywords found in the question. For example, use the question ‘What language is spoken in the Maldives?’ as your H1. The snippet shows approximately 40-50 words, so aim for your answer (first paragraph) to be in this range. The rest of the content on your page should be further supporting information for the concise answer you’ve written in your first paragraph.

 

2. List featured snippets

 

List featured snippets comprise the next two on our list, in the form of bulleted list snippets and numbered list snippets. Naturally, as a travel brand, there’s more compatibility for travel content to aim for a bulleted list snippet (as shown above) as opposed to a numbered list featured snippet. This is because numbered list snippets tend to be more step-by-step guides to recipes, DIY jobs, and so on.

 

How to secure list featured snippets

 

As numbered lists aren’t going to be as prevalent in the travel industry, we’re going to focus on optimising travel content for a bulleted list featured snippet. As with paragraph featured snippets, use the question as your H1 and make sure that the first paragraph address the question at hand. Furthermore, arrange the rest of your content as a list by using <h2> tags for the title of bullets to make it easier for Google to understand that your content is a list. For further information on HTML, click here.

 

3. Table featured snippet

 

Google snippet

 

The last type of featured snippet is a table featured snippet and simply consists of data being shown in the SERP in a table, resulting in easily digestible information. An example can be seen above. 

 

How to secure table featured snippets

 

Like the previous two, use the question or search query as your H1 and show the data you want in the snippet straight after the H1. Furthermore, display your data in a table on your page itself, as this will make it easier for your user to read and makes it easier for Google to understand that it’s a table – use the <table> tag, too.

 

Featured snippet fundamentals

 

There are general SEO elements that you should keep in mind when optimising your destination content for featured snippets. They are:

 

Securing a featured snippet spot on SERPs is not a clear-cut process, nor is there one perfect solution. However, the tips outlined above will help increase your chances of securing a featured snippet and at worst, will improve your overall SEO of your pages – there is no downside to following our advice!

Consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to marketing and advertising online. As found by Smart Insights, the global click-through rate of paid adverts across all platforms and formats was 0.05% last year. This is why differentiation through brand and customer reviews have become a brilliant way of enticing potential customers to visit your site and buy your offer. Let's dive straight into how you can leverage travel customer reviews to improve your click-through rates.

 

Why should you care about customer reviews?

 

Anybody online can voice their opinion or experience of a company through a review platform – this is why they are so important to you. In the eyes of potential customers, reviews are impartial opinions of a brand and deter or entice would-be customers to visit your site. As found by Invesp, 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting the business. Therefore, if nine out of 10 potential site visitors want to read a review about your travel site and you don't have reviews incorporated into your marketing strategy, you can say goodbye to them visiting you site.

 

But don't worry – we're going to show you ways to leverage customer reviews to improve your travel site's click-through rate.

 

Use customer reviews on key pages

 

Using reviews on your key pages is a great way to have your users experience with your travel brand visible to first time visitors. Now, although not technically going to improve click-through rates of your site on the search engine results page (SERP), it will increase the chances of the visitor staying on your site. They act as votes of confidence and approval from existing customers and according to BrightLocal, 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation. They show transparency to potential customers and can give them the nudge they need to trust your brand and engage with the rest of your site.

 

 

The above example is from the Villa Plus homepage, and it uses Trustpilot (an independent review site) and quotes from happy customers. Both of these customer reviews confirm to potential customers that your site is the one they would like to buy from. We'd also advise you using reviews from TripAdvisor as it's a travel-specific review site – you're a travel brand, so leverage specialist review platforms!

 

Use customer reviews on the SERP

 

The second way travel brands can leverage customer reviews to improve click-through rates is by using reviews on SERPs. As seen below, you can have reviews pinned to your rich snippet result on the SERP as Google pulls through reviews 'from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews' called Google Seller Ratings.

 

Google review

 

 

The search above for package holiday website brought back two websites that have reviews pulled through for them. There are three pieces of review information for users to see – the orange stars, the rating and the number of reviews. These three pieces of information can help you stand out from the competition and build trust early in the sales funnel – and entice them to click through to your site instead of a competitor. For example, Loveholidays can be perceived as more trustworthy as its four-and-a-half star review comes from 11,930 people as opposed to Jet2Holidays 2,233.

 

Highlight customer reviews social media

 

With the growing popularity in social media, people are turning to the platform for customer reviews and insights into people's experiences with brands. For example, Forbes found that one in four people follow brands on social media they might buy from. So, sharing customers experiences on your social-media business profiles is a great way to entice users to engage with your brand. Furthermore, they can also increase the click-through rate to your site as your business URL is normally visible on your business profile.

 

See the example of Royal Caribbean's Facebook business profile below.

 

Be ready for the bad reviews

 

Giving people the opportunity to submit their own opinion and experiences can often lead to negative customer reviews. They're part of leveraging customer reviews and one every now and then will pop up – although try your best to not let one do so. The key thing to remember is that your response is going to be visible to everyone, so don't respond in a negative way. One bad response to a review can have a detrimental affect to your perceived trust from consumers. Follow the tips below to ensure you handle negative reviews successfully:

 

Customer reviews are now a crucial part of content marketing and marketing in general. According to Vendasta, 92% of consumers read online reviews when making a purchase decision. By leveraging your customer reviews, you're building trust with existing and potential customers – and increasing the chances people will click through to your website.

Keyword research forms the basis of any website, and in a hyper.competitive industry like travel, it’s even more important. You don’t want to fall into the trap of launching a website and not knowing the search terms you are targeting – it’ll be a long uphill battle if you do. In this post, we uncover the tips that will help you identify the best keyword opportunities.

 

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is about understanding a user’s intent when they conduct a search and what they're looking for in a site. It’s the process of understanding the motivations behind your potential customers then applying that knowledge to your site for SEO benefits.

 

For example, you wouldn’t launch a product to market without doing your consumer research beforehand. Keyword research is consumer research within the search-engine context. The benefits of continuous, thorough keyword research have positive impacts throughout your business and can provide insights to your customer base you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

 

travel research

 

Keyword research also has a large impact on the type of content you publish, your URL structure, title tags, meta descriptions and much more. Just look at the example above and see how these two similar keywords could alter your content strategy.

 

Go long-tail

An easy pitfall is to target fat-head keywords that have extremely high search volume and just stop your research there. Although these search terms look attractive, they will most likely be targeted by large, brand-heavy websites, making it nigh-on impossible for you to rank on page 1.

 

As you can see above, the fat-head keyword dubai holidays has only large, recognised brands at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). And while it’s possible to rank for this term, it would take heavy investment and wouldn’t be advised for smaller websites.

 

Smaller businesses looking to improve their travel SEO can thrive on targeting long-tail travel keywords that are more specific and used by a smaller number of users. To do this, compile a list of phrases or topics that your target market is searching for and then map out other phrases that can come from these root keywords. This will leave you with a selection of long-tail travel keywords for which you have a higher chance of ranking on page 1.

 

Taking the dubai holidays (90,500 searches/month) keyword, there are plenty of long-tail phrases that can stem from this. Some examples are things to do in dubai (14,800 searches/month) best restaurants in dubai (2,400 searches/month) and best places to eat in dubai (320 searches/month). If you continue this process of generating related phrases, you'll find that all these long-tail keywords can easily add up to the number of searches conducted with the fat-head keyword dubai holidays.

 

Answer The Public and Soovle are two great free tools for generating suggestions for long-tail keywords for you to target.

 

Keyword planner is your friend

After compiling your list of long-tail phrases to target, the best, most user-friendly tool to gather search volumes is Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner – get started here. The Keyword Planner works much like a search engine, in that you search for your keywords and you’ll be given a set of results.
Google

 

Not only will the tool return the search volumes of your already discovered long-tail keywords, but it will also generate similar keywords you may want to target. As you can see below, there are hundreds of ideas that you can add to your master list of keywords – all just from the keyword dubai holidays.

 

There are other tools and software great for conducting keyword research, like ahrefs and SEMRush, which have their own versions/methods of generating search volumes and keyword ideas. Regardless of which tool you use or are most comfortable with, the process of finding the keyword you want to target and therefore the best ones for your site remains the same.

 

The keyword process in short

  1. Identify what your target searcher's intent is
  2. Generate a list of long-tail keywords that you are interested in, using Answer the Public and Soovle
  3. Put them through the Google’s Keyword Planner/ahrefs or SEMRush to evaluate difficulty and search volume
  4. Take note of new keyword ideas generated by your chosen tool and repeat the third step.

 

Keyword research is incredibly important to websites because it’s the basis of the content you will produce and the direction your site will take. Furthermore, robust keyword research can have a positive impact on your business as a whole, as it provides you with more information about your target market. Lastly, it’s important to remember that good keyword research will be continuously undertaken, as searchers' behaviour online changes and so will a website's targeted keywords.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are a huge competitor for hotels, and with Statista projecting revenue of the online travel booking market to be £17.3 billion by 2023, this competition shows no signs of decreasing. We’ve compiled a list of seven ways how your hotel can compete with OTAs – and increase the chance of your customers looking at your site, rather than your competitor's.

1. Optimise for Mobile

hands-with-mobile

 

People use their phones more than ever now, so optimising your site for mobile is crucial to your hotel staying competitive. The quicker, easier-to-use and more streamlined your booking journey is, the higher chance you have of converting site visitors to customers.

 

Furthermore, mobile optimisation has the benefit of improving your hotel's ranking on Google search results, as site speed is a factor in its ranking algorithm. Further details on how site speed impacts your site and tools to help you monitor it can be found here, and discover how we can enhance your Travel SEO.

2. Encourage reviews

In an age where it’s easy to share and contribute content it would be silly not to integrate reviews and user generated content into your site. A survey ran by Tripadvisor found that 96% of people consider reading reviews when considering booking a hotel or holiday, so offering a place for customers to leave a review and photos on your site is important. This means potential customers don’t need to visit OTAs as they can get reviews directly on your site and it offers you another chance to engage with customers – happy or otherwise.

3. Get on metasearch engines

screen shot of kayak website

 

Being visible online isn’t just restricted to search engines like Google or Bing. Get your hotel on metasearch engines like Trivago or Kayak. These types of sites give you a higher chance of being found by a user, can give you an external link, and also drives traffic to your website.

 

The important thing is to ensure you incentivise users to click through to your website. This can be through a fast, responsive website and/or a price guarantee – users won’t book with you if they can get it cheaper elsewhere. These platforms are great at attracting traffic and offer an opportunity to direct some of that traffic to your site.

4. Capture that data

As a hotel, capturing contact details about your customers gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them beyond their stay. Whether you capture their email through free WiFi sign-up, at check-in or check-out, gaining this type of information is crucial to your future marketing relationship with each customer. Marriott is especially good at ensuring they capture guest data through creating accounts when booking to follow up emails like the one below.

 

Marriot email marketing example

 

This is a reason why OTAs currently have an advantage over hotels, as they are great at capturing customer data then acting upon it with relevant offers – if it works for them, it can work for you.

5. Re-engage with past guests

emails going into inbox

 

Once you’ve got the email address of a guest, you need to put it to good use – start tailoring marketing material to open a dialogue. Send a follow-up email asking how their stay was and invite them to leave a review on your site. Schedule follow-up emails with offers and discounts to encourage guests to stay with you again – the acquisition cost is significantly lower with people who have already stayed with you.

Well-crafted email marketing campaigns can lead to further visits from past customers, and also has three times the conversion rate compared to social media, as found by Revinate.

6. Incentivise referrals

This can work in coordination with your email marketing campaigns, as offering incentives to previous customers to refer family, friends or co-workers to your hotel is a great way of maximising the potential revenue per customer. Imagine that a family stays at your hotel for a holiday, they love it then recommend you to another family. This is the perfect scenario as you are broadening your potential customer base offline – word of mouth is still marketing gold.

7. Highlight the experience your hotel can offer

girl on a kayak

 

This step is tailored to millennials, but still has impact on other segments of your potential customer base. Highlighting the experience of staying at your hotel and the activities that guests can do is great as people are beginning to value experiences more than physical possessions. If your hotel is near a particularly great water-sports school, for example, highlight this on your website. There’ll be plenty of activities near you to suit all types of customers.

 

A great example of content that highlights the experience a guest will have at a hotel is on Jumeirah Vittaveli's homepage. In the first block of content, it emphasises the array of experiences and activities guests can find at their resort. Although a luxury hotel, this practice of communicating experience to guests is invaluable.

 

Remember to:

OTAs are large organisations that can pose a threat to hotels, and it isn’t easy remaining competitive, especially if you're an independent. However, with these seven ways to stay competitive, you will be able to take back control of your website, help retain existing guests and be more likely to secure new ones.

Building and earning quality backlinks is a great way to improve your Google ranking as they show that your content is high-quality, engaging and worth referencing. The downside is that link building can be time-consuming. Here are four tactics that make the whole process easier.

Why should websites link to you?

idea

 

Firstly, there are three questions you need to ask yourself before carrying out any link building:

 

  1. Which users find your website useful, valuable and engaging?
  2. Which other websites do users visit?
  3. How do those websites compete with yours?

This trio of questions sounds straightforward, but so many websites don't consider them. This is because they approach their link-building strategy with content in mind rather than context.

 

A common mistake is to link to a piece of content that solves the same issue or problem your own content aims to solve. Why give another website the chance to solve your own users’ problem? Don’t help your competitors! You should link to websites that complement your content, not provide a better alternative.

1. Get local

Keep in mind the first two questions and apply them to a local event. This can be anything from a music festival to a political summit or anything in between. The majority of events websites will have extra information to complement their own content, a common one being hotels – so why not create a page to target this event?

 

Creating a page targeting an event that’s happening locally will have a high chance of attracting users further down the sales funnel to your site and can earn you links as you’re solving a problem. Where will the event visitors stay?

 

A good example of this is the Mövenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel Dubai, which has created a page targeting the international event Expo 2020 Dubai. The site provides information on how to get to the Expo, journey length, extended stays and catering during the event. All of this information targets people who will visit the Expo and gives them an option on where to stay.

 

The great thing about this tactic is that it’s not just limited to hotels. Whether you’re a restaurant, cafe, car rental company or any other complementary business, you can target these local events - the event website would be silly not to link to you. Note, if you have linked to the event from the new page, this might result in a reciprocal link.

2. Target niche

 

This may seem risky, but solving the problem of a niche segment active on multiple websites is a great link-building tactic. Hobbies are good niches to target for businesses in the travel industry – here’s why:

 

Let’s take mountain-bike enthusiasts. Although a small segment of the travel industry, they are active online on multiple websites, including forums, fan sites, clubs and many more. If you can be the travel site that offers these sites with a list of hotels near popular mountain-bike trails, or have the required facilities for this sector, then the other websites will be happy to link to you. There may even be hotel aggregators for these niche travel sectors, such as Mountain Bike Holidays.

 

Again, this tactic works as you’re providing solutions to a niche segment which is active on multiple online environments, so you’ll be getting:

 

Sure, it's a small segment and conversions will be low, but you’ll be earning high-quality, relevant links that help your site rank.

 

A great way to find niche websites is by using a Google search such as: intitle:mountain bikes - this will search Google for all pages with "mountain bikes" in their title tag.

3. Check out local authorities

Getting caught up in building links can mean you overlook opportunities that are closer to home. Local authorities have their own campaigns to attract tourists to the local area – why not get some links here? You can find an A-Z of local authorities here.

 

Securing a link on local authority websites is great for two reasons:

 

• the link will be from a high-authority website

• the link can often be free

 

For example, if you’re a rental car company based in Hertfordshire, look at the relevant local authority website and see if it offers additional information for visitors – you could be the first port of call for those looking to rent a car on holiday.

4. Outbounding.org

outbounding.org

 

The easiest way to securing links, outbounding.org is a social bookmarking site related specifically to travel and tourism. If you have an interesting piece of content, post it there and if it receives 10 upvotes or more then you gain a dofollow link – easy!

 

The key to successful link building in the travel industry is to solve a problem and have your solution found in as many ways as possible. The tactics above ensure you’ll secure high-quality, relevant and powerful links that will  boost your site on Google. Get out there and start building those links!

The best way of improving your website's search-engine performance is by building and earning external links. They act as votes of authority, telling Google that your content is high-quality, valuable to searchers and worth referencing.

Traditional methods of link-building are time consuming, but a great way of building a significant number of links is by leveraging your high-quality travel images.

Build links through problem solving

problem-solving

Written content needs to be engaging and unique to rank well and earn links. Image link-building is a tactic which websites overlook as they don’t see its potential. This strategy thrives on solving an issue the majority of webmasters face – what image should I use for this awesome piece of content I’ve written?

Maximise your backlink potential

building-links

The first place webmasters go to look for relevant, high-quality images are stock image websites – and this is where you want your images to be.

The first step to building hundreds of links is to choose image-database websites that maximise your chances of a backlink. You want to choose image sites that allow you to:

 

Some great examples to get you started are flickrFotolia and 500px. There are plenty more image databases out there that you can put your images on, but start with a few – there’s always time to turn this into a strategy.

Upload images people want

Now you’ve chosen the websites the images are going on, you need to upload the travel photos that people want. Webmasters are looking for the best, most relevant image for their content, and if you want that image to be yours, you need to make it the best. Be selective, and only upload your best travel images to maximise the chances of them being used.

Get the credit you deserve

The next step is to make sure you get the backlink when your image is used. Sometimes, bloggers and websites will use your image and not credit you or link back to your website. Normally, a quick email to them will fix this. An easy way to check if your image has been used is a simple Google Image search. Do this once every couple of months and get in touch with websites that haven’t referenced you or your site. It’s key to do this routinely, as the older a post is, the harder it is to secure that precious backlink.

Bring in reinforcements

Doing manual image searches takes time, so some help may be necessary. There are a couple of tools out there that will search for your images and make it easier to send follow-up emails.

tineye-cost

You can run a reverse image search with Tineye once every couple of months to know when and where your images are being used, and all on a user-friendly dashboard. Although a paid option, it doesn’t take much to recoup the cost. The basic package costs £150 a month, so you only need your images to be used 50 times and those links will only cost £3 each.

Reap the rewards

The potential of earning 50 backlinks for £3 each a month is a website’s dream, and totally attainable. Choose the right image sites, the best images to upload, and chase up webmasters, and you’ll be on your way to building a strong, relevant and high-quality backlink portfolio. After which, sit back and enjoy increased traffic, stronger brand perception and improved site authority.

The beginning of spring has echoed themes of change and progress throughout the digital sphere. From search engine updates to GDPR preparations, here are some of April’s biggest headlines from SEO, content marketing and digital PR.

Google rolls out updated search algorithm

Mutters of a Google algorithm update have been heard throughout the search and marketing industry this month, and on April 16th we finally got the news we’d been waiting for. Announcing the news via Twitter, Google identified the change as a ‘broad core algorithm update’, the likes of which systematically take place at several points throughout the year. Even so, businesses across the globe have been eager to discover exactly what the update means for them.

 

The general consensus from Google is that these updates are an integral part of their work. While some users are expected to experience slight drops or gains in visibility during this time, the search engine is keen to reiterate that there is very little sites can do in order to prepare for such updates – aside, of course, from continuing to produce a steady stream of quality content.

“Changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded”, Google SearchLiaison confirmed in a series of tweets last month. “There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content.” More so than ever, it seems that investing in a solid content strategy is vital to securing and maintaining sought-after SERP positions.

Brands and businesses prepare for upcoming GDPR roll-out

GDPR

If your inbox has been flooded with emails alluding to websites’ updated terms of service this month, you’re not alone. As we ease ever-closer to next month’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launch, brands and social media giants have been scurrying to inform users of ‘important updates’ and secure their continued custom long after the GDPR laws are put in place on May 25th.

Perhaps the biggest change will be the regulation that customers will need to actively opt-in to their data being shared, as opposed to the opt-out system that many market leaders have favoured in the past. As a result, the influx of ‘opt-in’ emails and notifications witnessed over the past few weeks is only expected to grow. For many, however, the introduction of the GDPR brings about serious concerns around the future for businesses and marketing agencies on a worldwide scale.

“The world of digital marketing is increasingly reliant on collecting personal data for ad targeting, and this could severely impact their capacity to do so” highlights the Digital Marketing Institute. Even so, there’s little scope to argue that the regulations are anything but relevant, useful and necessary – particularly in light of recent data protection scandals from the likes of Facebook and Uber. “It’s important that business managers and digital leaders not only abide… but incorporate policies internally that support and sustain the same principles”, the Digital Marketing Institute concludes.

Google Assistant named smartest personal search assistant

google assistant

A new study from Stone Temple Marketing has unveiled Google Assistant as the ‘smartest’ personal assistant, beating the likes of Alexa, Cortana Invoke and Siri. Results may vary depending on your platform, however, as Google Assistant accessed on a smartphone proved slightly more accurate than the same programme operated on Google Home devices.

While Alexa proved one of the lesser able to deliver full and accurate responses, it took some consolidation in being named the most improved assistant when compared with results of a similar 2017 study. 12 months ago, Alexa attempted answers on just 19.8% of queries – rising to 53% this year. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, which proved least competent in both attempting answers (40.7%) and ensuring those answers were full and correct (80%).

The study was conducted on a small sample of devices, with 4,952 individual queries being proposed to each assistant. While the results are far from comprehensive, there are many valuable takeaways from the study – including an insight into the rapid pace at which personal assistants are developing and improving in reliability.

The next couple of months look set to bring a great deal of change within the marketing, search and content sectors. For more information and advice on staying up to date with emerging trends, get in touch with WooContent today.

Let’s cut to the chase – high-quality content is crucial to the success of your SEO strategy. If you fail to create engaging content, you risk spending a lot of time and money on a strategy that fails to deliver the rates of engagement and conversion you’re pushing for. Worse than that, you may even risk alienating your target audience.

It’s pretty crucial stuff, so we’ve decided to lift the lid on why high-quality content is so important, with some examples of who’s doing it right. Read on to discover how to align content with your SEO strategy, before gaining some top tips on how to create quality content that resonates with your target audience.

The SEO landscape, then and now

The SEO landscape has changed dramatically over the years. Practices that were deemed effective in the early 2000s are now avoided like the plague by SEO experts. Flashback to the early days in SEO and keyword stuffing took centre stage, with the focus on producing keyword-centric copy rather than high-quality, user friendly content.

Fast forward to 2018 and best practices have changed significantly, with an understanding of search intent now being crucial. Emphasis is no longer placed on incorporating as many keywords as possible in your content in order to attract searchers, but rather on writing high-quality content that echoes their interests, anticipates their needs and answers their queries.

Google Hummingbird – shifting focus from keyword quantity to content quality

keywords

Major shifts in the SEO landscape can be attributed to the development of search engine technology. The release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in 2013 was a significant turning point. The update was designed to help Google better understand semantic search and produce results that are directly relevant to the query’s context, rather than honing in on singular keywords.

The Hummingbird algorithm also focuses on interpreting longer, more conversational search terms, providing results that correspond to user intent. This is particularly relevant to modern day voice search. In a nutshell, this major development resulted in SEO strategies shifting firmly onto the production of content tailored to user intent, or high-quality content seeking to solve searchers’ queries in one easy hit.

5 steps for aligning good content with your SEO strategy

strategy

We know why good content is crucial to effective SEO, but how do we implement this in practice? We’ve put together 5 key steps to help you out:

#1: Keywords are still important

First things first, compile a list of keywords relevant to your brand.

#2: Think about user intent

What are your searchers actually trying to find? Let’s say you sell shoes. Searchers will want to know who they’re made by, what they’re made of, how much they cost, how comfortable they are, and so on. Answer The Public is a useful tool for finding search terms that shed new light on user intent relative to your brand.

#3: Mock up an image of your page

Formulating a page layout will give you a clearer idea of what the titles on your page (headings, subheadings, etc.) should address. Using technology such as heatmaps will also give you a better idea of where CTAs and callouts should be placed, providing a frame of reference when drafting your content.

#4: Curate your content

You’re now ready to start crafting your content. Don’t make it all about your brand – stay focused on the key message you want to convey to your audience and make it about them. Then you can complement your content with keywords, terms and phrases relevant to your brand offering.

#5: Draw in the cool kids with an irresistible hook

Think about your USP here – what does your brand do better than the competition? What specialist knowledge can you impart on your audience? This final step is about infusing your content with a fresh, unique edge that will encourage engagement. Plus the top Google ranking factor is quality, original content.

Top tips for making your content stand out from the crowd

You’re now equipped with the practical tools needed to ensure your SEO strategy is filled with good content. But the hard work doesn’t stop here. We’ve listed a couple of top tips to make sure your content goes the distance:

• Develop an original brand voice

A great way of helping your brand stand out from the crowd, developing a unique voice will help you connect with your audience on a deeper level and create a following.

Fashion retailer Missguided is a great example of this. Their laid-back, quirky and cool tone fits perfectly with their targeted demographic and is used consistently across their website, newsletters and social media accounts.

Note how the use of words such as ‘babe’ create the feeling that they’re talking to a best friend. This is isn’t incidental, but a clever style choice designed to build a close relationship with their audience:

• Position your CEO as an expert in their field

Highlighting the skills of your company’s CEO not only emphasises your brand’s knowledge and expertise, it also helps create a human edge to the company – a great way to help increase organic engagement.

Beauty brand Birchbox is a great example. The company’s founders, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, are an active presence in the company’s marketing strategy, as shown in a video on their website celebrating two years in business. They also speak regularly to various media outlets on their skills and passion for their company. This coverage and intimate view into the company sets the brand apart from their rivals in the beauty sphere.


To sum up, if you incorporate high-quality, user-focused content in your SEO strategy you’re well on your way to outshining your competition. Combine this with a fresh, distinctive brand voice and out-of-the-box thinking, and you’ve got it in the bag.

WooContent are experts in producing high-performing content and SEO strategies that deliver results. Get in touch with us today for more information on how we can help your brand excel.

Semantic trends have played an increasingly central role in search for some time. Algorithms now have the ability to take whole queries into account, rather than simply focusing on specific keywords. By doing so, search engines are able to delve deeper into the intent behind each query, delivering tailored, highly intelligent results.

2013’s Google Hummingbird update marked a significant turning point for semantic search. For the first time, the technology required to understand the meaning behind specific searches was rolled out on a large scale. Rather than honing in on one or two keywords, the new algorithm was able to read and configure the meaning behind each query, denoting which results would be most relevant to the needs of the user.

Appetite for intent-driven, conversational search has only grown in the years following Hummingbird. In 2018, an understanding of the latest semantic trends is a vital component of any successful SEO strategy. With that in mind, here are seven ways to make the most of semantic trends and reap the benefits for your business.

Semantic search factors

Image credit: Stone Temple

Ramp up content production numbers

Quality over quantity is the first rule of content production in 2018, yet the latest semantic trends naturally favour sites that have a large pool of targeted landing pages. It’s never recommended to produce content for the sake of it, but developing an ongoing content strategy that’s centred around relevant, well-optimised content is incredibly valuable. Ensuring each page is specifically geared towards your niche gives search engines more opportunity to find and index your site for both short and long tail keywords, improving SERP visibility as a result.

Develop timely, news-worthy content

Alongside a string of evergreen pages, there’s also value in regularly updating your website with more timely, news-focused content, that integrates of-the-moment search terms. Creativity is key, not least because you’re likely to be fighting for valuable SERP real estate with your competitors. For that reason, keep a close eye on the latest news and events from within your industry and focus on producing unique content that’s of genuine use to its audience.

Embrace voice and local search

Voice search is big news in the tech industry. Devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are working alongside the likes of Siri, Cortana and Alexa to bring voice search into our homes and offices on an unprecedented scale. Yet the way that we use voice search is different to more traditional search methods. Voice search queries tend to be more natural and conversational in tone, which in turn means they’re usually longer than the succinct keyword phrases we’re used to typing into search engines.

Voice search also has greater potential to be mobile, meaning queries are often local. For that reason, steps such as claiming your Google My Business listing and better optimising your site for local search are going to be hugely valuable in the long term. It’s all about giving search engines – and therefore users – the best possible chance of finding your business when searching within the local area.

Answer specific questions

Semantic trends are placing a continuing emphasis on user experience. With that in mind, it’s never been more important to ensure every piece of content is tailored toward your users, not just search engines. One way to do this is to consider semantics when developing page and content titles.

Conversational search is all about targeting those long-tail keywords that are commonly put into Google. Queries that start with ‘how to…’, ‘what is…’ and ‘why does…’ are likely to drive site traffic in light of recent search trends. But do use them alongside other short-tail keywords to keep the tone and style of your content as natural as possible.

Establish your website as an authoritative voice within its niche

Even in light of changing search trends, Google continues to point to authoritative sites as a priority. There’s huge value in producing quality content that secures your brand as a trusted voice within its niche. This means developing content that is useful, insightful and relevant. Steer clear of branded sales tactics in favour of using phrases that align semantically with user intent.

It’s also useful to optimise your content for related or associated keywords. Engaging in well-structured keyword research is crucial here, as understanding more about the keywords your audience is commonly using will help provide search engines with the context they need to index your site effectively. For instance, an online camera repair shop may also develop content around photography tips, equipment, lighting and studio set-ups.

Create content that inspires engagement and discussion

video for user engagement

The end goal of any user-led content strategy should be increased organic engagement. The more buzz that your post generates, the more attention it will receive from semantic algorithms, the likes of which favour content that users are interacting with. Visual content such as videos and infographics aren’t going anywhere, with video alone representing 74% of all internet traffic last year. With that in mind, committing to developing a creative marketing strategy that utilises both visual and written content continues to be a good move.

Consider FAQ and Q&A pages

Dedicating a page to answering the questions most commonly posed by your users is a great way to optimise your site for long-tail keywords. As semantic search takes a firmer grasp on the wider search landscape, such queries are becoming increasingly common. For instance, succinct keyword terms such as ‘prom dresses uk’ are likely to decline in favour of detailed long-tail queries (ie. ‘Where can I buy blue satin prom dress in west London?’) The end goal is to rank for as many long-tail keywords that are relevant to your niche as possible. As such, FAQ and Q&A pages are a great way to rank for the conversational terms your users are most frequently searching for.


Current semantic trends are an indicator of Google’s wider goal – to place user experience and intent at the very heart of the search process. While changing algorithms and search preferences may initially be seen as a hindrance to ongoing SEO strategies, they should instead be viewed as an opportunity to move with the latest trends and stay one step ahead of the competition.

For more information on how we can help you make the most of search trends, get in touch today.

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