Anna K. Sasaki

Anna K. Sasaki

Thursday, 22 March 2018 05:52

How To Create a List in Google Maps

Send recommendations to your friends in 5 easy steps

At some point of another, all of us end up offering recommendations to friends. I don't know about you but I usually just create a list for them.

Sometimes, it’s for a friend visiting from out of town who wants to know where I think they should go grab dinner. Other requests area little more elaborate, for instance, recommendations for an entire city or even country that someone plans on visiting for vacation that I (or you) just happen to be an expert (at least in their opinion) on.

For me, my superpower tends to be San Francisco breweries. San Francisco, my current hometown, is home to some amazing beer spots, and I’ve made it my own personal mission to get to know each and every one of them.

San Francisco also happens to be a really popular place for my friends and acquaintances to end up. We host a ton of different tech conferences here every year, and really, SF is a pretty fantastic place for a vacation as well. And so, each time someone visits I’m faced with the task of telling them where I think they should drink, often followed by questions like “How do I get there?” and “Is it near my hotel?”

Now thanks to a Google Maps feature, the answer can be as simple as just sending the person a link. With Lists, I can create a list of all the top watering holes in town, and then Google will plot them out on a map for me. That means that whomever I send it to can figure out where my selections are all on their own.

They can also tap into individual selections to determine things like hours, or whether or not a place sells food (no more late-night texts for me!). Lists you create within the feature can be saved as public or private. So, if you’re creating a list of bars, like me, then you can make it public so anyone can see it. If you have a list you’d rather keep to yourself, then you can choose to set the list to private as well.

Finished lists can be shared with your friends and colleagues via text, email, social networks, and most of the popular Messaging apps out there, so they can literally be shared with almost anyone. When a friend gets your list, they can opt to Follow it, which means it will be available within Google Maps for them to see and use for all eternity (no asking you for the same recs next time they’re in town – yes!).

Creating a list within Google Maps is a fairly easy process, and just requires that you (and the friends you’re sending the list to) have an Android device or iPhone, and have the Google Maps app installed. Here’s how to make it happen.

1- Find the Thing You Want To Add To a Google Maps List

Screenshot_20170227-190734-58c75e5b3df78c353c53dd5e Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

The first step in creating a new Google Maps list is to find the first thing you want to add to that list. So, for me that would involve looking up a brewery I want to add to the list, just as if I wanted driving directions there. When you see the place you want in the search results, tap on it.

(In case you’ve never used Google Maps before, there’s a search bar at the top of the app when you launch it. Type what you’re looking for into it.)

Screenshot_20170227-190734-58c75e5b3df78c353c53dd5e Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

Once you’ve selected a location, at the bottom of the page you’ll see the name of the location you’re looking for, as well as how long it will take you to get there if you were to leave your current location right now.

Tap on the location at the bottom of the page to bring it up to a full screen.

Screenshot_20170317-114653-58cc3f015f9b581d72196bcd Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

The company’s business page should tell you its average rating on Google, a brief description of what happens there. For instance, my search for Magnolia Brewing Company in San Francisco says that it's a "gastropub & brewery serving seasonal & artisanal American fare, plus draught & cask beer.”

Below the company’s name and above its description you’ll see three buttons: a button to call the business, one for its website, and a Save button. Tap the Save button.

Screenshot_20170227-191502-58c75f2e3df78c353c561c45 Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

When you tap save, a number of list options will pop up. You can save the location your your favorites, places you want to go, starred place, or “New List.”

You can pick any of these you want, but for the purpose of this demo we’re going to pick New List. 

5- Name Your Google Maps List

Screenshot_20170227-193237-58c75f8b5f9b58af5c22f9a3 Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

When you select New List a box will appear asking you to name your list. Give your list a name that describes what it is enough that it will be easy for you (and the people you send it to) to find it later on.

For my beer list, I’m going to call it “Emily’s Favorite SF Beer Spots.” Keep in mind that your List’s name has to be under 40 characters, so be creative, but try to not get too long-winded.

When you’ve come up with the perfect name and typed it in, click Create at the bottom right on that pop-up box. You’ll see a brief pop up letting you know that your location was saved to the list.

If you want to see everywhere you have saved, you can tap on the link within that popup to pull up your whole list as it is now.

6- Add Something Else to Your Google Maps List

Screenshot_20170317-114752-58cc3f575f9b581d72198430 Anna K. Sasaki - AOFIRS

That’s basically it. Repeat steps 1-4 for each item you want to add to your list, and then instead of adding a new list like we did in Step 5, select the list we just created from the menu when it app.5

 Source: This article was published

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 01:57

Advanced web search with Google operators

Google is the biggest search engine in the US, boasting a 75% share of the search market. With its simple user interface, the market leader delivers answers to search queries at the speed of light – all laid out clearly and sorted by relevance. The information you’re looking for doesn’t always appear on the first page of the results; it depends on how precise your search query is. You can thus determine how exact you want the search engine to be. What many users don’t know is that Google offers specific search operators to refine web searches. They enable you to be more specific with your search request and reach your goal faster. Read on to discover how to do this.

Basic operators

Google supports a repertoire of punctuation and symbols that you can use to make your search request more precise or exclude certain terms. These can be entered into the Google search box along with your search terms and they work to instruct the search engine on how to process the request. Note that the Google search operators will only be considered if the search mode is set to read search terms 'word for word’. If it isn’t, Google will ignore these instructions and presume it can deliver better results without the help of the search operators. All basic operators can be used separately or in combination with each other

"exact search phrase" Users who put a search term or a particular phrase in quotation marks are telling Google that they only want to receive search results containing these exact phrases. This Google search operator is ideal for those looking for quotes, song lyrics, or sections of text. Upper and lower case letters aren’t taken into account by the search engine despite being in quotation marks.
-Search term

As well as knowing what you ARE searching for, it’s also helpful if the search engine knows what you AREN’T looking for. Users often get irrelevant results especially when the keywords they’ve entered are ambiguous. In order to find the desired information more quickly, Google has a search operator that is able to exclude specific search terms; a hyphen (-) is used in combination with the search term. Google then knows to only show sites that don’t contain the undesired search terms located after the hyphen.

For example, if you’re looking for a computer mouse, you might be shown sites containing information about the animal, but with this particular operator you can block these results from being shown:

Mouse -Animal

*Search term

If you don’t want to determine the exact wording or you don’t know it, you can use the wildcard search and have Google automatically complete the search query for you. Just use an asterisk (*) as a placeholder.

This is how you can find phrases if you aren’t sure of the exact wording:

a * in the hand is worth two in the *

#Search term

Hashtags (#) can be used as an operator for trending topics. Just like with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Google users can search for specific hashtags.


@Search term The @ sign can be used to find social tags.

The selection of search operators has been continually adapted by Google over the years. While this has meant the tilde symbol (~) has become obsolete, the plus sign (+) has been assigned a new function. This Google operator previously acted as an 'and' to link search terms. This led to only search results being shown that contained all the entered search terms together, but this mode is now standard. The plus sign was therefore given the new task of an operator for specifically searching for pages on Google+.

Advanced operators

Besides the basic operators, Google search has more tricks up its sleeve to narrow search results even further. Specific commands are used to separate search terms by putting a colon in front. Note that there shouldn’t be any spacing between this Google operator and the search term. Advanced search commands can be combined with other operators.


The Google search command site: allows users to view all indexed pages of a domain. Combining the command with a search term means all subpages will be shown that contain this keyword:

Edward Snowden

The example query instructs Google to search through the subpages of for the phrase Edward Snowden. In addition, this search command can also be used with basic operators to exclude certain domains during the search. For example, you can block Wikipedia from appearing in the results:

Edward Snowden

The site request is especially useful for website operators that want to optimize their project for the search engine. You can check whether all relevant pages of your website are listed on Google. The search operator also provides suggestions for internal linking since topic-relevant subpages can be filtered out by using the command in combination with a keyword.


The Google operator related: doubles up as a research platform. Adding a website after this command tells Google that you’re searching for similar websites.

If you’re looking for celebrity news similar to what offers, you will be shown sites such as,, and if you enter:

Website operators can also search for their competition this way.


Search queries where alternative wording could be used can be linked together through the Google operator OR. This lets the search engine know that sites are also relevant if they contain any of the mentioned search terms:

Test "chrysler dodge" OR "chrysler jeep"


Google users who are searching for information about a domain can use the info: command. You will get info about the web address, the cached version of the page, any similar pages, and find out about any pages that link to that site.


The Google search operator intext: used in conjunction with a search term instructs the search engine to only deliver links to websites that contain the given search term in blocks of text on their site.

intext:Edward Snowden

Only websites are shown that have the phrase Edward Snowden in their text element.

The Google search operator intext: used in conjunction with a search term instructs the search engine to only deliver links to websites that contain the given search term in blocks of text on their site. intext:Edward Snowden Only websites are shown that have the phrase Edward Snowden in their text element.

You can alternatively use the search command allintext:.


The Google search operator allintext: has the same purpose as intext:, but includes all terms in the inquiry. Websites are then displayed that contain all the keywords of the search query in the text.

allintext:Edward Snowden PRISM NSA Guardian


While the commands intext: and allintext: target search terms in blocks of text, the Google operator inanchor: instructs the search engine to find the keyword in anchor texts.

The following request narrows down the Google search to include only websites that have apache in their anchor text:



The command tells Google to restrict results to pages that contain all query terms specified in the anchor text. Use allinanchor: in combination with the corresponding keywords:

allinanchor:apache http server download

In this example, you’ll be shown pages that contain these words: 'apache', 'http', 'server', and 'download' in their anchor text.


Google users that want documents with specific keywords in the title should use the intitle: command.


In this example, documents would be displayed to you that have wordpress written in the title.



This Google search operator should be used when you want to search for more than one search term in the title.

allintitle:wordpress tutorial beginner


If you want Google to look out for a keyword in the URL, this is where the operator inurl: comes into play. The search engine only displays results of websites that contain this search term in their URL. This is especially helpful if the search should be limited to certain web offers:

Audi A4 inurl:forum

This limited search will provide you with forums in which internet users swap information and chat about Audi A4 cars.

You can alternatively search this way:

[Search term] inurl:showthread

[Search term] inurl:topic


The URL search can be expanded to the whole keyword set:

allinurl:technical blog linux


The search command filetype: can be used when Google users want to narrow down the search results to certain file types.

Wordpress Tutorial filetype:pdf

A request like this indicates that only results in PDF format should be included in the web search. The search engine then compiles a list of freely accessible PDF documents that contain the relevant keyword.

Additional examples of file types that Google supports include doc and jpg.


The Google operator define: doesn’t just restrict the search results to definitions, but also delivers explanations for each search term.

If you write define:blog you will be provided with a definition of what a blog is.

With the link: search operator Google offers website owners an opportunity to see links that point to that URL. The list will show webpages that link to the respective domain. The operator works quite sporadically and doesn’t provide a comprehensive backlink profile. For a complete overview website operators should enlist the help of specialized providers like Ahrefs.

Source: This article was published

Tuesday, 13 February 2018 07:53

7 biggest privacy threats online

Being online is part of daily life, with Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile internet, and broadband connections spanning almost all of Britain, US and other developed countries.

While this gives us an overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips, it also exposes surprisingly large amounts of our personal information to the rest of the online world.

Depending on the websites and services you use, all manner of data from your browsing habits through to your birthday, address and marital status can be harvested from your online presence.

Even if websites, connections and devices you use do their best to hide your personal information, there are still a myriad of risks to your online privacy; we’ve selected seven to watch out for over the next 12 months.

Browse the web for any amount of time and you’ll notice adverts following you from site to site that are filled with products you may have been looking at earlier. That’s because you're being tracked.

Website cookies have historically been used to track web browsing via a piece of data inserted into your browser, but other techniques such as MAC address and account tracking can be used to see what you’ve been doing on the web.

While some people might not mind this, preferring to have adverts served up to them that are relevant to their interests, some may find it an invasion of digital privacy.

In the European Union, websites have to notify visitors that they’re using cookies and have to be transparent with any other methods they are using to follow you online.

But as data becomes more important to companies, developers and advertisers, there’s a lot more tracking going on by default.

If you’re concerned about online tracking, it’s always worth delving into the privacy settings of various services, apps and web browsers to make sure they’re set to give you the level of privacy you want. Alternatively, there all anti-tracking tools and browser extensions to keep your activity under wraps.

Whereas tracking might follow you in real-time, a variety of internet companies and services can collect your browsing data and share your computer or router MAC address with third-party advertisers and companies.

With this data companies, you have no direct interaction with can build up a pretty good profile of your internet habits and web browsing.

And this now extends to mobile apps, which in order to offer you their services will ask for access to your phone number, contacts, and other deeper phone functions.

Services like Google Maps can also track your real-time and historic location by default, which can be great if you want to know where you may have stumbled off to after a heavy Friday night. But to others could be seen as always being stalked by faceless tech companies.

While this can be the price people need to accept for free apps and services, some the data they potentially surrender may be pretty invasive.

Websites and online services that don’t have the latest and most robust security can effectively leave the information they might hold on you and the data flowing between your computer and a web server, at risk from hackers.

For example, websites using the now-outdated HTTP web communication standard, rather than the more robust HTTPS, lack an encrypted connection between a computer or smartphone and the website it connects to. This means the data flowing between the two points can be monitored by other companies or potentially snooped on and stolen by hackers for more nefarious purposes.

Furthermore, if the servers that support a website or online service are hacked, then you could find that cybercriminals have access to some of your personal credentials, not just infringing upon your privacy but also paving the way for fraud and identity theft.

To avoid such problems, it’s worth trying to only use websites with encrypted connections and making sure you have up-to-date cybersecurity software.

And while you can’t prevent a web server from being hacked,  using tools like two-factor authentication and keeping an eye out for any legitimate warnings that alert you to potential breaches of your data will help keep your personal information safer.

Smart TVs, fridges, thermostats, and speakers might seem like futuristic tech, but they can pose a threat to privacy.

A lack of security standards around the Internet of Things, the collective name given to connected and smart devices, means some devices might not have encrypted connections to the servers that power their smart features or may be vulnerable to simple hacking techniques, making them ripe targets for cybercriminals.

Or alternatively, devices such as smart speakers could end up listening to you all the time, rather than just respond to an activation phrase, which, whether deliberately or not, would be a massive breach of privacy.

More regulations and standards are being created to ensure smart home devices are kept secure and the data they collect and use is done so in a fashion that does not infringe upon a user’s personal privacy. But for the time being, if you value your privacy, it’s worth selecting smart home tech that has strong security and is transparent on how the gadgets collect data.

With all the things we can do on smartphones these days, it can be easy to plough through mobile data allowances pretty quickly, which makes logging onto public Wi-Fi hotspots very tempting.

But the problem is they often have weak or no form of security or encryption, meaning that hackers can snoop on the data going between your device, the hotspot and the web.

Some hotspots have a web portal that requires you to part with your email or login via Facebook or Twitter, meaning you have to part with some of your personal details, potentially opening you up to email spam, or force you to provide permission for the Wi-Fi service to have access to your social media posts.

It's worth being vigilant with the data you have to part to get a taste of free public Wi-Fi and identify if a provider will track your activity and use your details for intrusive marketing purposes.

More privacy-conscious people should consider using a virtual private network (VPN) which encrypts your web traffic and can hide your machine’s MAC address, making it difficult for others to snoop on your activity when out and about.

Some governments carry out online surveillance and don’t really allow their citizens to web browse privately. In the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act allows government authorities to legally spy on the browsing and internet use of British citizens.

As such, the government can directly breach your online privacy if they suspect you may be involved in criminal activity, though they need to apply for a warrant to do so, which should mean the average person isn’t being spied on by MI5.

However, the Investigatory Powers Act forces internet service companies to collect metadata on their customers and hold it for twelve months, which with a warrant can be collected in bulk by a government authority and used to combat terrorism or stop organized crime.

This means data relating to your personal internet use could get sifted through as part of a law enforcement task force even if you’re no way related to an investigation, which can be seen as pretty intrusive to your privacy.

Again, the use of a VPN or a proxy server can help boost your online privacy by hiding your IP address from the prying eyes of government agents and the police.

An open Facebook profile is arguably a stalker’s dream, with all manner of personal details, from current city of residence to phone numbers and photos available to browse and swipe.

And on Twitter, many users regularly post pictures with their location tagged, all of which allows for people to know their whereabouts with relative accuracy, as well as let savvy burglars know you’re not at home.

Privacy settings have been boosted on various social media sites to limit personal data to only friends or select contacts.

But there’s still the problem of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers, with fewer privacy settings,  tagging you in pictures they have of you and your escapades, potentially exposing some of your personal activities, location, and information to their friends who maybe strangers to you.

While the use of social networking sites at their very core is the antithesis of privacy, the use of them can be more intrusive that you’d perhaps first realize.

So for people wanting to keep their profiles low-key, it's worth taking time to go through the privacy options menu of such sites, and be aware of what you’re posting and how some updates can contain a lot more personal information than you’d think.]

Thanks to living in an ever-more connected world we have a lot more useful services and information but a mouse click or tap on a phone away; the downside is it exposes some of our personal data, habits, and life to a wider world.

But before you yank out the router and delete your Netflix account, there are techniques and approaches you can use to keep yourself away from prying eyes and fraudsters.

From tweaking web browser extensions and settings to using VPNs and anonymous search engines; plenty of tools can help you enjoy the fruit of the internet without sacrificing your online privacy.

Protect your privacy with KeepSolid VPN (70% off lifetime offer)

Source: This article was published

Networking can feel like a bit of a minefield, especially online. Thankfully, Hays’ Jane McNeill is here to share her top tips.

Not so long ago, networking used to be fairly straightforward. It simply involved navigating a crowded room, business card in hand, while scoping out the best people to speak to and then attempting to start a meaningful conversation.

Of course, this face-to-face networking is still important, and always will be, but there’s also a new kid in town.

The rise of online networks has created real, focused, commercial opportunities to network – but there are rules to this new world, particularly when it comes to leveraging your online connections.

Maximise your presence on LinkedIn

While networking events remain important, most networks are grown today on LinkedIn. But, before you start to network online, start with the basics: optimise your LinkedIn profile.

Add keywords to your headline, summary and experience sections as they are searchable by others; add your LinkedIn URL to your email signature; review LinkedIn’s suggested connections regularly, and join relevant LinkedIn groups. Be proactive in writing recommendations and endorsing skills where appropriate.

If you’re wondering if it matters how many relevant first-degree connections you have, the answer is yes because second- and third-degree connections mean you can be one connection away from potentially millions of people. The key is to make sure your connections are relevant – quality not quantity is vital when building your network.

Get an introduction

This doesn’t mean you can automatically interact with your second- and third-degree connections. If you’d like to touch base with a second-degree connection on LinkedIn, email your first-degree contact to ask for an introduction.

Do not reach out to the second-degree contact independently; not only is it considered poor form, but people are far more likely to respond when being introduced by a mutual connection.

It’s also good etiquette to say thank you to every person who makes an introduction or helps you in some way. A brief InMail, email or phone call takes one minute.


So, you’ve just met someone who would be a great addition to your network, but you aren’t sure when to send a connection request.

How soon is too soon? Rest assured, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a request once you are back in the office after meeting the person, or immediately following a telephone or email exchange. Be sure to always personalize your connection requests, too.

Just don’t wait too long – it is standard etiquette to follow up within two days. Similarly, if you make a commitment to someone, such as sending a link or making an introduction, delivered within two days. Remember to also accept invitations in a timely manner, and send a follow-up thank you.

It’s not all one-way

Don’t pitch to new contacts as soon as you connect, though. Offer something of value first, such as a link to a relevant article.

When it comes to networking, the general rule is that you should give more than you take. As my colleague, Yvonne Smyth wrote: “Before you need them, help others get what they want first.”

Be active

Effective networking involves staying in touch, so share relevant and engaging content, like and share updates from your connections, and join and contribute to industry groups. If you have a lot of expertise in certain areas, start your own LinkedIn blog.

Be genuine, insightful and authentic; show interest in others; ask questions, and be respectful of people’s time. But don’t over-post, otherwise, your communications could be too diluted.

Finally, introductions via technology can be a good starting point, but professional relationships are usually cemented in person. Take the time to get to know people by attending industry events and joining an association or professional group.

With these online networking etiquette tips, you’re ready to build and leverage your connections in a thoughtful, effective and professional manner.

Jane McNeill is managing director of both New South Wales and Western Australia at Hays Recruitment.

A version of this article previously appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blogBy Jane McNeill

Scientists have produced a series of papers designed to improve research on conservation and the environment.

A group of researchers, led by the University of Exeter, have contributed to a special issue of the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution to examine commonly used social science techniques and provide a checklist for scientists to follow.

Traditional conservation biology has been dominated by quantitative data (measured in numbers) but today it frequently relies on qualitative methods such as interviews and focus group discussions.

The aim of the special issue is to help researchers decide which techniques are most appropriate for their study, and improve the "methodological rigour" of these techniques.

"Qualitative techniques are an important part of the curriculum for most undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies in biodiversity conservation and the environment," said Dr. Nibedita Mukherjee, of the University of Exeter, who coordinated the special issue of the journal.

"Yet the application of these techniques is often flawed or badly reported."

Dr. Mukherjee, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, added: "In putting together this special issue, we urge greater collaboration across the disciplines within conservation, incorporating the rigorous use of qualitative methods.

"We envisage a future in which conservation scientists test, modify and improve these techniques so that they become even more relevant and widely used."

The five papers in the special issue include one which examines the use of interviews as part of research into conservation decision-making.

It found that researchers do not always justify their use of interviews, or report on their usefully enough for readers to make informed judgments.

"While interview-based research might not always be reproducible, we should still leave the reader in no doubt about what was done," said lead author Dr David Rose, formerly of the University of Cambridge but now at the University of East Anglia.

Another  looked at the use of . Lead author Tobias Nyumba, from the University of Cambridge, said focus groups are often used but many researchers are "not particularly keen on the process, from planning, execution, analysis to reporting.

"This paper is, therefore, a must read if focus groups must form part of your research toolkit," he said.

A third paper looked at the nominal group  (NGT).

Lead author Dr. Jean Huge said: "While  conflicts are on the rise worldwide, NGT provides a simple yet systematic approach to prioritise management options and could help reduce conflict."

This could inform the choice of criteria in the MultiCriteria Decision Analysis as observed by Dr. Blal Adem Esmail in his paper.

Source: This article was published

Privacy, brand safety, and other factors will make paid search even more attractive to marketers going forward, according to Forrester Research.

Forrester Research says that search marketing is poised for “a late-stage renaissance.” The firm, which also expects significant mobile, video and social media advertising growth through 2021, cites a number of factors behind its prediction for search-marketing gains.

Among them, it says that privacy measures — especially the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) and ePrivacy regulation in Europe and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention — make paid search more attractive because it is “relatively less vulnerable” to these measures. The company also cites brand safety as a major issue that’s not a problem in search but has become a major issue with social, traditional display and video advertising.

Forrester also points to Amazon’s growth as a product search engine and as an advertising channel for product sellers. Voice search and virtual assistant growth should also benefit paid search marketing, according to the company, because it’s the ad model perhaps most aligned with consumer behavior and the intended future uses of smart speakers. (I would argue that smart speakers are as much a branding and discovery tool as they are a search vehicle.)

According to the IAB, search advertising in the US led all other categories with $19.1 billion in the first half of 2017. It captured 47 percent of all online ad dollars, which was down from 49 percent in 2016 (though real dollars were up).

The growth of mobile has also propelled search marketing. Mobile ad spending was 54 percent of the first-half ad revenue total ($21.7 billion). Mobile paid search represented roughly $10 billion of that figure.

 Source: This article was published By Greg Sterling

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 00:48

New Google Search Console: 16 Months of Data

Google has announced that a beta version of the new Search Console, released a few months ago to select users, will now be available to everyone.

The new Search Console will be rolled out gradually, and webmasters will be individually notified when they receive access.

Still, in beta, the new Search Console will live side by side with the old version. Users can toggle between them in the navigation menu.

As it was the most consistently requested new feature, site owners should be happy to know the public beta has the same 16 months of data that was available in the private beta.

In addition to more data within the Search Performance report (previously Search Analytics report), the new Search Console has been completely rebuilt. It has been designed with a renewed focus on helping site owners identify and fix and pending issues.

With the updated Index Coverage, AMP status, and Job postings reports, site owners will be guided through a simplified process of optimizing their website’s presence in search results.

Index Coverage Report

Google has added “issue tracking functionality” to the Index Coverage report, which alerts site owners when new issues are detected. Search Console will then provide information on fixing a specific issue, as well as verify when it has been fixed correctly.

The State of Local Search 2018: Expert Webinar
Join a panel of the biggest local search experts as we explore how the industry changed in 2017 and predict what search engines might have in store.

Recognizing that fixing webpage issues can often involve a team of individuals, Google has added share buttons within the Index Coverage report. Now a direct link to a specific issue can be shared with whomever it concerns.

AMP and Job Postings

Issues can also arise when creating AMP versions of web pages, or implementing Job Postings markup. The new search console will identify issues related to these two types of “search enhancements,” with more to be added in the future.

In addition to providing information about how to fix an issue, the AMP and Job Postings reports have two unique features. When validating a fix, Search Console will run several instantaneous reports to provide site owners with more immediate feedback.

If you’re testing multiple URLs, then at the end of the process Search Console will provide a validation log. This document will detail which URLs have been identified as fixed, as well as the ones that failed.

As Google works to improve on the beta release of the new Search Console it will be continuously listening to user feedback. The new version does not have all the functionality of the classic version, which is why the two will live side-by-side until the beta is complete.

Source: This article was published By Matt Southern

OK, Google. What’s in store for SEO in 2018?

The answer to that question might be a little too big for voice search to unpack, but if this holiday season has shown me anything, it’s that voice search is going to play a big role in 2018. Every electronics store I walked into was showcasing their latest virtual assistants, artificial intelligence, and smart home devices.

Voice search is here to stay, and it has hit the mainstream in a big way.

Voice search is also clearly on Google’s mind. Google made 10 big announcements at I/O 2017, and four of them involved Home and Google Assistant. Plus, in early December, John Mueller launched an idle tweet asking the SEO community about what sort of voice search data they’d like to see and why

Voice search is also already having a big impact on SEO as we know it.

There’s strong evidence that voice search optimization is intricately connected to Google’s featured snippets, which occupy the coveted “position zero” in SERPs.

In other words, if voice search optimization isn’t already part of your SEO strategy, it’s time to fix that.

In this article, we’ll look at five big advancements voice search made in 2017, and how to prepare for voice search in 2018 and beyond.

How Voice Search Changed in 2017

1. AI-Backed Speech Accuracy Is Now (Almost) on Par with Human Accuracy

In May 2015, Google’s Sundar Pichai announced that their speech recognition error rate was at 8 percent thanks to their investments in machine learning.

Now, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report, Google’s speech recognition is even better — their English word accuracy rate is now a staggering 95 percent, as of May 2017.

That number also just happens to be the threshold for human accuracy. Sure, it’s still slightly more error prone than typical human dialogue, but the gap is shrinking quickly.

Put into perspective, this means that Google’s AI-backed voice recognition has improved by 20 percent since 2013. And they’re still making “significant breakthroughs” in speech recognition, according to Pichai at I/O 2017. He says we’ll continue to see “error rates continue to improve even in noisy environments.”

2. Voice-First Devices Are Becoming Common Household Appliances

Virtual assistants, smart home devices, and other voice-first technology(e.g., Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the upcoming Apple Homepod) entered the public consciousness in a big way in 2017.

In 2015, almost no one had heard of voice-first devices — only 1.7 million shipped across the U.S. That number shot up to 6.5 million in 2016.

In 2017, VoiceLabs predicts that number will swell to 24.5 million devices shipped. That’s more than a 312 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.

More than 12 million voice-first device sales will occur in Q4 alone, according to Strategy Analytics, so we can expect even more sales next year.

If 2017 was the year that pushed voice-first technology into the mainstream, 2018 will be its heyday.

3. Voice Search AIs & Voice-First Devices Have More Diversified Skill Sets

Google’s doing everything they can to make the Google Assistant part of your daily routine. Now, in addition to getting a traffic, weather, and news update when you say “good morning” to your Google Home, you can make announcements throughout your house, find your phone, and entertain your kids with over 50 new “family fun” skills.

But wait, there’s more!

As of 2017, you can integrate your Google Home device with a Chromecast, effectively allowing you to control your TV with your voice.

Google’s begun rolling out a hands-free calling feature, free in Canada and the U.S., though it currently only supports outgoing calls. And, since Google partnered with Walmart in August 2017, you can now take advantage of voice shopping through your Google Assistant.

Not to be outdone, Amazon Alexa comes equipped with around 1,900 skills out of the box, and it can learn more than 25,000 skills through app support. In fact, Alexa even has a Skill Finder — a skill designed to help you find new skills.

Some of Alexa’s other skills include:

The State of Local Search 2018: Expert Webinar
Join a panel of the biggest local search experts as we explore how the industry changed in 2017 and predict what search engines might have in store.

  • Calling an Uber.
  • Reading ebooks.
  • Placing an order from Starbucks.
  • Balancing your Capital One bank account.
  • Ordering from Amazon and tracking your packages.

But perhaps the most significant change to hit voice search in 2017 was the huge improvements it made to local search.

Now, voice search is able to understand user intent with eerie accuracy through a contextual understanding of a user’s location, recent searches, and personal information.

4. Voice Search Is Even Bigger Internationally

If you thought voice search was a solely Western phenomenon, think again.

Recent global research found that Chinese consumers are leading the way when it comes to voice assistant usage, with a staggering 64 percent adoption rate. They’re closely followed by Thailand, with a 57 percent adoption rate.

In fact, back in 2013 when Siri was still relatively new to the U.S., China was already creating apps that could reach 93 percent voice search recognition accuracy.

Despite leading the race in voice search, Baidu, China’s most popular search engine and the second most used search engine in the world, only just unveiled their new smart home devices in November – on the heels of announcing a speech-to-text AI that can simulate over 2,400 accents and voices.

All of these advances are to push us towards a fully voice-operated future, according to Andrew Ng Yan-tak, Baidu’s chief scientist:

“In the future, I would love for us to be able to talk to all of our devices and have them understand us. I hope to someday have grandchildren who are mystified at how, back in 2016, if you were to say ‘Hi’ to your microwave oven, it would rudely sit there and ignore you.”

5. Voice Search Is Changing the Way We Advertise

Finally, in a change that promises to have a huge impact on advertisers in 2018 and the years to come, Amazon launched a restrictive ad policythat effectively bans third-party ads from Alexa voice apps.

This is a jarring change for brands used to desktop and mobile advertising, where banner-ads, pop-ups, and other ads effectively interrupt a user’s experience. However, it does fall in line how Brian Roemmele, founder of Pay Finders, foresees the intersection voice search and advertising:

“This new advertising and payments paradigm will impact every element of how we interact with Voice First devices. Without human-mediated searches on Google, there is no pay-per-click. Without a scan of the headlines at your favorite news site, there is no banner advertising. Advertising as we know it will not exist primarily because we would not tolerate commercial intrusions and interruptions in our dialogues. It would be equivalent to having a friend break into an advertisement about a new gasoline.”

Amazon’s policy change had an especially profound effect on VoiceLabs, which launched the world’s first ad network for voice assistants. VoiceLabs shut down their “Sponsored Messaging” advertisements shortly after the announcement.

But while the new policy may have quashed VoiceLabs’ current advertising efforts, the company’s CEO, Adam Marchick, is convinced that Amazon and Google will soon to find a way to make ads a more organic part of the voice search experience:

“I believe there will be advertising, but I believe that Amazon and Google will want it to be viewed as additional content, not pop-up ads. How that manifests will be a good question.”

How to Prepare for Voice Search in 2018 & Beyond

At its core, optimizing for voice search is similar to the SEO of yesteryear. You need to:

  1. Create robust, compelling content that answers your users’ most common questions and solves their pain points.
  2. Adopt long-tail keywords optimized for semantic search.
  3. Use Schema to mark up your content and tell search engines what your site’s about.
  4. And, for goodness’ sake, you must be optimized for mobile.

What might be different from your usual SEO strategy is that now you also need to pay special attention both to creating detailed answers to common questions and to answering simple questions clearly and concisely.

Brevity, context, and relevance are essential when optimizing for voice search.

A good strategy that’s already been adopted successfully by many websites is to:

  • Create content or a webpage with a headline that asks a common question.
  • Immediately after the headline, provide a succinct answer or definition to the question.
  • Use the rest of the page to provide further elaborative detail on the topic.

The genius of this strategy is that the rich, robust webpage ultimately appeals to Google’s ranking algorithm, while the short-and-sweet information at the top of the page is optimized for voice search and might even become a featured snippet.


My colleagues in Search Engine Journal’s 2018 SEO trends roundup had some great predictions for the coming year, and voice search featured prominently in many of them.

Christine Churchill predicts:

“Smart marketers will be seeking ways to prepare for this development and will need to optimize to find their way into the answer for voice searches. Voice searches tend to be more verbose so delivering more relevant responses may require different strategies.”

Many notable influences such as Winston BurtonMindy Weinstein, and Eli Schwartz agree with her.

Tony Wright, on the other hand, disagrees. According to Wright:

“Think of voice search like mobile. Every year since 2005 or so, people would predict, ‘this will be the year of mobile.’ When mobile actually did take off, we realized it wasn’t the year of mobile, but a seismic shift in audience behavior. That will happen in voice search too – but not this year.”

Whether 2018 is the year of voice search remains to be seen, but I don’t think anyone denies that voice search is coming, and it’s going to change SEO as we know it.

Friday, 05 January 2018 04:31

5 Tips For Winning At Voice Search & SEO

OK, Google, why should I be optimizing my website for voice search?

Whether your potential customers are asking Google, Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, trust me—you want to be the answer. Google says that 20% of all searches are voice searches and I’m certain that number will only continue to skyrocket in the coming years.

Are you ready to claim a spot in that 20%? Are you even convinced that you should be doing whatever you can to benefit from that 20% statistic? Or perhaps—even if you’re already convinced of the importance of getting in the voice search game—you don’t even know where to start.

Let’s talk it all out. Let’s talk the what, why, and how of voice search SEO.

What Is Voice Search & How Does It Work?

As far as SEO jargon goes, voice search is probably the easiest to understand. Voice search is simply any search a person performs on the internet using a voice command instead of typing or text.

But you probably knew that. Heck, you probably already do it yourself. Maybe you’ve even performed a voice search today. (“Hey Siri, is it 5:00 yet?”)

Even if you do know what voice search is, I’m guessing that—like most people—you’re not entirely clear on how it works.

I don’t want to get too far into it, but I do think a basic breakdown of how things work will be handy before we dive in. Put simply:

  • A user initiates a voice search by pressing a button or addressing the device’s voice assistant with a pre-programmed voice command (“Hey Siri”, “OK Google”, “Alexa,”, “Hey Cortana”)
  • The user asks a question or gives a command, such as, “When Does SEO The Movie Come Out?” or “SEO Movie Release Date”
  • Depending on what kind of technology the voice search system uses, it’ll pick up on little packets of sound—whether those packets are individual syllables, words, or entire phrases and sentences
  • The voice search system will then translate these units of sound into text (using at least 1 of 4 methods) and then initiate that search just like it would a text search.

Whew! The good news is that we don’t need to worry about that too much. But isn’t it cool to know what goes on behind the scenes?

How Voice Search Affects SEO

Voice search is changing the way we use search engines in huge ways.

In short, voice search makes search inquiries way more conversational in nature. Which makes sense, since so many of the digital assistants who aid in voice searches make it feel like we’re talking to actual people sometimes.

This affects our voice search strategy in a number of ways, but we’ll get more into that below.

By 2020, voice search will account for 50% of searches

But that’s not all—voice searches also tend to change the nature of keywords themselves, including question words like what, how, when, and why.

Oh, and one last thing we should keep in mind: most digital assistants answer voice searches solely with—well, their voices. With the spoken word. Which means—for those of us in industries of a more visual nature like art or fashion—we’ll need to get clever about how we’re creating and describing our content.

Let’s get into it!

Use These Tips For Your Voice Search SEO Strategy

So how do we take advantage of the search landscape that’s resulted from an explosion in voice search? With these 5 tips, of course.

1. Use Microdata


Image Source
By using microdata, your site can feature rich snippets/cards like those above and can also help Google better understand what your site/content is all about!

Adding microdata like location, phone number, pricing, menus, and operating hours for search engines was crucial before, but it’s even more crucial now with voice search and SEO. Microdata helps search engines understand what is on any given page which is key for Voice Search.

How do digital assistants find this information from your site? By you having an organized and easily readable sitemap. Include all this information in pages labeled on your sitemap to make sure search engines know exactly where to find your microdata. You can also test your microdata with Google’s handy Structured Data Testing Tool.

Not sure what microdata you should cover or how to implement? Check out this guide from Search Engine Land.

2. Talk Like Your Customers Would

It’s not just about keywords anymore (not that it has been for some time anyway). It’s not just about robots and algorithms anymore, it’s about people and how people actually talk (Natural Language). That’s what Neil Patel recommends when it comes to voice search: “Think like a human.”

People aren’t searching for “Amazon Echo” anymore.

They’re searching for “where to buy Amazon Echo near me”, and “best prices on Amazon Echo”, and “Google Home versus Amazon Echo.”

The trend is shifting from short and stiff keywords to more human, more specific, and longer-tail search terms.

In short: phrases and longtail keywords are the way to go. Keep this in mind when you’re creating content and using keywords on your site pages. We’ll have to be mindful now more than ever to be genuine and specific in our keyword use.

3. Ask The Questions Your Target Customers Would

Again, it’s all about keeping language natural here.

It’s not enough to just figure out what your target keywords are and match them up with their longer-tail counterparts. You’ve got to make sure you know what kinds of questions those keywords will be hidden in, too.

What questions will your customers need to ask to find you? That’s what we need to figure out, and those are the keywords and phrases (or actually, questions) we need to include in our site content. (FAQ pages are great for this.)

How do you figure out what questions your target customers are asking? I recommend by starting with a tool called Answer the Public, in which you can type in short and simple keywords and get back data on how those terms fit in with search queries around the web.


Image Source
Let’s say you offer content marketing services. How do you find out what potential customers are asking about content marketing? Answer The Public has a few ideas.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

clip_image010Image SourceWay to go Wikipedia! Isn’t it nice to know that Google really just wants to help you succeed, and at no cost to you? Their free tool will grade your site and even point you in the right direction for how to go about improving your scores.

I mean, you should be doing this already. But the rise of voice search makes having responsive web design more important than ever.

That’s because more voice searches are initiated from mobile devices than from desktop computers, and that’s probably because—well, what do you usually carry with you wherever you go? Right—probably not your laptop.

Your first step is to find out just how mobile friendly your website already is, and you can use Google’s free tool Test My Site for that.

The report you get back will help you be able to hone in on exactly what you need to do to improve your mobile friendliness. If you’re really starting from scratch on the mobile responsiveness front, I recommend tackling the basics first.

5. Dive Deeper With Semantics

Semantics may sound like this big, abstract thing, but all it is is the deeper “why” behind what searchers are saying.

For example, you may just be asking Alexa how much Nike Flyknits cost, but Alexa won’t just answer your question with a price tag and leave it at that. She’ll also probably be thinking about your question and learning things about you, namely that you’re in the market for shoes and you’re willing to pay a premium price for them.

Another way search engines use semantics is by making inferences when you ask questions, which is demonstrated fantastically by Wordstream’s in-depth study on semantics in voice search.

To take an example from their study, using semantics in search is like asking, “What planet is Gamora from?” without first having to let your digital assistant know that you're referring to Zoe Saldana’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy.

What does Google’s focus on semantics mean for you? It means that you should not only be focusing on the literal content of search queries but also on the intent behind the search inquiries.

Why are people searching what they’re searching? It’s not enough to know what questions they’re asking—we also have to ask ourselves why they’re asking the questions they’re asking.

If you can dive deeper into this why and weave it into the fabric of your website, you won’t have to worry as much about keyword use. Because—if you can offer valuable content that’ll answer your readers’ questions with authority and a genuinely helpful attitude—Google will recognize that your site is the answer on the most organic level.

Hey Siri, We’re Ready To Win At Voice Search Now

Do you have enough to add to your SEO to-do list now?

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me—the dividends you’ll get back over time are totally worth the upfront work. If you can, try adding just one of these 5 tips to your to-do list each week and tackle them one by one, starting with the least advanced and abstract (using microdata) and ending on the more complicated stuff (responsive design and semantics). And then cheers yourself with a drink.

On that note, let me wrap us with one final question—a question not for Siri or Alexa, Google or Cortana, but for you: Hey Reader, how will you make voice search SEO a priority this week?

Source: This article was published By Sam Algate

Google has quality raters specifically for voice search-related search results. These raters look for information satisfaction, length, formulation, and elocution.

Google has published on the Google Research blog the search quality raters guidelines, contractors guidelines to evaluate Google’s search results, specifically for the Google Assistant and voice search results. It is similar to the web search quality guidelines, but it changes in that there is no screen to look at when evaluating such results; instead you are evaluating the voice responses from the Google Assistant.

Google explained, “The Google Assistant needs its own guidelines in place, as many of its interactions utilize what is called ‘eyes-free technology,’ when there is no screen as part of the experience.” Google has designed machine learning and algorithms to try to make the voice responses and “answers grammatical, fluent and concise.” Google said that they ask raters to make sure that answers are satisfactory across several dimensions:

  • 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.

The short, only seven-page, guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF over here.

Source: This article was published By Barry Schwartz

Page 1 of 34


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.