Natural Language, Voice Search, & Your Marketing Strategy

Fine Point Grey Dr. Pete, Marketing Scientist at Moz

Natural Language, Voice Search, & Your Marketing Strategy

(39-minute podcast)

Natural Language is already impacting search whether you know it or not. Dr. Pete, Marketing Scientist at Moz dives into just what that means for you, how to optimize your search strategy & what’s coming next. We also dive into big news this week, ANA’s call for more social media advertising audits, Larry Kim leaving Wordstream, good & bad bots, and lots of great humor.

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Featured Experts:

Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

Guests and Experts


Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz


Dr. Peter J. Meyers (AKA “Dr. Pete”) is Marketing Scientist for Seattle-based Moz, where he works with the marketing and data science teams on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past five years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast Project, and he curates the Google Algorithm History, a chronicle of Google updates back to 2002.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Tim Mohler, Sr. Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Tim Mohler is a multichannel marketer with experience building campaigns for travel, CPG, food, beverage, and technology companies reaching both B2B and B2C customers. He’s passionate about building marketing experiences & partnerships that are relevant to a brand’s message, exciting for the customer, and most importantly deliver measurable results. At Point It, he develops digital, social and content campaigns as well as managing on a day to day basis.


Maureen Jann: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week we’ll feature industry experts to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the Director of Marketing at Point It, a Digital Marketing Agency here in Seattle and I’ll be your hostess. I have Tim Mohler with me, our Senior Marketing Manager, and he’ll be chiming in throughout the podcast in the Pointed Studios, a/k/a the conference room. Full disclosure, we’re experimenting with podcast technology so bear with us as we work through some of the bugs, here. I’m particularly delighted to introduce you to today’s guest. We have Dr. Pete from Moz. We’re going to be talking about natural language and its impact on Search. We’re delighted to have you, Dr. Pete.


Pete Meyers: Thank you, it’s good to be here.


Maureen Jann: I love that you’re known by Dr. Pete, it’s like a brainier version of Prince, no second name needed. That’s fun. Awesome, well. I look forward to chatting with you later about natural language, but for now let’s dive into the headlines. This week, my network is talking about the AMA, Larry Kim and bad bots; bad, bad bots. The first one, I love the AMA. Last year the AMA did us a huge favor and did a giant study around programmatic advertising to basically highlight how Point It does it better, and that makes us very, very happy. Today, the AMA is calling for people to tear down the walls. They’re calling for audits of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest, and this is from Advertising Age. The article itself talked about how … “Because the market is embracing transparency, 89% of the AMA’s members saw independent audits as a good thing.


Advertisers and thusly, buyers have less confidence in online ads since the industry suffered from years of fraudulent traffic and uncertain viewability standards around how ads appear on screens.” I know that we saw this from a client perspective, that there was a lot of question marks from people, or when Facebook released that information around the flaws with the video views, tricky business. Transparency’s a challenge across the advertising industry, but it’s not surprising that these social platforms who have been adopting advertising or, basically, acquiring new advertising spaces, are running into challenges like this.


Tim Mohler: I’m wondering who the other 11% of the AMA members are, really? Is that Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest?


Maureen Jann: Yeah, they’re like, “We don’t like this at all. This is terrible.”


Tim Mohler: Who are these people that have something to hide? I think it’s interesting with as much money as flows, we audit every other aspect. AMA has been auditing newspapers since 1914. The time has really come, it’s so obvious. There’s just so much money in it and we’re running into the same thing with television as well. I think now that Facebook and Google are finally on board, I think it’s up to all these other channels, if they want advertisers they’re going to have to get on board pretty quickly.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I agree. The other big part about this is, let’s be honest, that advertising isn’t the core competency of these platforms. This is something they’ve added on as another revenue stream and so, of course they’re going to run into some challenges. Of course, I think that maybe we see some of them, like Facebook and Twitter being old hat at this, but the fact of the matter is they’re not really. It’s kind of new-ish. I don’t know, Pete, have you run into this at all in your work as a marketing scientist?


Tim Mohler: That’s a great title by the way.


Pete Meyers: Yeah, there are so many channels now that we can even do it from a product perspective but it seems like either we open that whole social can of worms or we try desperately to keep it closed, and right now we’re desperately trying to keep it closed because it’s just … Not only is there some transparencies issues but there’s so much possessiveness over data right now that we get into trouble. Twitter’s a great example, where we built a bunch of tools based on Twitter and then they started closing out there data and suddenly everything falls apart and so it’s … From a product company perspective it gets really, really dangerous.


Maureen Jann: I could see that because you’re relying on open APIs and that whole conversation but social has gotten … They used the word “Walled gardens” in this article and I thought, “Gosh, yeah that’s a big deal.” They’re really pushing on them to bring down the walls as it were. I think we, as advertisers and marketers, in general, have been pushing them to do this for a while because the quality of that behavioral and interest data is pretty valuable to us. I think that end result is going to end up with better marketing, better more relevant marketing for all of us, thanks to the work that they’ve done, so I’m sure they’re not delighted about it.


Tim Mohler: Well, and I think there’s two aspects to the walled garden, so there’s transparency in terms of data and then there’s the walled garden in terms of them actually, “Are we selling what we said sold,” essentially. Then there’s also the walled garden around their data itself, and the data for these companies is really … I mean I’m thinking of LinkedIn, specifically, that is their asset. That data is their money, so I don’t see them giving it up. I also see for Facebook, there’s a huge privacy concern so I think it’s something they’re going to have to navigate really, really carefully.


Pete Meyers: I think there’s some data that just doesn’t look the way they’d like it to too, and I can certainly, with Twitter, they kind of switched that whole engagement metric. The raw numbers on Twitter don’t really correlate with anything, then you got 1,000 re-Tweets of something and no traffic. Unfortunately, their solution was to just stop recording that because it turned out not to be that great and that’s … I get it but when that’s when what everybody measures on, that says more about your platform than the data and how do you make the platform more useful? I’m afraid some of them have taken that step backwards where … And they don’t like what the data says, so instead of fixing it they’re just going to take the data away.


It’s tough when you build on that and it’s tough when you report that. I think it’s hard for marketers when they say, “You know what? Every week, this is what I report to my boss and I don’t care that maybe it’s not the greatest, this is what I’ve been reporting for two years so what do I do now?” You know, and loose that consistency, it just makes you stop depending on those numbers, which is unfortunate.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it’s true and this seems like the perfect opportunity if we were using sound effects for the sad trombone, you know … Whomp, whomp. Everybody’s sad, marketers are sad, platforms are sad, nobody’s winning here.


Tim Mohler: This is what happens when you keep score, you know?


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Tim Mohler: I’m in the middle buying a car. This feels like that dealership that I went into that wouldn’t give me a Car Fax. Maybe-


Maureen Jann: Is that a [crosstalk 00:07:17]?


Tim Mohler: Yes, and it’s how you tell whether or not your car has been in a wreck.


Maureen Jann: Oh?


Tim Mohler: This feels like maybe you’re not on the right platform if they’re not willing to tell you what’s happening.


Maureen Jann: Oh, but I don’t want Twitter to go away.


Tim Mohler: That’s true; very true.


Maureen Jann: I’m going to start sounding whiny about it because it’s where I have some of my interesting conversations, so sad; sad trombone. Okay, so our next article is about my next adventure of Larry Kim leaves WordStream. This is actually kind of a big deal for us, we are WordStream fan people. We get involved with WordStream quite a bit. We’re a big fan of Larry Kim and he has definitely been involved with a lot of people that work here and he has been a digital marketing and paid Search fixture and now he’s leaving after 10 years, that’s huge. He founded it, he got it funded, he was an evangelist. This is kind of a shake-up.


Tim Mohler: He started in a Panera Bread, one of my favorite restaurants. I have so much more respect for him now.


Maureen Jann: Really?


Tim Mohler: Yes.


Maureen Jann: That’s what did it?


Tim Mohler: Absolutely.


Maureen Jann: You have a low bar, my friend, I’m just letting you know. So, he’s starting a new startup in the mobile space to get back to his product and engineering roots. We certainly wish him best in his new adventures. We were trying to get him as a guest on the podcast and I feel like I’ve missed my opportunity. The window has closed, it’s so sad. Did you ever run into Larry in your speaking adventures?


Pete Meyers: Yeah, I know Larry pretty well and his [inaudible 00:08:54] always good people on the [inaudible 00:08:55] team. I know a lot of founders and I think this is just the founder journey after a while. It’s different to start a company than it is to run a company, especially if it gets bigger and bigger and it keeps changing. I think part of it is, too, founders just they get the itch and Larry … I think Larry’s like that. He’s got to do the next big thing and I have a feeling that’s part of it.


Maureen Jann: For sure, and anybody who has got that entrepreneurial spirit, it’s you don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. 10 years is really long time to stay at a project, to be honest.


Pete Meyers: In our industry that’s a huge amount of time, yeah.


Maureen Jann: Right, and I know that I jump to do new, cool, more awesome things every three or four years because I have the attention span of a very, very cute, redheaded squirrel.


Tim Mohler: Ahhh.


Maureen Jann: Squirrel, squirrel.


Tim Mohler: I really respect him on this from moving, now that rather than … I’m thinking of Jack Dorsey and trying to maintain two hats at Twitter and Square. I respect that he thinks that WordStream is at that point where he can hand it off and he’s going to do so, even though it’s effectively still his company. Then he’s going to commit himself to something new, so I think that says a lot about him, that he’s willing … And about his team and the team that he’s built over there together with their CEO, that he’s willing to make that handoff. That’s huge; that’s got to be so difficult.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it would be like handing off a baby. That would be so tricky. I’d feel so sad like, “Have my baby. Ooo.” I’m sure that whatever he’s going to do next is going to be fantastic and I know he’s trying to keep in touch with everybody. If you search for Larry Kim’s next big adventure, you can sign up to follow him on his next adventures and learn what they’re doing over there. Our last article’s about … Is a report about bad bots are swarming virtually every website and log-in page. This is something straight out of the National Enquirer in my opinion. This is a Marketing Land Report, although it’s actually based a different report so if you actually click into the article that’s going to be in the show … Link that’s in the show notes, it’ll take you to the full, fancy report, but the high-level points that I thought were interesting were the Bad Bot Report is what this report is called which-


Tim Mohler: That’s great.


Maureen Jann: I can’t help but find that humorous, like a Bad Bot Report.


Tim Mohler: In the report, the little Bot with the devil ears.


Maureen Jann: Ohhh.


Tim Mohler: Great, brilliant, little icon.


Maureen Jann: Interesting.


Tim Mohler: It’ll be in the show notes. It’s going to be a character.


Maureen Jann: There you go, see I was thinking-


Tim Mohler: We’ll give it a bio.


Maureen Jann: I was thinking like Wild Wild West, a little like the bad, grrrr, you know, and like they were knocking open saloon doors and pulling out their guns and doing-


Tim Mohler: Six-shooter.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, totally, that’s kind of where I went with that, it was definitely different. But the Bad Bot Report from an anti-Bot service, called Distil Networks, is described as depressing which I thought was kind of comical. Apparently, this report opens like a comparison to Pearl Harbor. I was like, “I’m not sure that’s the most sensitive way to approach this,” but you have to appreciate the color that they brought to the table on that. The more interesting, more meaty facts, are about it’s difficult to identify bad versus good bots, even when there’s an attack. I found that a little disconcerting and I’m not [inaudible 00:12:21] so I don’t know the details around that, but I can imagine that would be a pretty big frustration for people who are trying to manage wide, high-volume traffic during things like Black Friday or something along those lines, but that would be pretty stressful.


Tim Mohler: Yeah, actually, I got a call this morning, one of those robocalls, right as I was reading this, actually. It made me think … Bad versus good when it comes to bots or any sort of that automation depends on which angle you’re coming at it from. Election season taught us that robocalls, robo-Twitter, hashtag, whatever they call it, taking over hashtag. There’s just all of this automation everywhere that doesn’t necessary benefit the consumer. This is why I’m really interested in where Larry Kim goes because a lot of what he’s doing surrounds bots and how to leverage them for dental and medical space and things like that. I think it can be very useful, but as we see automation going everywhere it messes up our traffic, it messes up analytics, it messes up what you’re paying for your advertising. It’s very easy … You almost get to that point where is it automation or is it hacking and it is [inaudible 00:13:36] service attack?


Maureen Jann: Mm? There’s just so many options.


Tim Mohler: It’s complicated. It really is complicated and everybody’s pushing the line because it’s really fun to see what you can design and what you can do with it. Price-scraping, good or bad? It depends on who you are.


Maureen Jann: It’s true. Dr. Pete, what is your experience? I know when we talk about bots, bots is a key part of SEO and how we go to gauge the quality and the popularity of a site on any of the search engines but how has bad bots impacted search engine optimization and the kinds of things you guys do over at Moz?


Pete Meyers: Yeah, we’re on both sides. We build bots and we get hit by them and so we try to have a little sensitivity for that when we’re building them but it’s not easy. There’s still a lot of cost factors involved, too, that even if it’s not impacting your analytics or anything like that. For example, we have an API that, especially from our larger customers, used to pull data and that gets hit by automation all the time. That becomes a big cost center where they feed it, which a Bot can hit something. You can make it really suck a lot of data fast and that data’s worth money. Then we’ve got engineers who are trying to stop people from pulling all that data who aren’t working on the things the customers need. It can be frustrating, yet on the same hand we’re out gathering data from Google and so we’re trying to ask like, “What’s …”


Because there’s not an open way to get that data and it’s useful to our customers, and yet, how do we do that responsibly and how do we do that in a way that, hopefully, we are producing something useful and we’re not just doing it to show we can do it. It’s not easy but I think there’s just a lot of bad players out there, too, that just do it to see if they can do it or have a very, very low value proposition or half the time don’t even know what they built, you know, they just-


Tim Mohler: Yeah, it’s true.


Pete Meyers: They just send this thing out there. It can happen in the virus world, too, like you send something out there and by the time it goes across 50 different systems and different operating systems it’s mutated into something new and so sometimes I think people just don’t know what they’re doing and it’s surprising how much mess they can make all the way up to … I’ve been on the tail end of DDoS attacks and that can bring down your whole business.


Tim Mohler: Yeah, I see this as a … It’s interesting. I think this is going impact small businesses a lot more than it’s going to impact enterprise level because enterprises can defend against this stuff, they can come up with strategies. One thing that I found really interesting in the article was, “There are a couple of solutions. They suggested that if you don’t have a good reason to have an international presence, go ahead and geofence. Just don’t track things that are coming from abroad, specifically, Russia and China, but also any country that you’re seeing really weird influxes from. Just looking at our Google analytics, you see these huge spikes of traffic from certain places or certain sites and you’re like, “This is not …” “Yeah, I know, we have to take that out.”


The other things that mentioned, watch the browser versions. It depends on who you are and what browsers your people are coming in from but really old-dated browsers. Then white-listing good bots versus bad bots, that sound like an intensely difficult thing for me as a … Working with a small business, but, I think for enterprise level, that’s certainly an area of opportunity and, of course, for tech providers.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, and-


Pete Meyers: It’s frustrating that some of the big pla- Oh, sorry. It’s frustrating that some of the big players can’t do a better job of filtering. I feel like Google Analytics, for all of the expertise Google has in dealing with bots, that they’re still letting a lot of stuff through with analytics and with ad-words and we’re getting a lot of bad ghost data. I’d like to see more money spent on that side and because the small … Like you say, the [SNB’s 00:17:29] they need the tool to do it for them. They’re not going to be able to do it themselves and they’re getting caught in the crossfire right now.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, and especially when 1/5 of the web traffic last year, where bad bots, I mean that is … There’s a massive problem and it feels like we can’t ignore it for very much longer before that’s actually going to crash and burn for prob- I mean, obviously, SNB is number one but really for all of us. This costs everybody time and money as you stated before Dr. Pete, so it’s just tricky business. Well, great, I always learn something from these articles. It always keeps me up-to-date. I always feel smarter on the other end. Once again, we are delighted to have Dr. Pete on this show. Let’s dive into the interview and I’ll introduce him more formally, more fancily. Is that a word, fancily? It is now.


Tim Mohler: It sounds excellent.


Maureen Jann: Now it’s a word.


Pete Meyers: Sure.


Maureen Jann: Dr. Pete has worked at Moz for the last four years and is currently acting as the Marketing Data Scientist. He was telling me that he reads a lot and is 65,000 words into a novel. That’s pretty serious. Can you tell us little bit about your novel or is it too early?


Pete Meyers: No, 65,000 words may be about all I end up with. It’s a [inaudible 00:18:45] comedy involving bots, not coincidentally, I guess about an AI who is allergic to cats and accidentally [inaudible 00:18:55].


Tim Mohler: This is great. I love dystopian everything, this is so fantastic. I’m going to start reading it right now on my Kindle.


Maureen Jann: I don’t think it’s done.


Tim Mohler: Oh, okay, I need an-


Pete Meyers: [Crosstalk 00:19:05] edit.


Tim Mohler: Early advanced copy.


Pete Meyers: I’m editing and revising right now so, yeah, hopefully maybe late summer, we’ll see.


Maureen Jann: There you go.


Tim Mohler: I’m so excited.


Maureen Jann: Well, now I’m excited because you’re excited.


Tim Mohler: Cats? Oh, my.


Maureen Jann: You should see Tim right now, he’s really excited.


Tim Mohler: Glowing.


Maureen Jann: He’s pretty stocked. Two questions for you before we dive into our nitty-gritty questions. What exactly does Moz do and then what does a marketing data scientist do?


Pete Meyers: Moz is a search-marketing software provider, we’re a staff solution. We cover everything from [inaudible 00:19:42] tracking to [technical CO 00:19:43] tracking to link graph analysis. Essentially, we work with mostly mid-market, trying to help people understand how they’re doing on Google, how their site’s performing, what they can fix, search features, sort of the whole world of what’s happening in organic; focused entirely on organic. Then after, what I do, my title is a kind of a cheat. When I worked with Moz as a contractor for eight years but when I went full-time, I said, “I can’t decide whether I want to work with the marketing team or the data science team and so I just called myself marketing scientist so that nobody could pin me down. That’s worked great, so nobody knows what team I work for and now I just work with whoever I want to. Every six months they tell me who my boss is and it’s all good.


Maureen Jann: That sounds excellent.


Pete Meyers: Practically, the short story is I research Google, I track how Google changes especially kind of features beyond organic links, things like news and knowledge graphs. I use that with them marketing team to create content and then also with our product team to try and help sort out where we need to be in the next year or two.


Maureen Jann: Okay, great. I have a very important question. Do you wear a white coat?


Pete Meyers: I do not, no.


Maureen Jann: Do you need a white coat?


Pete Meyers: I don’t think I own one. I didn’t even wear one in graduate school.


Maureen Jann: This is a little disappointing, I’m not going to lie. I was hoping-


Pete Meyers: I know, right.


Maureen Jann: For maybe like a Moz white cot. You have the robot mascot.


Pete Meyers: I do have a custom-made Muppet and she has a white lab coat.


Maureen Jann: I think I may have to say pics or it didn’t happen.


Pete Meyers: There is a video somewhere on the Internet that I would have to find.


Maureen Jann: We will need that link, it’s very important for the show notes.


Tim Mohler: Yes, exactly.


Maureen Jann: To be sure we have complete records of everything that-


Pete Meyers: Yes, well it will not add to the illusion of my expertise, let’s put it that way.


Maureen Jann: Okay, fair point, fair point. All right, well let’s talk about natural language after I’ve properly harassed you. You’re digging into data, you’re learning … You know what Google is doing inside and out, I’m guessing. Probably, well, maybe not entirely because Google’s a monster, but more than me so I’m … When we think about natural language and the impact on search, can you tell me about home assistance are changing that kind of … That search engine strategy?


Pete Meyers: Yeah, so there’s two big ways that Voice, especially in natural language has affected Search. One is on the input side as we talk to a search engine whether it’s on our phone or with a Voice appliance. We tend [inaudible 00:22:39] to natural language, we tend to use the longer queries. What’s interesting is that I think sometimes people look at it as they go, “Well, I’m not doing Voice so it doesn’t matter.” But, when Google … As Google has changed their algorithm, their core code over the last few years. There’s no Voice engine and typing engine. Whether I speak a query or I type it, they have to … They use the same core search engine so the results are produced the same way. Google has had to change their core algorithm to adapt to natural language searches and so that has actually affected everyone no matter how you’re running a search.


On the Voice appliance side, there’s the output factor too, so now not only am I speaking the search but now we’ve hit this extreme where my answer, my result has to come back in something that can be spoken and so instead of this huge desktop page with these oldest … This classic [inaudible 00:23:36] links and now we’ve got knowledge panels and news and Tweets and images and all these things that we can fit on a 24 inch monitor. We have people with four monitors on their desk, you can put all this great stuff. Well, now that has to spoken out of a box or out of your watch or out of your Google Glass or whatever comes next. Both of these things have really started to change how we approach Search and I think the trick right now is people look at the appliance and they go, “Oh, I’m not targeting that thing.”


That thing is still sort of a toy or sort of gimmick, but Google has shifted the entire way they deal with their input in terms of Voice Search and their output in terms of what appears in those search results based on where this is heading. It’s really affecting how all of our searches were, even if we think, “Oh, well, I’m so [inaudible 00:24:26] than mobile.” The short answer is that what we’re seeing now is each of these little things that happens in a search result, if people have been on Google recently, if you ask a question you get that answer box, we sometimes call it, at the top. Google’s starting to think of everything as a box, everything as kind of a card, and that’s sort of one unit of information. On a desktop screen you get a whole bunch of those. Now on your mobile phone you might get three or four on the screen, and on Voice you get one.


From an organic search perspective, if you’re in that box, if you’re that featured snippet, we call it, which is an organic thing. Like you get an answer, now you get a link to my website. If I’m on desktop, well I’ve got the whole organic realm to play with, but if I’m on Google Home, that answer is the only answer that’s coming back. Now we’re competing for a much, much, much smaller space which is kind of the bad in theory news, but the good news is that answer is an extension of all these other forms of search. It’s not completely new and unique, but we’d have to see how the way our search comes back is changing depending on the device we use.


Maureen Jann: That makes sense, and it’s interesting, those boxes I was … When I was watching the videos that you put together in your blog post around what the results were of the Google Home versus a Tech Search. I noticed with the boxes and that truncated answer and the … When it, the actual Google Home petered out, I wonder if they found some best practice there for how long people pay attention to audio answers? I noticed that they cut off really quickly, they do not let Google Home finish the query. Obviously, you don’t want to listen to an hour worth of information, otherwise you’re just doing a podcast but maybe like they’re, you know, 45 seconds to a minute feels like that would be worthwhile to thoroughly answer the question. It felt to me like, “What a strange best practice. I wonder where did they pull that data from? People have an attention span of x-amount of seconds and so that’s what we’re going to serve them.” I was always curious about that.


Pete Meyers: Yeah, it’s tough right now, I think they’re experimenting, but there’s no equivalent of [inaudible 00:26:42]. If you … Whether you’re in paid or organic search, Google can measure and see, “Well, did somebody click on that? Did they stay on the site? Did they bounce back?” With Voice, they don’t know if you stopped paying attention.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, that’s a-


Pete Meyers: They don’t know if you took a nap mid-way through the answer, and so they’re kind of in a measurement vacuum right now.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, that could be really tricky. I wonder if we’ll start seeing them asking questions like, “Was this helpful,” at the end of the answers? That way they, A., know if you’re tuned in and, B., if you got enough information from it? I wonder if maybe that would be a worthwhile conversation to have? I don’t know.


Pete Meyers: I think they’re going to start doing more cross-device implementation. It’ll be interesting but I think what we’re going to end up with is something like, if I ask Google Home a question it returns the answer and it sends that link and that answer to my Chromecast or to my phone. We already see some of that but it’s not very seamless right now. Then they’re going to look at, “What’s my engagement on those other devices?” We tend to think of this as like the end of the journey but what Google sees is that … I talked at a presentation recently. It’s like I’m sitting in my car and something comes on and I have a voice assistant in my car and I ask it a question that says, “Hey, I’m going to pull up that video for you and I’m going to send it to your TV.” Then I see something on the TV and I go, “Oh, I want to look that up and it sends searchers off to my phone, and so it becomes this journey across devices.


I think they’re going to have more of that data in the future but we’re just starting to see that. One thing that happened to me that was kind of interesting the other day was, I didn’t know it did this but I was really close to my Google Home and I was asking a question to my Android phone. I asked the Android phone the question from a room away and on it, it said, “Answering on another device,” and it sent the answer to Google Home.


Maureen Jann: What? That just blew my mind.


Pete Meyers: It knew my phone was really close to my Google Home and it didn’t want them both to be talking to me at the same time.


Maureen Jann: How interesting.


Pete Meyers: I asked Google and they said, “Yeah, it does. We are playing around with that,” so-


Maureen Jann: Oh, funny.


Pete Meyers: I think if you have Chromecast and you have an Android phone and you have Chrome on your laptop, all of a sudden it’s going to be like, “Hey, you know what? Here’s answer but you need more so I’m going to send that to your laptop. I’m going to send that your phone.” Then you’re going to continue the journey somewhere else. I think in the next five years we’re going to see a lot more of that.


Maureen Jann: Wow, that is cool, though. That is interesting. That’s like the height of convenience for me. I’d be like, “Give me a tickler so I can answer this really brief question and then let me dive in later when I have more time.” I just think that’s brilliant [Crosstalk 00:29:21]-


Tim Mohler: I see this causing all sorts of issues like in the family environment.


Maureen Jann: What do you mean?


Tim Mohler: Answers to questions going to-


Pete Meyers: Oh, yeah, right.


Tim Mohler: A random laptop.


Maureen Jann: Oh, funny. Yeah, you’re right. What are some good examples of marketers adapting to these shifts successfully? Have you seen that in the market as someone who works with clients at Moz?


Pete Meyers: I haven’t in Voice and I think we can probably … We’re in a little danger right now. People are trying to do these new cool things on Voice [inaudible 00:29:50], but they’re using it and, truthfully, I think the people who are being most successful right now are the ones who are taking advantage of those features and so that answer back with featured snippets are a good example. If you can get content to appear in that on a desktop search, you also probably get it on a mobile search and on Voice. By doing what you are already good at, just slightly differently, you can actually optimize for Voice already and it’s not super sexy.


Nobody’s going to write a case study about that but like for Moz, we’ve rewritten some pages where now we get five or six different answer boxes for different queries. Anyone who runs those questions on Voice, it’s going to say, “According to Moz, something, something, something.” I think, right now, it’s an extension of what we already do and trying to do that better, but you’re going to hear in the next year of somebody with some cool, sexy Voice app and we’re not quite there yet. I think the first big story we had was just that one last week about the Beauty and the Beast non-ad.


Maureen Jann: Oh? Tell me about that. I missed that.


Pete Meyers: For a day, there was a Beauty and the Beast promo popping up on people’s Google Homes, which Google claims was not an ad but was some sort of strange accident and people got a little irritated. That’s the kind of thing we’re going to be hearing more about because, obviously, people are going to try and monetize this and people are going to be building more Voice apps. I think this’ll be a year that people start to make trouble. I think there will be trouble before there’s good case studies.


Maureen Jann: I think you’re right, because I think that the people who are those early adopters are the ones trying to scam people. They’re like, “What about this? Can I scam you this way? How about this way? How about over here?” So, I think you’re dead on.


Pete Meyers: Yeah, maybe.


Tim Mohler: Marketers across the country-


Pete Meyers: [Crosstalk 00:31:43].


Tim Mohler: The gauntlet is down.


Maureen Jann: Geez.


Pete Meyers: “We will abuse this before we make it useful,” yeah.


Maureen Jann: When marketers are planning kind of long-term for the natural language revolution, what are some things that … What are some times that they should be planning for? How they should they be preparing their marketing, like maybe even their content marketing? Maybe we focus on content because that’s such a core part of this.


Pete Meyers: Yeah, so focusing on the Voice Answer and the appliances, right now I think if you’re focused on Google with … I have both, we have an Alexa, an Echo, and a Google Home. Alexa is little more closed ecosystem right now and what isn’t closed is mostly powered by Cortana so it’s … Microsoft’s still kind of consolidating their voice ecosystem so there’s not a ton you can do to get into that right now. The nice thing on Google Home right now is that if it answers a question and it … Echo is really good about the paid … Not paid, I want to say [inaudible 00:32:54] search, but the commercial ecosystem. Amazon is better at getting you to buy things. I have an Echo, I have an online credit card, I have Prime, really, really easy to buy things. They know that. Google home right now is a lot better about answering questions.


The thing I’m encouraging people to do right now is to try and compete for those answer boxes because that’s what’s striving a lot of answers on Google Home right now. From an organic perspective, the short version of how to do that, first of all you have to already be ranking on page one. You can’t get that featured snippet unless you’re already on page one, so you have to do all the old-school PO things that you’re already doing, hopefully. Then there’s a fairly complicated engine right now for deciding who has the best answer, but one thing we found that’s pretty effective, and I think good for users, is to write in the, what journals call the reverse pyramid style. Essentially, you start with your premise or your conclusion or your summary and then go into detail.


If you’ve got a page about … What is search marketing or what is the featured snippet? Have that nice summary, start there and expand. That gives Google good fodder for that answer and for really understanding that you’re adjusting the question. I think it’s really good for web users too because people skim and so if they see that answer and they go to your page and they see that answer again, and then it starts to expand, they kind of know they’re on the right track. I think the nice thing is that’s kind of a win-win right now, where we’re not trying to gain it but if you can provide good, succinct answer, right at the top, and then provide the detail and the value and the data and the arguments, whatever kind of piece it is. Then you’re also probably going to be a pretty good candidate for that box because you’re writing for that.


If you do it well it’s going to be kind of a teaser. If somebody asks a why question or a how question, I think people are kind of afraid that this is stealing clicks. If it’s a knowledge graph kind of question like, “When is Mother’s Day?” Then, yes, your webstie’s not going to add much value to that answer. If it’s a how or a why or anything that has some depth to it, if you’re in that box and you’ve got a good answer, people are going to click, they’re going to want to know more, they’re not going to answer that in two sentences. We’ve seen that there’s some real value to that right now and I think that’s a great place to start.


Maureen Jann: That’s great. What helpful advice, man. It’s surprising that it can be boiled down so simply but I know that … Because we have and SLE arm here at Point It. One of the conversations we have most frequently with [Shawna Van Gilder 00:35:33], our SEO Director, is really talking about focusing on answering users questions as a value add as much as a good SEO practice. That’s a focus for us this year and as we’ve turned our webinars and the things we call micro-lessons and they answer the single question, we’ve seen our traffic spike and it’s just been a phenomenal space for us. For instance, the question that’s really gotten the most traffic for us is like, “What’s the difference between the Google Display Network and Programmatic Advertising?” If somebody asks that question I believe that we would be a possible contender for the answer in that knowledge card so … That’s right? Did I call it right? Is it a knowledge card, did I mess it up?


Pete Meyers: Yeah, there’s about 11 different names for it.


Maureen Jann: Oh, okay, that makes me feel a little better.


Pete Meyers: Yeah, knowledge card’s one of those names so you’re all good.


Maureen Jann: Anyway, it’s just interesting to see how that’s shifted the, A., the way we look at our analytics and, B., how we actually write our content. As a content marketer and a group that focuses on content marketing, as an in-house marketer to marketers about marketing, we talk a lot about marketing, ironically. It’s just it’s helped direct the way we create content so that way we’re providing value to somebody who’s asking that natural language-driven question. Anyway, thank you for all those-


Pete Meyers: Yeah, and we’re seeing really-


Maureen Jann: Go ahead.


Pete Meyers: I was going to say quickly, we’re seeing real value even on our site. We rewrote … We have a popular, what is it, title tag page with a tool and that used to be three different blog posts. A month or two ago we completely rewrote that with kind of these answer card [S-Boxes 00:37:14] in mind, consolidated the three posts and the new resource is getting about triple the traffic of all three combined were before.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it-


Pete Meyers: I think it’s coming up in about a half-dozen different answers so it’s just … We’re seeing just huge impact from crafting something useful that also happens to trigger Voice.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, thanks for coming Dr. Pete. We really appreciate all your tips. You are clearly full of smarts and other good knowledge so thank you for coming on. Hopefully you had fun.


Pete Meyers: It’s been great, thank you.


Maureen Jann: Okay, great. If you haven’t checked out Moz, you should. We use them here at the agency to help our clients get great results. You should also check out Dr. Pete’s blog article on natural language. We’ll include that in the show notes, and there’s also another blog article, that Pete sent over to us that we’ll make sure is included in the show notes, that gives you a little more detail. I enjoyed seeing the side-by-side comparison between the typed queries and the spoken ones, so we’re looking forward to sharing that with the audience. Thank you guys all in podcast land for joining us. We’ll be including any links we talked about in the show, in the show notes for reference. If you have any suggestions on guests or topics you’d like to see us cover, let us know by emailing


If you like our podcast I encourage you to rate us on your favorite podcasting platform. Sadly, its time to say goodbye. I’m Maureen Jann signing off from Fine Point Digital Market Updates. Find us on Twitter for our latest content, podcasts, and more. Subscribe to our podcast via your favorite podcast distribution sources, including the iTunes store. Looking forward to next, week and for now, stay on point.




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