OK Google, get ready for Voice Search

The reality is that your Android Phone, Google Home, Windows 10/X-Box, Apple iDevice, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Echo are always listening, it’s just the command that alerts them that an instruction is incoming.

And because phone keyboards are harder to use than those of their desktop/laptop cousins more and more people turning to voice control and voice search purely for ease and convenience.

As a consequence, it’s vitally important that you understand what you need to do to make sure that your site is easy to find – even when the search is through voice recognition.

Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence

Google Home with "OK Google"Google, in particular, is using artificial intelligence to better understand our spoken instructions and to encourage more conversational searches, such as “Where can I get my Jeep serviced” rather than a more traditional desktop search “Jeep servicing Bristol”.

According to Google, 20% of searches on Android devices are now voice searches and the number of searches continues to increase as users realise that voice recognition accuracy is improving all the time. According to KPCB Internet trends 2016 Report, the accuracy of voice recognition now exceeds 92%

Searching for local businesses

A lot of people use voice to search for local businesses, “where’s the best Pizza restaurant in Bristol” for example so, if you sell pizza in Bristol you need to ensure that your pages are optimised for “Best pizza restaurant in Bristol” and written in “natural language” (written in a similar way to the way you’d speak) which really helps with voice search results.

Optimising for Voice Search

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandWith traditional SEO, you’d have researched the words that people were typing when looking for your products or services and built your site optimisation around those. Now you have to get your head around the types of question that they might ask, just as if they were asking their friends, family or colleagues, as demonstrated in the above example about Pizza restaurants.

One way to start addressing this issue is to consider a dedicated Q&A page where you can pose these questions and add your answers – remembering to keep them more conversational than you’d perhaps feature elsewhere.

The pages that you have optimised for voice in this way need to feature in your Site-Map so that Google and Bing can easily find, and index, them. You do have a sitemap (sitemap.xml) don’t you?

You should even look to include microdata, schema, rich snippets and so on because these little pieces of code give the search engines even more information about your business.

Hi, I'm Cortana, ask me a questionYou’ll also need to ensure that your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business is up-to date and accurate because that’s where Google and Cortana will look for the location-specific search results. You should also check out the other business directories that have your business listed, Yell, Thomson, Yelp etc and make sure that your address details are correct. This simply ensures that there’s no ambiguity about the right address for your business.

Responsive Website Design

Don’t forget that because most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly (Responsive) then Google won’t direct people to you. You can use this free Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website.

What should I do now?

If you need further help with your site, SEO for voice search, making your site mobile friendly or anything else related to your website then you should give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email – andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And Finally, a bit of fun

If you use Google voice search and make an animal related enquiry, try adding “fun facts” to the end of your search to learn something about the animal you have been searching on.

How much did your last cup of coffee cost?

Cybercrime is everywhere these days, in 2016 the cost to the UK was over £1bn with more than 5.5m cyber offences taking place in the UK every year. That’s almost 50% of ALL UK crime.

Cup of coffee and coffee beansThere’s lots of advice on passwords, I regularly write about them, and other security measures that you can take but did you know that even a trip to your favourite coffee shop could end up being far more expensive than the price you pay for your Triple Grande Decaf Soy Latte Macchiato and blueberry muffin.

Imagine the scene, you’re between meetings and decide to drop into your favourite coffee shop for a cup of coffee, a cake and to tap into their Wi-Fi to read your emails, refresh your knowledge in time for your next meeting or simply to surf the web.

Spoof Wi-Fi Hotspot


Sign fro free wifi hotspot
When you sit down and try to log-on to the Wi-Fi there’s frequently a selection of hot-spots to choose from. How do you know which is the free service provided by the venue and which is a spoof.

It’s very easy to set up a Wi-Fi hot-spot using a mobile phone, Mi-Fi type of device or laptop and allow other users to connect through this free connection. This means that all of the traffic can then be intercepted by the person providing the spoof account. What sort of important information is passed from your laptop through this connection? It could be your details to access your online banking, the log-in to your company network or the necessary information required to access your corporate email account.

Time for a comfort break

Laptop and cup of coffeeThen the urge hits, you look around and see that everybody seems respectable enough so you head off to the toilet thinking that your laptop is safe on the table. After all, nobody would nick in sight of all those customers, staff and CCTV cameras would they?

You’d be wrong. Laptop tracking service provider, Prey, found that areas offering free Wi-Fi were the second most common target for  opportunistic laptop thefts, the only riskier place being left in a visible place in your car.

If stolen, it’s not only the inconvenience of replacing the laptop, reinstalling your applications and copying back your data [you do back-up your data don’t you?] it’s the additional costs that aren’t covered by your insurance.

The Ponemon Institute, a US cyber crime consultancy, put the real cost of the loss of a laptop and it’s data at nearly £31,000. This was broken down into £4,000 for the loss of Intellectual Property, forensics and legal bills adding around £1,500 with a staggering £24,500 attributable to the loss of income, customers and competitive advantage associated with a data breach

So, the next time you stop off for a cup of coffee and decide to log-on using their free Wi-Fi, just make sure you know which network that you’re connecting to and that you don’t leave your laptop unattended.

And if you want to talk about your cyber security, just give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

Are you watching Meerkat through your Periscope?

Meerkat and PeriscopeOver the past couple of weeks there’s been quite a lot of chatter in a variety of media channels about two relatively new Apps, called Meerkat and Periscope.

They both do the same thing, enabling you to broadcast live video (streaming) from your iPad or iPhone. Meerkat has an Android App under development and I’m sure Periscope won’t be too far behind with Microsoft and Blackberry probably following later.

One way of thinking about both Apps is as though they offer live video selfies although there’s a lot more to them than that.

Although Meerkat was first to market, Periscope was quickly snapped up by Twitter and so quickly generated a great deal of interest. Both apps are available through the iTunes store and are easy to download.

So, what are they, who are they, how do they work and what do they do?

Once you have downloaded your App and signed in through Twitter – yes, you have to have a Twitter account because that’s where your broadcast is published, all you have to do is to point your camera at your topic of interest and start broadcasting.

As soon as you start broadcasting, a Tweet is sent to all your followers so that they can tune in and watch your stream.

What do people stream?

Business tips, health tips, recipes and cooking, news and updates, views from around the world and TV broadcasts – the recent Pacquiao / Mayweather bout was live streamed by someone pointing their iPhone camera at the TV and causing great angst amongst the Pay Per View broadcasters because they were charging £20 in the UK whilst App users could watch it for free.

What are the drawbacks

Well, it’s another Social Media channel that you might have to pay attention too, but more importantly there’s the potential cost. If you are streaming on Wi-Fi then you’re OK but if you’re broadcasting on 4G then you might find that you eat through your data allowance pretty quickly and, if you are not careful, even run up some hefty data charges

So, is it a “game changer”

It’s really too early to say, the Apps have only been around a couple of months. A lot of tech journalists have used them to stream from major tech shows, product launches and demos, just like live news broadcasts and just like any live broadcast you have to watch it live or miss it.

In my opinion, it’s certainly one to watch and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

RIP HTC One – AKA buying an off-brand phone

HTC One M7About 3 weeks ago my phone, an 18 month old HTC One, just died. There were no hints, no clues, it just died. The battery was nearly full, I’d not added any new apps or done anything different or unusual, it had just chosen that particular time to shuffle off this mortal coil.

I swore a little and went to Google for help. I tried various arcane combinations of button presses but the phone was totally and irretrievably dead, deceased, it was no more, it was an ex-phone, it had shuffled off this mortal coil.

I called my mobile phone company to explore my options. I knew it was out of 12 month warranty and I couldn’t use “un-merchantable quality” (which I have used for a variety of out of warranty items in the past) because I’d dropped the phone a couple of times and it was showing its age.

I was informed that I was eligible for an “early upgrade”. I got a little excited and asked what that meant. It meant that I could actually buy myself out of the remaining 6 months of my contract for ” just £240″, pay “just £20” for a new phone and another £2 per month on my, now new, 24 month contract. A quick calculation showed that I’d pay more than £300 more over the life of the contract.

So, I decided t go for Plan B but I didn’t have a Plan B so I turned to eBay instead.

My thoughts were to find a cheaper phone and then go back to my carrier at the end of my contract and go for a free upgrade, as we all do when contract renewal comes around..

I quickly hit a speed bump – all the phones that did what I needed them too do cost pretty close to the £300 so there wasn’t anything to gain.

Blackview CrownHowever, I did spot a lot of relatively inexpensive non-branded phones from Chinese manufacturers. There were the direct iPhone clones, Samsung Galaxy clones and even phones from a brand called HDC – guess what they did? I steered away from these and focused on phones that had a spec that matched my needs and ended up paying just over £100 for a Blackview Crown.

And it’s worked out pretty well. It has no major drawbacks or performance issues. Battery life is shorter than I am used to but I have a car and portable charger so the reality is that its not an issue. Its not 4G, but my HTC wasn’t either. The screen isn’t as good as the HTC, if you look at the specs, but its good enough in the real world and that’s what counts.

It will do until my contract is up for renewal which is when I’ll probably switch back to a more recognised brand at zero cost. The big benefit to me is that I’ll be able to choose the time that I upgrade which means that I can wait until the 2015 models are released and take my pick from one of those.

If you are really interested, here’s a detailed comparison here is a side by side comparison table.
 
 Blackview CrownHTC One M7Comments
NFCNoYesDid not use
4GNoNo 
Battery LifeLasts less than a dayLast a day 
Camera13Mp4MpMore pixels does not equate to better, but it’s good enough
Screen Size5″4.7″ 
Resolution1280 x 7201920 x 1080 
Screen GlassToughenedGorilla GlassI just have to make sure I don’t drop it
Touch sensitivityOKReally good 
LooksLooks averageLooks good 
Peripheral availabilityVery PoorPretty Good 
RAM2Gb2Gb 
Storage16Gb32GB 
Micro SDYes – to 64GbNo 
Android VersionStock 4.44.4 with HTC SenseIt’s unlikely that the Crown will be upgraded to the latest version of Android
ProcessorARM Cortex A7 1.7Ghz MT6592Quad Core 1.7Ghz Krait 300It’s not as good as the HTC but in the real world it’s more than fast enough
SimDual Sim, unlockedSingle Sim, locked 
SoundAverageExcellent speakers 
HeadphonesReally poorBeats – Excellent 
Weight158gms143gms 
FeelOKFeels solid and well put together