Optimizing for voice search: Q&A with Mastercard’s Guillaume Conteville

One in five searches are now made via voice with digital assistants, which are becoming an increasingly prominent feature in our homes and on mobile devices. How are brands optimizing for voice search?

In fact, there are now more than one billion voice searches per month, and this number will only rise over the coming years.

But just how big an impact is voice having on search in real terms? What are the specific strategies brands need to apply to avail of this trend?

This is another topic we’re excited to learn more about next week at the Transformation of Search Summit here in New York.

One of the experts we’ll be hearing from is Guillaume Conteville, SVP of Global Digital Marketing at Mastercard.

guillaume conteville, SVP global digital marketing at mastercard, speaker at the search summit

Guillaume will be part of the panel titled “Optimizing for position 0: Everything you need to know about Voice Search.”

1. What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

In my role I’ll be focusing on driving change in the way we do marketing to adapt to new usage, and to leverage technology and data to their maximum potential.

The hot topics for us at the moment are CX, Voice, AR, marketing automation, and data-based customization.

2. What is your biggest challenge in achieving those?

Prioritization and execution.

There are so many potential initiatives you could start, identifying the real game-changing ones is always tricky.

Then, like always with tech-based projects, executing on your vision is always more complex than anticipated.

3. What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

You really need to establish a broad climate of trust among all stakeholders, in order to have a real test-and-learn approach.

In adtech, it’s impossible to get it right the first time.

Success always come after a lot of optimizing and fine tuning.

4. What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

It’s not search-related, but it’s fascinating to see how the changes that web browsers have made in regard to third-party cookies are having a massive impact on the whole adtech ecosystem.

The end of third-party cookie tracking will potentially be more disruptive than regulation.

5. Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

In this session, I’ll be sharing about the journey we’re going through at Mastercard to future-proof our content and ensure its discoverability in a future where people increasingly interact with machines through voice.

6. What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

This is a unique opportunity for me to learn more about latest developments around search.

7. What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

It might sound cliché but, in this type of role, keeping a learning mindset is absolutely key. So every day I make sure to put some time toward talking to a lot of people and doing a lot of reading.

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Search transformation projects: Q&A with SAP’s Siddharth Taparia

At The Transformation of Search Summit next month, we’ll be hearing from a panel on “Embarking on Search Transformation Projects.” One of those panelists will be Siddharth Taparia, SVP and Head of Strategic Transformation and Partner Marketing at SAP.

Siddharth has grown his career in marketing at various companies, including spending the past 11 years at SAP.

siddharth taparia, head of marketing transformation at SAP

For many search marketers, embarking on search transformation projects can seem daunting and unclear. Siddharth’s expertise lies in leading marketing transformation efforts, and he’ll share insights on what’s he’s learned along the way.

Tell us a bit about your role at SAP?

I serve as head of SAP Global Partner Ecosystem and SME Marketing. In this role, I oversee SAP’s entire global partner ecosystem – with nearly 20,000 partners – including companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Deloitte. We also market to the invaluable small and midsize space. My team is responsible for providing excellent support and resources for existing partners and helping to grow the network with new partners.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

My key priorities over the next 12 months will include supporting SAP revenue and growth aspirations through innovative partner marketing, communications, and enablement. We will continue to be laser-focused on creating great partner experiences, extending the company’s reach to more customers, and driving SAP brand value.

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those?

Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we stay focused and look at the big picture. We are a large team within a large, global company. The path to success comprises many components that must come together in a cohesive manner.

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

As with many areas in life, communication and collaboration is key. Everyone on the team needs to be on the same page when it comes to understanding the plan, the strategy, and the goals. More importantly, the communication has to be a two-way street. It is vital to establish a culture in which people feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

It is interesting to see the growth of AI and how it is becoming more and more sophisticated. AI is providing unprecedented personalization, which makes for memorable customer experiences. When it comes to search specifically, AI is helping to make it easier to find the information you need faster and with more accuracy than ever before.

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

The rate at which AI is evolving is truly astronomical. By its very nature, AI gets better with time. With more data and new algorithms over the next several months, accuracy will continue to improve and forecasting and anticipating customer needs will become even more precise.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

I am excited to be a part of the panel discussion, “Embarking on a Search Transformation Project.” It is crucial for companies to not only incorporate search into their overall martech strategy; they must continue to evolve their search strategy to include new search technology. Search needs to be a core part of every marketing strategy and tactics.

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

I enjoyed being a part of the Summit as the keynote speaker last year, and I am looking forward to sharing ideas around the fascinating topic of search. Search is such an important topic to all industries, and the Summit will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest developments within this field.

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why?

I have been following the development of voice search for quite some time now. It is my favorite search technology because it has come so far in such a short amount of time. Additionally, it’s an engaging, convenient, and fun way to obtain information!

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

I am a voracious reader. Every time I take a break from a meeting or a call I try to read something new or interesting that expands my horizons. I also love to learn new things — so whenever I am in a meeting I often have a lot of questions.


Thanks Siddharth for the insights, and looking forward to learning more at the event.

Hope to see you all there!

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YouTube optimization and intent: Q&A with goop’s Courtney Messerli

At The Transformation of Search Summit next month, we’re very excited to hear from Courtney Messerli, Director of Ecommerce and Search at goop, the brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow.

She’ll be giving a session called, “Optimizing for the world’s second largest search engine: YouTube.”

courtney messerli speaker on youtube optimization

Courtney has built her career in search engine optimization, including previous roles as Global SEO Specialist at Anthropologie and SEM & SEO Specialist at Nasty Gal.

YouTube and video optimization are topics a lot of us are keen to learn a lot more about. There are more than 1.9 billion people who use YouTube every month, and people are spending over a billion hours watching videos every day on the platform. Video traffic as a whole is predicted to account for 75% of all mobile traffic by 2020. There is a big opportunity for brands, publishers and video creators to expand their reach.

Tell us about your role at goop?

I manage ecommerce and SEO at goop. I match user intent to quality products and services via search (both on and off site), YouTube, and our website’s marketing and merchandising placements on the homepage and category pages.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

Goop is in the process of launching a new contextual commerce experience to better meet the needs of users who are reading and shopping on our website.

We first want to meet users’ informational intent by delivering educational content across their topics of interest. Once informational intent has been met, we also want to deliver on their transactional intent by featuring compelling products in the appropriate site placements.

Another priority is improving site speed. With Google’s mobile first index, site speed has become increasingly important.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

The rise of zero-click searches on Google. Targeting featured snippets has become increasingly important.

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

I anticipate that the percentage of zero-click searches will continue to rise in the next 6-12 months. With this, I anticipate heightened awareness of this trend driven by Sparktoro and other sources. Advertisers and SEOs will become more focused on On-SERP SEO and featured snippet targeting.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

I’ll be providing an overview on how YouTube search intent differs from Google search intent and how to develop a YouTube strategy accordingly.

Along with this, I’ll give actionable advice on goal setting, KPIs to optimize for, key ranking factors, ways to drive visibility to your channel, and recommended tools to use. 

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

As much as I’m looking forward to the sessions, I am most excited for the networking aspect! I’m constantly driving my (non-search industry) friends crazy discussing SEO trends and strategy 🙂  

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why?

GTMetrix for site speed tracking. This tool provides actionable recommendations for enhancing site speed and performance. 

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

My morning routine is everything. I wake up early, work out, listen to a podcast or new music, drink cold brew and do my skincare routine. I’ve never been one to roll out of bed and head straight to work — I need to linger in my personal life a bit first. 


Ps — You can check out goop’s YouTube channel here.

Hope to see you at the event!

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Optimizing for voice search in 2019: Q&A with Amine Bentahar

As we gear up for The Transformation of Search Summit at the end of October, we have another speaker Q&A. This time we’re hearing from Amine Bentahar about his upcoming session on voice search optimization.

Amine Bentahar is the Chief Digital and Operating Officer at Adantix Digital. He’s also an author and member of the Forbes Agency Council.

amine bentahar speaker interview

Amine’s session will be about “Optimizing for position 0: Everything you need to know about voice search.”

Tell us about your current work

Amine Bentahar: I’m the Chief Digital & Operating Officer at Advantix Digital. I’m in charge of operations and ensuring that we are delivering the best quality work and exceptional results for our clients.

I’m also responsible for the overall digital and marketing strategy for many of our key clients which includes publicly traded companies, companies backed by major VC and PE firms, and mid-sized companies from various industries. 

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

AB: Implement a voice search strategy for all of our B2C and B2B clients, and continue to leverage voice search as a channel to drive new customer acquisitions for our clients. 

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those?

AB: Most companies haven’t allocated a budget specific to just voice search, and aren’t taking the time to truly understand how their customers are either looking for information or shopping through voice.

Because of this, we are having to spend a lot of time educating companies about the importance of having a voice search strategy and budget. 

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

AB: Educate your teams or clients on voice search and how it’s changing the way customers are shopping or looking for information. 

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

AB: The integration of voice search technology in cars, TVs, appliances and other devices. 

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

AB: With all the money being invested in R&D by the big players (Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft), I would expect to see this trend to continue growing, and for voice search technology to be available on even more devices. 

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

AB: My session will be about optimizing for voice search and more specifically about the steps companies must take to rank for position 0. We will help attendees understand how voice search works and how to develop organic content to be “read” by Alexa or Google Home. 

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

AB: I’m looking forward to meeting other thought leaders and marketers and learning from their experiences about things that are disrupting the search world. 

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why?

AB: Voice search as I find it somewhat amazing especially when you see the fast adoption rate of the technology and how it’s impacting the way customers are now searching. 

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

AB: I do my best to exercise everyday and also I take at least 30 minutes of my day to read either about marketing or management. 

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Moz Local Search Analytics and industry trends: Q&A with Moz’s Sarah Bird and Rob Bucci

Moz is known and loved by many in the SEO community not only for their tools, but also for the ways they’ve contributed to SEO education via their blog, Whiteboard Fridays, Search Ranking Factors study, and more.

We caught up with Moz’s Sarah Bird and Rob Bucci to learn about what they’ve been working on and trends they’re seeing in SEO. Sarah is CEO of Moz and has been at the company since joining as the eighth employee in 2007. She’s helped grow the company from a few hundred customers to now more than 37,000. Sarah holds a J.D. and previously worked as an attorney before getting into the startup space.

2018 Sarah Bird Moz CEO headshot

Rob is VP of R&D at Moz. He previously was CEO of STAT Search Analytics, which he helped build since 2011 and which was acquired by Moz in October 2018. 

rob bucci VP R&D moz

Their company is headquartered in Seattle, where Sarah is based, and they also have a large office in Vancouver, where Rob is based.

In this conversation, we focus mostly on Moz’s interest in and work on local search, as well as better understanding queries the way that Google understands them.

SEW: Tell us about what you’ve been working on lately around local search?

Sarah: We’re really excited — we think this is the golden age of search. More people are searching than ever before, and they have more devices and opportunities to use when searching. That’s come also with changes at Google of not wanting to just be a portal or a gateway to websites, but to actually allow users to transact and interact right there on Google property. Google is more of a destination now and not just a gateway.

What we’ve noticed is that while we may have more searches than ever before, not all those searches are created equal. Some searches are simply not commercizable anymore for anyone but Google. But we think you still have some great opportunities, particularly in the local space.

Research coming out from Google, others, and our own internal research is really showing that local intent searches lead to a purchase much more quickly.

And it’s hyper-local. You can get a different search result on one street corner, then walk four blocks and get a different search result on that corner. It means that more people can actually play the search game. There’s much more SEO opportunity in local.l

A big theme at Moz right now is focusing on making local search more understood and easier to do for SEOs.

Rob: In today’s Google, there’s really, for the vast majority of queries, no such thing as a national SERP anymore. Everything is local. Google gets a lot of local signals, especially from mobile devices. And the mobile device doesn’t say “I’m searching from the U.S.,” it says “I’m searching from the corner of 5th avenue and Tucker Street.” Google takes that information and uses it to create a SERP that has all sorts of content relevant to that specific local area. 

We’ve been helping our users adapt to that reality by building out a set of functionality that we call Local Market Analytics. It allows users to get actual, on-the-ground reality that a searcher would see in the area where they’re searching.

Part of how we do that is by sampling within a given market. Let’s say a market is Toronto, San Francisco, or Seattle. Local Market Analytics would sample from several different zip codes within that market to pull out an average rank or average appearance on that SERP. So truly, this is the actual appearance in that market.

We have studies that have shown that even for sites that don’t have brick-and-mortar locations, their performance varies dramatically depending on where their searcher or their customer is searching from. 

We hope that this functionality better allows our users to adapt to this new reality and make sure they can have the right data to build the foundation of their strategies.

Moz Local vs Local Market Analytics

Sarah: We at Moz are dedicated to local search because we know it’s so commercializable and because we know there’s so much organic opportunity. Because it’s so hyper-local and focused, there are some really interesting ways of thinking when you view local search.

We’ve relaunched our Moz Local product. The new Moz Local allows you to do even more than the prior version. We’re enabling, even more, review management which is super important for search right now, as well as more Google posts and more subtle GMB management. Moz Local is separate from Local Market Analytics, and there’s a good reason for that.

With the new Moz Local, you really need to have a physical location in order for it to be valuable.

But Local Market Analytics doesn’t require you to have a physical location. It just requires that the kind of queries that you care about will vary by location.

Rob: For local SEOs, the spectrum of things that they care about is varied. On one hand, they’ll care about the appearance of their business’s local listings — the accuracy of that data, review management, and having the right distribution partners for those listings. Moz Local, especially the new version that we’ve launched, handles that side of the equation very well.

Where we believe the market has been traditionally underserved has to do with the performance of a website itself in organic search results. As those organic search results get increasingly hyper-local, we’ve found that local SEOs have been underserved with the quality of data they’ve had in order to build their local strategies.

Local Market Analytics seeks to solve that part of the problem: performance of their websites in hyper-local organic search.

What kind of feedback have you gotten about the tool so far?

Rob: There’s a ton of excitement. We talked about this at MozCon, and it really resonated with people: this idea that “Yes, I search from my phone all the time and see a lot of local results, even when I’m not looking for a local business, and I see my search change.” Or agencies that have customers in three different areas and they’re asking why the rankings they’re sending aren’t the same as what their clients are seeing, because they’re impacted by local.

I think a lot of people intuitively understand that this is where Google is. Google is by nature right now intensely hyper-local. So there’s a great hunger for this kind of data. Historically, people have thought they just couldn’t get it.

A lot of times people get accustomed to the idea that we can’t get what we need from Google — that the data just isn’t available. 

So when we’re able to show them that the data actually is available, and that we’ve built functionality around it, there’s a lot of excitement.

Local Search Volume: New functionality

We also rolled out our new Local Search Volume functionality. It’s a brand-new data point that people traditionally haven’t been able to get. 

Most products on the market can tell you “search volume in the U.S. is X and in Germany it’s Y.” That’s very broad — nationwide. But when we care about tracking the market of Toronto or San Fran or Memphis, we want to know what our search volume is in that city. People have traditionally thought that they couldn’t get that data, but we’ve now made it available, and we’re really excited about that.

Right now, we’re doing it on a city basis, and we’ve rolled it out to states. I don’t want to over-promise. I would love to have it be more specific, and that’s certainly something that we’re thinking about.

What’s going to be really cool is when we can get to a place where we help people understand demand per capita in their markets. 

Let’s take an example. We might think that Brooklyn is the epicenter of pizza. But when we actually look at New Hampshire and the number of searches there versus how many people are in that market, we might find that the demand per capita for pizza is greater in New Hampshire than in Brooklyn.

Being able to show people if there’s a big untapped opportunity — I’m really looking forward to empowering that kind of analysis.

Sarah: This ties into what I alluded to before – we need to understand queries and types of search results like Google does. Search results vary dramatically nowadays, with all kinds of SERP features. All of this impacts whether there’s a click at all, and certainly the clickthrough rate.

We are doing a bunch of R&D right now to make sure that we can help our audience of SEOs understand queries like Google, and also understand what a search result might look like for a kind of query, and what impact that could have on CTR. This stuff is more in the R&D territory. Local Search Volume is part of that interest and investment on our part.

When it comes to the distribution of clicks between organic, paid, and no-click searches, some people see the rise of paid and no-click searches as disheartening. You sound optimistic. What’s your response to those trends?

Sarah: Absolutely for some part of searches happening, if you’re not Google you can’t take advantage of it. The value stays with Google — that is absolutely true. But the overall number of searches continues to rise — that’s also a trend. 

And I believe very strongly that just because there isn’t a click doesn’t mean there isn’t some value created. 

We have these old ways of thinking about whether or not you’re successful in SEO. Those ways are deeply entrenched, but we need to let go of them a bit. Traffic to your website is no longer an accurate measure of the value you’re getting from search. It might be a minimum — that’s at least the value you’re getting. But it’s nowhere near the maximum. 

I think that brand marketers, who come from different disciplines, have always known that visibility — how you show up and how compelling it is — that those things matter, even if you can’t measure it like old-school SEO or PPC.

There’s a danger in equating an increase in no-click searches with a decrease in the value of SEO. 

We should shift our attention to not just “am I showing up” and “am I getting traffic,” but “how am I showing up in search results?” 

What does it look like when someone lands on your search result? Are they getting a phone number? Are they getting what they want, the answer they need? Is your search result compelling? 

That’s part of what’s driving our interest in thinking more holistically about what a search result looks like and feels like, and how users interact with it. We want to know more about how you’re showing up and how Google thinks about queries.

Those two concepts: How does Google understand queries, and what does a search result look like, feel like, and how does the searcher experience it — those are related.

Rob: There’s still a ton of value out there, especially just for building a sense of credibility and brand authority. 

We live in a world, right now at least, where we’ll continue to see Google chipping away at these opportunities. They’re a business and they’re trying to maximize shareholder value. They have a natural inclination to grab as much as they can. 

We shouldn’t get despondent because of that. There’s still a lot of value there. Even with no-click SEO, you can still deliver a lot of brand authority. 

What are other trends that SEOs should be paying attention to?

Rob: One of the other areas we’re thinking about is how do we better help our customers think about queries in the same way Google thinks about queries? 

Google goes a lot deeper than just understanding which words mean what. They look at the intent of the searcher — what are they trying to solve? We’re really interested in helping people think about queries in that way.

We have some really interesting R&D work right now around intent and understanding what Google thinks an intent is. How can our users use that information to adapt their content strategies? That’s an area that’s really ripe and that people in the industry should be paying attention to. It’s not going anywhere. I’m really excited about that.

How do you go about understanding how Google understands intent?

Rob: Without getting too deep into it, there’s a number of ways that one could do it. One might be inclined to look at the NLP (natural language processing) approach — what might these words mean when used together and what might they say about the state of mind of the searcher? That’s a viable approach rooted in NLP and ML (machine learning).

Another approach might be to look at the SERP itself. Google has already decided what it is. I can look at what Google’s decided the signals are to what the intent is. Both of these are approaches one might use.

SEO is an ever-changing industry. What skills should people be focused on developing or learning about in the next few months?

Sarah: From a skills perspective, this is what I’ve always loved about SEO and what makes it challenging to be great at, but something that’s critical nonetheless — it’s a great blend of art and science. 

You have to be technical, but you also have to be able to put your mind into the user. Or rather, you have to be able to think about what Google will think about what the user thinks. 

What could the ultimate user be trying to accomplish, and how will Google follow that? 

You also have to have a strong technical foundation, so you know how to go out and execute. But those aren’t necessarily new skills.

Rob: I think people always look for what’s new, but sometimes we overlook the basic fundamentals which never go out of style. It’s about reaffirming what’s really important. 

There are two basic skills I think all SEOs need:

  1. You need to be able to interpret data. You need to be able to look at a bunch of disparate data points and weave them together into a narrative. What is it telling you? In doing that, people need to get really good at overcoming their own self-serving biases about interpreting data in a way that’s convenient or how they think the world should line up. The ability to interpret data is critical to an SEO who’s going to succeed at finding new opportunities that no one else has spotted.
  2. Understanding how to talk to people in a way that will get them to do what you want them to do. That really comes down to understanding how your content should be optimized and what you should be saying on your pages. What problem are you trying to solve for them and how are you trying to solve it?

Those are good fundamental skills I think people should continue to focus on, rather than thinking about, “I need to learn Python.” That’s a lot of distraction and it’s very specialized. 

Learning Python or R might seem sexy because technical SEO is having a renaissance right now. But at the end of the day, it’s not a basic skill you need to succeed in SEO.

SEO is a broad career and discipline. If you find yourself in a role that requires you to know that stuff, great. But I wouldn’t make that sweeping advice to the entire SEO industry because I think it’s a bit of a distraction.

Thanks so much to Sarah and Rob for talking with us!

Ps — They’re running a pilot program for their Local Market Analytics tool. It’s invite-only but anyone can register interest to be selected. They’re quite excited about it and would love feedback from the industry.

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