Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 24
February 21, 2017

The Future of Search Engine Marketing

We sit down with Brett Curry of OMG Commerce and discuss how Voice and other tech will change SEM forever

<iframe height="52px" width="100%" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" seamless src=""></iframe>

this episode sponsored by

Brian: [00:00:31] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:38] I'm Phillip. That's good.

Brian: [00:00:41] And today...

Phillip: [00:00:41] Yeah.

Brian: [00:00:42] We have an amazing guest on the show. Brett Curry of OMG Commerce. Brett is SEO and paid search veteran, has written some pretty unbelievable articles published on the Shopify blog and other places, he's had his own show in the past, and maybe he has an exciting announcement today as well. So we're excited to have Mr. Brett Curry on the show. Go ahead and introduce yourself, Brett.

Brett: [00:01:16] What's up, guys? How's it going?

Phillip: [00:01:17] Yeah. Hey.

Brian: [00:01:19] And as always, we want you to give us feedback about today's show, so please leave us some feedback in the Disqus comment box on our site or anywhere else that you can interact with us. You can also subscribe to listen to Future Commerce on iTunes and Google Play, or listen right from your Amazon Echo or on TuneIn Radio with the phrase, "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast." With that, Brett, why don't you give us a little history about yourself? How you got into the space and let our listeners know who you are.

Brett: [00:01:52] Absolutely. Do you want the true version or the version that I use when I'm trying to impress someone?

Phillip: [00:01:58] Yeah, really, really impressed us.

Brian: [00:02:00] This is a podcast... {laughter}

Phillip: [00:02:00] Yeah. Play it up. We want to hear it yet.

Brett: [00:02:03] Actually yeah I don't know that they could do that at all. But yeah. So I'm a marketing junky. Started my first marketing company in 2002, and then my first SEO campaign in 2004 and kind of got hooked on SEO at the time, doing things that no longer work today at all, but had some success for a printing business. Got them to page one for the search term brochures. So that was a real SEO rock star at the time. And I did get get hooked on it at that time. So then 2010 started online marketing giant with my business partner, Chris Brewer, and then we launched OMG Commerce, which is our eCommerce division. So been working with eCommerce companies pretty closely since 2010/2011, and really just continuing that passion for paid search and SEO. And really started getting into Google Shopping around the time it switched from Froogle, you know, the free version, to the paid version that it is today. And since, we've kind of become thought leaders and experts, so to speak, at Google Shopping. Put together the ultimate Google Shopping guide with the folks at Shopify. And I get to speak at IRCE on the topic and going to again in 2017. And so, yeah, but marketing is like my true passion. You know, I'm a Jay Abraham fan of old and even like did copywriting and studied direct mail back in the day. And so I really just love marketing and what makes people tick and what makes people respond to things. But I love the impact that search has. And I've always been fascinated by things that work. So you put out a message or engage in a marketing campaign, and it drives results. That's what's really fun for me. That's probably why I like Google Shopping so much. I've never seen anything that works quite as consistently or as well as Google Shopping. So that's kind of the quick background. And I'm trying to live up to you guys and kind of follow in your footsteps and hopefully launch a successful podcast of my own. And so I think that's the quick story here.

Phillip: [00:04:23] Nice.

Brian: [00:04:23] Super excited about that.

Phillip: [00:04:24] As someone who is sort of unaffiliated or doesn't really know, what is... What do you think? Its Online Marketing Giant? Or can I just say OMG? Am I allowed to just say OMG?

Brett: [00:04:39] Everybody calls it OMG. And that's why when we launched our eCommerce division, it's just OMG Commerce. So everybody calls us OMG or OMG Commerce.

Phillip: [00:04:48] Ok. So you mentioned Shopify there and Shopify being, you know, obviously the sort of juggernaut now that has kind of cornered the market, massive, successful, you know, huge IPO last year... What is it? Two hundred fifty thousand stores now or more are running on Shopify? When you look at commerce at scale like that, at scale, and especially on a hosted platform, how much really can OMG do today? I know this is Future Commerce, and we'll kind of get there, but I want to... Just because I don't really know. What's the kind of thing that I could do as a merchant or the kind of thing that OMG could provide to me, even if I'm on like a hosted platform like that? Because my sense is typically companies that specialize in that really sort of specialize in platforms that are sort of the BYOB type thing where you have to install a bunch a stuff to make it work, and you create a bunch of campaigns and landing pages and blah blah blah. So kind of give me an idea of what you guys do.

Brett: [00:05:56] Yeah, that's a great question. And first of all, we love the guys at Shopify, and the way they're innovating and improving is awesome. And the amount of merchants that are getting onto the platform is pretty staggering. The growth is pretty phenomenal. We are platform agnostic, though. I mean, we have a ton of clients on Magento and a few on, you know, a handful of other platforms, so we're agnostic there. But, you know, really, regardless of the platform, first of all, good marketing, good UX, you know that all matters, of course. But even if you have a hosted solution and things are set up well, from an organic search standpoint, still if you just kind of throw the switch on, turn the site on and leave it, you're gonna be under optimized or under leveraged in what you're able to do. And so we help companies with content marketing and getting the right strategy for paid search. It's interesting. I know we'll get into it. But paid search and SEO are not really sexy at all anymore, and they don't even maybe seem even that interesting. This is Future Commerce. And we're talking about SEO? What? This is crazy. But it's still drives just huge amounts of traffic and volume. And often it's the number one, number two traffic source for eCommerce merchants, and that likely won't change anytime soon. And so we help companies form a roadmap for organic search and paid search and then help execute those campaigns.

Brian: [00:07:31] It's also still Google's primary source of revenue.

Brett: [00:07:34] Totally. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:07:38] And I think that's sort of the thing that's kind of interesting to me is, you know, one of the things we sort of founded this podcast on was the principle that as commerce changes, as commerce evolves, and as the places that we engage in commerce change and they move away from the Web or they move away from these things like shopping carts in particular, where it's sort of this real world analog to a thing that we do virtually in real life, like taking something, putting it in your shopping cart, and pushing it around to loosely grouped categories of items and rows and putting those things in your cart and pushing it to a checkout and paying and in some cases shipping or picking up... Like those are all real world analogs. But when you're talking about one click mobile purchases, or you're talking about voice commerce or conversational commerce, those things don't really have analogs. And I'm curious what your company sees in a Google Shopping... How do you see that that sort of translates today? Or how do you see yourself preparing for continued fragmentation of places where people continue to search and where people continue to consume information, where there's not necessarily a very obvious avenue for you to get your message or help businesses get their message in front of the consumer?

Brett: [00:09:13] Yeah, I mean, it's a fascinating question and really knowing exactly how things are gonna pan out or play out or how quickly things are going to evolve is hard to say. But things are changing very rapidly. I think a couple of things. It's still critical, and I would say more important now than ever, to build a brand. Right? And that sounds maybe a little old school as well. But like building this brand that people know and trust and like and becoming a destination and something that people think about when they think about your product or service... That's still really critical.

Brian: [00:09:49] What? Good business is important?

Brett: [00:09:53] Yeah, isn't that crazy? But it is so interesting. As you, I know you guys are the same way, as you get into this online space and get to know people in the eCommerce community, eCommerce is still largely driven by relationships and who you know, and things like that. So even as we're looking at Future Commerce and things that are changing and AI and machine learning and wearables and implicit commerce and all those things, which are fascinating and I love talking about them, there's still good business matters and relationships matter and things like that. But a few things we're looking at is where should you be? So what makes sense as a company? So looking at all the channels that you should be in. So does it make sense to be on Amazon? If you're looking at product search, Amazon still controls 40-45% of that or thereabouts. Or does it makes sense to have a presence on on Amazon? If you're looking at product listing ads, which we are huge fans of, and that's where we spend a lot of our time. Google's looking at maybe a purchase with Google, you know, where you check out and buy your goods right there on Google without ever getting to a merchant's site. Does that make sense or not? I think there's some some benefits there. You kind of want to go where the traffic is and go where the consumers are. But there are some disadvantages there as well. Right? I don't really want someone to buy my product on Google without coming to my site. I'd rather them come to my site and buy multiple things. Like, load up that basket or that cart with multiple things.

Phillip: [00:11:32] Yeah.

Brett: [00:11:32] And so part of is just figuring out, okay, where do we need to be now? Where are the consumers now? Where do we need to be? And then how do we plan for some of these things that are changing and moving rapidly? One thing I found and I know you're probably the same way, Phillip... Sometimes you just have to go and solve whatever problems are staring you in the face and kind of quick and easy wins. And so we find ourselves spending a lot of time doing that at this point.

Phillip: [00:12:01] I just wonder...

Brian: [00:12:02] Yeah, that makes sense.

Phillip: [00:12:04] I'll let Brian actually take over from here. This is sort of in my headspace of... I sort of live in this constant fear of the pace of adoption is so fast and the market is changing so fast in so many ways. I could spout off a bunch of Black Friday, Cyber Week Monday numbers right now. And it's not important. I think we all know where things are going. But I think there's an early estimate of Alexa devices sold for holiday 2016 is like nearing 20, 25 million Alexa enabled devices sold.

Brett: [00:12:50] Crazy. Crazy.

Phillip: [00:12:51] And that's bonkers. That's incredible. And so I just kind of live in that sort of bubble of fear that this stuff is happening faster than anyone really understands. It's what the market wants and what the market demands. And even Google doesn't realize it yet. Google's twenty two months late to this game, too, and they don't understand how to monetize a voice search. There is no such thing as AdWords for voice. Is that something that people would even tolerate? Those are the questions that I have because I'm starting to get Joe Blow store asking if they should be creating an Alexa app. And that's just insane to me.

Brian: [00:13:32] Right. Exactly. So your question is very in line with what I was going to ask, too, Phillip, which is essentially I think where people are searching and are going to be purchasing is changing so rapidly. What I'd like to kind of hear you elaborate on, Brett, is what some of those channels are and then maybe some tips on like how to know where you belong, where you fit in. As Phillip was saying, the only way to engage with Alexa right now is to build a skill. But what about some of the other channels? What are some of the other ways they can engage? And where do you see the majority of searches headed? Or will it actually stay fragmented? These are all questions a lot of people are asking. So if you've got any insight, we're all ears.

Brett: [00:14:25] Yeah, I mean, it's super interesting. And I guess the way I would look at it is a couple of different ways. Yeah. The emergence of the Alexa devices is super fascinating. And I have seen really good reviews on the Google Home device. But you're right, they're late to the party and Alexa's got a pretty big head start. I've seen head to head comparisons, though. You do the voice search with Alexa versus Google Home and Google Home usually does better.

Phillip: [00:14:50] Yeah.

Brett: [00:14:50] But that doesn't necessarily mean that... Alexa's got the market share right now for sure. What is interesting, and again, my background is search, and that's kind of where I spend most of my time. So I tend to think in those realms. But obviously, we know that the mobile search has now surpassed desktop search and even just mobile usage of the Web is now greater than desktop usage of the Web in general, which is not a surprise to anybody. But thinking of voice, and you're right, there are no ads, at this point, if you're asking Alexis something or Google Home. But with your phone, you know, 20-25% now of mobile queries are done via voice. And so thinking about the implications there, so if I'm searching on my phone for something, researching a product, maybe looking for reviews and asking questions or whatever, 20-25% of searches on a mobile phone are done by voice. And it's interesting, if you look at those voice queries with those voice searches, they are different than when you're typing something in. When you're typing in a query, it's often one or two words when you're using your voice it's often a complete sentence or a question. And so thinking about that and how do we structure our content in such a way that it'll be seen as relevant for maybe those voice queries and being able to to capitalize on that. And so looking at where things are going, I still don't see a world in the immediate future where you're not going to be searching for at least some things. I think for a lot of your staple goods, you know, like I have started using the Amazon reorder or whatever it's called. I forgot.

Brian: [00:16:41] Dash.

Brett: [00:16:43] Yes. Super convenient, right? So like my protein powder and then the green stuff that I make these really nasty looking shakes that my wife hates, but they're actually quite good. All that comes to me, I don't even think about it, you know, it just happens. I think a lot of our staple products are gonna be taking care of via implicit commerce and maybe just doing reorders and stuff. And like that's kind of scary. You know, once I start reordering now, I'm not really looking for new protein powder or new green stuff that I mix in. So that's certainly interesting. But I don't ever see a day when we're going to be searching for some things. Right? So searching for new apparel or new gear and new whatever and researching and studying it and trying to figure out, you know, what is the best tent that I should buy as I go on my camping trip and things like that. So, I think I would still go back to the search to a large degree. But I think you've also got to consider some of those other places like Amazon and some other sources as well.

Phillip: [00:17:54] Is there any way for you to, as a merchant or even as a marketer, to see or segment traffic or segment your analytics to see the kinds of queries that come in over voice search and maybe cater to those customers specifically?

Brett: [00:18:14] Yeah, I mean, you can certainly run your search query report and look in in search console and start to get a good idea of what those searches are. You know, I think another way to kind of mine that is even to look at your on site search, so to look at your search data when someone lands on your page and what are they searching for? That's something you can look through. And then even talked to some merchants that if they have got phone support or phone staff, you would just say, "Hey, what are the questions? How do people phrase things when they're calling in and asking for clarification or question about a product?" and using some of that data as well to influence the way you create your FAQs and the way you create some of your content pages and things like that.

Phillip: [00:19:09] Yeah, it's interesting. Brian, you were saying something.

Brian: [00:19:15] I mean, I think Brett kind of dug into it. I think his answer to my question... And I think my question, I've asked this before, kind of been in the AR/VR realm, but I think merchants are presented with so many choices right now. And like you're saying, Brett, I think we find ourselves going back to sort of the low hanging fruit, stuff we know can help immediately, instead of attempting all kinds of things where the ROI is not quite so clear. And so continuing to focus on search... Now search. You know, let's get back to that for a second. It is changing, no doubt, with the application of AI. And I know you've got a little insight there, Brett, but like query intent... How is that playing into SEO in how businesses should think about their approach to optimizing their sites?

Brett: [00:20:22] Yeah, it's really interesting. And I do want to preface this, and I know I've already said this, but just to emphasize, I'm a marketing guy, so I'm not like... So we would get into too deep of AI or machine learning stuff, I'm definitely in my head, but looking at RankBrain. And it's something that's kind of fascinating to read about and look at. Google kind of announced this maybe year and a half ago, something like that. And it's now the third most important signal in their search algorithm. So determining, you know, how they rank pages, RankBrain is now the third most important and most powerful signal. And really RankBrain is all about Google better understanding query content and knowing what someone means when they type in a particular search. And it's interesting, and I remember when I first heard that I was like, "Well Google's always been good at that. Right?" Google's always been scary good at when I type in a couple of words, and they know just what I mean. But in the past, that was still always pretty dependent on human interaction and on engineers working with and manipulating quite a bit. There's always some learning going on in the system. But RankBrain now is kind of fully AI and machine learning with the idea that it's just getting better and better at understanding language and intent. And so a couple of things... And Google has even said they don't know all of the ways that it works. Because it is truly a machine learning program, and it's going to learn over time and change over time. But it looks like one of the largest drivers of what RankBrain is going to look at is organic clickthrough rate. So the percentage of people that see organic listening. I'm doing a search looking for handbag or running shoes or whatever. I see your organic listing. How many people click on that? And, you know, Google's always done that on the paid search side with Quality Score. And so the Google looks at what's the Quality Score of your ad? And that can help determine your ad rank. You know, Quality Score times Max CPC is your ad rank. And so RankBrain is going to look a lot at the click through rate of a particular query. So if I'm typing in "What is the best waterproof sleeping bag?" Something like that. Google's...of those organic listings, and that's going to influence what ranks next for that query. So I think what can emerge and do then? It's looking at how can we craft our pages and use language that really speaks to the customer? That answers the question that when they see our title tag and our description. They say that's like that's what I'm looking for. And also making the data clear to Google. Looking at things like...structured data, which we can get into a little bit if you guys would like. So that's kind of a little bit about RankBrain.

Brian: [00:23:42] That's the really exciting stuff. I think the end result is that consumers really get matched up with things that they really want. And I know Google's been doing that really well a long time, like you said. But as machine learning sort of takes over, hopefully we will be matched with even more complex results that I guess answers maybe some of our more complex questions, I should say. A result is to answer and more complex questions, i.e. like sometimes when I search for cheap vacations or something like that, I'm not actually necessarily looking for the cheapest vacation. I'm looking for a cheap vacation that fits in my budget, and I want the most value for that budget. And so I think as we get closer to this, and we're able to kind of talk as we search and really make it more like almost like interacting with a person, then we're going to be able to get the types of results that really do help us the way that we want to be helped.

Brian: [00:24:55] I just had this experience. You used a really interesting and very relevant example for me because I just had this experience. I mean, maybe I'm just really... I feel like I'm pretty good with money. Maybe I'm not as good as I should be, {laughter} but I have I have zero understanding or budget around a vacation because I'm not usually taking a vacation with a destination in mind. I'm not saying, "I need to go to Rome. I'm going to Rome. Show me the cheapest Rome." That's not usually how I'm looking for a vacation. I don't know where I want to go on vacation. I have no idea. I just know I want to go somewhere. I don't want it to be here. And I have no idea what I'm going to spend on it. You have to sell me on why I should spend X amount of money, and then I'll see if that is something I can afford. Is it something that I've assigned a value that's worth it to me? And I think that that sounds very, very much like tradeoff analytics, which I think we had spoken about, which is an IBM sort of technology that's a branded Watson technology.

Brian: [00:26:05] Yeah. Back in the Tom Robertshaw interview.

Phillip: [00:26:07] Yeah. Episode five. So that's actually... What you're touching on there. Brett, is a very human characteristic that we don't have an exact commerce experience for right now, which is to say that some people, and I think Tom used a really good example of like a cell phone. If you're standing in a store and somebody says, "Oh, you want to spend $300, but if you spend $350, you can get twice the battery life." That's a tradeoff I think most people are reasonably looking to or would be able to stretch their budget to make because they see the benefit in it.

Brian: [00:26:43] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:26:43] And I think that for a lot of SEO there's not a lot of taking into account right now, especially in the commerce experiences we have today, of the types of tradeoffs people would make if they perceive a higher value associated to the thing they're getting.

Brett: [00:28:04] You know, one of the things that's really changing the way we can manipulate and improve paid search and certainly this is influencing organic search as well, is Google just knowing more about you and knowing your click behavior and what you're doing online and personalizing search results to a certain degree and actually get it more personalized. And so that's something we're working on a lot on the paid search side is kind of going beyond just the query and looking at historically we've built our AdWords campaigns around keywords. So these are the key words people are searching for. That's what we'll build our stuff around. But now you can layer in so much additional data, things like remarketing lists. So you can take it if someone has been to my YouTube page or watched a video or they've been to my website, now I can add that list into my search, which campaigns a bit differently. Or what's relatively new, this just came out of beta a couple months ago, I think, where you can actually take demographic data and layer that into search. So I'm not just wanting to, for example, we've got a client that sells educational games, educational toys, and they know that their consumer is largely a mom or a grandmother or an aunt, usually making six figures or higher, so you can start to look at yes we want to show up for things like educational games, educational toys, but really only if someone kind of fits in these demographics and in this this type of consumer. So it's not just the query now. It's also some data about about the person as well. And so I think that kind of data might help identify someone like you, Phillip, where you're looking at, hey, this is so I'm looking for a vacation. But we know this about their click behavior and demographics and things like that. So this is the person we want to go after. And also our message is going to be a little bit different for that person.

Brian: [00:30:09] Actually, I was just thinking about this. Google Optimize just released as well. Have you had a chance to play with that at all?

Brett: [00:30:18] I'm sorry play with what?

Brian: [00:30:19] Google Optimize.

Brett: [00:30:22] I have not experimented with Google Optimize very much. I know one of my team members has, but I don't have much experience with that.

Brian: [00:30:29] Oh, it was just released. So it's something that not many people have a lot of experience with yet. But I'm just curious and I'm sure that as you get further in to see how closely they end up tying Optimize scores and results back through to search. I just turned the conversation a little bit there. But this just popped into my mind. I feel like that will probably end up being a good part of the strategy as well. Or a big part of what Google is going to require you to ultimately rely on.

Brett: [00:31:07] Yeah it's super interesting. The speed at which Google comes up with new beta programs and releases them is pretty staggering. And so, yeah, knowing exactly what's going to really take off and be useful and what's not is pretty tricky to predict. But yeah, I'll definitely keep my eye on that one. It sounds very interesting.

Brian: [00:31:28] No doubt. Yeah, and I think it plays into something that is definitely getting more pervasive and will continue to grow, which is A/B testing. And then ultimately personalization and how that plays into search as well. You might have very similar content or content that is around a specific product that you've developed for a specific demographic that you only serve up to that demographic. And therefore now you've got a single product that's got multiple sets of data and helps you cater and demonstrate why the value of that product exists for those different demographics. And you're serving that idea based on A/B on search or data that comes into Google that you already have, or Facebook, or Amazon, or whatever the platform is. But you're able to leverage that and change how you present your brand based off of that. It's definitely something that I'm excited about.

Brett: [00:32:39] Yeah, yeah, definitely. When you look at AdWords, and there's been a feature around forever now, Dynamic Keyword Insertion, where you can tell AdWords that whatever the search is that the person types in or whatever keyword actually that you're bidding on that matches someone's search query, that keyword gets put there to make that the headline. So if I'm looking for "best leather sofas," that becomes the headline of the ad. That's been around for a while, and it can work. It's interesting, though, a lot of people use it as a crutch. They think, well, let's just do that because that's easier than writing a good headline. Right? And it actually turns out that usually if you sit down and think about a good headline, you craft a good headline, that actually gets a better click through rate than Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

Brian: [00:33:28] Interesting.

Brett: [00:33:28] But you can now begin to say, okay, if someone is searching for this keyword on mobile, I want this to be my headline. If someone is searching on desktop, I want this to be my headline. Or if someone falls into this criteria, I want this to be the headline. And that I think is really smart. We've got a client that sells high end furniture, and so leather sofas and bedroom sets, but with super expensive stuff. And so, you know, we'd like to start targeting people that are just looking for a leather sofa. But is that someone looking for the lowest thin leather sofa or someone that's willing to spend five or ten grand on a leather sofa? And so being able to layer in some of that additional data that Google has available just makes a ton of sense.

Brian: [00:34:16] Totally agree. Nice. Well, then I feel like I'm learning a lot and this has been a really an engaging conversation, Brett.

Phillip: [00:34:24] What do you see as... What do you think is something that we're sort of overinvested in right now? Could you sort of... I don't know if that's like proprietary information, but I feel like there's a lot of things that we spend a lot of time investing in as merchants, and there has to be something that you feel like is not worth the investment or something that's like sort of lived past its prime.

Brett: [00:34:54] Yeah, I mean, that's a fascinating question. I love it. I think one of the things... So let's talk about the organic side of search. And really, if you look at organic search and trying to get more traffic from the search engines, I think that mainly goes back to content. Creating good content and content marketing and engaging content and things like that. I think people, for the most part merchants have that all wrong. So you talk to a merchant about we need to rank better organically. And so they say, "OK, well, that means I've got to blog. And so well, if I'm going to blog, I've got a blog weekly. I've got to do three blogs a week."

Phillip: [00:35:34] Right.

Brett: [00:35:34] So they've got this content churn. If you're going to do it right it's a quantity of content. I even saw some posts recently about how some major publications are posting like hundreds of different things a day and how that's the way you should do it. I think for merchants though it's really more about looking at what are the questions people are asking that we can answer maybe better than anybody else? And maybe we just create a few pieces, like just a few pieces of content, but then we're really pushing people to those, and we're putting a lot of advertising effort behind it, some social effort behind it. And a good, good friend of mine, Russ Henneberry, he runs content for Digital Marketer. And they talk about full-funnel strategy and having like top of funnel content, mid funnel content, bottom of funnel content. And so just thinking about like, hey, maybe we just need a couple of pieces at each step of the funnel that are well crafted. And maybe it's a video, maybe it's a blog or an infographic or something like that, but maybe just one or two pieces that really convinces people and answers their objections and causes them to believe something that makes them say, hey, maybe I do need that product. And so I think this notion of, hey, I just need to get in this content churn because that's what everybody's doing and what everybody's saying, so that I can rank better organically... I really don't think that's necessary for a lot of people. That can work. But I think for the average merchant, that might not be the best way to go. So that would certainly be at the top of my list.

Brian: [00:37:13] Yeah, I think this probably some sort of a balance there because like I think that a lot of people that I've seen, they sit there and they analyze their content and then they analyze it again and they kind of get into content freeze mode. So I think it's a really strong... Obviously, it depends on your organization, but I think it's important to recognize sort of the balance between pushing new content and getting it right or perfect, I should say.

Brett: [00:37:44] Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely a case to be made to having a large amount of good content. But I think when you start talking about content marketing and SEO, a lot of eCommerce merchants freeze up, and they they don't know where to begin or I think they just start with the wrong premises. They start with, "I've got to create a ton of content," rather than "Lets just create some good content first and drives some eyeballs to it and go from here."

Brian: [00:38:11] Yeah. I do not disagree with that.

Phillip: [00:38:17] I actually have to ask a sort of another little oddball question here, which is there's a lot of interesting automation that may be happening in the content space here, talking about the future of search. You talked about content strategies being hundreds of articles per day. And I'm seeing more and more and more, especially around in sort of the stock tip or stock reporting avenue, and in sports, too, where we just have a AI and machine learning algorithms just outputting reports of the day based on activity or stats. And they tell pretty convincing stories if you do fantasy football at all. It reads like a human wrote it. Like they're compelling stories that are specific to your fantasy football team. Compelling stories around stocks that moved and they're really, it tells your story of your particular portfolio. I think that's really interesting there. Do you have any thoughts around sort of that future of content generation being more automated and having less of a shelf life? This isn't evergreen content. It's meant to be consumed the same day. It has very short expiration. It's meant to be consumed in the moment that's relevant and never again. Any thoughts about that?

Brett: [00:39:49] Yeah, it's really interesting. And certainly for media companies that is right on. The content is hot for a day or for a few minutes and then, you know, it passes. I know there's a gentleman named Dan These who you talks about this as well. He's got a program and some information that I can remember the name of it, but certainly looking at content curation. And so, yeah, how can we pull in kind of the best of certain topics from across the Web and curate that on our site or pull that in on our site and either add some commentary to it or add some automation to it, or maybe then encourage users to comment on it and add their own spin to that content? Certainly that's not something we do, so for me to say this is how you should do it, I would totally be speaking over my head. But I do see that taking place. And there probably is a place for that, you know, curating content, adding either some commentary of your own to it or encouraging user generated content that would add some commentary to that. I think there's definitely some potential there.

Phillip: [00:41:07] I see maybe a really interesting future, and if anyone creates a business around this, you owe me some money. But I see a really interesting future around taking that content generation strategy and applying it to  marketplace sort of content generation. I think you pair that with, you know, a lot of this image recognition technology that's now available through things like AWS, and you can have a really engaging sort of self authoring sites that are generated based on your marketplace strategy as a merchant, which could potentially you're standing up these standalone stores that are really just your direct channel, but not necessarily a direct channel that you even have anything to do with curating. There are things that are based on data around the product and based on maybe some some syndicated manufacturer reviews or something to that effect. We can create engaging content that might be interesting to a consumer. It seems like consumers want this. We sure consume a lot of content that's automatically generated that we don't know that is automatically generated, unless you're in the know. So maybe that's a particularly interesting future. I just don't know... Once we have machines writing our content and machines indexing the content, we get into this really weird space of are we even necessary to the process anymore?

Brett: [00:42:43] Right. Yeah. And I would argue that we always will be because of the strategy piece and just being able to think and reason like like a human. Maybe being too idealistic, I'm not sure. But I think one thing with just looking at curation of content, or even take products reviews. So in eCommerce, I mean, that's arguably the most important pieces of content you can have on your site is reviews from actual consumers and users. And so the ability to curate and aggregate reviews from multiple channels... So there are services that do this that pull your product reviews from Amazon and other channels and your Web site and pull those all together. And stuff like that I think is super useful. And then looking at how do we then pull other useful content that's related to our subject and curate that and aggregate that and put that on our site and using some syndication automation? Yeah, I think it certainly has merit and it is worth considering because we can't do it all by hand at this point.

Phillip: [00:43:55] Interesting. Fascinating stuff. Brian, you have any last sort of thoughts? I want you to give Brett an opportunity to share some final closing thoughts.

Brian: [00:44:05] Yeah, definitely. I think you have a few of those. Maybe talk about WordStream a little bit, the WordStream study. But I did want to ask about mobile. Obviously mobile is still continuing to grow. Responsive design has been a game changer in terms of engaging with mobile content. It's still maturing, though. Benedict Evans put out his update on mobile's leading the world recently, which was a pretty nice study. I don't think we've covered it all on this show yet. Just wondering if you have any new insights, given that we're probably three or four years in here where mobile and eCommerce have really started to hit their stride. Do you have any tips or tricks or strategies for addressing mobile that are different than, say your standard stop search is or other types of searches? I'll let you dive into that.

Brett: [00:45:10] Yeah. You know, it's really interesting how you know, and you guys, I'm sure, saw it and most listeners saw it, that Google is now saying that in 2017 they're going to consider the mobile index first. So they're going to look at the mobile index of pages and that's going to carry more weight than the desktop index of pages. And so on the organic side, I'm so bad with dates, but it was in spring a year or two ago, you know, mobile gettin' Google talked about. Gotta be mobile optimized and it really wasn't that... It was like the spooky warning, but really the impact of it wasn't nearly as huge as some people predicted or as big as it sounded. But now it looks like that's really coming. Google saying, yeah, the mobile index, that's what we're going to primarily pay attention to. So looking at your mobile pages and how well optimized they are is one hundred percent critical. You know, it's tough, though, so we manage a lot of paid search campaigns. That's a huge part of what we do as a company. And now you've got mobile traffic. Mobile searches are greater than desktop searches. But the tricky part is mobile conversion rates are not there. Mobile conversion rates are half to a third of what they are on desktop. So now we got more people searching on mobile. But then when they get to a search on mobile, they're not converting as much. And part of that is just, I think, the nature of what someone is doing on their phone. Maybe they never intended to purchase, they're just researching. A part of it could be that the mobile experience is not as good. Right? But the one thing also to add to that, because I think this is important, is that just the total number of searches are also increasing. So if you look at... I looked at a statistic that in 2016, the number of searches are double what they were in 2012. It's a crazy number, like two trillion searches a year, something that's a number you can't even really wrap your head around. Right? But double the searches today that there were in 2012 even. And so even though there's a lot more desktop searches today than there were last year as well. And so I think you have to look at your bidding strategies. If you're looking at pates her side, you know what it do your bidding strategy for mobile? Because you know they're probably not going to convert as well. But you have to be there. So what's your bidding strategy? That's super important. And did you have a question, Brian?

Brian: [00:47:39] I was going to say actually... Was that overall searches that have doubled since 2012?

Brett: [00:47:48] Correct. Total number of searches. Yup.

Brian: [00:47:50] So it's possible that desktop didn't increase at all? There are probably easy ways to get this data. But that number probably includes mobile and voice. And if you look at voice searches, 25% of searches on... And I guess that sort of counts as a desktop search. But 25% of searches through the Windows toolbar in I think 2015 were through voice. Or maybe it was '16. But were through voice search on Windows 10. And so I just wonder with the growth of mobile since 2012, of course the number of searches are going to go up. The number of people that had devices that could search went up by a lot, and it was almost all mobile. And so it is possible that, and it'd be probably pretty easy to validate this. Very possible that the majority, if not all of the growth, was just mobile and voice.

Brett: [00:49:00] Yeah, I mean, no question about it. Mobile is growing at a faster rate than desktop and mobile search has even overtaking desktop. In terms of all of the growth coming from mobile versus desktop, I don't know that the percentages there. I would guess probably, and this is just thinking anecdotally, we would need to confirm. But I mean, if you think about your own behavior, we probably also just search more on all devices. But, yeah, the majority that growth has got to be coming from mobile devices. And so, you know, looking at and so thinking about mobile ads as an example, you know, if you conduct a search for a product on your phone now with the expansion of text ads. Text ads are basically 50% larger than legacy text ads and AdWords and the product listing ads being very prominent there on mobile. You've got to do a little bit scrolling before you even get to the organic side of mobile search. And so you've got to be there on the paid side. But with the mobile conversion rates being lower, how do you best handle that? And how do you create your bidding strategy to where you can still be profitable with mobile? You can't ignore it, obviously, but you can't necessarily bid the same on mobile as you would on desktop because of the conversion difference. And so we look at product listing ad data. It's something like a 170% year over year growth on mobile in terms of just in terms of clicks. And so, yeah, mobile obviously is growing. You have a game plan. And I think a lot of people been kind of kicking that can down the road for years and knowing that they have to be good at mobile, but not probably doing enough about it to actually be good at mobile.

Brian: [00:50:52] Yeah, I think that's still true. Like, even as developed as we are on mobile at this point, it seems like there's still a lot of content that's not optimized, at least when I'm surfing the Web that's true.

Brett: [00:51:10] Yeah, and that's kind of the curse, really. If you look at responsive design, which which Google said they prefer responsive sites, you know, we get one version of the site, and it dynamically changes based on the size of the screen. Google said they like it, but it's kind of in some ways cheating. Right? Like, you're creating one version of your site that you're hoping will be useful for someone no matter what device they're on. And really try better to think about what elements do we need to drop when it comes to the mobile version? Are optimizing for mobile and considering mobile first? I think a lot of people just think about desktop first and then just squeeze it in for mobile.

Brian: [00:51:49] Yeah, absolutely. I think that's definitely still happening a lot. I think I wouldn't necessarily say we drop things on mobile, but I think that thinking mobile first and then scaling up to that desktop is really the best way to approach it.

Brett: [00:52:04] Absolutely.

Brian: [00:52:06] Yeah. And I think I might you know, we're both probably beating a bit of a dead horse here. If you do much search out there that the best minds in the Internet will tell you this, too. If you're not thinking mobile first, you need to be.

Brett: [00:52:23] No doubt. No doubt.

Brian: [00:52:24] Yeah. No, I appreciate the insight. There's some fantastic stats there. And I think it just goes to show you can not ignore mobile. If you are, you will at this point I'd say we're developed enough where it's actually a mature market. And that's what Benedict Evans' study basically says. This is a maturing market. It's a place where if you're not there, you are getting left behind. And I think there's a lot of businesses that are out there that still feel like they don't need to have a mobile presence. But I can tell you, you do. Millennials aren't even, and again, I hate that term, but millennials aren't even using desktop at all, in some cases. So if you want to be engaging with people digitally, you've got to have a strategy for mobile.

Phillip: [00:53:20] Yeah. Close it out.

Brian: [00:53:23] Yeah, with that. Yeah. Typically what we like to do at the end of our show, Brett, is we like to get some short term recommendations. You've already made some really great ones. But if you've got any more, really here and now, like, here's what you really should go invest your money in, maybe even add a few tradeoff analytics to that. That would be awesome. And then five years out, well maybe not five years out. How about two to three years out? What do you expect that people really need to keep an eye on and be preparing for even now?

Brett: [00:54:00] Hey, guys, I apologize. I got dropped from the call for a minutes, so I just.

Phillip: [00:54:05] Oh, yeah. We didn't even know, but...

Brian: [00:54:07] Oh, I was ranting. So that's probably ok. {laughter}

Brett: [00:54:11] I came back just in time to hear two years and five years, and I have no idea what you said before that.

Phillip: [00:54:16] I think he's asking you to make some prediction about some sort of thing that we need to be keeping an eye on two to five years out, specifically in search.

Brian: [00:54:29] Yeah.

Brett: [00:54:29] So a couple things to think about, kind of this rise of we would call query lists search results. Or where Google is returning search results, and you never searched for anything. So you look at Google Now as an example where Google knows where you are and kind of what time of day it is and what your behavior is like. And so maybe you're walking around, and it's breakfast time and they're going to show you restaurants around you that serve breakfast. Or you've get your phone out, and you're near a train station, they're going to show you the train schedule right there on Google. And so you didn't search for this things. Google just knows that, hey, you probably will find this information useful or relevant. And so one of the things that we're really stressing with our clients, and I would stress on on this show, is looking at your schema or micro data and your markup. And so especially for eCommerce, looking at product schema and review schema and price schema. And basically the way you structure data, so it's very clear to Google what your data is. And that's where then in the search results, Google pulls in rich snippets where if you know, if I'm searching for Nike running shoes, maybe in the organic listings there it's got ratings and price and information about the product there. And it's always changing the things you can add to that. Well, it's becoming more and more important that you make use of structured data, because a lot of that is what fuels things like Google's knowledge graph or these query list searches. Or even as we look at product listing ads, Google Shopping, which is a huge part of we do, feed management, so sending all your product data to Google Merchant Center, so that they can pull that in and create your ads. I really think a lot of that's going to go away and Google's just going to be able to use structured data. So just be able to crawl your site, pull all the data they need. If you have the correct structured data. And you don't need feeds like we do now. And so I really think structured data is going to be huge. Also I could kind of foresee a day I'm excited about, you know, virtual reality, augmented reality, wearable devices. I know Google Glass was creepy and I never owned a pair, but eventually Google's going to get it right. Other people are going to get right. There's gonna be wearable technology. And so I think, Phil, you mentioned, image searches, but you foresee a day in the not too distant future where you can be walk around a store with wearable device and based on an image search, Google or whatever device you wearing, is going to give you information about what you're seeing. And in those cases, I think that's going to a lot of times be driven by micro data and having good structured data where search engines can make sense of what it is that you have. And so that's my biggest piece of advice right now, is get your data right because it's going to impact paid search and organic search. And yeah, I'm excited about wearables and AR/VR and how that can kind of play into the search game. And so certainly I would start there if I was going to say make an investment in your search plans and in your search future. I would kind of start there with the data.

Phillip: [00:58:12] Where can people find you online?

Brett: [00:58:17] So check us out at Get some resources there. Also, check out the brand new podcast that And we talk about traffic generation and SRO and other good commerce related. And then if you're on Twitter, I'm @BrettCurry, so check it out there. And yeah, would love to connect.

Brian: [00:58:42] We are so excited about the new podcast. Really looking forward to hearing you dive in even deeper.

Phillip: [00:58:49] Yeah.

Brett: [00:58:50] Yeah. Super pumped. It's all about, I mean, you guys know it's all about getting good guests. And so it's what I've focused on. And so people will not have to listen to me the whole time. It will be some pretty, pretty spectacular guests, which would be fun. Excited about it.

Phillip: [00:59:05] That's awesome. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you, Brett Curry. Again check Bret out. Check out the new eCommerce Evolution or eCommerce Revolution?

Brett: [00:59:16] eCommerce Evolution.

Phillip: [00:59:17] Ok. Thank you. Yeah. And check out OMG Commerce as well. So just so much good stuff there. I think I will have to go back and listen because there's so much.

Brian: [00:59:31] Agreed.

Phillip: [00:59:31] So much.

Brian: [00:59:31] Really what we'll have to do is go listen to your podcast, Brett.

Phillip: [00:59:34] Yeah, I think that's what it is. Yeah. You got to digest it.

Brett: [00:59:38] There you go.

Phillip: [00:59:38] Well, we appreciate it. And that's a wrap. You did it again. You've invested an hour into learning about the future of commerce. And thanks for spending that with us. We want you to give us some feedback about today's show. So please leave that feedback on Click on the episode title. Scroll down. And there's a Disqus comment box. You can start the conversation there. If you are subscribed on iTunes, we need a five star review from you. And that helps us get this podcast out there for other people to hear it and for us to grow our community of marketers and merchants and people who are thought leaders in the space and growing this podcast. So I would love for you to do that. Also, if you're not subscribed, you can get it on iTunes, Google Play or on Amazon Echo with the phrase "Alexa, play Future Commerce podcast." It's such a mouthful. Well, thank you for listening. And until next week, keep looking toward the future.

Brett: [01:00:37] Thanks, guys.

Recent episodes

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.