Voice Search’s Impact on Digital Marketing

It’s hard to deny the increasing prevalence of voice search in everyday life. Everywhere we turn, there’s an Amazon Echo, a PC enabled with Cortana, or someone shouting, “Hey Siri” on their iPhone. Just a few years ago, voice functionality was in its infancy. It’s now becoming increasingly sophisticated. As devices with voice search stretch from the living room to smartphones and even laundry rooms, the way people look up information fundamentally changes.

18-49 year-olds perform more voice searches than older adults, using natural speech to ask questions to their devices, according to a Stone Temple study. With a variety of platforms including Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana, virtual assistants are synonymous with current technology. Users leverage these assistants to dictate texts, control electronics in their home, play music, and perform searches.

With this increase in voice searches, digital marketers need to adapt to new queries, optimize for more advanced keywords, and create specialized content. Writing quality content is still paramount, but it’s more about instant answers than ever before. As devices grow smaller and platforms like Alexa find a place in our homes, it’s necessary to develop voice-focused campaigns to succeed.

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Make Your Brand Accessible

To succeed in a new market where over 60% of people use voice search at home and 57.8% use voice search on their smartphones (according to the Stone Temple study), you must make your brand accessible. By optimizing your SEO and content toward voice, you can increase your organic and paid rankings for voice-based search queries. Determine how people are searching for your brand through voice by using the Search Terms report in AdWords.

It’s possible your brand is discovered through mobile voice search via local-based queries more than text searches. By creating more query-driven content and focusing on local ads, you can make your brand more accessible for voice searches. Creating more content that replies to questions can help your brand rank in answer boxes, improving its visibility.

By optimizing your brand’s assets for voice search, including mobile and local voice, you’re making your company available to a wider swath of people. Whether people are searching via an Amazon Alexa device or using Siri, they’ll be likelier to find and purchase your products or services.

How Does Voice Search Impact SEO and Keywords?

It might seem obvious, but people search differently using voice than when they type in a query. It’s necessary to consider voice search optimization to capture keyword market share. While SEO analysts often optimize for short-tail keywords that average two words, SEO for voice search requires a more nuanced approach. Using conversational long-tail keywords can boost your SEO, especially when they’re closely related to the product you’re selling. When people search for particular keywords, they’re also usually closer to buying something. Most people search in a longer, more natural fashion by voice, using speech-like search terms, often in the form of questions: Who? What? Where? When?

You may want to consider developing specific landing pages and ad copy for voice-based queries. Decisions are made more quickly over voice search, shortening the buyer’s journey, compressing it into a process that often takes less than a minute. Ensuring that your site can meet the demands of voice search SEO will enable it to adapt as mobile devices capture additional market share and virtual assistants become ubiquitous. Developing a strategy for voice search marketing will help you prepare as the market continues to grow.

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The Future of Voice Search with Consumers

Within the next few years, voice search marketing will become a necessity for SEO, as more consumers use voice-enabled devices for search. With devices that run Windows 10, macOS, Android, and iOS all including virtual assistants, it’s easier than ever to search online by talking to your device. Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and other dedicated home speakers make voice-based queries accessible at any time. With quicker answers, consumers act faster, making decisions and buying within a shorter timeframe. Whether it’s ordering food, buying clothing, renting a car, or another activity, voice search makes purchases almost instantaneous.

Ads can become even more personalized with voice-based queries learning your buying habits from multiple smart devices, like your refrigerator, washing machine, thermostat, and more. As every device in the home becomes capable of always listening and allowing you to search and purchase, marketers can utilize this information to target consumers more accurately. Machine learning algorithms allow these assistants to get better based on user feedback and behavior. Through voice search optimization, Google, Amazon, and Apple will be able to work with companies to serve up better ads to customers.

Is your company interested in being a pioneer in voice search marketing? Leverage Marketing has the SEO skills to help you get optimized. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your company keep up.

Writing Great Content for SEO: Your Questions Answered

Let’s be honest: running a business is hard work. With all the things you’re juggling, The LAST thing you want to worry about is how Google is reading your site. That’s Google’s problem, right?

Unfortunately, throwing your offerings up on the World Wide Web and crossing your fingers isn’t going to cut it, which you probably know if you’re reading this article. You’re going to have to take some specific actions to drive traffic to your site.

Adding content to your site is one of those specific actions. But how does one even begin to create content that makes sense to search engine, sells to customers, and doesn’t ruin the user experience of your site?

Luckily, our team at Leverage Marketing has helped more than a few sites build out content that boosts search engine optimization efforts and helps businesses communicate their brand voice effectively. We’ve collected some of the common questions we are asked about SEO-optimized content so you don’t have to be in the dark.

Why Do I Need Content for SEO?

The answer is simpler than you think. Basically, search engines (like customers) need to know what you’re offering – you’re not going to rank #1 on Google if Google can’t tell what you’re selling. Thanks to this little bit of reasoning, when you search for “computer monitor”, you don’t have to weed through 20 pages of lawnmowers and blenders to find a site that sells computer monitors. Seems really obvious, right? That’s why we need words on websites – Google reads words just like you and me.

Here’s a fun fact: Google has begun to understand not only the words we type into the search bar, but the context and meaning of searches as well. In other words, Google is learning what the searcher’s intent is when they type in a query. That’s a big reason why it’s important to create great content, instead of just slapping a bunch of keywords onto a page. Google is trying to understand your site in the way your customers do, and Google, like your customers, demands high-quality content.

How Much Content Do I Need Per Page for SEO?

There’s no true one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To help search engines figure out what your site is all about, you’ve got to give them something substantial to work with. That means on all the major (and sometimes minor) pages of your site, you should consider having some decent content for Google to dig its robot claws into.

There’s a good way to figure out how long your content really needs to be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the reader need to gain/learn/acknowledge from this page?
  • What questions might potential readers have when getting to this page? What if this is the first page on your site they see – is there enough info for them here?
  • What unique information can you offer on this page to give your reader a richer experience?

Once you’ve told the reader what they need to know, answered their questions before they have a chance to ask them, and offered all the information that makes the user experience on your site great, that’s probably a good stopping place.

Really try to get inside your user’s head here. You may assume that everyone knows all the basics about waffle makers, and that they don’t need to be informed of the differences between non-stick and stainless steel when they visit your product category page, but that just isn’t true for every single visitor – some people are looking for info that you should be providing. And don’t forget to tell them why they should buy from your site instead of your competitors’, or what your free shipping deal is, or how they can join your loyalty club for 15% off. There is almost always a reason and a way to add valuable content to a page – and if there isn’t, you might want to consider why that page even needs to exist.

Finally, remember that you are adding content for your users, not for search engines. Sure, adding good content will help your site’s performance, but that’s because Google and the other search engines are seeking out sites that best fit searchers’ queries. If your site ranks #1 for a keyword but your users aren’t finding what they need and are bouncing back to the search results page, you can safely bet that you won’t stay in that #1 spot for long.

What Are Some SEO Content Best Practices?

key to content for SEOWhen you’re creating content for your site, keep in mind a few things that will improve both your user’s experience and your rankings:

  • Do: Add a few keywords. What does your user type into Google when looking for this page? You’ll want that phrase in your content, too.
  • Don’t: Participate in “keyword stuffing.” If your content is unreadable because it has so many keywords stuffed into it, you’re going to provoke the ire of search engines, who correctly read this practice as spam.
  • Do: Put at least some of your content near the top of the page. You want your content to be one of the first things a search engine (or a user) reads.
  • Don’t: Put ALL of your content at the top of the page. Don’t sacrifice your user experience for SEO – make sure your users can find what they’re looking for.
  • Do: Make sure your content is readable and accessible to all users. Choose easily-readable fonts and font colors, and take advantage of features such as the alt attribute for photos, so that every user can understand your site.
  • Don’t: Stick your content in places where search engines can’t get to it. Search engines often struggle to read text within images and JavaScript.

Can I Do SEO Without Content?

Sure, knock yourself out. But just know that your results aren’t going to be anywhere near as great as they’d be by implementing a supporting on-page SEO effort.

Off-page SEO tactics, such as link building (gaining links from other reputable sites on the web), are certainly very important to growing your site’s authority, visibility, and ranking over time. However, only performing link building efforts while leaving your site sparse on content is sort of like going to a Halloween party as one member of a group costume. Sure, going to the party as a salt shaker is fine, but the costume makes a lot more sense with another person going as a pepper shaker. So yeah, you might see results from link-building alone, but if you want to really get the most out of your efforts, just tell Google what you’re selling.

What About Hidden SEO Content?

Hidden content SEO bad practiceI get it – you don’t want to mess up the aesthetic of your site with a bunch of boring words. Why can’t you just make all those words the same color as your background or stick them somewhere in your code where your users don’t see them but search engines do?

Short answer: don’t even think about it. Search engines view this kind of behavior as spammy and deceptive, so it won’t give you the long-term rankings boost you’re looking for. It will probably even earn you a big demotion that buries your site on the 25th page of Google. Fun stuff!

And really? You have no way to work in content that offers a better experience for your users in any part of the page? If your site isn’t designed to incorporate content or inform users… what’s the point?

Still stuck on how to make SEO content work for your brand and your site? The Leverage Marketing team has all the savvy to help both users and search engine bots fall in love with your site. Check out our Content Marketing offerings, or just sign up for our newsletter for a regular dose of digital marketing knowledge.

8 Things to Look for in Your Content Marketing Agency

Hiring a content marketing agency requires a lot of trust. You’re partnering with marketers who are going to create content on behalf of your business, and you need to feel confident that those marketers will do your brand justice. To find a team of content specialists you trust with your brand voice, look for the following eight qualities.

Experience Across a Variety of Industries

healthcare, retail, and tech icons representing diverse industries

There are advantages to working with a content marketing agency that focuses on one industry. The agency will already be deeply familiar with the industry, and it won’t take long to bring them up to speed with your business. However, there’s also a risk that the agency will fall into a rut of producing the same type of content over and over again, never distinguishing your company from your competitors.

On the other hand, content teams that have worked with a wide variety of clients have demonstrated an ability to adapt their tone and strategy as needed. They’re more likely to bring a fresh perspective to your marketing and may present ideas you’ve never considered.

To find out if the content marketing agency you’re vetting is versatile, check their website for testimonials or case studies from other clients. Ask to see samples of their work for several different industries. If their samples include a variety of content types, such as infographics and videos, that’s even better.

A Team of Avid Researchers

The content writers you hire need to unabashedly love doing research. They may not know a lot about your industry at the beginning of the engagement, but they should work to get so familiar with your business that they’re basically an extension of your in-house team. In addition to becoming well-acquainted with your products or services, they also need to research your audience thoroughly. They should uncover audience insights to help them create content that resonates with the right people at the right time.

The Ability to Harness Your Brand Voice

microphone representing brand voiceA good content specialist will master your brand voice so that all content from your company sounds consistent. They may familiarize themselves with your brand voice by reading existing content you’ve provided and by interviewing members of your team. They should be good at asking questions that elicit insightful answers from your team and other interview subjects. Additionally, they need to be good listeners. They should be able to distill what you and your team have told them into a clear brand story.

Finely-Tuned Communication Skills

The last thing you want is a content marketing agency that drops off the map once you begin an engagement, resurfacing once a month to deliver content assets without comment. Even if you like the idea of a hands-off approach, you probably still want to know that you can reach your content team when you have an idea to share and that they’ll factor your ideas into their strategy.

When you interview content specialists, ask them how often they will meet with you and what kind of response time you can expect from them if you reach out between meetings. Find out what kind of collaboration tools they use so that you can exchange ideas.

An Enthusiasm for Teaching—and Learning


graduation cap and books representing content marketing educationIs your agency so enthusiastic about content marketing that they want to share what they’ve learned with the world? Look at the content they’ve produced for their own business—are they keeping up with trends in digital marketing and making sure their audience stays informed? Evidence of this might include a regularly updated blog with well-researched posts, a video library, downloadable white papers, or webinars.

Commitment to the Full Content Marketing Process

If all you’re looking for is someone to write content for your business, you could hire a freelancer or two. If, however, you want content that meaningfully contributes to your business goals, you should work with an agency that performs market research, develops a strategy, produces content that aligns with that strategy, and then promotes the content to maximize its impact. Your agency needs to understand that content marketing doesn’t just mean churning out a few blog posts and calling it a day.

Collaboration Across Departments

Content marketing shouldn’t exist in a silo. In many cases, your content strategy can be enhanced with search engine optimization, social media marketing, and paid search—and your agency should make recommendations when your business can benefit from multiple services. Ideally, your content writers should have experience with SEO and should know how to tailor their content to both readers and search engines.

Tracking and Reporting Capabilities

analytics graph representing content marketing reporting

Your agency should never produce content just for the sake of it: they must follow a strategy that aligns with your marketing goals. They need to look at more than just vanity metrics like page views; they should be able to show you how their efforts tie into downloads, purchases, lead generation, and other conversion metrics that matter to your bottom line. Your content team should also be transparent. Make sure they can walk you through how they measure results and what different metrics mean.

Are you currently vetting content marketing agencies? We’re biased, of course, but we think you should contact Leverage to learn more about our content marketing services. We’d love to talk to you about how we can grow your business with high-quality content.

5 Ways Email Marketing Automation Benefits Your Business

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to spend hours painstakingly writing individual emails for every one of your customers. At the same time, you don’t want to send general email blast after email blast to your entire subscriber list. When subscribers get messages that are irrelevant to them, they’re more likely to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid these problems and improve your ROI with marketing automation.

Email marketing automation is the use of software, such as MailChimp or Hubspot, to send targeted emails at specified times or in response to certain actions your customers take. It’s all about reaching customers with the right message at the right time. Below, we look at five reasons why your business should use marketing automation.

Increase Transactions by Getting Personal

Name tag representing email personalization

Imagine that you’re walking down a busy street. Are you more likely to turn around if you hear someone say, “Hey, you!” or if they use your name? You’re more likely to pay attention if someone addresses you personally, and the same principle holds true with email marketing.

When you use an email marketing automation platform, you can include personalized fields (like first name and company name) that will be populated with information you have in your email list. Tailoring emails to the recipient can have a big impact: marketing emails with personalized subject line have a 26% higher open rate than those that don’t, and emails that include personalized content can have a transaction rate that’s six times higher than those with generic messages.

Make a Bigger Impact with Segmented Emails

In a survey asking companies why they use email marketing automation, 83% said the biggest benefit they see is being able to send more relevant messages. With marketing automation, you can segment your customer or lead database into different groups and tailor different messages to those groups based on their interests, demographics, or purchase behavior. For example, if your business sells surfing and scuba diving gear, you could create different messages for customers who have expressed an interest in either surfing or scuba diving. This ensures that email recipients only receive content that aligns with their interests.

As with personalized fields, segmenting your email list through your marketing automation platform can result in greater engagement. Popular email platform MailChimp found that marketers who segmented their campaigns saw 14.3% higher open rates and 100.95% higher click-through rates.

Boost Your Revenue with Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are messages that automatically go to website visitors after they take a specific action. These actions might include subscribing to your newsletter, downloading an eBook, or making a purchase. Transactional emails usually include some basic information the recipient was expecting to get (such as an estimated shipping date or a link for a free download), but they don’t have to stop there.

Since recipients interact with transactional emails at a much higher rate than they do with promotional emails, savvy marketers often use these messages to encourage customers to take another step. For example, an order confirmation email could include a “Recommended Products” section at the bottom, while an email that thanks someone for subscribing to a newsletter could include a coupon for the shopper to use on their first purchase.  This marketing automation strategy has proved highly successful: businesses can generate up to six times more revenue from transactional emails than other email types.

Example of transactional email

Example of a possible upsell offer in a transactional email

Sync Up with the Customer Purchase Cycle

Another one of the benefits of marketing automation is being able to schedule emails that reach shoppers at exactly the right time. Let’s say, for instance, that you own a company that sells eco-friendly cleaning products. Knowing that your average customer goes through a bottle of your Squeak-E Clean Dish Soap in a month, you could schedule an email that goes to customers three weeks after they’ve purchased the dish soap, reminding them to restock.

You don’t just have to sell repeat-purchase products to use this email automation strategy, though. You could send messages promoting products related to something a shopper has already purchased or plan messages that correspond to seasonal shopping trends. For example, a knitting pattern company might schedule a “Sweater Weather” campaign offering a discount on all sweater patterns when the weather starts getting colder.

Keep Leads Engaged with Drip Campaigns


Email drip campaign conceptA drip campaign consists of a series of automated emails that are sent to leads on a regular schedule for a set period. Why use this type of marketing automation? For one thing, drip campaigns can be a great way to keep your business top-of-mind with people who are interested in your product or service but aren’t ready to make a purchase. You can use these emails to answer FAQs, address customer pain points, and demonstrate how your products solve problems, keeping your leads warm until they’re ready to buy. Persistence pays off: drip campaigns have an 80% higher open rate and 300% greater click-through rate than single send campaigns.


If you know that your business could benefit from email marketing automation but aren’t sure how to get started, contact Leverage Marketing. Our email marketing team would be happy to talk to you about automation tools and strategies we can use to increase your conversions.

Biggest User Experience Problems with Ecommerce Sites

This post was originally published in early 2017, but we’ve updated it with new information to reflect current trends in ecommerce user experience design.

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is hard. Besides creating a gratifying ecommerce layout design, you need to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. We’ve created a list some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and your site should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding these pitfalls, you can succeed.

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Limited and Missing Product Info

Website users want straightforward information. They want sufficient details that explain what your product is and how it can help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your products from various angles, presented excitingly. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product. Follow this advice, and you can be successful on your site, and have images ready for Google’s Shopping Platform, newsletters, and more.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets a significant amount of the time, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process. Developing your site for mobile can lead to increased conversions and draw in new customers.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A quick check out process is integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your check out takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will make the search process easy and functional for your customers.

Missing Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of communication: phone, email, chat; the best methods for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the products you’re selling, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and original information about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is the right choice for the customer.

Poor Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions, and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is one of the keys to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.

If you’re looking for some help with the user experience on your ecommerce site, Leverage is here to help you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach to your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.