Survey: Amazon beats Google as starting point for product search

Thirty eight percent of shoppers start with Amazon, 35 percent start with Google.


The post Survey: Amazon beats Google as starting point for product search appeared first on Search Engine Land.


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Long Tail SEO: When & How to Target Low-Volume Keywords – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The long tail of search can be a mysterious place to explore, often lacking the volume data that we usually rely on to guide us. But the keyword phrases you can uncover there are worth their weight in gold, often driving highly valuable traffic to your site. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand delves into core strategies you can use to make long tail keywords work in your favor, from niche-specific SEO to a bigger content strategy that catches many long tail searches in its net.


Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about long tail SEO.


Now, for those of you who might not be familiar, there’s basically a demand curve in the search engine world. Lots and lots of searchers are searching for very popular keywords in the NBA world like “NBA finals.” Then we have a smaller number of folks who are searching for “basketball hoops,” but it’s still pretty substantial, right? Probably hundreds to thousands per month. Then maybe there are only a few dozen searches a month for something like “Miami Heat box ticket prices.”


Then we get into the very long tail, where there are one, two, maybe three searches a month, or maybe not even. Maybe it’s only a few searches per year for something like “retro Super Sonics customizable jersey Seattle.”


Now, this is pretty tough to do keyword research anywhere in this long tail region. The long tail region is almost a mystery to us because the search engines themselves don’t get enough volume to where they’d show it in a tool like AdWords or in Bing’s research. Even Search Suggest or related searches will often not surface these kinds of terms and phrases. They just don’t get enough volume. But for many businesses, and yours may be one of them, these keywords are actually quite valuable.


2 ways to think about long tail keyword targeting

#1: I think that there’s this small set of hyper-targeted, specific keyword terms and phrases that are very high value to my business. I know they’re not searched for very much, maybe only a couple of times a month, maybe not even that. But when they are, if I can drive the search traffic to my website, it’s hugely valuable to me, and therefore it’s worth pursuing a handful of these. A handful could be half a dozen, or it could be in the small hundreds that you decide these terms are worth going after even though they have a very small number of keyword searches. Remember, if we were to build 50 landing pages targeting terms that only get one or two searches a month, we still might get a hundred or a couple hundred searches every year coming to our site that are super valuable to the business. So these terms in general, when we’re doing this hyper-specific, they need to be…

    • Conversion-likely, meaning that we know we’re going to convert those searchers into buyers if we can get them or searchers into whatever we need them to do.
    • They should be very low competition, because not a lot of people know about these keywords. There’s not a bunch of sites targeting them already. There are no keyword research tools out there that are showing this data.
    • It should be a relatively small number of terms that we’re targeting. Like I said, maybe a few dozen, maybe a couple hundred, generally not more than that.
    • We’re going to try and build specifically optimized pages to turn those searchers into customers or to serve them in whatever way we need.

#2: The second way is to have a large-scale sort of blast approach, where we’re less targeted with our content, but we’re covering a very wide range of keyword targets. This is what a lot of user-generated content sites, large blogs, and large content sites are doing with their work. Maybe they’re doing some specific keyword targeting, but they’re also kind of trying to reach this broad group of long tail keywords that might be in their niche. It tends to be the case that there’s…

    • A ton of content being produced.
    • It’s less conversion-focused in general, because we don’t know the intent of all these searchers, particularly on the long tail terms.
    • We are going to be targeting a large number of terms here.
    • There are no specific keyword targets available. So, in general, we’re focused more on the content itself and less on the specificity of that keyword targeting.

Niche + specific long tail SEO


Now, let’s start with the niche and specific. The way I’m going to think about this is I might want to build these pages – my retro Super Sonics jerseys that are customizable – with my:

    • Standard on-page SEO best practices.
    • I’m going to do my smart internal linking.
    • I really don’t need very many external links. One or two will probably do it. In fact, a lot of times, when it comes to long tail, you can rank with no external links at all, internal links only.
    • Quality content investment is still essential. I need to make sure that this page gets indexed by Google, and it has to do a great job of converting visitors. So it’s got to serve the searcher intent. It can’t look like automated content, it can’t look low quality, and it certainly can’t dissuade visitors from coming, because then I’ve wasted all the investment that I’ve made getting that searcher to my page. Especially since there are so few of them, I better make sure this page does a great job.

A) PPC is a great way to go. You can do a broad-term PPC buy in AdWords or in Bing, and then discover these hyper-specific opportunities. So if I’m buying keywords like “customizable jerseys,” I might see that, sure, most of them are for teams and sports that I’ve heard of, but there might be some that come to me that are very, very long tail. This is actually a reason why you might want to do those broad PPC buys for discovery purposes, even if the ROI isn’t paying off inside your AdWords campaign. You look and you go, “Hey, it doesn’t pay to do this broad buy, but every week we’re discovering new keywords for our long tail targeting that does make it worthwhile.” That can be something to pay attention to.


B) You can use some keyword research tools, just not AdWords itself, because AdWords bias is to show you more commercial terms, and it biases to show you terms and phrases that do actually have search volume. What you want to do is actually find keyword research tools that can show you keywords with zero searches, no search volume at all. So you could use something like Moz’s Keyword Explorer. You could use You could use Übersuggest. You could use some of the keyword research tools from the other providers out there, like a Searchmetrics or what have you. But all of these kinds of terms, what you want to find are those 0–10 searches keywords, because those are going to be the ones that have very, very little volume but potentially are super high-value for your specific website or business.


C) Be aware that the keyword difficulty scores may not actually be that useful in these cases. Keyword difficulty scores – this is true for Moz’s keyword difficulty score and for all the other tools that do keyword difficulty – what they tend to do is they look at a search result and then they say, “How many links or how high is the domain authority and page authority or all the link metrics that point to these 10 pages?” The problem is in a set where there are very few people doing very specific keyword targeting, you could have powerful pages that are not actually optimized at all for these keywords that aren’t really relevant, and therefore it might be much easier than it looks like from a keyword difficulty score to rank for those pages. So my advice is to look at the keyword targeting to spot that opportunity. If you see that none of the 10 pages actually includes all the keywords, or only one of them seems to actually serve the searcher intent for these long tail keywords, you’ve probably found yourself a great long tail SEO opportunity.


Large-scale, untargeted long tail SEO

This is very, very different in approach. It’s going to be for a different kind of website, different application. We are not targeting specific terms and phrases that we’ve identified. We’re instead saying, “You know what? We want to have a big content strategy to own all types of long tail searches in a particular niche.” That could be educational content. It could be discussion content. It could be product content, where you’re supporting user-generated content, those kinds of things.

    • I want a bias to the uniqueness of the content itself and real searcher value, which means I do need content that is useful to searchers, useful to real people. It can’t be completely auto-generated.
    • I’m worrying less about the particular keyword targeting. I know that I don’t know which terms and phrases I’m going to be going after. So instead, I’m biasing to other things, like usefulness, amount of uniqueness of content, the quality of it, the value that it provides, the engagement metrics that I can look at in my analytics, all that kind of stuff.
    • You want to be careful here. Anytime you’re doing broad-scale content creation or enabling content creation on a platform, you’ve got to keep low-value, low-unique content pages out of Google’s index. That could be done two ways. One, you limit the system to only allow in certain amounts of content before a page can even be published. Or you look at the quantity of content that’s being created or the engagement metrics from your analytics, and you essentially block – via robots.txt or via meta robots tag – any of the pages that look like they’re low-value, low-unique content.

A) This approach requires a lot of scalability, and so you need something like a:

    • Discussion forum
    • Q&A-style content
    • User-posted product or service or business listings. Think something like an Etsy or a GitHub or a Moz Q&A, discussion forums like Reddit. These all support user-generated content.
    • You can also go with non-UGC if it’s editorially created. Something like a frequently updated blog or news content, particularly if you have enough of a staff that can create that content on a regular basis so that you’re pumping out good stuff on a regular basis, that can also work. It’s generally not as scalable, but you have to worry less about the uniqueness of quality content.

B) You don’t want to fully automate this system. The worst thing you can possibly do is to take a site that has been doing well, pump out hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of pages, throw them up on the site, they’re low-quality content, low uniqueness of content, and Google can hit you with something like the Panda penalty, which has happened to a lot of sites that we’ve seen over the years. They continue to iterate and refine that, so be very cautious. You need some human curation in order to make sure the uniqueness of content and value remain above the level you need.


C) If you’re going to be doing this large-scale content creation, I highly advise you to make the content management system or the UGC submission system work in your favor. Make it do some of that hard SEO legwork for you, things like…

    • Nudging users to give more descriptive, more useful content when they’re creating it for you.
    • Require some minimum level of content in order to even be able to post it.
    • Use spam software to be able to catch and evaluate stuff before it goes into your system. If it has lots of links, if it contains poison keywords, spam keywords, kick it out.
    • Encourage and reward the high-quality contributions. If you see users or content that is consistently doing well through your engagement metrics, go find out who those users were, go reward them. Go promote that content. Push that to higher visibility. You want to make this a system that rewards the best stuff and keeps the bad stuff out. A great UGC content management system can do this for you if you build it right.

All right, everyone, look forward to your thoughts on long tail SEO, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.


Video transcription by


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Context is King: A Million Examples of Creative Ad Campaigns Getting it Right

Posted by Daniel_Marks

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]


This was one of the first television commercials to ever air:




Talking to the camera on a mic was the obvious way to leverage television: after all, that’s how radio commercials worked. Now, advertisers could just put radio commercials on television. What an exciting new advertising medium!


As it turns out, putting radio commercials on television wasn’t really the best use of this new medium. Sound familiar? This seems awfully similar to the current practice of turning your television commercial into a YouTube pre-roll ad. However, the difference this time isn’t the media format, which is largely similar (YouTube videos are still video, banner ads are still text + image, podcast sponsorships are still voice, etc.) Instead, the difference is how people are consuming the content; in other words, the context.


A television commercial is a relatively static experience: 30 seconds of video placed within a few appropriate time slots, reaching people in their living room (or possibly bedroom). A Facebook newsfeed ad is a little more dynamic: it can be seen anywhere (home, office, bus, etc.), at anytime, by anyone, in almost any format and next to almost any content. The digital age has basically exacerbated the “problem” of context by offering up a thousand different ways for consumers to interact with your marketing.


But, with great problems comes great opportunity – or something like that. So, what are some ways to leverage context in the digital age?


Intent context


Different channels have different user intents. On one end of the funnel are channels like Facebook and Snapchat that are great fillers of the empty space in our lives. This makes them well-suited for top-of-funnel brand advertising because you aren’t looking for something specific and are therefore more receptive to brand messaging (though you can certainly use Facebook for direct marketing purposes).


BuzzFeed, for example, has done a great job of tailoring their Snapchat content to the intent of the channel – it’s about immediate gratification, not driving off-channel behaviors:




This feels like you’re watching your friend’s Snapchat story, not professionally produced branded content. However, it’s still the early days for Snapchat – all companies, including BuzzFeed, are trying to figure out what kind of content makes sense for their goals.


As for Facebook, there are plenty of examples of doing brand awareness right, but one of the more famous ones is by A1 Steak Sauce. It was both set and promoted (in part) on Facebook:




Critically, the video works with or without sound.


On the other end of the funnel is something like AdWords: great when you know what you’re looking for, not so great when you don’t. This subway ad for health insurance from Oscar feels pretty out of place when you use the same copy for AdWords:




Getting intent right means that you need to actually experience your ad as a user would. It’s not enough to put a bunch of marketers together in a conference room and watch the YouTube ad you created. You need to feel the ad as a user would. This means watching your ad when you’re in the living room and just clicked on a friend’s YouTube link from Facebook to watch a soccer highlight (or whatever).


Situational context


Situational context (is that redundant?) can be leveraged with a whole range of strategies, but the overarching theme is the same: make users feel like the ad they’re seeing is uniquely built for their current situation. It’s putting a YouTube star in pre-roll ads on their own channel, or quickly tweeting something off the back of a current event:


…or digital experiences that are relevant to the sporting event a user is watching:




There are thousands of examples of doing this right:

    • Shopify reaches you with a simple message just after logging out:


Behavioral context


You might want people on Facebook to watch your video with sound, but the reality is that 85% of Facebook video views are silent. You might want people to watch your brilliant one-minute YouTube ad, but the reality is that 94% of users skip an ad after 5 seconds You need to embrace user behaviors instead of railing against them, like these smart people:

    • Geico makes an “unskippable” 5 second YouTube ad:

      How do you reach people who skip your commercial after 5 seconds? Make the ad 5 seconds long!


Understanding channel behaviors means not using channel features for the sake of channel features while still taking advantage of behaviors that allow for richer ad experiences. It means using the channel yourself, looking up the relevant research, talking to experts, and making informed decisions about how people will actually engage with your creative work.


Location context


A user’s location can prompt geographic-specific advertising (for example, Facebook Local Awareness Ads or in-store Snapchat filters). It can feel gimmicky when used needlessly, but can provide a compelling marketing experience when done right.


AirBnB’s slogan is “belong anywhere.” One of the ways to feel like a local in a new city is to have locals give you a personal tour – which is exactly what AirBnB provides by targeting people on mobile when they’re looking for directions:




Or you can just make use of location services in more straightforward ways, like how the Bernie Sanders campaign targeted his core demographics in New York before the important primary by using Snapchat Geofilters.


However, be careful about inferring location from device – only 17% of mobile searches are on the go.


Audience context


Audience targeting is likely the most powerful form of context provided by digital marketing. You can segment your audience in a thousand different ways – from Facebook Lookalikes to Google Customer Match – that a billboard could only dream of. The more you customize your ad copy to the audience you’re targeting, the better off you’ll be. (There seems to be a running theme here…)


You could directly speak to the audience of your competitors by targeting branded keywords:



Or better yet, target competitor customers that are about to change services:


Retargeting is another powerful way to use audience context by changing your copy to reflect the actions a user has taken on your site (more great retargeting examples here):



Then, of course, there are all the obvious ways of leveraging audience, such as adjusting your value proposition, using a slightly different tone, or tweaking the offer you provide.


There’s a cliché that the digital age has killed advertising creativity. Forget about clever copy or innovative work, It’s all about spreadsheets and algorithms now. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Internet didn’t kill advertising creativity – it just raised the bar. Content in all its forms (video ads, blog posts, tweets, etc.) will always be important. It might be harder to buy engaged eyeballs for your 30-second commercial online, but content done right can reach millions of people who are voluntarily consuming it. More importantly, though, the Internet lets you engage with your audience in a thousand innovative ways, providing a revamped arena for marketing creativity: context.


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Father’s Day Google doodle follows in same footsteps as Mother’s Day doodle

The images used to replace the Google logo for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day include shoes atop a welcome mat.


The post Father’s Day Google doodle follows in same footsteps as Mother’s Day doodle appeared first on Search Engine Land.


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Internet Marketing types

What are the main types of internet marketing?


The main types of internet marketing are SEO, SEM, PPC, and social media marketing. Which ones are right for you? Well, that depends greatly on what industry you are in. For a start up I would definitely use PPC marketing. That is an instant way to engage with people interested in your products or service. It’s not that PPC is bad. It is just more expensive in the long run. In the meantime I would work on a long term goal such as SEO and social media marketing. This is a method to get long lasting results and a high return on your marketing investment dollars. You do want to make money off of this right? If you want to see other methods of advertising or are just seeking other advice go to


Social Signals for SEO

Today when you are try to rank a website it is more important than ever to get Social Signals pointing to your website. What are social signals? Social signals are links or shares that are having to do with your website. From a search engine’s perspective a website with social signals has activity going on with it. So, that means in addition to getting web traffic it has traffic on social platforms. If a website is social it is probably more relevant that other websites that are in the same niche. As a result they are awarded better rankings in the search engines. This should make sense to you too. If one website has a lot of social activity going on with it and nine other websites do not. Shouldn’t the website show up higher in the search engines? Well, wether you think so or not that is the world we live in today. The digital world that is..



So how do you get these social signal?


You can get social signals by posting blog comments on popular blog networks such as The big social networks are Facebook and Twitter. You’ve heard before and you will hear it again. Content is King! This is how you can go viral and really improve your SEO. That is why social signals are so important. That is also why you should be implementing them into your strategy. Who knows. Maybe one of your posts will go viral and hit the digital jackpot. You’ll never know until you get to blogging and posting interesting things online. Give it a try! Go to Las Vegas SEO for more help.


The Landscape of Mobile Search is Changing – How Will You Adapt?

Posted by bridget.randolph

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]


Note: this post is based on a recent presentation I gave at LearnInbound Dublin. You can find the slides here.


Mobile search as a topic has changed a lot over the past few years. When I first started looking at this, back in 2012, there was already a lot of discussion happening around the topic of mobile. And back then, the big question everyone was asking was, “what should my mobile strategy be?”


Even then, things were shifting. At one of my early conference presentations on the topic, I made the point that we should stop thinking about a “mobile strategy” as different from our web strategy, because mobile technology was becoming simply another way to access the Internet. This isn’t surprising; after all, global purchases of smartphones are increasing at an exponential rate:





And because of this, the questions we’re asking have changed.

    • And we used to talk a lot about apps, and about whether to use an HTML web app vs a native app, how hard it was for the average app to stand out from all the noise in the app store, and about app store optimization (ASO) harking back to the old days of SEO, with its emphasis on keywords for ranking. Now, we talk about the other ways in which people can use and discover our apps – such as app indexation and app streaming.

This shift is hardly surprising, when you consider that, in 2015, 52% of UK internet users have stated that mobile is their “preferred way to access the web” – up from only 24% in 2013. This means the number of people who view mobile as their primary web device has doubled in just 2 years, and we have every reason to believe that this trend with continue.


It just makes sense, because (as Benedict Evans recently wrote), “it’s actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the Internet…it only has the web.”


Whereas our mobile devices have so much more information to draw on (photos, geolocation, friends, physical movement) and greater interactivity: with the external world (through technology like beacons), with you when you’re not using it (through notifications), and with your personal identity (because a phone is always signed-in and it is almost always an individual device rather than a shared one).


So what are the key ways in which we’re seeing this shift in user behavior change our approach to SEO?


To answer that question, I’d like to focus on four key areas in which Google seems to be shifting its approach to mobile search, and some things we can do about it:

    • Mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor
    • Site speed and page load times
    • Mobile-first design of SERPs
    • App integration with web search

Mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor

In 2015, when Google first rolled out the Mobile-Friendliness Update (or “Mobilegeddon” as it was nicknamed), the impact was felt in two ways. More directly, by those sites which were impacted by the rollout – some sites lost up to 35% of their mobile rankings within the 1st month after the rollout – and indirectly, by the move towards mobile-friendliness in the lead up to the update. Google announced that they saw a 4.7% increase in the number of mobile-friendly sites in the two months between announcing that the update was coming and when it actually rolled out.


A new version of the update has recently rolled out, so we can expect to see further impact from this in the next few months.


What should we do about it?

The key action here is to ensure that your site passes the mobile-friendly test, and to check Google Search Console reports for mobile-specific errors.



Site speed and page load times

Hand in hand with the focus on mobile-friendliness, there is also a push towards improving site speed and page load times. This is particularly noticeable on editorial sites, where an ad-revenue business model leads to lots of different elements required to load a page, despite the actual content being fairly lightweight.


Google are not the only ones addressing this issue: Facebook Instant Articles and Apple Newsstand both use in-app versions of content pages to speed up the loading process, and some publishers have also created their own native apps to help solve this.



Google’s solution to this is their Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP), which allows publishers and creators of editorial content to build versions of their pages with stripped-back, skeleton HTML, following a set of rules which guarantee speed and force distribution (an important thing to be aware of if you choose to utilize this approach).



This set of rules allows the page to:

    1. load quickly (speed), and
    1. be cached by Google and served directly in the SERP (distribution).


Example (L–R): primary URL, AMP version on primary website, and AMP version cached by Google.


What should we do about it?

The first step is to decide whether AMP is relevant for you.


You should use AMP if:

    • Google News is an important traffic source for you;
    • You make a lot of content, particularly editorial content;
    • You want wider distribution of your content;
    • You have a high proportion of mobile traffic.

If this is a good approach for you, you can learn more about how to implement it here.


Mobile-first design of SERPs

This third key area is around Google making desktop search look and feel more like mobile search.


There are two major ways that this has happened:


1. The card-style layout, which makes the distribution of content easier on a variety of different screen sizes and types:


2. And the move to get rid of the sidebar ads on desktop search in favor of more ads at the top of the page (on “highly commercial” searches):


“Old” Google desktop SERP



“New” Google desktop SERP without sidebar ads


What should we do about it?

There’s not a huge amount that can be done to address this trend head-on. However, it’s important to ensure that, for these “highly commercial” SERPs, you are taking account of the changing SERP layout in your tracking and reporting.


In addition, you may want to shift some of your focus towards building out your top-of-funnel search strategy, to target less commercial keywords where you will have fewer paid ads to compete with.


App integration with web search

Google needs to find a way to integrate app content with the rest of the web, or they risk becoming irrelevant. The “walled garden” effect from having apps on your phone’s home screen, coupled with recent stats which show that around 85% of users’ time on their mobile devices is spent on apps rather than on the mobile web, means that apps present a very real threat to Google continuing to act as an intermediary between users and content discovery.


The solution for Google is to start indexing and serving app content in the web search results, and this is what they are trying to do with their work around app indexation and app streaming.


App indexation involves setting up your app so that the same http:// web link can be used to link to a page on your desktop site, its mobile version (responsive design or dynamic serving), and the equivalent content inside your app (deep linking). This allows Google to serve the most relevant version based on the context which they have around that particular user and how they prefer to use the web.


app indexation.gif


Image credit:…


In the longer-term, they seem to be moving towards the option of “app streaming,” which would allow a user to access app content without having the app installed on their device. The content would instead be served via Google search interface, again firmly positioning Google in the middle between the user and the content provider:




Example of app streaming in SERP


What should we do about it?

If you don’t already have an app, this may not be relevant to you. However, it is worth considering whether you should create one. To determine whether or not you should have an app, you can ask the following questions:


Would my app…

    • Add convenience?
    • Offer unique value?
    • Provide social value?
    • Offer incentives?
    • Entertain?

If the answer is no to all of these, you probably don’t need an app.


If you do have an app, though, make sure that it supports http:// web links, and then head over to my post on app indexation for a walkthrough on how to set this up.


Where’s this all heading?

I believe that all of these trends are supporting a wider push by Google towards their goal of building the ultimate, intelligent personal assistant.


Sergey Brin stated in 2013: “My vision when we started Google 15 years ago was that eventually, you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all.”

This may seem impossible, but when you consider the implicit signals which Google is now able to access through the enhanced features on a mobile device, it seems less farfetched. Already, they are able to access data around:

    • Search history
    • Language
    • Social connections
    • Time of day
    • Browser
    • Device
    • Location

And already, users are realizing that they can provide fewer contextual signals within their keyword search and the search engine will still know what they’re asking. In addition, the technologies are becoming more finely tuned and gathering more data all the time:

    • wearables that can monitor physical activity and health signals (like heart rate),
    • beacons which can pinpoint a location down to which side of the street you’re standing on, and
    • phones which can tell whether you’re walking, running, cycling or riding in a car.

These are all signals which in the future could be used to determine the most relevant results to serve – potentially before you even ask.


When you combine all of these signals with the integration of the public index (what we currently think of as the Google search index), the private index (your emails, photos, calendar, etc) and app content, Google could have the ability to know as much about your day to day activities as any human PA. This means a single interface for all types of searches, and eventually, an intelligent personal assistant which can anticipate your next question before you ask it.


So maybe, instead of focusing just on keywords, or even topics, the next question we should start asking is: “How can I be the most useful source from a personal assistant app’s perspective?”


If you’re interested in learning more about these trends which are shaping the future of search, like implicit signals, the changing Google interface, intelligent personal assistants, beacons, wearables, and other new devices, and more, we’ve been writing and discussing our predictions over on the Distilled blog for our new #Searchscape project.


How have you seen the mobile search landscape shift over time? Do you agree that it’s heading towards the development of intelligent personal assistants? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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