Video, Voice & VSEO: 5 of the Biggest Marketing Moves You Can Make Right Now

Laura Ferruggia
January 7, 2020
23 min read
how to humanize your brand

This year’s biggest marketing trend is humanizing your brand

The biggest marketing trend for this year is simple: humanize. We’ll go over 5 actionable steps you can take to move in that direction. The overarching concept, though, is something that should feel very familiar. It’s a turn that is perhaps both surprising and predictable. Our constant connectivity and increasingly symbiotic relationship with the internet have caused it to morph into something that feels much more, well…human.

As things like social media and voice search become more the norm than trends, we have to rethink our marketing. This starts with reexamining the way we ourselves use the internet. A few years ago, when you advertised a product or service, you could safely predict the way customers would respond. But think about your own experience with advertisements. Most of us, perhaps rightfully, view them with a healthy bit of skepticism.

Now, the things people say about you matter just as much, if not more, than the things you say about yourself.

Illusions are fading. Being a business doesn’t give you the automatic power or authority it once did. Your ads can say whatever you want, but your customers are going to pay more attention to their friends and communities than they are to you. If you want the trust of customers, you have to earn it. You can’t expect people to take you at your word: you need the word of others to back you up.

Our new reality is all about the personal brand, and, business or not, your brand needs to get personal.

So, how exactly do you do that?

Pay attention to changes in consumer shopping habits

As the internet becomes more “human,” the way we interact with it becomes more human. We talk at devices now — ten years ago, can you imagine sitting on your couch, yelling at your TV to play season 3 of Buffy?

Now, the way we ask Alexa and Siri questions isn’t too different from the way we’d ask our friends. As they adapt, recognizing natural language, and making fewer mistakes, we start relying on them more.

Voice Shopping

Currently a $2 billion dollar market, voice shopping is set to jump to $40 billion by 2022. Voice shopping will become as natural and common as asking a store employee for a product. If these tools are more adept at recognizing natural language, your marketing will need to fall more in line with how we conduct normal human interactions. Essentially, write how we communicate.

It’s a shift for sure, but one that should start to feel familiar very quickly.

You’ll want to focus more on long-tail, conversational keywords as well as question-based keywords. Write in a conversational tone, keeping the way people actually speak in mind.

Social Shopping

This doesn’t mean we’re abandoning traditional browsing altogether. In fact, visual content continues to grow in relevance every year. We may, however, start making purchases in new places. This year, social shopping is expected to become the norm. Forbes reports two notable stats:

If that statistic holds for the rest of Pinterest’s users, there is a whole market of consumers who aren’t relying on traditional search engines to make their buying decisions.

In another in-depth study into consumer shopping habits, researchers found that 90% of people were influenced by User Generated Content (UGC) more than any other form of advertising. 

These trends haven’t gone unnoticed by the platforms. Social networks are making it easier than ever to create shoppable posts, meaning users can buy products directly from your social posts. The great news is that this opens up new opportunities for smaller businesses to reach customers like never before.

The other good news, of course, is that this dramatically shortens the buying journey. Someone can now spot your post in their social feed and purchase the featured product within seconds.

Remember: You’re a customer too

The catch, of course, is that customers have more power to research and make informed buying decisions. They also have more choices than ever, regardless of what industry you’re in. If your industry doesn’t feel competitive right now, it’s only a matter of time.

The playing field has leveled in such a way that almost anyone with a good idea and ambition can open their own business. No matter how niche your industry may seem, if you have customers, any one of them could notice a gap in the services you offer and quickly turn into a competitor.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

With the hard line between customer and marketer quickly fading, you have to think about your own experiences to figure out your best course of action. When you shop, you want to make sure you get a good product from a brand you trust.

The best thing you can do is think about your shopping habits and remember that your customers follow similar criteria.

Build customer loyalty and become the brand they trust.

Measure your Google meta titles & descriptions against Google’s March update

The first thing to keep in mind for your meta titles and descriptions is that Google recommends not putting too much emphasis on them. For the most part, snippets are dynamic and based on a searcher’s specific query. Many times, they’re pulled from the content on your page, not your meta descriptions. 

However, this past March, Google made a few notable changes you’ll want to address if you haven’t already. First is the space of search results, which is now 600 pixels wide, almost 100 pixels wider than before.

Before Google’s Update

Image via SEO Professor,

After Google’s Update

Image via SEO Professor,

With this change, meta title and description lengths have also increased. Previously 55-60 characters, your titles can now reach 70-71 characters on desktop and 78 on mobile.

Descriptions have changed as well, and they show just how dynamic snippets are. In the past, Google maxed out snippets for mobile searches at 130 characters and truncated on desktop at 160. After March, businesses saw 172 character snippets on mobile, and some as long as 300 characters on desktop.

Still, many snippets are truncated between 150-160 characters, so your best bet is to keep descriptions short and sweet.

The good news is that this makes it easier to optimize your descriptions for mobile searches. Just stick to 150-160 characters across the board. This also presents an opportunity if your site’s mobile traffic is significantly higher than desktop traffic. Look into your current meta titles and descriptions. See if you can make updates to optimize them for mobile searchers.

Remember the purpose of meta descriptions

Don’t get into the habit of allowing meta descriptions to take precedence over your site’s content. Often, marketers make this their focus, believing the greatest SEO value lies there. Conversely, Google says not to focus too heavily on them. Take a holistic approach, keeping them around the same caliber as the rest of your site’s content.

The purpose of meta titles and descriptions is really to summarize your website.

With an overarching trend of transparency and humanization, internet-users are getting savvy enough to identify sites that are purely self-promoting. Buzzwords and fluff are detrimental when searchers are looking for real information. People are better at tuning out background noise, so a site full of useless content won’t get you far.

Unless you’re in the business of high bounce rates, it won’t do you much good to be the first search result if every visitor immediately realizes your page isn’t going to provide the information they need and hightails it to a site that does.

The key is treating all content equally, and making sure you’re providing great, consistent content on both your page and your meta descriptions.

Don’t neglect one for the other. Depending on a searcher’s query, Google may pull content from your site to use as a snippet, or it may use your meta description. You want both to provide value to users and present your business in its best light.

What’s more, meta descriptions are often pulled by Facebook and Twitter when showing link previews, so if you’re hoping to have content that gets shared (and you should be), make sure your meta description is compelling and draws users to click on it.

Tips for high-quality meta descriptions

  • Use a title that accurately describes your page’s content and uses a high-value keyword in a way that sounds natural.
  • Use a unique title and description for each page.
  • While you want to customize these for each page, you can develop a “formula” or “template” to use on similar pages. This can make it a little easier and help with brand consistency.
  • Keep your titles around 70 characters and cap your descriptions at 160. If you must go over 160 characters, make sure all of your most important information is in those first 150.
  • Don’t get robotic! Keep your titles and descriptions in the same style as the rest of your content, and sound personable and inviting. You want to incorporate a keyword or words, but do it naturally and keep it relevant!
  • Get creative with your CTA! Try something more enticing than “learn more.”
  • Think about this page’s value from a visitor perspective. Focus less on what it says and more on what the reader will gain from reading it.

Get serious about position zero, featured snippets, & VSEO

In addition to changing our shopping habits, conversational AI and voice search have caused a dramatic shift in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so much so that it’s developed a term of its own. VSEO, as you may have guessed, stands for Voice Search Engine Optimization, and it’s predicted to shape the future of SEO marketing, so it’s something you’ll need to develop a strategy for.

The biggest impact voice search has had on SEO is that now, a user’s journey can be as short as asking a question and getting an answer — there are no distractions, so you can’t expect them to find your site by going wayward on their journey.

VSEO will play a crucial role in whether or not customers find you at all.

Traditional marketing tactics often rely on nice images, infographics, and catchy Call to Action buttons. Visual searching is by no means dead, and you want to make sure your website is optimized with all of these things. Still, there are a growing number of users using voice search more often. An ever-increasing number of users will only find your site if you’re that first source of information Google chooses to pull.

The information Google displays at the very top of the results page, before any search results, has recently been dubbed “position zero.” If you’re wondering what the difference between position zero and a featured snippet is, well, there isn’t one. By now, featured snippets are nothing new, but the rather alarming term “position zero” is reflective of just how much they’ve risen in importance.

We’ve always wanted our websites to be the ones Google chose to pull content from. Being the featured snippet serves as a powerful testament to your brand’s expertise. The stakes, however, are now a little higher. When searchers ask a voice query, there’s an 80% chance that the response they get will be a featured snippet.

So, you know all this is important, but how exactly do you optimize your content for voice search, becoming that singular answer searchers hear?

There are a lot of helpful tips on this, and we’ll get to my favorite in a moment, but first, let’s address the necessities.

The necessities for a high VSEO rank:

  • Think FAQ: This can mean including an actual FAQ section, but you can also incorporate the concept into the rest of your content. Think about the questions your customers ask you. Keep in mind the way they ask you questions in person or over the phone. Chances are, they’re asking Siri questions the same way.
  • Be front-page news: Does your site rank on the first page of search results? 99% of answers are pulled from here, so you’ll need to optimize enough to make that first page if you haven’t already.
  • Stay concise: Include clear, straightforward answers between 40-50 words. The majority of featured snippets fall within these parameters.
  • Use relevant headlines: Headings should accurately relay the main points in your content. Write descriptive headers using tags (h1, h2, h3).
  • Make a list: Try incorporating numbered lists, bullet points, tables, & graphs into your content.
  • Keep it conversational: As you write, keep conversational language, usefulness, and skimability in mind at all times.
  • Target the right keywords: Long-tail, conversational keywords are key for VSEO.

Don’t let keywords become your sole focus

Researching keywords and keeping them in the correct format is essential. However, always keep in mind how skilled Google is at detecting natural language, synonyms, and a page’s actual content.

You can’t stuff a bunch of lists and short answers into a fluff piece and expect it to rank well. Searchers rely on featured snippets for quick answers to queries. The expectation, however, is that clicking into a page will bring more helpful information.

If you already have great content, give it a look over. Can you optimize it with shorter answers, relevant headers, and lists for helpful “quick glance” resources?

If you’re starting from scratch, you can start getting creative with your topics. Of course, keyword research will always remain vital. One of my favorite ways to find good topics, however, is to check out Google’s “People also ask” box.

“People also ask”

If you’ve already spent some time with this, you know each question you click adds more questions to the list. It’s an ever-expanding treasure trove of things people want to know. You can use this information in one or more ways.

The most obvious, and widely recommended, is to answer as many questions as possible in a single blog post. However, if you want to really get creative, continue parsing through the questions. Check out the answers, and find any that don’t have adequate answers.

Provided these are within your area of expertise, you have your next blog topic! Go in-depth and thoroughly answer the question — just be sure to follow the necessities we discussed above!

Currently, not all questions under “People also ask” have adequate answers, and many are answered by the same few sources. You’ll find that the more niche you get, the more prevalent this becomes.

Ideally, you can provide a better answer to one question and cover a few others while you’re at it. This one-two punch combo should push you ahead of your competitors.

Optimize content for voice search & Google EAT scores

New ways of analyzing a page’s content mean that the quality of it is more important than ever. We’ve already discussed the importance of keeping it conversational and avoiding fluff in your writing. To further optimize your content for voice search, keep in mind the three main reasons people ask their virtual assistants a question. Then structure your content around what they need.

Provide information:

Some searchers want to find the answer to a question. The way to attract these users is simple: provide valuable information.

  • Detailed blogs and how-to videos can provide the information searchers are looking for. Ideally, present it in a way that is enjoyable to read or watch.
  • Relevant, answer-style headings and bulleted lists can provide answers at a glance. Readers should be able to skim through a blog and get the need-to-know information by looking at your headers or lists.
  • Long-form content is still going strong! Go in-depth with your content, providing detailed answers and sources from your research. Relevant headers can provide base-level answers, but don’t neglect searchers who want to continue learning.
  • In addition to how-to videos, provide informational, service, and product videos. Video offers a wealth of information quickly and easily, but we’ll discuss more in our final section.

Offer navigation:

Other users may be trying to find a store, a place that offers a specific service or contact a business. To optimize for these types of searches, make sure users can easily find your location and service offerings.

  • Fully optimize your Google My Business (GMB) profile. Include current photos, fill out relevant information, and provide all the most important aspects of your business front and center.
  • Have clear and easy to find contact information. This applies to both your GMB profile and your website. Don’t make it difficult for prospective customers to contact you. If it’s too much work, they’ll go somewhere else.
  • Use concise, informative lists to describe products and service offerings. While you’ll want to provide detailed descriptions of your services on their respective pages, a quick, easy-to-scan list is important for users who are using voice search to find a provider.

Assist in transactional decision making:

Many searchers are either ready to buy or strongly considering the purchase of a new product or service. For these users, you want to quickly show not only why they should go through with the transaction, but why they should come to you for it.

  • Use product videos to give searchers a feel for how the product will benefit them.
  • Provide detailed information to answer any questions that may be holding a customer back from making a purchase. I, for example, passed on a shirt the other day because the company didn’t list its fabric composition. Instead, I purchased one from a competitor who did. Think about the things you want to know about your products or services, then ask other people what they’d want to know about them. Leave no question unanswered.
  • Use detailed comparison views to provide that extra push towards your company. Show potential customers the benefits of your product or service over a competitor’s. You don’t need to bash another company, just show why your business is the best choice.

In many cases, your business will be the best choice simply because you are there and able to provide all of the information customers need at the moment they’re ready to buy.

Google’s E.A.T score

The definition of “high quality” content gets a little more complicated from here. Google first announced its “EAT” ranking criteria in August 2018, and its effects are slowing spreading across the internet. If you want to get really thorough, you can take a look at Google’s 168 page “Quality Raters Guidelines.” These are the standards that humans employed by Google use to assign “EAT” scores to people and businesses. But what is “EAT” exactly?




If you’re giving medical advice or financial information, you’re going to need to A.) have the credentials to back up your knowledge and B.) consult a source with more authority in those fields.

We don’t want to be accused of spreading anything that could be misconstrued as misinformation! Understandably, things involving your livelihood and life are held to a much higher standard. I’m sure you can imagine why.

For the bulk of topics, your EAT score really boils down to what we discussed originally: your personal brand. This is, for all intents and purposes, your online presence.

Whether you’re a business, an individual, or a business that plans to use multiple authors (such as in a blog), there are simple steps you can take to start developing your personal brand and, consequently, your EAT score.

Let’s start with businesses.

If you’re just writing from the “corporate we” perspective. (i.e., “We help you accomplish more!”) There are no true “authors” for your content, and you’re only writing about your products and services.

In this case, you, or your business, are the expert. You know and can speak to what you do better than anyone else. Your EAT score is going to depend heavily on how easy it is to find your contact and support information.

Why? It shows you’re a real business, ready to talk to customers and do business. The businesses with hidden or missing contact information tend to be scammers, and you don’t want to be lumped in with them.

And for individuals?

It gets a little more complicated if you’re writing as an individual, whether or not it’s on behalf of a company. For any type of blog post, the author’s information should be clearly visible. This means author bios are essential, for a high EAT score and for your personal brand.

For our blog’s upcoming facelift, this is the first thing we unanimously decided to add. People want to know a little bit about the person giving them advice.

Listing your credentials, however, isn’t enough if you have no one to back them up. It isn’t very difficult to say you’re the president of “[Your Name] Enterprises.”

Lying on the internet has become so common, it’s almost expected. In many ways, we’ve gone back to the days of good reputation and word-of-mouth advertising. Now, however, word-of-mouth spreads in communities that stretch across the globe.

The personal brand

Every writer should start working on building their own personal brand. Don’t focus on sounding prestigious. If you’re writing about fixing car troubles, “Mechanic” is a perfect title.

People just want to know that you work in this field and you know what you’re talking about. As far as building out your brand, there are a few simple things you can do.

  • Maintain a consistent image on social media. Interact with influencers and prominent names in your industry. Show people you’re a real person.
  • Connect with your audience. Whether it’s through a personal website or social media page, tell readers your story. Let them get to know you. Have conversations, ask for opinions, and build trust.
  • Build your reputation. Answer questions on industry forums, submit articles to online publications, establish yourself as knowledgeable in this area. The more your advice appears online, the more likely you are to earn a high EAT score.

Perhaps more importantly, these are great ways to build trust among others in your industry, incentivizing them to share and reference your content.

Exhaustive, but concise

If you’ve read this far, you may be questioning why I didn’t take my own advice on brevity. It may seem oxymoronic, but hear me out. Short, simple answers should be tucked inside longer, informational pieces.

For example, the question: “What type of content is best for driving revenue?” can be answered in just 26 words.

Content that drives the highest revenue and Return on Investment (ROI) is long-form content of over 3,000 words that takes bloggers 6+ hours to write.

Think about how people consume and share content. Essentially, you want to provide a tweetable answer inside of an article that gives an in-depth look at the topic. Give readers options on how much time they want to invest in your piece.

So, to summarize, good content should:

  • Include headers that provide answers at a glance.
  • Contain segments that allow readers to jump to their area of interest.
  • Provide a thorough examination of a topic while avoiding redundancy.

Video is only growing: if it’s not part of your marketing strategy, make incorporating it a New Year’s Resolution

It’s a fairly obvious assumption that Google is the most trafficked site, but did you know YouTube is actually the second? It is, essentially, a search engine. The Google of videos.

Despite marketers’ promise every year since 2006 that “this will be the year of video,” it isn’t a trend. It isn’t going anywhere. In fact, our collective desire to watch videos only increases.

A few notable stats that show just how vital video is to your marketing strategy:

  • Viewers retain 95% of messages delivered through video
  • 87% of internet users say they’d like to see more videos from brands
  • 59% of executives prefer watching videos to reading text
  • 65% of executives visit a marketer’s site after watching their videos
  • 39% of those executives called companies after watching a marketing video
  • 72% of users on Instagram buy products they’ve watched in a video
  • Videos on landing pages increase conversion by 80%
  • “How to” searches increase 70% every year

What’s more, customers share videos. A whopping 92% of mobile users share videos with others. Going back to bulking up your EAT score and brand’s trustworthiness, utilizing YouTube and social networks to encourage sharing can help build your brand’s reputation and cement your expertise.

By a very large margin, video is your customers’ favorite way to learn about new products and services.

Chart via HubSpot,

To avoid the appearance of hypocrisy…

This is the video we created to announce our video services. It’s pretty easy to see why customers prefer that, right? It’s quick, fun, and retains some humor while staying informative. The host, at the risk of inflating his ego, is friendly and charismatic. All of this contributes to an image, a personal brand, whatever you want to call it, that is conversational, friendly, and helpful.

In conclusion, building a personal brand is about building trust and a good reputation.

Our new internet landscape and, in turn, the way we market, is human in more ways than one. We’re relying on the traditional idea of building up a good reputation. We may want our products, services, and information instantly, but we only want those products, services, and information instantly from brands we find trustworthy.

Being trustworthy requires building customer loyalty, maintaining brand consistency, and creating memorable customer experiences. There are no quick fixes. Establishing a good reputation is about more than pleasing (or tricking) an algorithm.

Your EAT score is determined by real people, but more importantly, your reputation and trustworthiness are determined by real people: your customers.

Learn about Miles Brand Strategy & SEO Marketing Services

Meet Laura Ferruggia

Laura Ferruggia

Laura joined Miles IT in 2014, and in her current role of Marketing Strategy Director, she leads and supports our amazing and multi-talented team in providing high-quality consulting and services. With experience spanning from content writing to web development and paid advertising over 9+ years, Laura is equipped to take a holistic approach when discussing marketing and website solutions with businesses.

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