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Jul 11 16

Virtual Reality VS Augmented Reality

2018 isn’t over yet, but it feels like it has come and gone with the snap of a finger. Even so, a lot of things happened in the world of SEO this year, and you need to be aware of the changes. Apply them to your SEO playbook going forward, and watch your brand’s online presence grow and prosper. Below are a few of the most important changes of the year.

Quality content has never been more important

Creating top-quality content has been one of the most important SEO tactics for years (over the last few years, we’d dare say it’s even become mandatory). But in 2018? It became essential. If you’re not posting helpful, shareable content on your social media pages this week, you’re arguably ignoring today’s most important SEO tactic.

The beauty of this tip is that it’s so versatile. From posting a how-to article designed to help your followers solve a problem so many of them have to sharing an infographic chock-full of relevant, easily digestible information and beyond, as long as your content is timely, shareable, and interesting it’s all fair game. Look at your competitors’ social media presence to get an idea regarding the type of content they post. If something stands out to you, ask them if you can repost it – just be sure to give them credit.

Neither has video

We all know that Google is the largest search engine in the world. The second? It isn’t Bing – it’s YouTube. Video is huge – but that’s no secret. Browse any social media platform and you’re bound to see wave after wave of videos advertising everything from chocolates to life insurance to yet another cat video. Our mobile networks are capable of loading videos instantly, making our consumption of videos as simple and quick as reading a wall of text.

Video is only going to get bigger – in fact, Cisco predicts that 82% of all web traffic will stem from videos! That’s huge, and now is the time to ensure you make your videos work for you using forward-thinking SEO tactics. The best place to start? Video transcripts. By adding a transcript to your videos, you’re actually creating content that can be indexed by Google and other search engines. This will improve your page rank and allow you to rank higher for keywords/keyphrases. Thus, when creating a video consider writing a script with the keywords you want to rank for. Ensure the title and description of your video using proper keywords and phrases as well while ensuring the thumbnail is large and clear, and you’re well on your way to making video SEO work for you.

HTTPS

This isn’t so much an SEO change as it is an evolution of the Web. Google’s Chrome browser now flags websites that do not begin with HTTPS (a secure, new standard that makes HTTP sites obsolete). What does this mean for you? If your website is not secured, your SEO ranking is going to suffer tremendously. Bring your website into 2018 by ensuring it’s safe and secure for everyone. Unsure how to do this? Our digital marketing agency in Windsor can help.

Voice search

We’re going to look back at 2018 and realize that this was the year where voice search changed the way we think about SEO and searching in general. 20% of all Google search queries use voice – a huge percentage considering how many billions of queries are made in a given year. It’s thanks to the domination of mobile and advancements made in voice dictation via forward-thinking technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the like. The technology is cool and convenient, but the big takeaway is how it’s transforming how we think about keywords. The days of crafting keywords and phrases around the written word will be history in the coming years; going forward, we’ll have to consider the intent of the searcher, not the keyword. Instead of asking ourselves, “what keywords will trigger my site to show up on the first page of search results,” get into the habit of asking yourself, “what results will the searcher want?” From there, it’s all about creating relevant content that gives the searcher exactly what they want.

Long-form is back

Few things on the Web are as satisfying as reading a long-form, interesting article that keeps you hooked from start-to-finish. It’s like reading a short story, and apparently a lot of people feel the same. This goes against the grain of the tired advice of people having too short of attention spans we’ve been hearing for years. It isn’t true, people love long-form content, and besides; it’s a great way to give your site some much-needed SEO love. Longer content is performing better than shorter content – mainly because people spend more time on the pages (because the content is longer), you can implement more links, keywords, and even an embedded video where it makes sense, and because reading longer content is a bit of a commitment, people will be more willing to share it with their followers. Find relevant, targeted topics coupled with good writing and SEO best practices, and you have a winning combination that will improve your site’s page rank dramatically.

If you are looking for help in optimizing your current website for search, schedule a meeting with Web Geeks to discuss how we can help build your online visibility.

Apple users, hear us out for a moment. It may not seem like it now, but Google Assistant may just be one of the most exciting things to happen to brands in years. Sharing many similarities with other artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant differs for one huge reason: as of 2016, 81.7% of all smart device users use Android. No matter which side you root for in the mobile wars, it’s impossible to deny that Android is a major player – and ripe for using to your advantage. That’s not the only reason to pay attention to Google’s neat little AI tool. Keep reading to find out for yourself – but first.

Why use it?

Is Google Assistant just another gimmick? Not a chance. The beauty of Google Assistant is that it makes looking up anything on your device effortless. For example, let’s assume you want to find a Thai restaurant in the area but you’re unfamiliar with the location. Rather than spending 30-minutes looking up reviews, searching for a restaurant by the city name, and bouncing back-and-forth between your browser and GPS app to identify which restaurant is closest, all you have to do is tell Google Assistant the type of restaurant you want to visit and let it do the rest. That’s it!

Ease-of-use is what makes Google Assistant stand out from the rest. Cutting down minutes of search time for pretty much anything, users are much more willing to be spontaneous with the information they look up and what they look at. It gave our digital marketing agency in Windsor an idea: could entrepreneurs use Google Assistant to their advantage to uniquely market their brand? Absolutely.

Here’s a thought…

Consider posting ideas about using Google Assistant on your social media pages to give your customers an opportunity to interact with your brand even further. For example, if you sell an exclusive product (e.g. a unique food item), entice users to set a location-based reminder via Google Assistant that will alert them to buy your item when they are near your location (consider setting up a contest, where they must share a screenshot of their device with the alert enabled before entering the contest). Once they receive the alert when in the area, they’ll be much more willing to pay your establishment a visit.

This is just one of the many out-of-the-box things you can do with Google Assistant. The most impactful however is most likely…

Voice search

Voice search is going to change the way your brand is found on the Web – it’s just going to happen. While SEO is still king (more on SEO in a second), voice search is going to take its place in the coming years. Times are changing – so too must your brand’s approach to marketing. The best thing you can do now is to optimize for position zero – or, the little box that pops up when you ask Google Assistant a question.

Optimizing for this is as simple as providing answers about your brand to your site’s front page. When someone visits your front page, what it is, how it can help, why it’s important, how to (contact, find, use, etc. – whatever ‘how to’ answer is appropriate for your brand), etc. Think about any questions a stranger would have regarding your brand’s front page and provide these answers accordingly. From there, keep playing with Google Assistant, asking questions (consider resorting to the, ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ of journalism when coming up with them), and seeing what comes up in the pop up box. The goal is for the information to be relevant and informative. If you have trouble, feel free to reach out to us.

Can it grow your brand?

It’s still early days for Google Assistant, though the opportunity for using it to grow your brand is absolutely there. Because it’s early days, your brand has an exciting opportunity to figure out how to utilize voice search and Google Assistant at large to raise the stakes of Google Assistant showcasing your brand to those searching for a business just like yours. We will undoubtedly have more tips in the future as Google Assistant continues to evolve, so stay tuned.

Bright future?

You bet! From helping you find a loan (amazing) to controlling your smart thermostat to translating on-the-fly to simply providing you any piece of information you could ever want instantly, the true feature of Google Assistant is that it brings information to the user. The days of entering just the right search query in hopes of finding relevant information are coming to an end; soon, Google Assistant will make obtaining information as simple as asking a question (and it truly will be that simple). It also raises the odds that your brand is exposed to more people in your area than ever. With more people making even more search queries going forward thanks to the spontaneity of Google Assistant, you’re going to have more chances to expose your brand and bring in new customers. It’s an exciting time with even more exciting possibilities!

 

Net Neutrality or the open internet is the principle that internet service providers should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favouring some sources or blocking others.

In the United States, the FCC recently ruled to reverse a previous legislation which classified the internet as a utility. This change has put the power into the hands of ISPs to determine the future of the internet. A possible consequence of this is that internet subscribers could have to pay additional subscription fees to access the websites that they were previously using for free. Costs for internet access could quickly rise for consumers if they have to pay additional fees to access email, social media, browse online news, stream video and play online games – similar to how cable TV subscriptions are now sold. ISPs could be free to discriminate against web traffic by slowing internet speeds to sites that they do not own or that users do not pay extra for – and if they don’t like certain content or certain websites, they could completely block access to those sites.

This helpful article from The Verge points out that ISPs will have to inform users if they want to block websites, throttle internet connections or charge some websites more. The article also looks into how large American ISPs including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and more treat net neutrality and how they may act in the future.

This decision by the FCC has been slammed by representatives from tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Reddit & Vimeo. Any web-based business could now be at the mercy of ISPs to allow users to access their services.

The loss of net neutrality may become a large issue for gamers who rely on fast internet speeds to remain competitive, as any gamer who has experienced lag in an online game knows that it is very frustrating.

Luckily for Canadians, our government has taken a stand to protect net neutrality. At a recent question period, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development stated “Our government stands to support net neutrality. We support an open Internet. We support the CRTC framework for net neutrality, because we know an open Internet is critical for our economy and our democracy.” It is encouraging to see the Canadian government stand up for the rights of all internet users.

Only time will tell how the loss of an open internet in the United States will affect the digital world, but residents there could be in for a shock once ISPs start to make changes.

Announced this Summer through Facebook’s Newsroom, Facebook has recently launched Facebook Watch to some users in the US, which will host video content including hundreds of shows, similar to Google’s YouTube offering, Sony’s Crackle, or Amazon Prime Video. Content on Watch will include many original shows including Safari Live by Nat Geo WILD, Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe, Kitchen Little, & sports broadcasting one MLB game per week. Watch will be available for viewing on the computer, tablets, mobile and on TV apps.

 

The feeds of Facebook Watch will be personalized to help users discover new content that they will be interested in, which is organized around their friends and communities are watching. Users can use Facebook’s reactions to give feedback on shows they watched, and there will be categories of shows based on users reactions, such as “What’s Making People Laugh”. Facebook Watch is trying to establish a community and bond between viewers, so comments from other viewers can be seen during the show to help create conversations. Users can subscribe to shows by adding them to their Watchlist, which will let users know when new episodes are released.

 

Like YouTube, the revenue model will include the Pre-Roll style advertisements – the first of their kind on any of Facebook’s platforms, with the money raised through advertising being split between Facebook and the show’s creators. The closest thing they had to pre-roll ads in the past was mid-roll video ads that appeared in the middle of videos that users watched on Facebook, this original content will give advertisers a new way to reach their audience on Facebook.

 

Users in Canada will be able to access this content once it is fully rolled out – once you see a “Watch” tab in your feed, clicking that will bring you to the feed of shows and videos to watch. For anyone interested in creating shows for the platform, you can learn more on Facebook’s Media Blog.

 

Web Geeks is excited to see what new shows will be released when Watch rolls out to Canada, and what Canadians will produce for others to watch. For all of your social media marketing & digital advertising needs, Web Geeks is here to create a strategy that works for your business to connect with its audience.

With the improvement of voice assistant technology and an increasing amount of household devices being developed with wifi connectivity, we are living in the age of the smart home. Many tech giants are working on their own versions of this technology – Apple has Siri, Google has the Google Assistant on many Android phones that connects to Google Home and Chromecast, there is Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant on the Echo devices, Microsoft has Cortana and Samsung has developed Bixby and SmartThings. These are becoming more used in daily life as most modern smartphones include a voice assistant, and the home technology is becoming more affordable every year with the introduction of the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot. Voice assistants are becoming so used so frequently, it is estimated that by 2020, 30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen.

Personal Voice Assistants

These personal assistants are becoming more sophisticated to be able to listen, understand and respond to a persons’ question in a natural manner. Rather than a person having to take out their smartphone and type in a Google search, choose a result and read through the answer; they can ask Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri who will immediately read the answer or instructions out loud, allowing people to get quick and easy answers to their questions without stopping their current task. They can also perform other tasks like sending a text or email, checking calendars, reading the weather forecast or looking up directions and warning users about heavy traffic on their routes.

Smart Home Entertainment

In a household with a Google Home and a Chromecast plugged into their TV, a person can tell Google what to stream on the TV and it will respond immediately by finding their show, movie or playlist and casting it onto the TV. For example, you could tell Google to “Play Stranger Things on Netflix” and it will put your current episode on the screen – this can also play videos from YouTube or music from Spotify, Google Play Music or other services. Families will never have to search for a TV remote again to change what is playing on the screen!

The Smart Home, Energy Efficiency & Security

Having a variety of wifi connected devices creates a smart home environment where many things can be controlled remotely through a smartphone or by voice. Nearly any household device or appliance is now available with smart connectivity, with the most significant being smart thermostats such as Nest, Lyric & Ecobee, that allow homeowners to adjust the temperature settings of their homes while they are away to save energy. Connected lightbulbs can change colours, be dimmed and turned off remotely, and there are even smart motors for blinds that can be scheduled and controlled remotely to let natural sunlight in the home or to block it out. There are also smart doorbells, locks and security cameras which allow homeowners to see who is at their door and remotely unlock the door for friends, visitors, contractors or delivery people. Now wifi enabled plugs like WeMo allow anything that is plugged into them to be turned on or off remotely by turning off power to the outlet, truly creating a smart home environment.

Personal Voice Assistants Smart Home

We are now living in the future with personal assistants in our pockets and will soon be exploring the internet without even looking at it or having to read. For business owners, now is a great time to make sure that the content of your website is optimized to be read by search engines to ensure that the people who are asking their assistants to look up your product or service will be told about your business! Get in touch with the Web Geeks to get your website up to today’s standards and optimized for search.

The marketing world has changed drastically in the past few years. Gone are the days where you just needed to create traditional ad campaigns on the television or radio, and trust that they would bring in more profits for your business. Now, digital marketing has become the go-to platform for advertising – and it’s here to stay.

However, the key question on many business owners minds, “Does this actually work?” Today we will be talking about how effective digital marketing is, and why it’s such a viable option for even small businesses to partake in – instant results.

Most Effective Platform for Measuring

There’s one huge key advantage digital marketing has over the traditional methods – it’s incredibly easy to measure how successful your campaigns are. With traditional methods such as television or radio, there aren’t too many different ways you can measure. Sure, you’ll know statistics such as the reach and frequency of your ads, but does this truly have a monetary value to it? Will you know just how much of your profits can be attributed to your ad campaign?

With digital advertising, you can delve into a plethora of information when it comes to the measurement of your campaigns. The information you receive isn’t simply limited to reach and frequency. You can see exactly who is seeing your marketing initiatives – their demographics, their interests, etc. Mix this with an efficient e-commerce system and you’ll even be able to measure the dollar amount that your campaign is bringing in showing you exactly how effective your campaign is.

 

Making Quick Decisions

The benefits aren’t just limited to the fact that you can access all your information. The real benefit of being able to gather so much detail is the fact that you’ll be able to instantly know whether changes need to be made to your initiatives. Are the people responding to your ads, not the demographic you’re targeting? Make changes to the ads in order to properly reach the intended audience. Are you not reaching as many people as you’d hope? Increase the budget in order to not limit yourself. The real benefit to instantaneous details is knowing that you can make changes at any time to better your marketing initiatives.

Having the ability to access all of your campaign statistics at any time means that you have the ability to make instant decisions. With traditional methods, you will get monthly reports which are useful – however by the time that you find out you need to make changes to your campaign you’ve already sunk a lot of money. Digital marketing makes decisions not only easier to make but allow you to save money on the entire campaign.

 

Measuring ad campaigns have always been a challenge. Marketers have been able to see how many people see ads, and how often your ad is shown, but key details have always been amiss. With the rise of digital marketing, it has become incredibly easy to measure your campaigns and make changes as needed. As a result, brands can now reach their full advertising potential!

 

Web Geeks wants to help your brand reach their full digital potential. Do you know how visible your brand’s website is? The Geeks can tell you with our free local visibility grader!

 

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I consider myself to be a pretty avid gamer, and one who has always followed Nintendo. I grew up playing Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 being the first game I completed 100% at the age of 7 years old. With that being said, the past two Nintendo consoles (Wii & Wii U) have left much to be desired. While they were innovative, they just didn’t match up with Sony and Microsoft’s powerhouse consoles. But growing up as a Nintendo fan, the little kid inside of me still got excited when I found out Nintendo would be showing off an announcement trailer for their new console set to release in March of next year.

What Is This New Console?

The Nintendo Switch blurs the line between console and handheld gaming. With this new console, Nintendo wants you to bring your gaming experience anywhere – a bus, a plane, the park or your couch. The console is powered by a ‘tablet’ that you place inside the console. If you want to take it on the go, you simply pop it out and take it with you.

The announcement also emphasized its multiplayer focus. The controller can be pulled apart, be placed on the screen or given to friends to play multiplayer games. In short, this is a console that can be played by anyone, anywhere.

Really, We’re Going To Call It The Nintendo Switch?

Seriously, can Nintendo not come up with good names? Since it’s creation, I’ve hated the name ‘Wii’ and we’ve had to deal with two consoles under that name! Now they have a chance to make up for it with a cool name, and they call it ‘Switch’? Granted, it’s better than ‘Wii’ but it’s still so bland!

Yes, I realize the numbering system of PlayStation isn’t exactly creative, and the third generation of Xbox’s being called ‘Xbox One’ still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but Nintendo is THE creative front runners for creative gaming – make a name that shows this! They almost touched greatness with the name ‘Revolution’, but we all know how that ended.

Where’s The Innovation?

This leads me to my next point – where’s the innovation Nintendo? Yes, it’s portable, but the PlayStation 4 has been doing this with the PlayStation Vita for quite some time – though arguably not to the same extent. While yes, this looks like a great feature for a console, it’s just not the innovation that Nintendo is known and loved for.

As I’ve previously stated, I’m not a huge fan of the Nintendo Wii & Wii U. From a gamer’s perspective, outside of the core Nintendo titles there just weren’t many games that appealed to me. I’m also what many call a ‘graphics snob’ so when the original Wii came out with PS2 graphics while the Xbox 360 and PS3 were giving us almost CG-quality graphics, I was very off put.

With that being said, the Wii & Wii U were both extremely innovative for their time. Up until then, motion controls were almost unheard of and the Wii U allowed people to utilize dual screens at home. This completely changed how games played, and no other consoles had this at the time. What does ‘Switch’ have? It forfeited these innovations for portability. Don’t get me wrong, portability in consoles is an awesome idea – but again it’s just not Nintendo. Give us a new way to play games, not just the ability to play them on a bus.

Perhaps The Glass Is Half Full

It may sound like I’m giving Nintendo a lot of grief for the Nintendo Switch, but it’s just because as someone who has grown up with Nintendo consoles, I want to see them succeed. After the Wii & Wii U, Nintendo’s not really in the best of lights with serious gamers. Even large game companies had dropped support for them, and as such the consoles had been missing out on huge AAA titles.

The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s chance to redeem themselves with the gamers. It’s a chance to gain the trust back from third party developers and show that they have a console that can redeem past errors. While the presentation was underwhelming, it didn’t show too much of the most important aspect of success – the games.

I want to be excited for the Nintendo Switch. While I’m super excited for a new ‘Super Mario’ and ‘Zelda’ game, a part of me can’t shake off the feeling that this console may be the final nail in Nintendo’s coffin. In time, we’ll learn more about the pricing, features and games – all of which are vitally important aspects for determining the success of this new console.

At Web Geeks Marketing, we’re always staying up to date on the latest technology trends. Two pieces of technology that we’re very excited for in the future are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms. This new technology is no longer just something that is seen in the movies—it’s on the fast track to becoming a reality. Virtual reality has already been released in several manifestations on different devices, with 2016 seeing even more platforms coming in. Augmented reality isn’t far behind, however, with technologies like the Microsoft HoloLens being released very soon.

But the debate remains, which one is going to win the technology war? We’ve seen this scenario in the past— two similar modes of technology being released in the same time period, with only one holding up into the future. It takes us back to a decade ago, when Blu-ray & HD DVD were battling it out for the hearts, minds, and dollars of the people. Though we may not see one disappear from the AR vs. VR war like we saw with HD-DVD (both technologies have their advantages to different applications), there’s no doubt that one is going to be more successful than the other. The question is, which one?

 

Current Uses

Virtual Reality

While virtual reality and augmented reality may seem similar on paper, their applications differ greatly. Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation that transports you to a completely different and artificially created environment. It sets you in the middle of a YouTube video, or in a fantasy world inside of a video game that you can interact with.

VR is created with more commercial implications in mind. It’s made to steal you out of the real world and place you in a whole new one. Video games, movies, and even swimsuit magazines will employ virtual reality as a new media platform. Facebook and YouTube are already making use of this, creating 360° videos for viewers to enjoy using the different virtual reality platforms. Of course, there’s use for virtual reality within the business world as well. VR has already greatly impacted various industries and employment sectors, from gaming and entertainment to medicine and tourism. VR training modules are already being increasingly used today to help train pilots, surgeons, and military personnel.

Augmented Reality

Unlike VR, augmented reality allows you to interact inside your real-life environment and is meant to enhance your surroundings by superimposing things like images and labels onto your physical world. So for example, with Microsoft’s new HoloLens, you can project a television screen onto the wall, or look at the specs of a car by placing it in the middle of your living room. In addition to gaming or entertainment, it can be used for education, e-commerce transactions, manufacturing, and much more. Lockheed Martin, for example, has invested in this technology for its engineers, who wear AR glasses to see the names of the engine parts as they work. If augmented reality glasses sound familiar (enter Google Glass), it’s technologies like this that will potentially become available on a mass scale. While Google’s hopes for its glasses to go mainstream may have shattered, newer startups like the Google-backed Magic Leap are working to create even more inconspicuous AR technologies that could soon become a reality.

On an individual consumer level, AR allows your surroundings to be informative, personalized and even “shoppable.” It can help you find out more about an object you see or navigate your way through a new city with directions and labels guiding you. Imagine seeing a product you really want to purchase while you are out for a walk, and instantly receiving a link pop up in front of you to buy it. AR offers this sort of tangibility that VR cannot yet provide.

 

VR vs. AR

Let’s look at a couple of the factors that differentiate VR and AR. While we’ve seen that both technologies have significant uses today, one may be more feasible than the other when it comes to mainstream consumption.

 Cost-Effectiveness

The production and manufacturing budgets to create VR equipment alone are substantial, and that’s not including the added time and cost it takes for companies to assemble and then distribute the hardware. In addition, the actual immersive VR software content is extremely expensive to program.

AR can be incorporated into existing technologies such as smartphones and mobile devices, with the development of applications already underway. In addition, wearable AR technologies are more user-friendly and affordable for consumers. AR allows brands to be profitable in a broad scope of industries due to AR’s versatility, and this saves them more time and funds too. Because of the limited everyday applications and the high costs of VR, it’s easy to see why the AR industry will be much more profitable.

Mobility

While the wearable gear that VR requires, such as Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, is crucial for a unique, immersive experience, it can often be bulky, cumbersome, and downright strange. A virtual world is not a readily accessible one because it heavily relies on the special hardware designed specifically for its purpose.

When it comes to AR, smartphones are becoming the means for delivering AR software, apps, and much more, meaning that you can have access to AR right in your hands. The accessibility and mobility of AR suggest that users can engage more intimately with the world around them no matter where they are. This is a great next step for brands that seek to increase their reach and offer more branded experiences to consumers.

 

It isn’t lights-out for virtual reality by any means, and the developments currently taking place in the VR world are nothing short of exciting. While VR and AR can certainly coexist, AR carries more feasibility, accessibility, and convenience for consumers and brands alike, and we can expect to see more companies investing in AR initiatives. Both technologies are opening up new worlds, both real and virtual, and it will be interesting to see what the future has in store and who will prevail.

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