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Weeks of Welcome Moves (Mostly) Online This Year

Whether students are on campus or attending classes remotely, the goal of SAO’s  Weeks of Welcome is to foster community and engage students.

Student Life

Weeks of Welcome Moves (Mostly) Online This Year Trivia, ice cream, and of course, SPLASH, headline annual Student Activities Office program

There’s no question—the 2023-2024 school year will be unlike any other. Whether you’re on campus or attending classes remotely, there will still be one familiar staple: the Student Activities Office annual Weeks of Welcome (WOW), a monthlong slate of programs and events just for BU students.

SAO explored the possibility of holding events in person, but opted to shift its offerings online, says Taylor Malatos, SAO associate director. While Weeks of Welcome will certainly look and feel different this year, Malatos says, the goal is to foster community and engage students, including those who are not on campus. 

“These are traditional programs that are really important to the vibrancy of campus and the experience,” she says. Especially for incoming freshmen, she adds, the opportunity to get involved and meet other students is critical.

One positive outcome about the shift to a mostly online presence is that these events are now more accessible than they would be in person. A Zoom Q&A with comedian Tiffany Haddish, for example, can have an audience in the thousands, while an in-person event would be limited to the 1,200 the Metcalf Ballroom can accommodate, Malatos says.

Additionally, some activities—like trivia and game nights—have the possibility of  turning into recurring series, she says, depending on their popularity and success during the Weeks of Welcome. 

Registration is required for all events, and space is limited, so register now to reserve your spot. Events go through September 12 and are free unless otherwise noted. Check out the offerings below.

Note: All of the events were open at press time (except where otherwise noted). If an event has sold out, let us know so that we can update the list.

August 24: Game Night with the Board Games Club, 8 pm on Zoom 

Sick of scrolling through Instagram while hanging out inside? Join the Board Games Club for some fun online games. No skill required and play is free.

August 25: Summer Stump Trivia, 8 pm on Zoom

Test your trivia skills and join Boston’s premier trivia group for some old-fashioned fun. Teams may have between 5 and 10 players. No team? Don’t worry, SAO will create one for you.

August 26: Paint Night Kits

Flex that artistic muscle a little. You’ll receive a custom BU canvas with directions and all the paint supplies you need. Sit back, relax, and paint something for your dorm room. Pick-up location varies by residence hall.

August 27: Virtual Psychic Readings, 8 pm on Zoom (by appointment) SOLD OUT

Curiosity never killed the cat. Get a virtual psychic reading and learn a bit about what the future holds.

August 28: JP Licks Roommate Ice Cream Sundae Kits, 3 to 7 pm

Get to know your roommate and enjoy a little ice cream, too. Head down to JP Licks on Boylston Street to pick up your sundae kit for two using your custom BU voucher—which SAO will email to you after registration—and then picnic anywhere outside. 

August 28: Gaming Night, Hosted by the Gaming Club, 8 to 10 pm on Zoom

We’re all spending more time indoors, so have some fun and meet new people while you’re at it. No console required, but you could win one, plus many other prizes, throughout the night. 

August 29: Virtual Scavenger Hunt, 8 pm on Zoom

Nothing like a little virtual amazing race to change up your routine. Teams of up to five will compete for a grand prize.

August 30: Welcome Back BINGO, 8 pm on Zoom

This isn’t your grandmother’s bingo. Grab a group of new pals and come play Bingo on Zoom, with lots of prizes. Stake out a spot in your residence hall common room or play with your door open so you can hear the “Bingos” echo across the floor. 

September 3: Stump Trivia, 8 pm on Zoom

Test your trivia skills and join Boston’s premier trivia group for some old-fashioned fun. Teams may have between 5 and 10 players. No team? Don’t worry, SAO will create one for you.

September 4: Q&A with Tiffany Haddish, 8 pm on Zoom

Come out and see one of the hottest names in comedy. With several high-profile projects and buzzworthy appearances to her name, Tiffany Haddish has quickly become one of the most sought-after comedic actors and performers. She can currently be seen opposite Tracy Morgan on the TBS comedy series The Last O.G. and as host of ABC’s Kids Say the Darndest Things. 

September 5: SPLASH, 1 to 3 pm on Engage 

Want to get involved on campus, but don’t know where to start? Come to SPLASH, BU’s annual student group recruitment fair. Browse the over 400 student groups on campus and visit virtual tables to speak to their representatives and find your place in the BU community.

September 5: Q&A with Just Mercy director Destin Daniel Cretton, 8 pm on Zoom

The biographical legal drama Just Mercy tells the story of Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian, a death row inmate, and Bryan Stevenson, the young lawyer who boldly takes on his case. Take this unique opportunity to watch the film on your own and then join the group for a moderated Q&A with award-winning director Destin Daniel Cretton. You will have an opportunity to submit questions during the discussion. 

September 10: Learn How to Play, with Board Games Club, 8 pm on Zoom

Ever wonder how to play Settlers of Catan or Dungeons & Dragons? Don’t be turned off by the intricacies of games like these—the Board Games Club will deliver a guided how-to.

September 12: Mixology with Blossom Bar, 8 pm on Zoom ($7) 

Choose between two alcohol-free mixers from the creative minds of the bartenders at Blossom Bar in Brookline. Pick up your mixer by 2 pm and pair with your own alcohol (not provided) for a Zoom bartending lesson with the lead bartender. Tickets are $7. This event is 21-plus. 

Weeks of Welcome programs run through September 12. Registration is required for all events, and space is limited. All events are free unless otherwise noted. Weeks of Welcome is for BU students only. Register here.

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Welcome To The Age Of Electric Motorcycles

Electric motors do plenty of cool things: they power flying taxi prototypes and electric vehicles like Teslas and Chevy Bolts. Batteries, not fuel tanks filled with sloshing fossil fuels, make these contraptions go. But some of the most exciting developments in the field are happening on vehicles with two wheels: the electric motorcycle is coming of age.

Case in point is the latest electric motorcycle from California-based Zero Motorcycles, the SR/F, which the company unveiled yesterday. The bike can hit 124 mph, travel 201 miles in a city (if you pay for additional battery capacity) and has cellular connectivity, so it can receive firmware updates over the air, just like your smartphone. And Harley-Davidson is already accepting pre-orders for its electric bike, the LiveWire. It should ship in the fall.

With ranges creeping over 200 miles, some electric motorcycles can travel further than some gas-powered sportbikes can. Here’s what you need to know about Zero’s latest and greatest option, and the lay of this electron-charged landscape.

The SR/F. Zero

Zero Motorcycles

The flagship bike from Zero will start at $18,995 in a standard configuration. Zero has added a Motorcycle Stability Control package from Bosch to the bike, which manages aspects like torque. (And the SR/F has a lot of torque—140 foot-pounds, while an average gas cruiser might have around 80 foot-pounds.) That can come in handy if you’re on a wet road and hit the throttle aggressively when the light turns green. “The system knows how hard it can spin the back tire before it just starts to spin out, and it will accelerate you at the maximum speed it can accelerate without spinning the back tire,” says Sam Paschel, Zero’s CEO.

The stability system also helps on turns—a hazardous time for riders. Here’s a typical scenario for someone on a motorcycle: “You’re on a corner, you’re going too fast, you panic, you hop on the brakes, the bike stands straight up, and goes straight off the road,” Paschel says. The Bosch package can help with that situation. “Now, the bike stays at that lean angle—maybe stands up a little bit—slows down, and carries you through the corner.”

The fact that the bike will have a built-in cellular connection gives Zero new opportunities, too, like firmware updates straight from the cloud to the bike, without using your phone as an intermediary. (With previous models, you needed to be in Bluetooth range to see data about the bike or push through a software update.) While charging, the bike can also send you an alert when it’s received enough juice to get you a predetermined target distance, like 50 miles. Zero will pay for that cellular data needed for that function, and others, for the first two years, and after that it will cost riders an as-yet-to-be-determined amount.

The standard model will take 4.5 hours to charge, or 1.8 hours if you want to buy a “Rapid Charge” module.

Zero also produces electric motorcycles with less torque and a shorter range than this new bike. A model called the FX, for example, begins at $8,500, and with a 3.6 kilowatt-hour battery, will travel just 46 miles in a city. Other pricier models will do 223 miles of range, as long as you pay for an additional battery called a Power Tank.

But even those $8,500 models still can go up to 85 mph—and remember, you don’t have to shift gears on an electric bike. The SR/F will hit 124 mph, which is probably faster than you should go.

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire. Harley-Davidson


“I think those two motorcycles will naturally be pitted against one another,” says Paschel, who notes that the LiveWire was criticized for its price and other specs. “I kind of wanted to jump to their defense—these are really hard problems to solve.” After all, a lithium-ion battery doesn’t have the same energy density as a tank full of fossil fuels does, and gas goes into a tank much faster than a battery charges.

“They should be applauded for recognizing that this is the next generation for the future of transportation,” Paschel added.

Besides Zero and Harley, keep your eye on another company: Lightning, which is planning to release a $12,998 electric bike called the Strike next month. That promises a range of 150 miles, and a top speed of 150 mph, and a price tag of about $13,000.

Updated: Bu Moves All Classes Online Due To Coronavirus—Questions And Answers

New: Will BU be offering housing and dining refunds due to the COVID-19 situation?

It means that staying away from campus is the best and preferred course of action from a public health and safety perspective. But in the end, the choice to stay away or return, if personal circumstances make staying away impractical or difficult, is up to individuals.

New: For individuals returning or arriving from abroad, is there a required prohibition period from campus?

What about classes that have a lab component?

Faculty have the discretion and flexibility to work with their students to find a way to complete their lab requirements.

New: Will nonacademic buildings and facilities, such as FitRec, parking garages, Mugar Memorial Library, remain open?

The plan is to keep some BU facilities open. FitRec will be closed for personal fitness and recreation from March 16 until April 13. All recreation programs and activities that cannot be offered online will be cancelled during this period. Students enrolled in Physical Education (PDP) courses will be emailed instructions for course participation during this period as well. Please find additional information here. All parking lots and garages will remain open, with regular hours. The GSU Food Hall will be open, although hours and food options may be adjusted. You can view the adjusted schedule for BU Libraries from March 16 to April 13 here.

New: Are BU Study Abroad programs being canceled or moved online as well?  

BU Study Abroad is closely monitoring the situation and is in regular communication with BU staff in-country on an ongoing basis, as well as with students, parents, and partner institutions. These efforts are part of the University’s criteria for assessing whether to continue or cancel a scheduled program, which include several critical factors, including Presidential Proclamations from the White House, guidance from the US Department of State, the CDC, local health agencies in-country, and impacts on individual health and well-being. For instance, spring programs in China and South Korea have been canceled, as well as the residential portions of our programs in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. For questions about other specific study abroad programs, contact [email protected].

New: What’s happening with BU athletics?

Are all events canceled across campus?

The University is strongly encouraging outside groups who have scheduled events on the BU campus to cancel or postpone them. All BU-sponsored events are canceled.

Does this also impact general large gatherings that were organized?

Yes. The University will not hold any nonacademic large gatherings or meetings; only meetings with a research purpose and fewer than 10 participants will be permitted.

Is this change to online learning for both undergraduate and graduate courses?

“We are developing and will shortly distribute a set of Guidelines for Semester Completion to help faculty and staff think through how to ensure students are able to complete all their scheduled coursework this semester,” the letter from Brown and Morrison says.

What about international students in F-1 status or students in the J-1 Exchange Visitor program?

The F-1 Visa program normally does not allow students to remain in the United States if they are doing online education. In light of the virus, however, the government is providing flexibility so students with F-1 Visas will be able to switch to online learning temporarily. J-1 students in the Exchange Visitor program will also be able to transition to online coursework temporarily. Contact the ISSO at [email protected] with specific questions regarding your visa status.

What is the University saying about travel during the coronavirus crisis?

If faculty are being asked to teach remotely, and students are being asked to learn remotely, do other BU employees still need to come to work?

How should research labs prepare for the impact of COVID-19?

The Office of Research has created a website to provide the BU research community with information related to the coronavirus outbreak. For now, research activities should continue—however, labs should plan for reduced workforce due to illness. Labs should also anticipate a shortage of lab supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), and should limit the number of personnel entering lab areas requiring donning and doffing of PPE (masks, gowns, face shields, etc.) to those necessary for tending to critical lab functions. Anyone with specific questions about their lab roles should reach out to their PI; if PIs have questions, they should consult with their department chair or dean, and then the Office of Research.

New: If students have health questions, what should they do?

Students should contact Student Health Services by following these instructions to send a message to a nurse.

What should a sick employee do?

New: Will the BU Shuttle (BUS) continue to run?

If faculty or staff have questions about remote learning and technology or about working from home, who should they contact?

What if an individual department isn’t sure of what next steps to take?

Managers are encouraged to meet with their staff and to assess what work and services must be done on campus and what can be done remotely. The University’s Emergency Preparedness Office can also assist managers with this review and assessment. Rene Fielding, director of emergency management, is available for assistance at 617-353-7556 or at [email protected].

Back To School Ppc: 5 Big Search Trends This Year

Back-to-school shopping season is a busy and exciting time for retailers. It is the second largest retail spending holiday for online and in-store and contributes to 17 percent of the total year sales. In 2024, consumer spending on back-to-school products was a whopping $75.8 billion.

The opportunities for retail sales lie in both the K-12 group and the college students, with the college students spending more.

Many shoppers will be searching online and buying online or offline based on what they discover. Are your paid search campaigns ready for the upcoming boom?

It’s not too late to get started or fine-tune your back-to-school PPC strategy! Using the latest research, you can optimize campaign targeting, ad messaging, and bids to reach the buyers who are spending and adjust the timing to reach them.

1. Consumer Spending

Spending on back-to-school items is compulsory, not a discretionary cost, and it really adds up. According to the National Retail Federation, families with kids in grades K-12 family spend about $674 on items such as clothing, electronics, shoes, and school supplies.

As an example, the average family with K-12 students will spend $108 on school supplies, $126 on new kicks, and more.

College is a bigger cost investment in supplies overall, but they will tend to spend, for example, $211 on electronics and $114 on dorm furnishings.

With costs adding up, parents are even asking their kids to contribute the schools supplies costs. Pre-teens are spending on average $20 of their own money and teens spending $33.

2. Shopping List

With back-to-school spending being required to buy classroom supplies, shoppers are looking for deals and best prices on everything from tablets to T-shirts.

K-12 themed searches are focused on school supplies, shoes, clothing, and electronics.

College students are searching for furniture, kitchen accessories, bedding, home office furniture, and apparel.

3. Purchase Timing

July: Searches ramp up quickly and peak across all groups. 4.49% peak CTR, with pens, pencils, and markers having the highest CTRs for K-12.

August: Search volume dips, but CTRs increase for teachers and parents who have deadlines to purchase supplies.

September: Searches peak again as college students arrive on campuses. Average CTR spikes the week of September 18 at 2.32 percent. Online marketing can lead to offline sales.

4. Search Trends

Bing Ads has used Microsoft internal data to analyze the top back-to-school search volume for clothing, backpacks, laptops and tablets, cellphones, shoes, school supplies, and furniture for branded and non-branded search terms.

For example, 81% of school supplies searches are non-branded like “calculator”, “graph paper”, or “pencil pouch”.

In this product category, allocate more budget towards non-branded terms. For keyword match type, consider broad match modifier since non-brand searches alternate by variations of a keyword (e.g., “pen” rather than “Bic pen”).

5. Consumer Demographics

Back-to-school shoppers include parents, teachers, and college students themselves.

63 percent are of shoppers are aged 35 to 64.

32 percent of the searchers are 35 to 49 and half male and female.

PreK-8 is the largest group of students.

Majority of enrolled college students are female.

Your Action Plan

Here’s your plan for A+ back-to-school PPC campaigns this year:

July: Branding and awareness initiatives will keep your products in the consideration set in the next few weeks as researching begins and peaks. Work on building remarketing lists on the back-to-school products and topics. Early on, identify products categories and optimize them in your shopping campaigns.

August: Bid adjustments will help to maximize opportunities during this narrow time period of high volume searches. Increase bids on highest converting keywords, and cart abandoners. Think about reducing bids on those who have already purchased.

September: Focus on college age. Shoppers shift a bit here since college students are buying when they arrive on campus. Consider increasing bids and budgets on college products and reducing budget allotment to the K-12 audience.

Also, consider the following:

The time period to capitalize on this shopping holiday is tight, so be ready to have agile and responsive strategies.

Understand the searcher and their needs in order to meet them.

Adjust budgets for key time periods and expect increased CPCs during seasonal peaks.

Offer deals or specials to be competitive.

Prep your shopping campaigns with higher bids on more popular product categories.

Happy shopping!

Welcome To Dogeliens, The Dog

It’s the meme coin battle again, and this time, Dogeliens (DOGET) plans to slug it out with fellow dog-based tokens, Shiba Inu and Dogelon Mars, in a fight for a top 50-coin launch.

While Shiba Inu and Dogelon Mars are exemplary meme coins to follow, Dogeliens is aiming even higher. The new Metaverse project will lean on its attractive protocol to pool users from all over the crypto space during its presale event.

Read on to discover its intricate features and how they will affect meme coins.

Dogelon Mars: Elon Musk’s Biggest Fan

Dogelon Mars (ELON) is a futuristic interplanetary crypto platform that aims to facilitate future trade between humans and extraterrestrials. For now, the coin will strive to provide utility to its community amid its rough start after its launch.

Developers are working on a new token that will be distributed to users for staking on the platform. Dogelon Mars is a fork from the Dogecoin network; hence it shares some characteristics with the pioneer meme coin project. However, the token runs a proof of stake protocol in contrast to Dogecoin.

This move was also crucial for the equitable distribution of the tokens to the community. To boost the token’s cryptocurrency price, the developers have burned half of the initial token supply to a public wallet owned by Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum. The rest has been locked on UNISWAP to ensure the developers don’t withdraw from it.

Dogelon Mars (ELON) exists on the Ethereum blockchain, where the token plans to harness the DApps present on the platform to enhance its blockchain.

Shiba Inu: The First Ethereum-Based Meme Coin

Shiba Inu (SHIB) was the first Ethereum-based meme coin to launch in the cryptocurrency market. It experienced a boost shortly after its launch to become one of the highest-trending tokens in 2023. However, it has hit a plateau since 2023 due to the crypto collapse and lack of a valuable protocol.

The Shiba Inu (SHIB) platform is a proof of stake protocol that features network staking for security. The platform has a decentralized exchange, Shibaswap, and an NFT incubator for creating NFT assets from videos, pictures, audio, and texts. However, it cannot conduct NFT trade because it lacks a marketplace for sales and exchange.

Shiba Inu launched over one quadrillion tokens, a vast supply, and over half that number is in circulation. The developers are working on launching a fully functional NFT marketplace and integrating smart contracts into the platform’s operations. These features are already commonplace in the cryptocurrency market, and they will boost the token’s reputation and popularity in the cryptocurrency market.

Dogeliens: Learn, Sell, Buy And Talk

Dogeliens (DOGET) is a versatile token, as it sports cross-chain features that enable users from other networks to deposit their assets on the platform.

The Dogeliens Metaverse comprises a two-part ecosystem with a Metaverse hub/NFT incubator and an E-learning unit. The Metaverse hub is a typical feature of most Metaverses, and it is closely associated with the NFT store to enable users to add their NFTs to the marketplace easily. The NFTs minted on the platform can also be placed on the NFT store for sales and exchange.

The last part of the ecosystem is the University of Barkington, a virtual learning platform designed to make DeFi-literates of the Dogeliens community. The platform allows users to sign in as tutors or students, so the more experienced traders can put the beginners through DeFi tools and learn how to use them profitably.

The Dogeliens (DOGET) presale is ongoing, and here is a chance to join the next Metaverse sensation.

For more information:

4 Essential Seo Strategies You Need To Focus On This Year

“What should I focus on this year?”

This is a question that I have been hearing a lot since 2023 kicked off.

I’ve been going back and forth on what the right answer to that question is, which is also why this article is being published in March and not January.

Already this year, so many new ideas, arguments, and hypotheses have been thrown out into the ether for discussion, and I wanted to see how some of those unfolded before I made the final call on which way to direct people this year.

I take this seriously because SEO is such a slow burn. I always want to make sure I steer people in a positive direction based on real-world experience and data. That’s the practical side of me.

The other side always wants to throw out-of-the-box ideas out into the world to get folks to start thinking a little bit differently about how they approach organic search within their organizations (which is mainly based on my 15-year gut instinct in the field).

Below are what I believe is a balance between those two sides.

1. On-SERP SEO (Or Whatever You Want to Call It)

Rand Fishkin gave an interesting talk at BrightonSEO back in September on what he believes is the future of search: “On-SERP SEO.”

The data is thought-provoking – but also somewhat disturbing.

So that sucks.

Getting more visibility on the SERPs to gain more real estate is not a new concept, but this is the first time in the history of SEO where someone has put a name to it and made it an actionable practice.

Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t really know, and who really cares?

The point is that getting creative and thinking differently about how you approach your SEO campaigns is becoming more important when it comes to your presence in the SERPs.

Fishkin talks about anything and everything you could do, which unfortunately means that SEO professionals will inevitably try to do all of these things regardless if it makes sense for them – simply because Fishkin suggested it.

My take? Try and keep it as simple as possible. Don’t try to boil the ocean.

Everyone should be targeting answer boxes (more on that below).

If you have brick and mortar locations, spend time in Google My Business, manage your locations, and ensure your NAP information is consistent.

If you’re a retail brand, sync up your organic efforts with your paid/PLA keyword to see where you convert well and increase your visibility for your traditional organic listings.

Make video content.

If you are a publisher, use AMP. If you aren’t a publisher try AMP on your blog/articles.

Leverage and control the knowledge graph for your brand.

Run a local business? Use Google Posts.

Talk to influencers and get them to promote your brand.

You guys get my point. Don’t just think about how your users see your brand on your site, think of how they see you in the SERPs.

2. Write Articles/Blog Posts That Answer Questions & Solve Customer Problems

I’ll let the collective sighs and groans dissipate for a moment before I move into this one.

Yes, this is not news. But it is so, so important today.

Google is appropriating your content into their interface and answering people’s questions without them having to go to your site. That’s the world we live in now. And it’s probably only going to get worse.

All that said, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

This obvious strategy is one that you should ramp up to prepare for our new future.

To prove why you should do this, and that it actually does work and affect the bottom line, I want to talk about a small business I’ve been working with for several years. They developed a blog based on asking and answering questions and saw tremendous results after 12 months.

Below you will see a chart that represents a local business in New York City that came to me asking what they could do to increase organic visibility with the hope of bringing in new sales.

The goal was traffic and rankings and not revenue at first, that happened to just be a happy byproduct of the effort.

We went through everything they could talk about, all of the questions they could answer and to their credit, they dove right in and started creating this content with both images and video content to support. We began this effort in January 2023.

Here is how that strategy panned out for them:

As you can see above, we saw 160 percent in growth in sessions, 166 percent growth in users, and a 93 percent increase in goal completions due mostly to this effort.

Out of all organic sessions driving traffic and revenue, 63 percent of it came from the blog and drove an incremental 300,000 in 2023 for a small business.

In 2023 they are already up 10 percent in both sessions and goal completions due to the blog strategy.

I’ll take it.

Regardless of how large or small your business is, do this.

3. The Technical Health of Your Site

In 2023, folks finally realized the technical foundation of your site is important.

While many of us in-the-weeds SEO professionals have been preaching this for years (it’s always nice to bask in the warm glow of being right), the best part was being able to have serious conversations around this topic with the majority of customers last year.

Listen to me folks:

Regardless of how great your content and brand is, you will never reach your full organic potential if your sites foundation is crap.

You will perform better. Believe me.

Common issues to look out for:

Page Speed: Much bigger factor than it used to be.

Mobile-Friendliness: This is how Google judges your site now.

Duplicate Content/Elements: Don’t compete with yourself.

JavaScript/Rendering Issues: If you use JavaScript and have a gut feeling you have indexation issues, you should look into a prerender software or dynamic rendering.

Index Bloat: Are you controlling parametered, search result and paginated pages correctly? Check to see how many pages are in the index in Google Search Console and if you can focus your footprint. Google doesn’t care about the quantity of pages in the index, they care about quality. Don’t let them get lost in a fog of random pages on your site.

Overbearing Security: Make sure Google isn’t hitting a wall when it’s simply trying to crawl your site. If you run your site through Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl and halfway through it starts throwing 429 errors, you might be a little too stingy on the security.

This is another instance where I can go on and on.

Just be aware that the crawlability and performance of your site from a technical standpoint has become an increasingly larger factor and should be an ongoing part of your day-to-day SEO strategy.

4. Don’t Obsess over Voice Search

If voice search is a “big” part of your 2023 SEO strategy, stop it.

Now, you can Google articles that I have written recently and webinars I have hosted which state my belief that voice search was already going to be a much larger thing for search.

Sorry, everyone. I was wrong. For now.

By now I had expected some type of reporting on voice search at least from Google and we haven’t gotten it.

I have customers asking me all the time, “how can I win at voice search?” and the simple truth is, you can’t, or at least you can’t prove to me or anyone that you are winning because there is no way to report on it.

I have sat through many presentations over the last year with agencies and consultants who have come up with really great ways for people to say, “this is how you win at voice search”, but the problem is it’s all total bullsh!t because there is no way to prove it.

Until we have a universal way or dataset that we all agree on that shows what users are actually searching for on their home assistants and apply some form of MSV/value to that query, it’s all pontification.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a few folks about this and some really cool and interesting points came up that had been heard at a conference regarding voice search, but one in particular stuck with me:

“People can speak 5 times faster than they can write.”

That’s a powerful statement because that would lead one to believe that voice search should be 5 times faster than traditional search.

Fair statement, no?

A counterpoint came up however that actually made even more sense than the previous one:

“Yes, but they can’t listen 5 times faster than they can read.”

This one really blew my mind because it is so true.

When you think about the delivery mechanism of voice search, the logic is totally flawed.

Our search bars are confined spaces that keep searches to a certain length (this isn’t something Google has determined, it’s just how people search, short, to the point phrases…most of the time).

People who search using voice tend to use a more stream-of-consciousness method, which I don’t think anyone really thought of for this application. This is probably why we haven’t seen any real reporting around it.

That and because I truly believe more people are asking their home assistants what the weather is versus how to make an octopus costume as the commercials imply (i.e., most voice “searches” are actually voice “commands”, which is must less valuable to a marketer in my opinion at this juncture).

Regardless, the point made above that folks cannot listen five times faster than they can read really resonated with me because when you think about it, it’s much easer to scroll through results visually than it is listening to them read aloud.

Think about it. If you are looking for the best Mexican restaurant near you, it’s a lot easier and quicker to scroll through reviews visually than it is to have a voice assistant dictate them to you.

Maybe that’s SEO’s reprieve, who knows?

The main issue is that voice search is a distraction for most companies right now.

Shiny object syndrome is the most widespread plague of the SEO community and this is one of the shiniest objects that has come down the road in recent years.

Most sites have a lot of basic things they have to address before they even come near a concept like voice search (see strategies listed above).

While voice search will become an important part of search in the next few years, you shouldn’t be focusing on it right now – even if your site is the most SEO-sound site on the web.

Focus on making your site technically sound, create content that helps your customers, and focus maybe 5 percent of your efforts on something like voice search.

At the end of the day, you can prove the effectiveness of the first two to your bosses while you can’t prove you’re winning at voice search to anyone. So if you have made that one of your Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) this year, you’re screwed.

Try Something New This Year

Everything above is approachable to anyone with a website. There are no excuses to not try some new things.

2024 is going to be a big year for search experts who approach the practice with new ideas and passion.

Will you be one of them?

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Image Credits

Screenshot taken by author, February 2023

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