Commexis Cast Rewind – Feb. 02, 2018: The Best Stories of the Week!

Today’s Commexis Cast recaps the best stories of the week. Twitter’s bot problem is coming to a head, voice assistant and voice search use are rising in public, and Google makes a comprehensive guide to featured snippets.

First, a new study by Stone Temple that shows people are more open to using voice assistants in public than last year. Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land does a great breakdown of study, which shows that while people are still much more likely to use voice assistants in their home while alone, there has been a solid increase in individuals using voice in public.

In addition, about 16% of people use voice search as their first point of contact when making a search query (mobile came ahead with 44% behind search bar searches at 18%). However, most individuals aren’t interested in hearing advertisements through their voice assistant. While the user opinion towards direct advertisements on these platforms seems low, the ability to appear in the search results of questions asked by users can still be just as relevant as it is normally on the web, especially with the increased use of voice services. In that same eMarketer report, they state that the “number of voice-enabled digital assistant users in the US will grow from 60.5 million this year to 75.5 million by 2019.” Furthermore, “nearly nine in 10 people who had a voice assistant talked to it every day, while one-third said they used it more than five times per day.”

Second, New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman’s plan to open an investigation into Devumi, a company that sold fake follower bots on social media sites like Twitter. The New York Time’s Nicholas Confessore reported on the attorney general’s plan Saturday, following another Times report by Confessore alongside Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris, and Mark Hansen.

The piece by the four Times writers is an in-depth investigation into Devumi that looks at company financial records and found various celebrities and influencers using the service to gain followers, sometimes over 750 thousand at once. We highly suggest you click the link above and check it out.

Matt and Phillip discuss what lead to the prevalence of Twitter bots on the platform and the danger of being able to forcibly push influence. What is Twitter doing, and should be doing, to help alleviate this issue and regain brand’s trust in the platform?

Finally, Google released a comprehensive guide to their featured snippets. I don’t need to go in depth on why Googling a question, or asking your voice assistant, is a popular practice. People want information and they want it fast. One way Google has attempted to improve their search engine is by offering featured snippets towards the top of certain search queries. Simply put, feature snippets offer the what Google considers to be the best answer in an easy to read area, no clicking required. For mobile and voice search this can be invaluable. No one wants to try and open 10+ tabs on their phone, and without the visual cues for voice search a single “definitive” answer is best.

As you can see above, sometimes answers aren’t really objective. And Google’s answers in the past have been less than reputable or have been wrong. In a blog post, Google finally decided to break down the thought process behind featured snippets, as well as offering some transparency behind why certain answers are chosen over others, they gray areas of subjective answers, as well as potential fixes to these problems.


I particularly enjoyed Google breaking down the thought process behind some of their snippet choices. For example, when searching “are reptiles good pets?” or “are reptiles bad pets?” Google believes that theoretically you’d receive the same answer. After all, both questions focus on the quality of reptiles as pets.  Practically, however, users do not.

Google’s response to this query is an intriguing look into their algorithm: “This happens because sometimes our systems favor content that’s strongly aligned with what was asked. A page arguing that reptiles are good pets seems the best match for people who search about them being good. Similarly, a page arguing that reptiles are bad pets seems the best match for people who search about them being bad. We’re exploring solutions to this challenge, including showing multiple responses.”

If your brand is looking to have content on a featured snippet, there’s no guaranteed way just yet. However, there are a couple ways Amy suggests you maximize your potential.

  1. Think of questions your audience wants answered.
  2. Create high-quality answers to those questions. Don’t be afraid to create a blog post with a brief answer first (which may help it appear in the search) followed by a more in-depth answers.
  3. Answer questions your competitors aren’t answering.
  4. It never hurts to have a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Google will be fine tuning the algorithm for featured snippets as time passes, and are actively taking feedback on certain feature snippets, so don’t be afraid to flag something that seems off.

Today’s cast: Phillip Brooks (Commexis Lead Strategist), Amy Leach (Commexis SEO Project Manager), and Matthew McGrorty (Commexis Videographer/Podcaster).

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