About John Campbell

I live in London working in SEO at Steak Digital, I'm a huge Blackpool FC fan and a keen traveller.

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A little later than expected but here’s the third installment of the Voice Search Babble.

Smart devices continue to grow in the US

A study by Forrester has revealed that the U.S. will reach 244 million smart home devices by 2022, which is up from 24 million in 2016. Smart speakers, including Amazon Echo, will account for 50% of the total installed base of smart home devices in 2017.


More details here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2017/10/29/22-million-amazon-echo-smart-speakers-to-be-sold-in-2017-driving-us-smart-home-adoption/

Google showoff their depth of integrations

Google have produced a web page listing of all the various devices you can hook your Google Home, Max or Mini up to. From cookers to garage door controllers, the extent of devices shows how quickly other software and hardware companies are keen to integrate with the Google ecosystem.

More details here: https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/31/google-lists-devices-home-support-easy-reference/

IKEA smart bulbs expand integration

In recent times, IKEA have launched furniture with integrated wireless charging for phones and the Swedish brand also have their own range of smart lights. Now, the lighting range called TRÅDFRI, will integrate with Apple’s HomeKit and Alexa, although there is no date for Google Home integration yet.

More details here: https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/1/16589418/ikea-apple-homekit-tradfri 

Printing with Google Home

Following on from the list of hardware devices that integrate with Google, Android Police spotted a nice integration with HP printers – not only does this allow you to print from the device but you can also tell Google home what to print. For example,

  • “Hey Google, ask HP Printer to print a Crayola coloring page.”
  • “Hey Google, ask HP Printer to print an art therapy page.”
  • “Hey Google, ask HP Printer to print a hard Sudoku.”

More details here: http://www.androidpolice.com/2017/11/02/tip-can-ask-google-home-assistant-print-calendar-sudokus/

Catch them with your voice???

The Pokémon Company have announced that they will be developing an app for Google home. They haven’t released many other details, but it could be similar to the Stranger Things “voice game”, which we mentioned in the last Voice Search Babble.

More details here: https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/2/16597732/pikachu-google-home-amazon-echo-alexa-pokemon-company

Google Home gets the temperatures wrong inside…or do they?

An interesting story about voice search not quite working. A reddit user posted about a problem with his Google Home device and integration with Nest. When asking for the temperature inside, the response wasn’t as expected. It turned out Google thought he was looking for the temperature in Side, a place in Turkey. This shows that, as good as these devices are, there are still some problems with voice recognition.

More details here: https://www.cnet.com/uk/news/google-home-mini-temperature/

Voice search helping service customers

Australian telecoms operator Optus have launched a Google Assistant service to help customers. After an authentication process you can ask about balance, and data questions.

More details here: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/optus-launches-google-assistant-for-customer-service–1219062

I have a little spare time at the moment so I decided to participate in the Power Searching with Google Course which went live on 10th of July. Split into six classes the course is due to last till July 23rd.

I didn’t expect to learn anything from the course (I didn’t as it was pretty basic) but was more interested if it would be a good tool to point people towards who are just starting out in SEO or are in-house contacts who want to learn a little more about search, while also using online services for this, which anyone can learn more here. I often point people to the beginner’s guide to SEO on SEOMoz or the SEO guide on Google Webmasters Central, so could the Power Searching with Google Course be a useful teaching aid? Class 1 started today here’s a little review.

Pre Assessment

The class started with 10 questions on general Google searching to gauge the knowledge of you as a Google user. Some questions included.

Sample question form the Pre Assessment
Sample question form the Pre Assessment
Another sample question form the Pre Assessment
Another sample question form the Pre Assessment

At the end you hit submit, but you don’t get a score.

Class 1

The class is split up into 6 lessons.

Lesson 1 – Introduction

Googler Dan Russel a Senior Research Scientist runs the course, he gives you introduction about the course. The videos are short with an activity after the video, so you best be listening to the videos! It also explained that there are two tests in the course, one mid-term and one final test. Both count to an overall score.

The teacher Dan Russel
The teacher Dan Russell

Dan explained the objective of the course is to make you a better searcher, a maybe help you understand why you don’t always get the answer you are looking for.

Lesson 2 – Filter image results by color. 

Explains how to filter by colour when using the image search, pretty simple. It’s then followed by some questions, similar to the questions in the pre-assessment, and the use of search engine optimization also help with this, so services like SEO NJ are really useful for this.

Lesson 3 – How Search Works

A section from the Matt Cutts video of how search works. With some questions afterwards, I liked this one!

How Search Works Questions

Lesson 4 – The art of keyword Choices

Explaining the best way to word your queries. After the questions if suggested that if the questions where too easy then to head over to the forums for some harder tasks.

Lesson 5 – Word Order matters

Explains how small changes to the search query can make a difference the results you see.

Lesson 6 – Finding text on the web

Last one, finding text on the page you have found, e.g. ctrl + f.


There’s nothing groundbreaking for an SEO here, I’m guessing that the difficulty will increase in coming lessons and offer other services like content marketing agency / seo copywriting services which you can easily find online. Some bits are really simple such as the ctrl + f and therefore be a tag patronising if you sent it over to someone to complete. However, if you are just starting out in SEO or PPC then there might be a few tips and tricks to pick up, especially if your going to be link building.

I must have been placed into test bucket this morning and saw a tabbed effect on sitelinks for the monster site. The first tab featured “top links”. The other tabs linked to other sections in the site (most likely the top navigation items). Sometimes it displays one sitelink with a description and then more links on their own on the right.  Other times it listed multiple site links in the tabbed box.

The tabbed site links also appeared for other sites such as apple.

Marks and Spencers

Anyone else getting these?

Since I’ve been away there’s been a few tools built using Google Docs using the importXML function, I’ve linked to some useful blog posts at the bottom of this post if your interested.

Anyway here’s a tool that I put together quickly that takes 25 key phrases, checks for serps that include review / ratings displayed. It’s useful if you needed to decide if implemented rating and review rich snippets would be a useful exercise, e.g. none of the serps have them = a good opportunity to be the only one.   Or if certain key phrases had a low CTR you could see if the serps are saturated by rich snippets.

The rich snippets it looks for are the ones with star ratings such as the ones below.

It’s pretty simple to use.

Add up to 25 key phrases on the first sheet, rows B2 to B26. 

That’s all you need to do, it grabs the top 10 results for each serp, and then looks for the div in the search results that contains the star ratings. The function in Google spreadsheet is,


You can change the search engine version and  language etc by changing the query URL’s in column C in the first sheet.

Another sheet tots up the numbers with percentages. It looks for all reviews, reviews that contain ratings and reviews that contain price information (used for restaurants). I’ve stuck a couple of graphs in the last sheet to show totals.


Something I learnt when using importxml –  when importxml runs it pulls back the code from the URL you supplied, in this case it’s a Google search result, and these results can be improve. When it pulls back this page it does so without running JavaScript. For example, author pictures in search results are added by JavaScript as the page renders, so you can’t see them when using importxml, also some names of divs are changed by JavaScript. When using importxml you need to look at the source code of the page you are importing to decide what element you need to grab, be sure to open that page in your browser with JavaScript turned off thus to simulate the way importxml works.

This is in no way a completed tool, it most likely will break. Please feel free to use, copy, and improve. If you make any improvements leave a comment with a link to the file URL and I’ll repost with updated versions.

Just open the link below and make a copy to use.

–> Bulk Review / Rating SERP Checker Tool in Google Docs


Note : It’s limited to 25 key phrases as you have a maximum of 50 importxml calls, I used two for each key phrase.


Have a read of the posts below to find out more information about importxml, the links open in new tabs.





12 months is a long time away from SEO. I’ve been out of the UK for a year backpacking around the world with no phone, no laptop and no SEO. It’s something that I would recommend to anybody, I pretty much at the time of my life (blogs are being posted a year on via www.achinesenomad.co.uk and all the pictures are in sets on flickr).

I’ve spent the last few weeks catching up on everything SEO related thats happened in the last 12 months. A lot has changed, new tools, new google features, updates to the algorithm etc, however some things remain the same. I’ve read about 1,200 blogs that have aggregated in my Google Reader account, below are the pick of the bunch, if you think there are any missing leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list if its worthy.

But for now in a summary of points of whats changed in the past year.

  • If your buying lots of non-brand anchor text links your going to get caught.
  • Content Marketing is the “in” way to build links now.
  • Google Webmasters team is getting closer to SEO’s/Webmaster via the updates on the Inside search blog, Webmasters tools and hangouts on Google+
  • Google+ was launched, doesn’t seem that popular so Google are integrating existing products into it, Google Places and Authorship markup validation.
  • Social linking is important to Google but they don’t have access to some data, so they created Authorship markup to get their hands on such data.
  • Google still has poor results in some sections, the Venice update is serving some really poor results for local when it gets your location wrong (e.g. users not signed in) and exact match domains can still outrank authoritative sites.
  • Many people creating new SEO tools thanks to APIs leading to more ways to analyse data.

He’s the list of the blogs, videos etc.This is about 10% of all I’ve read.



Authorship markup and web search – Google Webmaster Central

Supporting relcanonical http headers – Google Webmaster Central

The importXML Guide for Google Docs – Distilled

New Google Analytics: Improvements in Mobile Reporting – Google Analytics Blog


The responsibilities of SEO have been upgraded – SEOMoz


Introducing new and improved sitelinks – Google Webmaster Central

Authorship Markup – Google Webmasters Help YouTube

Introducing Multi Channel Funnels – Google Analytics Blog

Another look under the hood of search – Inside Search


Pagination with rel=”next” and rel”prev” – Google Webmaster Central

Favourite Keyword Research Tools from MozCon – SEO Gadget

What’s Happening on your site right now? – Google Analytics Blog


Making search more secure: Accessing search query data in Google Analytics – Google Analytics Blog

Improving the look of authorship in your search results – Google Analytics Blog

Introducing Flow Visualisation : Visualising visitor flow – Google Analytics Blog


The integration of social media into search results and rankings internet summit 2011 – SEO by the Sea

Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes – Inside Search

Some thoughts on personalization – Inside Search

Ten Recent algorithm changes – Inside Search

Giving you fresher more recent search – Inside Search

Introducing SERP Turkey: A Free Tool to Split-Test and Gather CTR Analytics of SERP Entries – SEOMoz

Duplicate content in a post Panda world – SEOMoz


How Intention May influence Search Result CTR – SEOGadget

New markup for multilingual content – Google Webmaster Central

30 search quality highlights with – Inside Search



Search, plus Your World – Inside Search

17 search quality highlights January – Inside Search

Page layout algorithm Improvement – Google Webmaster Central


How Google Evaluates Links – Dave N

Types wordpress plugin – Yoast

Search quality highlights 40 changes – Inside Search

Combine AWR and Screaming Frog to Spot quick Wins – SEO Gadget

Be careful using adwords for key phrase research – SEOMoz


The Biggest Change In SEO To Date? – Dave N

Search quality highlights 50 changes – Inside Search

Content Strategy Generator Tool – V2 Update – SEO Gadget

Creating an Editorial Calendar for content marketing – Distilled

Awesome Examples of How to Use SeoTools for Excel – Distilled

An open letter to new SEO’s – SEOMoz

Link Building Tools we use at Distilled – Distilled


Another step to reward high-quality Sites – Google Webmaster Central

Update to rich snippets – Google Webmaster Central

Search quality highlights 53 changes – Inside Search

Venice – More than just local extensions – Holistic Search

A Dramatic Surprise on a quiet square – You Tube

Link Building: Anchor Text Optimisation Best Practices in 2012 – SEO Gadget

Nichola Stott – Mobile Serendipity: How Google Plans to Send Search Results to Users, Before You’ve Even Thought to Look – Brighton SEO

Lexi Mills – How you can get BIG links from BIG media sites – Brighton SEO


Multilingual and Multinational site annotations in Sitemaps – Google Wembaster Central

Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings – Inside Search

Review Snippet Over-saturation in Google Search Results – SEO Gadget

Penguin, Panda & Links – The SEO Winners and Losers for 2012 – Branded 3

Building a better shopping experience – Google Commerce Blog

The penguin update – whiteboard friday  – SEOMoz


Search quality highlights 39 changes – Inside Search

Link building means earning hard links not easy links – Search Engine Land

Smarter Facebook pages for social success – Distilled

A look at the changes from Google Places to Google+ Local – SEO Gadget

Conduct Browser-size analysis within Google Analytics – Google Analytics Blog