Voice search has increasingly become popular as most people feel that it is more convenient to explain what they need in a search through voice compared to typing. Analysis from Google shows that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search daily with 20% of all mobile queries being done using voice. It is estimated that by 2020, 50% of all search and queries will be done on voice. The following are the main drivers to voice search gaining popularity:

1. Voice search is more convenient compared to typing since it’s easy to make queries by voice compared to typing.
2. According to Bing, Doing searches through voice is 3.7 times faster compared to typing.
3. Voice is convenient and perfect for mobile searches since it’s less convenient while typing in mobile phones. 

Voice search differs a lot compared to a general search that involves typing. Such is caused by voice search involving using speech to make queries online which eventually leads to the user having a conversation with the system compared to the regular search which involves typing short keywords describing the queries of the users. Voice search accommodates more details in the search compared to regular search. 

It is therefore essential to use specific search engine optimization for voice search, which is different from the SEO of regular search. Several points may be evaluated to ensure that voice search is optimized for rankings. Firstly, it is necessary to ensure that the website loads quickly since voice search favors sites that load quickly. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that files are compressed, images are optimized, and the website is responsive. Secondly,  It is necessary to ensure that content is optimized for web search where long tail keywords which make it sound more natural while talking as opposed to the short tail keywords that are used while typing. It is equally necessary to include the featured blocks of the content above the fold but under 29 words. Finally, it is necessary to concentrate on local searches as location-based content is mostly conducted using voice search.


Electronic commerce has become an essential method of shopping on the internet. Such has been caused by more people continuing to trust in the process of undertaking their shopping activities online, which leads to the increased popularity in e-commerce. This has led to more e-commerce sites experiencing increased sales with competition among various e-commerce sites and user-sale conversion being a significant factor in determining the number of transactions that a website makes. 

Use of chatbots in e-commerce helps e-commerce sites in managing the conversation between prospective customers of an e-commerce site, thus helping in converting the user into an actual customer of the website. A chatbots is a program that uses artificial intelligence to carry out conversations through textual and auditory methods. They are mostly used to offer customer information services, acquiring information from the customers and generating leads to the site that may be used in optimizing its user conversion to customers. The following are potential applications off chatbots in e-commerce:

1. Getting detailed answers and explanations of products on an e-commerce site.
2. It is helping in resolving issues and complaints that may arise during the purchase of a product.
3. Making reservations on orders
4. Getting ideas and inspirations for products that may be purchased.

There are several benefits that e-commerce sites get from using chatbots. These include saving time and cost that would have been used when a person would have taken during customer care.  Chatbots also play an essential role in converting site visitors to sales since they are readily available to provide customers with information on any inquiries. Such information is also analyzed by the chatbots to formulate meaningful insights to be used in concert more e-commerce sales. Other benefits include guiding the users on products and how to navigate through the site, providing 24-hour chatbots services, customer engagement, reduction of errors when customers are making orders thus ensuring that customers are satisfied after shopping in an e-commerce website. 


Disaster Recovery Planning for Municipal Governments

Article Credit: Securance Consulting
Disaster can strike when you least expect it. Natural and cyber catastrophes, such as flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and malware infections, can decimate government systems, halting service delivery and putting valuable data at risk for corruption or loss.

Preparation for disaster is just as important as the recovery process. Municipal governments must ensure effective disaster recovery plans are in place to restore the functionality of critical systems.

  • Prioritized systems and processes for recovery
  • A comprehensive inventory of hardware and software
  • Defined tolerance for downtime and data loss
  • Identified backup personnel
  • A streamlined communication plan

Local governments, in particular, must have citizen information available at all times, which makes effective data backups invaluable. This includes backup copies of email data, which can be compromised in the event of a cyber attack or hard drive failure. Some experts recommend following a 3-2-1 backup rule, which dictates that organizations maintain three copies of data, two of which are backed up to different media (e.g., cloud, disk, or tape), and one of which is housed off site. Having multiple backups makes data recovery seamless and reliable.

In essence, well-constructed DRPs allow municipalities to have a sense of security, knowing that a formalized strategy is in place to abate the risk of service delays, streamline communication and decision-making, and minimize stress when disaster strikes.

Healthcare and Cybersecurity

Telemedicine, mobile applications, EHR’s and numerous other technologies are critical to the healthcare industry. While IoT has allowed healthcare to reach patients in new ways, connectivity to the internet has increased in devastating cyber attacks.

To help monitor cybersecurity risks, the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) has released the publication Health Industry Cybersecurity Practices (HICP): Managing Threats and Protecting Patients, a game changer that the industry has been awaiting for nearly two years.

The document looks into the current challenges and identifies healthcare-specific vulnerabilities, and details best practices for defending against advanced threats, such as ransomware, loss or theft of equipment or data, and internal malicious activity. Armed with this information, healthcare providers of all sizes are able to improve their approaches to cybersecurity with tried and true strategies encompassing the following areas:

  • E-mail protection systems
  • Endpoint protection systems
  • Access management
  • Data protection and loss prevention
  • Asset management
  • Network management
  • Vulnerability management
  • Incident response
  • Medical device security
  • Cybersecurity policies

Cybersecurity has become an essential part of healthcare in the modern age, when IT assets means protecting not only data, but also the physical well being of patients.

Use HTML Caching to Increase Page Speed
Heavy traffic to a website can result in performance problems, slower page speed, and fewer conversions.
Note the screenshot below from Macy’s. It shows the effect of Macys.com not caching the HTML of the home page in its content delivery network. This adds one second of page load time. Every other page resource will load after the HTML content is downloaded and parsed. The page took 16.84 seconds to load, which is slow.
The Gap launched a new website that caches HTML content in its CDN. The HTML request now adds just 78.91 milliseconds — the home page loads in 3.60 seconds, which is much better than the 15 to 20 seconds it took in March.
Caching HTML content on ecommerce websites — and dynamic websites in general — is tricky. It doesn’t happen by default in a CDN. Most normally cache just static page resources such as images, style sheets, and scripts.
Dynamic vs. Static Content
For sites with static page content — i.e., not personalized in any way — page caching creates no problems. But for sites with dynamic content that changes among users, caching HTML content could create errors.
For example, a visitor that adds products to his shopping cart changes the content on all pages to show the number of items in the cart. If an ecommerce merchant cached the pages of this user, other users would see an inaccurate number of items in their cart. This concept applies to any type of personalization.
There are at least two solutions to the problem.
  • Implement web page personalization in separate JavaScript files and don’t cache them, or cache them for a short period.
  • Cache HTML only for anonymous users — users that are not logged in or haven’t added any products to their cart.
Personalization in Scripts
The first option, implementing personalization in separate JavaScript files, is what The Gap is doing.
The Gap uses scripts for user personalization so it can still cache the page’s HTML.
(To confirm The Gap’s approach, I disabled JavaScript in my Chrome browser at View > Developer > Developer Tools. Then, I clicked on the three dots to the far right, and selected “Settings.” “Disable JavaScript” is under the “Debugger” preference.)
Implementing user personalization in scripts allows caching of the page’s HTML. Then the scripts can modify the page after loading asynchronously.
Beyond using JavaScript for personalization, The Gap is caching HTML. How do I know this? Gap.com sets the standard HTTP caching header — x-cache-status — to report the status of cache resources. In the image below, the caching status of home page’s HTML says “EXPIRED.”
The documentation for Nginx (Gap.com’s server) states that EXPIRED means: “The entry in the cache has expired. The response contains fresh content from the origin server.”


After refreshing the page, the x-cache-status changed to HIT.
Anonymous Users
The Gap launched a new website that utilized the latest technologies. If, however, you need to cache HTML on an existing ecommerce platform, the anonymous user option might work better.
This technique is known as “punching a hole” in the cache. It works in the following way.
The web server or CDN will cache every page but avoids caching any request that meets exclusion criteria. The most common is a session cookie that the application sets when users log in or add items to the cart. The cookie is necessary to track each user individually.
Here are some sample session cookies for popular ecommerce and content platforms.
Session Cookies (Wildcards * Mean Any Character)
Magento 1
Magento 2
admin| PHPSESSID|private_content_version
Again, these are cookies for users that have personalized content — such as those that log in or add items to their carts. Excluding their pages from the cache will not benefit them in terms of faster page speed. But they are likely a small percentage of total visitors. The rest will experience fast-loading pages.
Assume your site’s web server is Nginx, and Magento 2 powers your store. Here is the configuration setting to enable caching for anonymous users.
location /{ proxy_cache my_cache; proxy_cache_bypass $cookie_admin $cookie_PHPSESSID $cookie_private_content_version; # … }
Enabling this on a web server or load balancer will increase performance. But the greatest benefit would come from implementing this on the CDN layer.
Here is how to do this for popular CDNs. Be sure to confirm with the CDN, however.
Finally, for some sites it is not possible to find cookies to bypass. In those instances, we can explicitly cache key pages such as the home page, primary category pages, product listing pages, and product detail pages. A disadvantage of this approach is that the rules must be updated for new pages and categories.
Using Alerts in Google Analytics For Slow Site Speeds

Site Speed Alerts

The “Custom Alerts” configuration section in Google Analytics is behind the gear icon in the lower left of any page and under the “View” column.

The “Custom Alerts” configuration section is behind the gear icon in the lower-left of any page and under the “View” column.

To create a new alert, click Custom Alerts > New Alert.

To create a new alert, click Custom Alerts > New Alert.

For this example, create an alert via email and text if the home page for mobile takes greater than 10 seconds to load, on average, on any day. Here are the steps.

  1. Assign a name to the custom alert.
  2. Apply the alert to one or more Google Analytics views.
  3. Select “Day” as the period, so it notifies for all days.
  4. Select to be notified by email, text, or both.

Google Analytics offers limited alert conditions by default. There’s no way to select multiple conditions, such as home page only and mobile only.

So, for this example, create an advanced segment to identify only the home page for the mobile version of my website. Save this Custom Alert for now — by selecting that this alert condition applies to “All Traffic” and to alert me when “Avg. Page Load Time > 10 seconds” — and edit it after you create the advanced segment.

Save this Custom Alert and edit it after creating the advanced segment. For now, select that this alert condition applies to “All Traffic” and notify when “Avg. Page Load Time > 10 seconds.”

Add advanced segments to the Custom Alerts by going to “Personal Tools & Assets” section in the same “View” column and clicking “Segments.” (I’ve explained how to create advanced segments.)

Add advanced segments by going to the same “View” column and clicking “Segments.”

Alternatively, any report in Google Analytics has the configuration area to create or apply advanced segments. From any report, click “All Users.”

Any report in Google Analytics has the configuration area to create or apply advanced segments by clicking “All Users.”

Then, click “New Segment.”

Click “New Segment” to create an advanced segment.

In this example, the mobile home page is distinct from desktop, so I need to enter the mobile home page URL.

Enter the mobile home page URL.

If the mobile and desktop had identical URLs, I would apply “Device Category” contains “mobile.”

Apply “Device Category” contains “mobile” if URLs are the same for desktop and mobile.

Return to the Custom Alert and update it to apply the advanced segment. Save the updated alert and you are set.

Apply the advanced segment to the Custom Alert. Save it, and the process is complete.

Continue the process for any pages to include in the alert and for any other segments, such as device, country, or source of traffic.

Google generally sends alerts around noon following the trigger date.

7 Reasons Why Your Mobile Site Isn’t Converting

7 Reasons for Poor Mobile Conversions

  • Internet connections are usually faster for desktops, which means web pages load quickly on home and office computers, especially for hardwired connections. Public Wi-Fi connections are on the rise, but so are the people who use them. And data carriers are still trying to figure out ways to serve those customers.
  • Bigger screens allow for more defined details on navigation, search, and menus. Most menus are, by default, collapsed on smartphones, which means shoppers have to tap to see all the categories and filters. This makes it easy to miss key menu items. Larger screens also make for better zooming.
  • More products per page on categories and search results help convert. The maximum number of products per row on a smartphone is two, typically. On desktops, web pages can typically display 4 to 6 products horizontally. The ability to display several products on a single screen increases the chance of a sale; if shoppers don’t like the first two items, they may see something else that interests him. On smartphones, this requires scrolling.
  • Desktop browsers have a more standardized way of fetching and delivering content. Smartphones manufacturers are trying to find the best ways to handle the content load. Some are better than others. For example, certain mobile devices require a cache dump for users to continue surfing their favorite websites or completing recurring tasks. This can be problematic if the user (i) doesn’t understand what’s wrong and (ii) doesn’t know how to clear the browser’s cache.
  • Mobile devices run out of space more frequently. According to Remo Software, a producer of tools for mobile devices, 90 percent of smartphones have no more than 32 GB of storage. More than half of them run out of space due, mainly, to photos and videos. The “out of space” interruption can prevent ecommerce sales.
  • Many mobile sites maintain a desktop-style design. Experienced website designers and developers have difficulty optimizing for mobile. Simply put, mobile site design is comparatively new. The transition from desktop to mobile has been cumbersome. (Contributor Charles Nicholls’ piece, “3 Ways to Narrow the Mobile Commerce Gap,” is a must-read.)
  • Mobile device users have more distractions. Smartphones make it easier to find information on-the-go. But they have distractions in the form of notifications, tone alerts, and text and other messages, such as from Snapchat.

While we cannot combat every issue that causes mobile shopping sessions to convert less, there are steps we can take to decrease the impact.

UX Priorities

  • Speed and performance. The best way to kill a potential sale is to serve up a slow site. Use proper tools to compress images, scripts, CSS, and HTML.

No matter the platform, every web page must load multiple server requests — text, media, scripts, processes, and third-party tools, such as shipping calculators and personalization platforms. The more requests, the more time it takes to load the page. Don’t let page size alone fool you. A heavier web page with fewer requests can load faster than a smaller one with more requests.

  • Optimize category and search results. Find ways to fit product thumbnails into two columns to minimize scrolling.
  • Allow for cross-device shopping and persistent carts. This allows shoppers to pick up where they left off on the same or different device.
  • Implement clear calls-to-action as well as user-verification actions. Confirming that a user has successfully added an item to the cart is as important as the add-to-cart button. Don’t leave a shopper guessing if the process worked.