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Vantage Points: Voice-Activated Digital Assistants and SEO/SEM

by | Jan 4, 2017 | BIA, Blog, Vantage Point

This is the latest in BIA/Kelsey’s Vantage Points series. On a periodic basis, it will tap the perspectives of various lookout points from around the local media and tech sectors. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect that of BIA/Kelsey. Please contact mbolandATbiakelsey if you have insights to share. 

Voice-Activated Digital Assistants will Change SEO and SEM

By RK Hiremane


Today, SEO and SEM are top of the mind for digital marketers. As consumers, we all reach a multitude of businesses through searches on our favorite portals. Every business strives to land on that first search results page.

In a few years, SEO will give way to CSEO — Conversational Search Engine Optimization. As digital assistant devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri gain traction among consumers, their easy, conversational way to find and discover information will become the new default search mode for consumers.

As these devices gain clout with consumers, APIs will be created on Alexa, Siri, or Home for trusted businesses to provide searchable data for consumer responses. After all, these devices are only as valuable as the data they possess to interact effectively with consumers. No one wants to hear these voice activated devices say “Um, I am sorry, I do not have an answer for your question”. Google Home for example relies on Google Assistant that sources content from various resources, including Google search data.

It will be intriguing to watch how these APIs or search content extraction from third party pages by voice activated digital assistant intelligence shapes up. Even more important will be how the businesses might have to change the way they optimize the information for these search engines. There are several fundamental difference in usage of voice activated digital assistants that drive such changes. Here are just a couple:

Voice activated digital assistants are less personal: It is common to have one device in a home with several family members and use it in a more public setting. Unlike a computer or a mobile search that someone could do with privacy of their device access. So any content extracted from third party site may need validation for age or context appropriateness prior to a voice response from these devices. This may mean, future SEO would require businesses to provide more contextual information beyond just the content on their page. Also search engines powering the digital assistants may need Artificial Intelligence capabilities to analyze information extracted from a third party page, or voice recognition of the user to determine appropriateness before responding.

Voice activated digital assistants cannot display a page worth of content: Voice-based digital assistants cannot display a page worth of content in response to a search, and there are no third-party featured ads or links to follow. SEO/SEM for these devices may dramatically change if businesses want to appear in the voice responses. In particular, businesses have to anticipate a lot more variety of potential phrases that could connect their brand to a query, and crisper answers that engage consumers.

While most of the voice activated digital assistant solutions are in very early stages now, search on these devices will become a norm in the very near future. Search engines that power these devices will evolve, and third party businesses that feed data to these will need to as well. After all, data is what makes or breaks these devices. It will also present new opportunities for telcos and directory services providers: building conversational and communication bots, content and pages for SMEs optimized for Conversational SEO/SEM.

Conversation SEO/SEM can reshape the search engine industry as well. A search provider with APIs suited for extracting information from third parties specifically tailored for digital assistant responses is able to engage consumers better.

rkRK Hiremane is co-founder of See Chat, a white label conversation commerce platform for telcos and directory services. He has 7 patents and an MBA from W.P. Carey School of Business.