They were one of the best selling Christmas gifts of 2018, smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa or The Google Assistant were have been around for a number of years but are starting to find prevalence. However, as a business owner, their rise may indicate your fall (and not in a ‘world is ending, rise of the robots’ sense!)

Many homes now have a smart speaker in them, some homes have them in multiple rooms. They can play your favourite radio station, tell you the time, provide a weather forecast and contact people in your address book all with a verbal command. This functionality is great as it allows you to remain busy while still using services that previously your smartphone would have provided. Busy people have busy lives and anything that reduces abstractions is welcomed.

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As useful as they are though we are still learning to maximise their full potential as smart devices. Smart speakers are moving from being relatively limited, novelty gadgets to fully functional household assistants and even entering some business environments. You can now ask smart speakers questions, often without any qualifying information and they will go off, search the internet and return what appears to be the most relevant answer to your question.

Change is Inevitable

This isn’t a new practice, smartphone assistants such as the Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana have been providing the same function for a few years now, in fact statistics show that as many as 3 in 5 people with handheld smart devices make at least one request to their smart assistant per day and Google CEO Sundar Pichai concluded a recent keynote by stating that one fifth of all Google searches are now voice searches. Infact Comscore predicts that by 2020 up to 50% of all mobile search queries will be voice queries via a smart assistant or smart speaker – that’s huge!

This changes the ball game for SEO and search engine marketing.

If you are operating in a consumer focussed business you now have to start thinking about how your potential clients dynamically interact with their assistants and structure your content and website in an appropriate manner. Think about it right, at present a traditional search enquiry involves a user typing a query into a search engine, the search engine will then return a list of websites and pages that appear to best answer the query, leaving the user to go off and interrogate the results further to ‘hopefully’ find the answer. This list of search results is what businesses covet, appearing on the ‘1st page of Google’ is everyone’s goal as that is where the greatest share of organic revenue is generated, it’s the bread and butter for every SEO professional. But if Comscore’s prediction is correct, the importance of being on the ‘1st page of Google’ will be severely diminished as your website will either have the answer to the question the user asked or it doesn’t because smart speakers and smart assistants don’t return lists, they return a single answer,

The new process will be: a user asks a smart speaker a question, the speaker raises a search request via an applicable search engine and an appropriate answer will be read from web content back to the user. This eliminates a substantial chunk of the original process and poses a big issue for businesses that rely on organic traffic.

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How Your SEO Strategy Has To Change

Structuring pages and meta-data around keywords may no longer cut it if looking to piggyback on certain keyword trends. Marketers, website designers and SEO professionals will need to shift towards explicitly defining your services, your products, your procedures and your businesses, concentrating on pain points and what questions your target audience may ask so that your content can be sure to contain the relevant answers.

According to analytics site Backlinco, early voice search analytics tend to indicate that factors such as; page load speeds, HTTPS connections and content that is well linked in social media, were the most impactful on how sites performed when dealing with user queries.

And not just this, how do your clients get in touch? if you moved away from telephone contact or face-to-face in favour of data capture methods such as contact forms or signups then be prepared to make a u-turn. If users can’t easily phone you or your business then being found via a voice search will be a worthless exercise, it’s unlikely that a high number of users will use voice to locate your business to then be willing to open a handheld device to send you an email or submit a contact form – their next request will be ‘call’.

For advice or assistance with your website or with digital marketing, contact us today on 01463 243764.

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