How Digital Assistants Are Already Impacting SEO

They can look up movie times and tell you the weather.

They can forecast your commute and order you a pizza.

They can set your alarm and read you the news.

They can even provide murder clues.

Digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are the latest trend in consumer electronics — and with sales projected to climb from 1.8 million this year to 15.1 million in 2020, these little buggers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

While that’s a positive thing for AI lovers, it presents a tricky situation for marketers.

One of the reasons consumers love digital assistants is they enable hands-free access to information that would otherwise have to be looked up manually on a device. Not surprisingly, though, there’s a very big difference between these two modes of search.

When you submit a query via a search engine, it yields a results page (SERP) that you can navigate to find the best information. When you make the same query into a digital assistant, the device reads aloud only the contents of the top answer.

There’s no SERP because there’s no interface. And with no SERP, what value does SEO even have? This is a question digital marketers need to ask themselves, as the answer could signal a big shift in their marketing strategy.

Despite the evolving SEO landscape, it’s important to note that most of the information consumers look up on digital assistants isn’t subject to SEO. Most people know better than to use their Google Home or Echo to compare hotel prices or look up facts for a research paper. Instead, they use digital assistants for answers to simple questions, like “How many cups are in a quart?” Since there’s only one answer, SEO does not come into play.

Sniping for Snippets

The only common type of query where SEO is a factor revolves around subjective information (i.e. “Best pizza in Birmingham”). When such searches are initiated, digital assistants pull what they consider to be the most relevant snippet from the web.

The battle for snippets could be the next great battle among marketers, as ranking first promises to improve your visibility among digital assistants.

The key to ranking for snippets is writing web content that effectively targets the question. Conduct keyword research and look for popular questions that are relevant to your business, and answer these questions on your website with rich, in-depth content.

Another tip for finding common queries? Look at search engine “suggestions.” Let’s say you’re a makeup artist. If you start typing “makeup ideas for..” on Google, four results will appear before you even finish your search.

  • Makeup ideas for Halloween
  • Makeup ideas for blue eyes
  • Makeup ideas for Christmas
  • Makeup ideas for hazel eyes
  • Makeup ideas for prom

Working these questions into your website and providing detailed answers is the best way to claim ownership of these snippets.

As technologies change, so do the rules of SEO. Contact the experts at Rebuild Group to see what you need to do to keep your digital marketing ahead of the curve.