The evidence is right there. Virtual assistants are here to stay.
The last time you spoke to Alexa, Cortana, Siri or Google, it may have felt a little strange, but tech companies are pouring money into developing voice technology and placing their bets on the major impact it’ll have on our daily lives. Innovation in virtual assistants is all about making them as human as possible – Amazon’s Alexa recently announced how it rewards children who say ‘please’, whilst Match launched chatbot Lorna on Google Home, making ‘Lorna’ a source for dating advice, as well as your friends and family. It may seem a little surreal today, but the more intuitive and easy-to-use the technology becomes, the more likely we are to fully embrace it.
As voice technology develops, marketers must prepare themselves and start to think about how to optimise PR and marketing content for voice search. Wondering why exactly?
Much like search marketing changed the value of PR, so will voice. As a reader of Firefly blogs, you’ll know that for some time now we have put a large emphasis on optimising PR for search, given the changes in search algorithms from both Google and Bing. Essentially, PR brings SEO value when you target the right media sites with the right content, and get that sought-after link to your website. It’s not just about awareness and share of voice, improving SEO is a legitimate PR measure too.
Of course, voice search is a completely different beast. For starters, the way you type something into search engines and the way you speak to a virtual assistant are completely different. We’ve adapted to speak to Google in a way that we get the information we want as quickly as possible – ‘burritos Farringdon’, for example, if you’re on the hunt for some Mexican for lunch. Whereas virtual assistants we expect more, and we don’t naturally speak like that, we’re more likely to say, ‘where can I get a burrito near here?’
Then there is the number of devices and voice technology applications – it’s not just a case of monitoring search engines’ changes in algorithms. Here is an extract from our latest whitepaper on PR in the age of voice search which highlights this complexity:
When Alexa is asked who the CEO of Facebook is, she gets the answer correct – Mark Zuckerberg, of course. When she is asked where she got that information from, she says that ‘that’s tough to explain’.
Different devices use different applications to source information. With Siri for instance, the same Facebook CEO question pulls up the answer on ‘Knowledge’, through Cortana the answer is pulled up on Bing and with Google Home, unsurprisingly it comes through Google search.
A location-based question like ‘where is the nearest Italian restaurant?’ will use a maps application to give you various options.
The market is also in a state of growth and development, and it is not clear yet which virtual assistant will maintain dominance. In 2017, Amazon and Microsoft announced a partnership in order to strengthen Cortana and Alexa by combining both virtual assistants. Essentially, within Alexa you’ll be able to open Cortana and vice versa. The idea is that people can use the functionality in both assistants like sending an email in Cortana or using an Alexa skill to order a pizza.
With some of the virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana, your search marketing efforts will already put you in a strong position. Asking a question such as ‘Who are the top entrepreneurs in the UK?’, Siri and Cortana will refer you to the top web results. However, with devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home being ‘screenless’, there is added pressure to be THE answer that is read out. And you thought being on page one of Google was tough!
Though the market is still in a state of flux, key players are emerging and there are ways you can prepare today – all included in our whitepaper, of course.
As search marketing evolves, the most important thing is to be ‘found’ by people genuinely looking for you. There are so many ‘secret’ quick wins with voice search, much like online search, but you have to build and maintain your profile so that when the opportunity arises, you reach your customers.
Want to know more? Download our whitepaper on PR in the age of voice search here.