Amazon Echo and Google Home to Revolutionise the Way we Search
If predictions are true, 15 million homes will be using digital assistants by 2020. These will change the way we think about internet searches and SEO.
Last month, Google officially threw its hat into the hands-free search arena with the launch of Google Assistant and Google Home. The release comes more than a year after Amazon launched its Echo device. Echo was expected by most to be a short-lived gimmick, but has surprised the market with more than 5 million sales.
It could be that hands-free interaction is the real future of the internet, and it is little surprise that Google has hurried to launch a device to maintain its dominance in the world of internet search.
The implications for SEO are significant. When a user searches the internet using a digital assistant, the concept of SERPs becomes redundant. There is no list of results to think about, just a straight answer to a straight question.
However, this by no means signals the redundancy of SEO. In fact, when a “search” elicits just one answer, it makes optimisation even more critical to ensure your business is the one that is chosen. Experienced SEO consultants will see this as just another step in an industry that is constantly evolving and will be ready to meet the challenge.
We are all familiar with the concept of digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, but when most of us limit our usage to being entertained by glitches and schoolboy humour, it is easy to see how they can be dismissed as a gimmick.
However, Amazon Echo brought voice interaction to a whole new level, and proved more popular than anyone expected. The signs are that Google Home brings even greater interaction, and this is what has captured the imaginations of users.
For the past 50 years or more, we have been tantalised with a future where we can interact with a computer, from HAL in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey to the all-knowing “Computer” in Star Trek.
Google Home brings this concept ever closer to reality. Whether we want to switch on the central heating, find a good restaurant for dinner, check the cricket score or find out King Henry VI’s date of birth, all we must do is ask. Google Home remembers previous conversations, so interactions become increasingly relevant and bespoke as it essentially gets to “know” you.
If SERPs are to become a thing of the past, where does that leave SEO?
It is important to bear in mind that the queries Google Home deals with are largely relevant to just that – the home – and many are of limited value in business applications. For example, a search about historical dates or a request to play a particular piece of music does not provide SEO opportunities.
Compare this with the user asking where to go for dinner or take out a mortgage. To answer these sorts of questions, Google Home will provide a “web snippet” – that is, it will search the web and provide the best answer, sometimes including a web link. In this scenario, a high SERP ranking is no longer enough – the key is to be the number one result and SEO suddenly becomes more important than ever.
To anyone experienced in SEO, this is nothing new. From desktop to mobile and now to hands free, this is an industry where the future is constantly becoming the present. The best SEO consultants are always ready to evolve with matching rapidity.