18 May 2017

Did someone say Alexa? The impact of Digital Assistants on SEO

Introducing Alexa!

The use of voice enabled digital assistants has become a hot topic in recent months. Digital assistants are small standalone devices which are typically used in the home. Voice activated, digital assistants enable you to query the internet for information and make smart commands. By simply asking ‘Alexa’ (if you have an Amazon Echo!), you can switch on your lights, order a curry, listen to tunes, or even start your car! Costing from approximately £50, these accessible and inexpensive gadgets are growing in popularity.

According to a recent report from eMarketer, use of voice enabled digital assistants is set to grow by 130% this year. Currently Amazon’s Echo device leads the market with a 70.6% share, followed by Google Home, taking 23.8% of the market.

Friend or foe in the world of SEO? (excuse the rhyme!!)

So, how can you ensure that when asked, a digital assistant will return a response which includes your product or service? Eek you may be thinking? I’m currently investing in SEO for my website, but potentially I may miss capturing my customers.

What do we know then about SEO and digital assistants?

Well, that’s a good question and a topic which is being regularly debated by SEO experts. In short, currently, we don’t know exactly how digital assistants will change SEO or how to prepare for their use.

What we do know is the use of digital assistants will put more emphasis on semantic search. This means that search algorithms will become more advanced to look at the intent behind the search query, rather than just the keywords that it contains.

The first movement towards this was Google Hummingbird; a search algorithm update which improves the quality of results. This was achieved by changing how Google interprets what is being asked by the searcher. Google then released a major update in 2016 called RankBrain. This update has basically made Google act close to a human brain through artificial intelligence (Scary stuff!). It tries to continuously learn and understand the search queries by the way it is written.  RankBrain is not an algorithm though. It is the way Google processes the search results and aims to become more accurate as time goes on.  RankBrain is now believed to be part of the Hummingbird algorithm.

In short, what does this mean?

It is still too early for anyone to optimise their site for voice search but it’s only a matter of time before it takes over one day. At Made with Maturity, we have already started to change the way we optimise our clients’ websites. Instead of just putting in instances of keywords into content (keyword density), we now look at the broader picture. The software we use for SEO continually changes. Only a matter of weeks ago an update was released, which now focusses on algorithmic keyword research rather than just keyword density. This is a sign that SEO is certainly moving in a particular direction. We’re confident that eventually SEO will work its way towards compatibility with voice enabled digital assistants.

What’s next?

For us at Made with Maturity, keeping on-top of latest developments such as this is key for us. Following trends and acting quickly is imperative. If you’re currently working with us, you can be rest assured we will keep you updated with relevant SEO developments. If you are considering your digital marketing strategy, SEO or pay per click options and would like to have a chat (and a cookie #ShareTheCookieLove) be sure to drop us a line.  We’d be more than happy to help.

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