In the last few years, we've been introduced to Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa -- voice-activated personal assistants created by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively.
The emergence of voice-activated personal assistants has run alongside the rapid development of connected devices beyond the desktop computer or smart phone. Everything from watches to scales, home speakers to lights are now connected to the internet and its never-ending sea of information. As our access to the internet has diversified, so has our search behavior. How so? Let's take a look.
#1 Natural Language
Each morning, explains HubSpot Vice President of Marketing Meghan Anderson, "I get up, stagger to the coffee pot and utter the phrase: 'Alexa, what's new?', and Amazon's Alexa -- which is based on a speaker on my countertop -- dutifully answers: 'Here's Meghan's Flash Briefing.' She then plays news and weather relevant to me and my location. I don't structure the search query. I don't use keywords. Alexa is smart enough to associate natural language with a request."
#2 Expanded Search Windows
Because of the prevalence of connected devices, we're no longer only searching when seated at our desks or in a convenient place for typing on our phones. With a vocal command (read: "Hey, Siri") or push of a button, search can happen anywhere, at any time, just by asking our devices, "How do I quickly remove soy sauce from a white shirt?" Just saying. In any case, this development influences both the volume of the searches we're conducting, and their composition.
#3 Context & History
Unlike browser search engines which still rely heavily on the expressed search terms, personal assistant searches pull upon the searcher's history and context. If I've ordered dog food before, Alexa pulls in the exact brand from past orders and asks me if I'd like to re-order it. If I have a flight leaving at 6 p.m., Google Home will let me know if it's delayed, or if traffic is particularly bad and I need to leave early. These searches -- if you can even call them all that -- remove a step, or several, from the research and get me to the point of action more quickly.
When the internet is suddenly all around you, it becomes more and more common to discard your keyboard and directly ask the universe for what you want. This changes the structure of these queries. What you want may be less specific and structured than traditional search queries.
Take our restaurant example from earlier for the key takeaway of this article -- it means that marketers need to optimize for queries like, "What should I do tonight?" as opposed to structured searches like, "Best Sydney Area Restaurants."
It's never been more of an exciting and dynamic time to be involved in SEO and I for one choose to be on the side that knows how it works. How about you?
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