Chances are, you or someone you know has a digital assistant by now. Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices are everywhere, and millions of them were sold this past holiday season alone.
To better understand how these assistants might affect search and search marketing, we spent a few months researching and testing them out. Given our familiarity with optimizing content for Google, we stared with Google Home.
What is voice search?
Voice search is simply any query that is spoken instead of typed. Siri, Alexa, and Google Home are the most obvious examples, but many browsers and devices support dictation as well. These all lead to queries that are much more conversational than in the past.
How is a Google Home search different than “regular Google”?
The short answer: it isn’t. The results are the same as if you went to google.com and typed the search instead. Google Home will simply try to read the best answer back to you. If it can’t, it may try to send a few results to your phone. Often, it simply responds that it doesn’t know how to help you.
What types of queries does Google Home handle best?
During testing, we noticed Google Home handles a few areas particularly well, local searches being the most obvious. Factual, local queries like “what time does Target open?” or “what is the closest coffee shop to me?” work really well. These are objective searches with a clear answer that Google can respond to with a high level of certainty.
Queries with a “rich snippet” result also work very well. Rich snippets are Google’s attempt to answer your query directly in the results. Here’s an example of a rich snippet about rich snippets:
How do I optimize my content for Google Home?
Overall, your strategy doesn’t need to change much. Here’s what you should focus on:
- Optimizing for rich snippets and answer boxes
- Local listings for “near me” searches
- Strong Google Reviews scores to help with local rankings
- Long tail keywords because voice searches tend to be more conversational
- Optimizing content in a question and answer format (like this post!)
Can I sell my products directly on Google Home?
The relationship between ecommerce and voice assistants is just getting started. It’s an area we’re excited about and can see expanding and improving rapidly. Google recently published a few interesting statistics regarding Google Home and shopping:
As exciting as these insights are, there are still some significant hurdles to selling your product via Google Home. First, you need to sell it via Google Express. Second, it needs to be less than $100. More importantly, Google needs to be able to easily find your specific product without someone needing to see it.
In other words, product discovery via Google Home still has a long way to go. (Amazon is trying to solve this by adding screens to its Alexa devices.) We’re confident Google will figure this out at some point, but it may be a while.
The true opportunity for selling is currently with consumables. Getting consumers to add your product to their shopping lists “in the moment” significantly increases their likelihood to purchase. The same is true with reordering. Consumers can add specific products to their preferences so when they say “Ok, Google, order widgets” they are ordering your widgets.
Voice assistants are only going to continue to improve. They are already great at being assistants. Reminders, shopping lists, timers, and getting answers to very specific questions works really well. Same goes for playing music. However, the opportunity for the average marketer is still limited. For now, you should continue creating great content that helps solve real problems for potential customers.
What we’re testing next
With ecommerce being such an important part of the work we do, we’ll be digging deeper into Amazon Alexa.
We’ll also be exploring how to leverage Google Assistant (the mobile app version of Google Home) for travel and tourism. We see a lot of potential there both with local search as well as Google Assistant Actions which allows us to build “apps” users can talk with.