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30
Sep

Optimising your website for Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Now and Siri

windows-phone-cortana-siri

It seems that everyday, the star Trek computer is getting closer and close to being a reality, a computer that not only can tell you what you need to know, but give you real time information on your environment and the people in it. Being able to ask your device where is my friend and how long will it take them to get here, will query their phone, pin point their location, then look at Google maps and assess the traffic and tell you that they are only 20 min away.

That doesn’t seem as crazy an idea now, than it did 5 years ago and every day advances are being made in this area; more so in how people will interact with the web. You may soon enough ask your device to find the cheapest copy of a new movie and then download it to your media center or the closest pizza place and order you a supreme, but hold off on the olives. Again, this sort of interaction with devices is coming to you soon, and it posed a big challenge to all web retailers.

How do you optimise your site for a computer?

For a long time, Google have been saying that you need to optimise your site for the user; that to optimise for Google, will get you a penalty, however, when you remove the calls to action, the enticing meta description, you are left with pure code. It seems that we may be moving back to a code heavy markup based SEO environment, and if we don’t plan now there may be a lot of users failing behind.

Let’s take a look at the environment and who is doing what first – as understanding the environment and its biggest players is going to give us the best insight into how to better plan and to edit your campaigns for the best results.

Google

Google is of course leading the pack as their voice search is far superior to any other. Its ability to translate other languages is light years in front of anyone else. This is of course due to the years of research and development that they have been doing in this field.

Microsoft

Closely following them is Microsoft,  which may be a surprise to you, but if you look at their new Skype instant translate product, you will see that they have some very solid voice recognition services. This may of course come from the years of eves dropping that they have done on Skype conversations and then processed the language and built an intelligence around that. If you take Cortana as their first foray into this space then it’s not that difficult a leap to make.

Apple

Apple are not far behind with Siri which has some decent abilities, especially when it comes to recognizing accents and their Thai language recognition is pretty decent, however, the intelligence is what lets the system down. It can hear you, but it just cant do anything with that information, unlike Google and Microsoft that have far better web engine databases and being that their operating systems are what is running the search, they can open up programs and be more in the device than Apple can. Apple of course have an OS, but they spent so long being a totally closed environment, I think that it’s rubbed off internally and that is a bad thing.

Amazon

Lastly the device I want to outline is the Amazon echo; it’s a good device, but at the moment it’s lagging behind the others, not in recognition, but in usability – it’s pretty locked to the amazon market, so it’s not going to be doing any major searches of the internet for you just yet.

One thing that I do want to point out, and I am sure I will say it again, is that all these platforms have their own shopping engines; amazon, iTunes and so on, so its pretty safe to assume that these platforms will prioritize their own shopping engines over another and, this can already be seen in the amazon product. They do, however, have a lot of services, even grocery now, and Echo will help you build a grocery list and make the order for you, but of course, it’s amazon shopping, not the local grocery store that gets the order.

So we are left with the three services, that all have their own platform, and two have their own search engine, Siri, Cortana and Google Voice/Now.

Below are some of the results from voice testing:

AI voice testing

Links

Links have always been necessary for a good SEO campaign, and I think that they will be relied more heavily on for voice search. It will throw more weight behind the ideal that it’s more about quality links than quantity, especially from sites that are “answers” focused. If someone asks a question on a site, and your site gets multiple links in response, then that will indicated that real people have suggested your site as the answer to that question.

Knowledge Repositories.

One of the points that I try to make a lot is that your site is the product of the search engines. Google’s only goal is to make sure that the site that it gives you is the best possible site for that search, and a search is usually someone asking a question. Where is the bus stop; what time does the bus from “X” leave; what is the distance from “X” to “X”; what’s a good book for a bus trip, and so on.. If you can see your business fitting anywhere in to these questions then you need to be answering them.

If you develop a list of questions that people would ask to find your product, and not just “where to by a red widget” but more detailed and far ranging questions, like “what is the best widget to use for plumbing”, you can start to create automated notifications online for when these type of questions are asked. Then you can either go in and answer them directly, with a link to your site, or answer them in full on that page and use your profile to push the links.

Another fantastic way to target knowledge bases, is to use Wikipedia. A simple method is to find articles on a topic that relates to your service, then read a few articles that are posted on there and see if there is anything that you can elaborate on. If there is a post about red widgets and how they come in unique colors; create a post on your site that explains why red widget colors are unique and then add your post as a reference in the wiki post. This will add far more value to your site in the eyes of the AI as you are a cited source of answers.

Schema

I believe that this may be the best way to optimize for all AI’s, not that any of the developers have come out and said as much though. Schema is a library of codes that you add to information – there are a number of these to be found at schema.org and they are constantly adding new ones such as actions.

Actions are going be very crucial to planning for AI, in so far as people will ask the AI to do thing eg: “Call me a cab” or “play that song” and the schema will be what you as a marketer will add around the relevant information on the page.

How Schema works

Current schema works like this for an event:

NBA Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Tickets:
Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers - Game 3 (Home Game 1)

Thu, 04/21/16
8:00 p.m.

Wells Fargo Center

Philadelphia, PA
Priced from: $35
1938 tickets left

But with schema it looks like this

 

You can see that there are now relevant tags that are being put around important information on the page; this is what I believe will be the key to optimising for AI in the future.

Location data

I have left this to later in the article as I am pretty sure that you will have already thought about this, but shame on you if you haven’t! Similar to citations, having your Name, address and phone number online will be incredibly important, especially if you are a local service agency. If you’re a plumber, then you need to have your N.A.P in as many places as you can, you don’t need links to your site, you just need that detail out there. Make sure that you have the EXACT same format and information everywhere, as it will get treated as separate locations if it isn’t.

This goes for Google, apple and Bing maps as well; ensure that you have a listing in all of them, and that the NAP is the same, because when an AI goes looking for an emergency plumber in the local area and if finds your details in 30 places and your competition once or twice, then its instantly going to rank you as a better option and BOOM, your now Cortana’s favorites local plumber!

In closing, a great deal of this work above is very similar to what we as SEO’s and marketing people are doing for our customer sites already, however, I do believe that this is an area that will take up more and more time over the next year or two as this technology becomes more and more prevalent.

If you would like to talk to one of the DSA Global team about how we can get your site talking to the future of the search engines, contact us today!

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Benjamin S Powell

CEO & founder at DSA global
A Digital Marketing expert and CEO & founder of DSA Global. Ben has over 10 years experience solving complex business problems in both client and agency-side roles.

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