More and more, searches processed on Google and the other major search engines aren’t being conducted by customers or researchers themselves – they are being handled by Siri, Cortana, and a new generation of digital personal assistants.
Search trends were already being affected by mobile apps and voice -assisted tools. Now, with digital assistants finding results all on their own, the game has changed even further.
In particular, it has left a lot of business owners and marketers wondering: how can you optimize a site for search when customers are using software to crawl the web for them? There aren’t many simple or straightforward answers – yet – because digital assistant usage is still growing. However, there are early tips and conclusions you can follow:
Popularity and User Experience Matter
Because some features that digital assistants rely on are cloud-based, it’s not surprising that they take advantage of the wisdom of crowds. The more people visit your website, and stay there, the more popular and usable your website seems. Those are the kinds of results digital assistants will naturally scan for information, so popularity and user experience should be big priorities for your website and Internet marketing plan.
Personal Preferences Play a Big Role
Along with studying behavior from other users, digital assistants like Siri and Cortana also examine personal preferences and search history. For instance, if you visit a certain website or information source frequently, that’s more likely to be targeted during a search used by a digital assistant. As marketers, this means it’s our job to attract our most important prospects through search and social outlets, since they could return through digital assistant searches later.
Digital Assistants Like New and Authoritative Content
In a vacuum, the digital assistant will look for a new piece of information, or one that comes from an authoritative, verifiable source (the Wall Street Journal might be preferred over a local blog, for example). There’s not a lot you can do to compete with the giants on the web, but you can make sure your website is a source of continuous information while citing facts and statistics when possible.
We’re Moving Farther Away From Keyword Matching
As I noted in my post on Google Rank Brain, current search trends are taking us farther and farther away from traditional keyword matching, and into an era where relevance and authority are more important. Google wants to know what searchers really looking for, even if it doesn’t match the phrase they entered in a search box, and will try to find the perfect match for that neater question, even if the result doesn’t have the same search term on the page.
Digital assistants are already changing the nature of search, and rumor has it that more are on the way – with Google and Facebook in particular working on their own versions. Will your website be search-optimized for new traffic patterns in 2017?
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)