How Voice Assistants Impact SEO, Machine Learning


If you think search engine optimization is waning, you'd better watch what you say. It's not going away. In fact, search engine optimization, or SEO, is evolving to include voice-enabled search and bringing deep learning aspects of machine learning with it.

The voice search trend fits the benefits originally planned from search engine optimization. SEO was meant to link queries from search engines to online content based on how that content was described through programming code. Be it in PHP or HTML, that content is described by web developers as the presentation layer.

But these days you are as likely to speak a keyword as much as you would type it.

Voice-enabled search has been with consumers for a while, thanks to mobile. Mobile devices with microphones allow people to speak their queries. They have lead search engine providers to develop algorithms to recognize voice patterns to increase understanding of the relevancy of what is being said and what the search engine "hears."

As more devices join the network, consumers have expanded their queries to new kinds of screens and devices. The most prevalent now are virtual assistants, a category that includes Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana. Their rise has led to the following developments:

  1. Amazon has begun to expand the capabilities of its Echo device so it can perform queries on a wider scale, introducing more factors for search as a result. Take the Echo Show, a new device that is a variation of the original Echo device. The Echo Show queries videos on YouTube alongside standard Alexa results, and the device includes a display so that consumers can view those videos. Given that YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, the voice activation in Echo can now be a factor in query results.
  2. Voice search is attracting industry attention. Marketing research firm eMarketer noted that voice search, the segment of search that includes Amazon Echo, is expected to grow 130% in 2017.

You may have noticed Amazon's prominent position. Amazon's position represents the growing comfort people have towards virtual assistants, and how marketers must take notice in planning search.

So now here's where I mention Google and its renown dominance in search. Google is not losing ground to Amazon, at least not anytime soon. Experts agree that search volume has not diminished as a valuable indicator of consumer interest.

(Image: Amazon)

(Image: Amazon)

But Amazon has made headway for gaining consumer mindshare for search in a critical location -- the home. Bloomberg reported last fall that more than half of shoppers turn to Amazon for product search. And that is just from website activity. Virtual assistants -- the category that includes devices such as Amazon Echo -- are becoming more widely used as a starting point for search as well. eMarketer expects consumer usage of virtual assistants "will grow 23.1% in 2017." That trend is why Google augmented its search leadership by introducing an Echo competitor, Google Home.

What we should get from Amazon's rise and Google's evolution is how machine learning influences your choice for optimization. Machine learning, because it can assess queries, is linked to the demand for virtual assistance. That link is now a key essential in a business strategy.

Thus voice search optimization requires marketers and developers to consider device users' potential questions and the responses that virtual assistants can give. When a user speaks with a Google Home or Amazon Echo, he or she interacts with a voice user interface, and those interactions have links to digital media through the machine learning algorithms behind the assistance.

At an Alexa Developer Day here in Chicago, I learned how developers should map those conversations and links. Marketers map the question, response, and the range of results when they are a certain distance away from the device. Developers can also consider the timing in which the device will re-prompt the user to provide more information.

Machine learning addresses the frequency of those questions. Repeated usage creates permutations that require machine learning models to learn user preferences and how to tailor responses. Those responses are key to establishing personalization, which in turn leads to branding and sales.

Machine learning is essential when collecting data from disparate sources, especially as IoT consumer devices that offer web access. That collection creates a different set of context considerations, from device competing against smartphone or tablet access to having to reimaging partnerships based on how they manage and share data.

Thus responses mapped out can vary. A query of groceries at a refrigerator should have a different initial set of potential responses than those that can come up from an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Understanding the differences can help marketers identify challenges to maintaining a coherent customer experience across devices.

Marketers can expect a lot of work to make this response better, particularly with open source ideas to improve voice search algorithms and improve the voice query experience. Mozilla, the creator of the Firefox browser, started Project Common Voice, a project where people can donate a voice to help build an open-source voice recognition engine that developers can use.

But any work with establishing a SEO strategy for the future will have to include voice queries. Machine learning is adding a significant boost to the convenience virtual assistants achieve for consumers. As long as that convenience attracts users, marketers and analysts must attract customers through the right technical tactics and creative content that speaks to the customers' immediate needs.

Pierre DeBois, Founder, Zimana

Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a small business analytics consultancy that reviews data from Web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides recommendations and Web development action that improves marketing strategy and business profitability. He has conducted analysis for various small businesses and has also provided his business and engineering acumen at various corporations such as Ford Motor Co. He writes analytics articles for AllBusiness.com and Pitney Bowes Smart Essentials and contributes business book reviews for Small Business Trends. Pierre looks forward to providing All Analytics readers tips and insights tailored to small businesses as well as new insights from Web analytics practitioners around the world.

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Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/14/2017 8:27:26 PM
NO RATINGS

I agree with your analysis. Folks want easy ways to find what they want.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/11/2017 7:45:51 PM
NO RATINGS

If not, just buy a gene splicer and make the required modifications.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/11/2017 6:54:40 PM
NO RATINGS

Tomsg evolution did not provide me with the thumbs that have enough dexterity to type. They need to be more flexible and thinner. I am not sure that will happen anytime soon so my index finger will need to do the work!

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/11/2017 6:52:27 PM
NO RATINGS

Louis I actually still value the old skills handwriting, spelling vocabulary which are being phased out in school. I also do value the impact voice technology can have on our everyday life from small tasks like list keeping and doing homework to bigger tasks like providing some independence to the disabled. I know many with disabilities that depend on devices like Alexa for shopping getting an uber ride looking up information, reading books and listening to music. As we all age and our eyes age voice technology will be powerful. It's not all about just a cool gadget.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/10/2017 4:20:49 PM
NO RATINGS

@kq4ym     Great points regarding Amazon and I am not sure many understand the nuisances of Amazon's business model - merely satisfied with the ease of use and convenience.

But Amazon is not immune to the basic principles of business and economics.  The cost must be paid by someone and that someone is always the customer.    The idea that one is getting a deal is often fiction or wishful thinking or both.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/10/2017 4:00:53 PM
NO RATINGS

"....how keyboarding/typing is going to decline rapidly over the next five years as voice begins domination driven by these assistants and our need for connectivity."

 

@Maryam    This is very worrisome because we have already seen a drop in individual basic skills as a result of Google Search and all of the rest of the "easy tools" out there.   Not to mention the negative outgrowth of accepting results a Truth without question.   Fake News anyone ?

We have seen this happen to the art of handwriting and now typing is the next skill to be threatened ?

Eventually most will be useless without their phones and verbal assistants.  I refuse to buy an Alexa and for the record I do use verbal search via my phone, but I see verbal assistants as the next real step towards humans become more dependent on technology.  

 

Is this a good thing ?   I am sure it depends on your state in life but as one who works with technology everyday, the answer is very clear to me.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/10/2017 12:48:24 PM
NO RATINGS

If we get really good at this we will not need opposable thumbs. A whole new way to evolve!

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/10/2017 12:23:01 PM
NO RATINGS

Voice search will certainly grow over time as folks look for easier and quicker ways to do things. Amazon is going to win big time with it of course. It's no secret that Amazon is the "easy" way to research and buy products. But, the downside for consumers looking for the best pricing, is that Amazon's products are generally now about 10% higher in price than finding them elsewhere, despite the advertised free shipping for Prime folks. They've just added the shipping cost into the higher price.

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/10/2017 12:21:13 PM
NO RATINGS

Pierre, I was just reading an article about how keyboarding/typing is going to decline rapidly over the next five years as voice begins domination driven by these assistants and our need for connectivity. They referenced an experiment in India where smart phone users in lower income areas were given a phone and almost completely preferred voice over typing. They didn't want to set up email just wanted to communicate with simple information. Every time I drive my car I wish that the entire system was like my echo at home navigation, find a gas station, etc. I agree that in a few years we may see voice truly dominate and phones may no longer need a keyboard function! I can say goodbye to my fat finger typing since I never evolved to use my thumbs as well as the  Millennials Ii see tapping away on the train!

Re: Verbal Algorithms Unlock Potential of Robotics
  • 8/9/2017 9:56:43 AM
NO RATINGS

I agree. This needs to be coupled with open source solutions and some sort of standard so these systems can "talk" to each other. When this happens, growth will be explosive.

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