In the third part of our 2019 Organic Search Trends webinar recap series, Associate Director of Earned Media Gregory Sidor explains why now is the time to consider smart device opportunities specific to your business, evaluate your current website in light of these developments, and plan resources accordingly—before your competitors do the same.
To view the previous video in this webinar series, check out Gregory’s Search Integrations & the Twilight of Google’s Ten Blue Links recap post.
Date: April 23rd, 2019
Time: 11am PST
Full Webinar Recording + Q&A Recap: 2019 Organic Search Trends Webinar Recap
Rise of the Devices
2018 may be seen as the year that smart speakers went mainstream. By January of 2019, 66.4 million Americans had one in their home—a 40% increase over January 2018.
People are now interacting with search in new ways, relying on their smart devices to help them answer questions, accomplish tasks, and even complete transactions. As time goes on, more and more of your customers will be among this group.
This has major implications for businesses big and small. First, there will be fewer ranking opportunities where voice search is concerned. While some devices come with screens, or can send data to your phone, many queries can be answered by citing a single source.
While the loss of the 10 blue links has serious consequences for overall brand visibility, changing customer expectations could also impact your bottom line. Searchers are becoming more demanding, and are interested in instant answers and relevant, up-to-the-minute information on things like inventory.
Many major players like Dominos are even allowing people to complete transactions via smart speakers and mobile devices. This is especially relevant for companies where return visits and re-ordering are a factor, since it eliminates the need to evaluate products on a screen.
How, then, does a company position itself for success on smart devices? There are four parts to successful execution: producing relevant content, creating skills and actions, building fast sites, and including structured data as a standard practice.
Too often online content strategies are guided by what companies want to say to users. The rise of the devices turns this on its head. Customers are asking the questions, and your brand needs to be there with the best answer. This example shows a selection of Google searches around the keto diet. Data like this can be used to plan category pages and blog entries tailor-made for voice search.
Both Amazon and Google allow developers to build custom interactions for devices in an ecosystem separate from their websites. Alexa has Skills, and early adopters include TD Ameritrade, Domino’s, Starbucks and Kayak. Several of these allow you to complete transactions while others provide useful information that injects the brand into whatever journey the searcher is on.
Google has a similar program, referred to as Actions on Google, that works with Google Home devices and Google Assistant. Right now, you can ask questions about car insurance rates, order “the usual” at Starbucks, or send flowers to whomever you’ve wronged. There’s also an action for dad jokes, but I’ll let you explore that yourself.
Back to your website. The third element of any plan to compete on smart devices is site speed. Much as with traditional search, delays can knock your webpage out of the running for a voice response. A lightweight site has long been a best practice, but it’s even more important now that some searches will deliver only one result.
Structured data is also a critical part of any smart device strategy. Search bots love Schema markup because it breaks down complex subjects into fields of data. The easier it is for a machine to understand your site, the more likely it is to translate that data into coherent answers.
Taken together, checking off these four boxes can support a smart device strategy. Now is the time to consider smart device opportunities specific to your business, evaluate your current website in light of these developments, and plan resources accordingly—before your competitors do the same.
Meet Our Expert:
Gregory Sidor is an Associate Director of Earned Media at The Search Agency. He began his digital media career as a content editor at the Los Angeles Daily News, then spent several years on the editorial team at Myspace. He headed to Disney Interactive Media Group next, helping to develop content and optimize pages for search. He’s worked on a wide variety of clients at The Search Agency, including leaders in finance, ecommerce, real estate, and technology. Gregory is particularly interested in optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Graph, winning Featured Snippets, and helping clients develop practical and effective content strategies.