The Rise of Digital Assistants

Wednesday 09th, December 2015
in Search

I love Siri. If you’re like me and are a bit tired of the usual entertainment options available after a long day at work (movies, music, Facebook, natch) then Siri makes for a very good alternative. Here is a digital assistant who is funny, knowledgeable and with great attitude.

But, while I use Siri quite a bit for entertainment (“Tell me a joke, Siri!”) I have also experimented with more serious queries. Relating to the weather, for example. Or, stock price quotations. Or, the latest movie listings.

Where I live (India), Siri is still not geared to handling local queries so the results are usually a list of relevant webpages that Siri thinks are appropriate. On occasion, I have found them to be so while at other times I’ve had to fall back on Google or Bing for a deep dive.

What I’m more concerned about though, is how little attention is being paid by SEOs to oral search. I spoke to a few SEO professionals and they were predictably enough full of information about the latest algorithm updates from Google. None of them sounded sufficiently well-informed or convincing enough about how to adapt their own SEO strategies, if there is a tectonic shift in the way users interact with their smartphones or tablets for search. Wearables such as the Apple Watch, Android Wear and so on are another revolution waiting in the wings and will change the way we interact with our devices.

However at the moment, there seems to be precious little to trigger a mass exodus towards oral search. Siri is quirky and funny and in some ways, this may well be a barrier to larger acceptance. Google Now (say, “Ok, Google”) doesn’t seem to have promoted themselves well enough and in a country like India with numerous languages an English-only interface will severely limit trial and usage. As for Cortana, I haven’t even had a chance to play with it yet.

From a content standpoint, a couple of clear pointers seem to be emerging. The digital assistants are not dependent upon your content to generate basic replies, particularly Google which has its vast database at its fingertips. Let your content provide richer and more informative experiences that your users will find value.

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