The accessibility of information has reached dizzy new heights over the past decade thanks to rapid advancement in mobile technology, and now Google mobile searches have overtaken desktop for the first time in Japan and the USA. This milestone of the smart phone is a huge indicator for the constantly progressing environment of search.
Digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Google Now are leading the way in making information that little bit more accessible. Rather than a user opening a browser window, going to a search engine, typing in the query, and then sifting through a list of results to find the information she’s looking for, she can now speak her query into her smart phone’s digital assistant and be provided with an instant answer. If the development of smart phones brought information right to our door step, then digital assistants are inviting that information in, for a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Every latest release of smartphone now comes inclusive of the latest enhancement of its corresponding digital assistant – smarter, quicker and more proactive than ever before. Cortana and friends (we like to think they’d be friends) are taking semantic search to another level by analysing the expectation of a query, personalising query results and learning in detail from past behaviour. Of course, they also carry out the generic smart phone tasks and will search through your stored data to find the right answer for you. More searches are being conducted via smart phone digital assistants every day and this growing popularity could lead to a new kind of optimisation that we’re calling Digital Assistant Optimisation – or DAO if you love acronyms as much as we do.
Conversational web content
Digital assistants work on spoken commands which inherently breed longer tail, conversational queries. Ergo adopting a conversational approach to web content would no doubt optimise for digital assistants by relating to the algorithms they employ.
Concise snippets of information
Moreover, the focus of digital assistants is very much on providing the user with a quick and concise answer to her query. Logically thinking, one could optimise for digital assistants by writing extensive web content with many concise snippets of information. This concise format of information is already employed by Google’s Knowledge Graph, which gathers information from a wide variety of web sources to provide a summary response to user queries (in fact Google Now utilises this knowledge base directly to provide answers for smart phone users).
Currently, digital assistants rely on the web for appropriate visual content – so it’s likely that accompanying information with relevant pictures or videos will get you noticed by Siri, in the same way that a peacock uses its tail to attract the female’s attention.
A growing expectation amongst users for speedy responses to almost any query is leading to an increasing want for short tail answers to long tail questions. Google’s Knowledge Graph, which takes prime position at the top (or side) of Google search results, is reducing the value of a first ranked organic search result, consigning further importance to this new approach to content optimisation – Google do credit web sources used for Knowledge Graph answers. However, Digital Assistants still rely heavily on search engines for a great deal of information and still have a long way to go before usurping web browsers as a primary means of search – if that ever happens. Ultimately we’re not convinced that SEO D-day is upon us, so we’ll stay here, waiting for our smart phones to grow arms and legs.