Two years ago, voice search arrived in UK homes with a bang, in the shape of Alexa. The popularity of Amazon's virtual assistant took everyone by surprise, not least the likes of Google and Microsoft who had, for once, been caught napping.
Of course, in the intervening years, all the big players have released virtual assistants of their own, and integrated smart technology has become part of everyone's life.
This year, it is a Google product that is likely to be the "must have" under everyone's Christmas tree. The Google Home Hub is the latest entrant in the smart screen market, and adds visual content to its responses to your voice commands.
The domestic applications are obvious - if you want to be guided through a cake recipe or need advice changing the oil in the car, there are times when a picture tells a thousand words. But for businesses, the search implications could prompt a major rethink on how to approach SEO.
Settling into the voice search age
Alexa, Siri and the rest have already caused disruption among search specialists looking to come to terms with the new world of voice search. For one thing, they have found that people use very different search terms when speaking compared to when they are typing. As a result, long-tail keywords are more important than ever.
Voice search has also raised the profile and importance of featured snippets. If you ask Alexa or your Google Assistant a question, the answer will often be accompanied by a featured snippet. These are the information boxes that appear at the top of conventional search results.
Typically, your voice assistant will read out the featured snippet and send it as a url link.
How does the smart screen change things?
As far as search is concerned, users still ask questions in the same way with a Google Home Hub as they do with a voice-only assistant. You might think, therefore, that the SEO landscape will remain unchanged. Think again.
For one thing, the speakable mark-up that businesses have been encouraged to add to their content for the voice assistants to read out seem to have been abandoned. Google Home uses speakable mark-up consistently, but Google Home Hub is more focused on finding something for the searcher to look at as well as listen to.
Featured snippets are still popular, and the Home Hub will show the text on the screen while reading it out. But what the new gadget really likes above all else is video content.
If the Google Home Hub can find a YouTube video that answers the question being asked, then that is what it will go with every time. From the examples mentioned earlier of baking a cake or performing an oil change, that makes sense. However, it should also put businesses on high alert.
If the Google Home Hub ends up enjoying the same popularity as the voice assistants that preceded it, SEO campaigns need to be ready to adapt. Adoption is still at the early stages, but if it proceeds at the rate everyone expects, featured snippets and video content are going to be the watchwords for successful SEO.
Sponsored post. Copyright © 2018 Jon Wade, content manager at FSE Online.