Over the past 20 years Google has grown to become the dominant desktop and mobile search engine, and now it looks like they’re entering the hands-free search market. Their new product, Google Home, that was announced early October will compete with devices such as Amazon’s Echo in the rising market of hands-free, voice-activated home assistants.
Amazon released their Echo in late 2014/early 2015 as the first widespread hands-free home search device on the mass market. The device received largely positive reviews and praise since then for its ability to search the web, access and edit things like one’s calendar or lists, and even play music all simply by speaking the name of its digital assistant, Alexa, within ear-shot. Besides the non-portable form factor, many have argued that devices like the Echo simply mimic the tools provided by Siri on the iPhone and Google Now on Android, leading many to suggest that Google might release their own similar device. Well, that day is here, and it is fair to say that are branching out from the “bread and butter” Google AdWords platform that drove over $75 billion in 2015. What comes as real innovation isn’t exactly the Google Home hardware, but the powerful new “brain power” that will be driving it and likely many more devices in the near future–Google Assistant.
While Google Home largely offers the same type features as the Amazon Echo, what really makes this new device stand apart is the upgrade to their software and search engine that will be driving its hardware. That tool is called Google Assistant; a smarter, more advanced algorithm that expands upon the search experience and Google Now. According to Scott Huffman, Google’s vice president of engineering,
“Google Assistant really represents our attempt to say it’s time to build a conversational interface with Google from the ground up.”(searchengineland)
This represents a massive potential for change and innovation not only for search engine’s but in the push for a smarter and more accessible world wide web. Even more, Google released a brand new communication app called Allo which incorporates Google Assistant already, showing off some of its potential and allowing people to go ahead and try it out for free.
How does Google Assistant Search and What does this mean for SEO?
Google’s snippet answers are becoming even more important. When asked a question, Google Assistant seems to heavily rely on the featured snippets that Google often offers in the top of its search results. When shown in its announcement demo, Google Assistant often began its answer by sourcing the website first, followed by one of their accurate and concise snippets. For example, when asked “how do you get wine stains out of a rug,” Google Home began its response by sourcing the featured snippet that is the first results, starting with “According to Patch…” and then completed its one-sentence answer.
For marketing and SEO purposes, focusing your website or parts of it towards these types of snippets is becoming an important strategy. For an online business, this means getting your site featured on one of these “rich snippets” that Google provides or avoiding target keywords that generate any kind of snippet at all. Answering target questions concisely, accurately, and towards the top of a page are all powerful tips to increase the chances of your website being featured on a rich snippet. There are also some in-depth formatting tips that Google seems to like best that can also improve your chances of being featured.
While snippets can provide more traffic and credibility to websites that are sourced in Google’s answer, and generally make answering our basic questions much easier, they can also hurt the click-rate of other websites by giving someone a reason to not visit a website they may have otherwise. With how Google Home sources its snippets and given their history of products and services growing into and altering the majority, it would be reasonable to assume that this will become even more prevalent in the near future.
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