Digital Personal Assistants Are Getting Smarter | SEO

Like a good student, many of the popular assistants, devices such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Cortana, are getting better and better at answering our questions. But just how good are they, and why does it matter to search marketers?

In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Stone Temple’s Eric Enge reveals some of the results from his second annual study of the smarts of those digital personal assistants, and offers insight into why it matters for your marketing.

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  • Rating the Smarts of the Digital Personal Assistants
  • How to Earn Featured Snippets for Your Site
  • How to Use Our Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa SEO Questions Apps
  • See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel


Mark: Eric, I was excited to see you updated your study of how good digital personal assistants are at answering factual questions.
Eric: That’s right Mark. In April 2017, we published my first study where we asked some of the most popular digital assistants 5,000 factual questions each and then scored them on how they did in answering those questions. And I recently published a new study to see how they were doing a year later.
Mark: And which digital personal assistants did you test?
Eric: We asked the questions of Amazon Alexa, Cortana running on the Invoke device from Harman Kardon, Google Assistant on Google Home, and Google Assistant on a Smartphone, and finally Apple’s Siri.
Mark: And, why do this? I mean why does it matter?
Eric: Well, according to data shared by Microsoft’s Purna Virgi at Pubcon Florida, and separately some data also shared by ComScore, asking for factual information is by far the number one thing people use these voice- devices for. And if that’s the case, then those are questions they used to ask by typing a query into a traditional search engine. So, any of us in search engine optimization should be paying attention to how voice search on these devices is developing.
Mark: Okay, I’m sold. So, what was the biggest discovery in this new study?
Eric: Well, while Google Assistant still answers the most questions, and answers the most correctly as it did in the first study, all the other assistants made significant gains over the past year, and started to close the gap with Google Assistant.
Mark: Which one made the biggest step forward?
Eric: That actually would be Alexa. It answered almost 2.7 times more questions than a year ago, although its accuracy went down just a touch in the process.
Mark: So overall, it looks like all the competing digital personal assistants are striving to be able to answer more questions. Now, what are the takeaways here for digital marketers?
Eric: So I think first and foremost, if you have any interest in search, and in how people find what they’re looking for, you must be paying attention to how these assistants are developing. The internet is no longer confined to a web browser for a growing number of users. And as I’ve often stated, in most cases, these voice devices give just one answer for each query, so the competition to be the provider of that single answer is gonna continue to heat up.
Mark: So what are some practical things search marketers should be doing now to prepare?
Eric: I’ll give you two.

First, we should be figuring out how to earn more featured snippets. Featured snippets are the answer in a box now shown above many traditional search results. Not only do these devices get a significant portion of their answers from featured snippets, but optimizing for them is also good practice for learning how to become that one best answer that voice devices provide.

Second, get involved with programming for the devices themselves. Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana all let you create apps for their devices where users can get their answers straight from you.

We’ve created an Ask Stone Temple app for both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa platforms where you can ask hundreds of digital marketing questions and hear me actually give you the answer. 
Mark: Thanks, Eric. Now, you’ll want to read Eric’s complete study, “Rating the Smarts of the Digital Personal Assistants in 2018” for a lot more fascinating information about how these devices are growing in their capabilities. 

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why with Mark & Eric. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why

See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

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