Experts believe that Alexa and Google Assistant, found in the respectively hot-selling Amazon Echo and Google Home Speakers, and other AI Voice helpers will profoundly change how the internet works. This new web order will put additional pressure on businesses to dominate search engine results.
Online voice searches, where users simply ask assistants verbally for answers, are growing quickly. Google said about 20 per cent of searches in 2016 involved voice.
Devices that house these assistants are also multiplying rapidly. Trend tracking firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimates about 45 million so-called smart speakers were sold in the United States alone as of the end of 2017, while Juniper Research believes more than half of U.S. households will have at least one each by 2022.
Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and others are also being added to everything from refrigerators to cars. Their popularity is the result of their utility – they can be used to look up the nearest pizza restaurant, shop for goods and services, control smart home devices and play music. They also don’t cost much.
Voice assistants generally use the same algorithms as browser-based search engines to look for answers to queries, but they deliver results aurally rather than visually.
On a computer or smartphone web browser, search engines serve up a full page of responses to choose from and users can click to see additional pages.
With visual results removed from the equation and assistants delivering fewer results, the importance of placing first – or at least very highly – in online search results is thus critical for businesses. Search engine optimization (SEO), where websites are designed specifically to rank well in Google results, becomes even more vital.