Tag Archive | "Voice"

The age of voice assistance and a new input paradigm

SMX East’s opening keynote from Google’s Naomi Makofsky outlined how marketers can find opportunities for the explosion of conversationally powered experiences with customers.



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SearchCap: Google Assistant GMB setting, voice assistance & SMX West

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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SearchCap: DuckDuckGo growth, Voice search and Salesforce tools

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Voice Commerce: Is It Living Up to Its Early Hype?

A growing number of people around the world are using the voice search feature in their smartphones and smart speakers to find information, confirm appointments, and even order food. However, one area that voice technology seems to be lagging behind is voice commerce. 

Rise of Voice Technology

Telling a computer to retrieve information or to play a specific song was something that Star Trek fans used to see in their favorite show. But thanks to Google and Amazon, voice technology has been steadily rising. As a matter of fact, a GlobalWebIndex report revealed that 27 percent of the world’s online population is already using voice search on their mobile devices. Meanwhile, 1/3 of Internet users have indicated an interest in buying a voice-controlled smart assistant.

Image result for GlobalWebIndex 27% voice command

At the moment, Amazon is leading the voice tech charge with its smart speaker, the Amazon Echo. This was soundly proven during the 2017 holiday season when the Echo Dot became the company’s top-selling device and millions of Alexa-enabled smart devices were sold.

Google Home’s voice assistant isn’t too far behind either. Ever since the Google Home Mini rolled out in October 2017, there’s more than one Google Home device being sold every second. Google Assistant is also now available on 400 million devices. Even Apple has gotten into the game with its Home Pod.

What’s Taking Voice Commerce So Long?

Aside from making web searches easier, voice technology can also change the way we make purchases. The GlobalWebIndex report pointed out that the grocery and retail would be significantly impacted by this technology in 2018. However, it appears that consumers are slow in embracing voice-powered eCommerce.

According to The Information, 50 million people own and use Alexa-enabled devices but only two percent have used them to buy something. And 90 percent of those who did use Alexa to make a purchase have not made a second transaction. This has led to questions regarding voice technology’s feasibility and whether or not its impact is just all hype.

One reason for consumers’ slow acceptance of voice tech is its irrelevance in particular niches. When it comes to online retailers, displays and graphics are a critical and decisive factor. Unfortunately, voice tech cannot really stand on its own in this industry. It should be considered as a means to augment and support visual channels instead. For instance, consumers who are looking to buy clothes require visuals of the product.

Meanwhile, businesses, where graphics are less important, will find voice tech useful, like in ordering food, buying groceries, or reserving tickets. These are the kind of transactions that don’t demand a lot of in-store or on-screen assessment.

Voice tech is also undergoing the inevitable teething pain. Some retailers have also complained about how their product keywords were constantly changed, thus making it harder for consumers to find. There’s also the fact that a lot of people prefer to research things like the prices of goods on their own.

The Future of Voice Tech in eCommerce

Consumers might be slow in taking advantage of voice tech in eCommerce, but it doesn’t mean that they will never embrace it. A survey conducted in France, Germany, and the US showed that 40 percent of the 5,000 respondents intend to use voice assistants to buy goods in the next three years.

[Graphic via Capgemini]

Tech companies will also be adjusting their designs and strategies to ensure the profitability of voice commerce. Amazon and Google are already taking steps to ensure this happens. For instance, Google’s latest Home assistants now come with a display screen. Instead of a garbled product description, consumers can now enjoy visual options.

Consumer behavior is also expected to change. As more people become comfortable using voice to activate light switches and televisions, making a purchase via voice tech will feel normal. Businesses will also find more ways to use this technology to encourage purchases.

One such company is Virgin Trains. The train company partnered with Alexa and Amazon Pay in May to allow customers to book their tickets via an Alexa-enabled device like the Amazon Echo or Dot.

Image result for virgin trains alexa

[Graphic via Amazon]

Natasha Toothill, the head of enterprise over at Amazon Pay, is just one of many who believe that there’s room for growth in voice commerce. She explained at Future Stores Europe that compared to emails and IMs, voice tech is “the most natural way of communicating.”

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Ask the SMXpert – Optimizing for voice search & virtual assistants

SMXpert Upasna Gautam continues the Q&A from SMX Advanced and discusses a number of topics including creating the right content, using homonyms, stressed words and quality metrics when optimizing for voice search.



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Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? (D) All of the Above – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Dr-Pete

We’re facing more and more complexity in our everyday work, and the answers to our questions are about as clear as mud. Especially in the wake of the mobile-first index, we’re left wondering where to focus our optimization efforts. Is desktop the most important? Is mobile? What about the voice phenomenon sweeping the tech world?

As with most things, the most important factor is to consider your audience. People aren’t siloed to a single device — your optimization strategy shouldn’t be, either. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete soothes our fears about a multi-platform world and highlights the necessity of optimizing for a journey rather than a touchpoint.

Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? All of the above.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. It’s Dr. Pete here from Moz. I am the Marketing Scientist here, and I flew in from Chicago just for you fine people to talk about something that I think is worrying us a little bit, especially with the rollout of the mobile index recently, and that is the question of: Should we be optimizing for desktop, for mobile, or for voice? I think the answer is (d) All of the above. I know that might sound a little scary, and you’re wondering how you do any of these. So I want to talk to you about some of what’s going on, some of our misconceptions around mobile and voice, and some of the ways that maybe this is a little easier than you think, at least to get started.

The mistakes we make

So, first of all, I think we make a couple of mistakes. When we’re talking about mobile for the last few years, we tend to go in and we look at our analytics and we do this. These are made up. The green numbers are made up or the blue ones. We say, “Okay, about 90% of my traffic is coming from desktop, about 10% is coming from mobile, and nothing is coming from voice. So I’m just going to keep focusing on desktop and not worry about these other two experiences, and I’ll be fine.” There are two problems with this:

Self-fulfilling prophecy

One is that these numbers are kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They might not be coming to your mobile site. You might not be getting those mobile visitors because your mobile experience is terrible. People come to it and it’s lousy, and they don’t come back. In the case of voice, we might just not be getting that data yet. We have very little data. So this isn’t telling us anything. All this may be telling us is that we’re doing a really bad job on mobile and people have given up. We’ve seen that with Moz in the past. We didn’t adopt to mobile as fast as maybe we should have. We saw that in the numbers, and we argued about it because we said, “You know what? This doesn’t really tell us what the opportunity is or what our customers or users want. It’s just telling us what we’re doing well or badly right now, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Audiences

The other mistake I think we make is the idea that these are three separate audiences. There are people who come to our site on desktop, people who come to our site on mobile, people who come to our site on voice, and these are three distinct groups of people. I think that’s incredibly wrong, and that leads to some very bad ideas and some bad tactical decisions and some bad choices.

So I want to share a couple of stats. There was a study Google did called The Multiscreen World, and this was almost six years ago, 2012. They found six years ago that 65% of searchers started a search on their smartphones. Two-thirds of searchers started on smartphones six years ago. Sixty percent of those searches were continued on a desktop or laptop. Again, this has been six years, so we know the adoption rate of mobile has increased. So these are not people who only use desktop or who only use mobile. These are people on a journey of search that move between devices, and I think in the real world it looks more something like this right now.

Another stat from the series was that 88% of people said that they used their smartphone and their TV at the same time. This isn’t shocking to you. You sit in front of the TV with your phone and you sit in front of the TV with your laptop. You might sit in front of the TV with a smartwatch. These devices are being used at the same time, and we’re doing more searches and we’re using more devices. So one of these things isn’t replacing the other.

The cross-device journey

So a journey could look something like this. You’re watching TV. You see an ad and you hear about something. You see a video you like. You go to your phone while you’re watching it, and you do a search on that to get more information. Then later on, you go to your laptop and you do a bit of research, and you want that bigger screen to see what’s going on. Then at the office the next day, you’re like, “Oh, I’ll pull up that bookmark. I wanted to check something on my desktop where I have more bandwidth or something.” You’re like, “Oh, maybe I better not buy that at work. I don’t want to get in trouble. So I’m going to home and go back to my laptop and make that purchase.” So this purchase and this transaction, this is one visitor on this chain, and I think we do this a lot right now, and that’s only going to increase, where we operate between devices and this journey happens across devices.

So the challenge I would make to you is if you’re looking at this and you’re saying, “Only so many percent of our users are on mobile. Our mobile experience doesn’t matter that much. It’s not that important. We can just live with the desktop people. That’s enough. We’ll make enough money.” If they’re really on this journey and they’re not segmented like this, and this chain, you break it, what happens? You lose that person completely, and that was a person who also used desktop. So that person might be someone who you bucketed in your 90%, but they never really got to the device of choice and they never got to the transaction, because by having a lousy mobile experience, you’ve broken the chain. So I want you to be aware of that, that this is the cross-device journey and not these segmented ideas.

Future touchpoints

This is going to get worse. This is going to get scarier for us. So look at the future. We’re going to be sitting in our car and we’re going to be listening — I still listen to CDs in the car, I know it’s kind of sad — but you’re going to be listening to satellite radio or your Wi-Fi or whatever you have coming in, and let’s say you hear a podcast or you hear an author and you go, “Oh, that person sounds interesting. I want to learn more about them.” You tell your smartwatch, “Save this search. Tell me something about this author. Give me their books.” Then you go home and you go on Google Home and you pull up that search, and it says, “Oh, you know what? I’ve got a video. I can’t play that because obviously I’m a voice search device, but I can send that to Chromecast on your TV.” So you send that to your TV, and you watch that. While you’re watching the TV, you’ve got your phone out and you’re saying, “Oh, I’d kind of like to buy that.” You go to Amazon and you make that transaction.

So it took this entire chain of devices. Again now, what about the voice part of this chain? That might not seem important to you right now, but if you break the chain there, this whole transaction is gone. So I think the danger is by neglecting pieces of this and not seeing that this is a journey that happens across devices, we’re potentially putting ourselves at much higher risk than we think.

On the plus side

I also want to look at sort of the positive side of this. All of these devices are touchpoints in the journey, and they give us credibility. We found something interesting at Moz a few years ago, which was that our sale as a SaaS product on average took about three touchpoints. People didn’t just hit the Moz homepage, do a free trial, and then buy it. They might see a Whiteboard Friday. They might read our Beginner’s Guide. They might go to the blog. They might participate in the community. If they hit us with three touchpoints, they were much more likely to convert.

So I think the great thing about this journey is that if you’re on all these touchpoints, even though to you that might seem like one search, it lends you credibility. You were there when they ran the search on that device. You were there when they tried to repeat that search on voice. The information was in that video. You’re there on that mobile search. You’re there on that desktop search. The more times they see you in that chain, the more that you seem like a credible source. So I think this can actually be good for us.

The SEO challenge

So I think the challenge is, “Well, I can’t go out and hire a voice team and a mobile team and do a design for all of these things. I don’t want to build a voice app. I don’t have the budget. I don’t have the buy-in.” That’s fine.
One thing I think is really great right now and that we’re encouraging people to experiment with, we’ve talked a lot about featured snippets. We’ve talked about these answer boxes that give you an organic result. One of the things Google is trying to do with this is they realize that they need to use their same core engine, their same core competency across all devices. So the engine that powers search, they want that to run on a TV. They want that to run on a laptop, on a desktop, on a phone, on a watch, on Goggle Home. They don’t want to write algorithms for all of these things.

So Google thinks of their entire world in terms of cards. You may not see that on desktop, but everything on desktop is a card. This answer box is a card. That’s more obvious. It’s got that outline. Every organic result, every ad, every knowledge panel, every news story is a card. What that allows Google to do, and will allow them to do going forward, is to mix and match and put as many pieces of information as it makes sense for any given device. So for desktop, that might be a whole bunch. For mobile, that’s going to be a vertical column. It might be less. But for a watch or a Google Glass, or whatever comes after that, or voice, you’re probably only going to get one card.

But one great thing right now, from an SEO perspective, is these featured snippets, these questions and answers, they fit on that big screen. We call it result number zero on desktop because you’ve got that box, and you’ve got a bunch of stuff underneath it. But that box is very prominent. On mobile, that same question and answer take up a lot more screen space. So they’re still a SERP, but that’s very dominant, and then there’s some stuff underneath. On voice, that same question and answer pairing is all you get, and we’re seeing that a lot of the answers on voice, unless they’re specialty like recipes or weather or things like that, have this question and answer format, and those are also being driven by featured snippets.

So the good news I think, and will hopefully stay good news going forward, is that because Google wants all these devices to run off that same core engine, the things you do to rank well for desktop and to be useful for desktop users are also going to help you rank on mobile. They’re going to help you rank on voice, and they’re going to help you rank across all these devices. So I want you to be aware of this. I want you to try and not to break that chain. But I think the things we’re already good at will actually help us going forward in the future, and I’d highly encourage you to experiment with featured snippets to see how questions and answers appear on mobile and to see how they appear on Google Home, and to know that there’s going to be an evolution where all of these devices benefit somewhat from the kind of optimization techniques that we’re already good at hopefully.

Encourage the journey chain

So I also want to say that when you optimize for answers, the best answers leave searchers wanting more. So what you want to do is actually encourage this chain, encourage people to do more research, give them rich content, give them the kinds of things that draw them back to your site, that build credibility, because this chain is actually good news for us in a way. This can help us make a purchase. If we’re credible on these devices, if we have a decent mobile experience, if we come up on voice, that’s going to help us really kind of build our brand and be a positive thing for us if we work on it.

So I’d like you to tell me, what are your fears right now? I think we’re a little scared of the mobile index. What are you worried about with voice? What are you worried about with IoT? Are you concerned that we’re going to have to rank on our refrigerators, and what does that mean? So it’s getting into science fiction territory, but I’d love to talk about it more. I will see you in the comment section.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Google search verification, Google legal woes & voice assistants

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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SearchCap: Optimizing for voice search & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Amazon Gets Patent for Delivery Drones with Gesture and Voice Recognition

Amazon has obtained approval on a new patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures and voices on Tuesday.

The patent, filed in July 2016 and published recently, is in line with the company’s goal to maintain a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that will rapidly deliver packages in 30 minutes or less. Through visual cues, voice commands, and a person’s gestures, the drone can establish its flight path, release the package, or ask humans about the delivery.

Patent illustration for Amazon drone

The document included several illustrations of the design, one of which shows the delivery drone and a man outside his home. He was wildly flailing his arms in what Amazon called an “unwelcoming manner,” a gesture as if to shoo away the drone overhead. A blank voice bubble suggests possible voice commands for the drone.

A diagram of the drone’s communication system includes speakers and microphones, as well as navigation components like depth sensors and cameras to detect visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light. Through its array of sensors, the delivery drone would recognize audible and visible gestures and react accordingly.

The patent also detailed the steps a drone would take when it reads body language—thanks to its human gestures database—as it delivers the package. Once it’s clear to deliver, the drone releases the parcels from the air or lands on a certain spot to place the package. It would be able to verify the recipient’s identity via an app, speech recognition, or remote operator.

Moreover, the delivery drone can add new movements to its database to improve the accuracy of its gesture-recognition system. “In some examples, when in the learning context, a human operator may interact with the UAV in order to ‘teach’ the UAV how to react given certain gestures, circumstances, and the like,” the patent stated.

The eCommerce giant has declined to comment on the gesture-recognition concept, but this isn’t the first time that Amazon has applied for something this ambitious. Since announcing plans to design an air delivery service, the company filed patents for mobile flying warehouses by using airships and self-destructing drones.  

[Featured image via Amazon]

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SEO in 2018: Optimizing for voice search

Columnist Bryson Meunier argues that by understanding the nuances of voice search, marketers can do a better job of helping searchers find exactly what they’re looking for when they’re asking for it by voice.

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