Smart home technology has been a public interest for the last several years. Countless wireless gadgets, from smart thermostats to smart ovens, have been released as individual smart home components, but as of yet, there hasnâ€™t been any singular technology to stitch all these individual pieces together into the Jetsons-style reality weâ€™ve all been longing for.
Now, major tech companies like Google and Amazon are entering the ring, trying to centralize smart home developments and pave a path toward a more integrated residential future. Google has Google Home, but with their core product still being search, how will this product affect the landscape of search optimization? How will other smart home devices affect the way people search and glean results?
The Digital Assistant Era
First, itâ€™s important to realize that what weâ€™re really dealing with is the power of digital assistants, a technology thatâ€™s been growing in sophistication and prevalence for the last several years. Itâ€™s not the fact that Google Home is a smart home device that interests search marketers, but rather the fact that it can be used simply to capture and execute vocal commands. I forecast the growth of digital assistant technology in 2017, and this is just one extension of that realm.
True Conversational Queries
Having a product in the home that can pick up and respond to your commands, without any need for manual buttons, screens, or interfaces, means more people are going to be making conversational queriesâ€”in the truest sense. Consumers arenâ€™t going to be typing in individual keywords; instead, theyâ€™ll be asking questions and giving commands, which means the importance of long-tail keywords is going to skyrocket. Google Home may also engage consumers in conversation, asking for refinement or further commands, which could significantly shape how users search on a regular basis.
Another major development from Google Home is the fact that its digital assistant technology will be focused on providing consumers one result at a time. Rather than scrolling down and seeing the top 10 relevant results (or top 3 in the case of local SEO), users will only see or hear from one main option unless they specifically choose to look for something else. If your strategy revolves around coming up with catchy article titles, or one of your main priorities is optimizing for local SEO, this could be a major drawback for your campaign. First-position rankings are going to significantly increase in importance, with anything below first decreasing in importance.
Interface and Visit Restrictions
Google Home also doesnâ€™t have an interface by itself; you can use it in coordination with other mobile devices, tablets, and laptops, but it doesnâ€™t have the traditional search results layout weâ€™re used to, nor does it offer users an easy or immediate way to traverse websites. Because of this, Google Home may start to reshape how users engage with websitesâ€”or even start pushing websites toward obsolescence altogether. There are already some rumblings moving to replace websites completely, with favoritism toward apps and other dedicated, more immediate forms of interaction and information provision rising in both relevance and popularity. This could be another significant step in that direction.
This change could mean that even your existing search rankings could bear less fruit in terms of visitors, with those visitors less likely to interact with the various components of your site.
User Data and Personalization Galore
There have already been some privacy concerns raised about the nature and limitations of Google Home. Because the device exists in your home and connects with many other personal devices, the device has the potential to gather more data about you and your personal life than almost anything else on the market. Google has pledged not to violate any privacy laws or use data for nefarious purposes, but the search engine giant has never shied away from using user data to improve the search experience.
My guess is that once Google starts collecting these massive swaths of multifaceted data, itâ€™s going to take search personalization to a whole new level. Users will start seeing recommendations for products, services, and pages long before they even realize they need them, and marketers are going to have to pivot accordingly to keep up.