Google Now and Siri Part 2, Voice Search’s Effect on Search Engine Marketing

In Google Now and Siri Part 1, we took a look at how voice search tools could affect the future of mobile advertising from the perspective of publishers like Google. In Part 2, we’ll look at how voice search and other mobile functionalities may also change search engine marketers roles as well.

Voice search is a first step in changing the way users find answers to questions and find products and services they are looking for. We can’t forget that only as far back as the early 90’s, consumers reached for a phone book, called a friend or searched through the local newspaper for the same things. Keyword search allowed consumers to do this much more efficiently via the web.

Amazon Window Shopping

Today, we have incredibly efficient websites and apps for finding everything we need. From Google Maps to Yelp to Amazon’s window shopping app, we can find basically everything we need through a quick web search.

Search engine marketing used to be the way for businesses to connect with consumers at any phase of the buying cycle. But what happens when voice search allows a consumer to skip search all together?

Let’s say I get home and my two year old daughter has gotten a hold of my wrench under the sink and is now dancing in, from her perspective, a fantastical water rainbow. I use my wife’s iPhone 5 and ask Siri to find me the highest rated plumber in my area. In order to provide the most relevant result, Siri may display the top rated plumbers in Atlanta – from Yelp. Uh, oh. There goes the opportunity for our local plumbers to show me their search ad.

Siri Google Killer

Google has always pledged to serve us the most relevant results but, as we discussed in Part 1, they may slow the development of voice search functionality in places where it reduces mobile ad impression volume. To stay competitive, these functionalities should hit Google Now and/or Android devices sometime in the near future.

To be clear, Google and Bing search advertising aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Searches that are more complex or require refined answers will still be made, just not through voice search. We SEM folk have some time before we need to worry about voice search significantly impacting our territory. Even once more advanced voice search is commercially available, large-scale adoption will take time.

We can be sure that mobile searches will continue to surge as most of the industry gurus have projected and we’ll continue to see opportunities to engage folks more often and at even more precise moments within the purchase process – all via a mobile device. We as search marketers must adapt to the ever-changing digital media landscape and diversify our strengths beyond search. **

My advice to you? Start reading up on contextual, display and cookie based targeting. Ask your display media friends to introduce you to their favorite reps. Learn how to advertise on Facebook. And, most importantly, start testing campaigns and learn best practices for all existing and new media channels. If it’s digital – it’s your domain. The largest opportunity in mobile will be in strategically-targeted, cross-channel campaigns. With a broad media skill set, you’ll be able to tackle any challenge a new technology presents!

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