We all know Siri by now – Apple’s highly competent speech recognition assistant embedded at the heart of their latest iOS.
I believe it will be a game changer. Not just for Apple, I’m pretty sure Android and/or others will ‘get’ an assistant at some point too. But for now, Siri is the first in town.
From an optimisation point of view this throws up a number of amazing questions about where all of this is heading. What does it mean for SEO as a profession? What does it mean to businesses that source customers from search? So, lets get stuck in!
1. What do I need to do to ‘get on’ Siri?
This is the question a business will ask, secure in their knowledge that ‘Siri is a Google’. Well, lets just clear that up. If you ask Siri to ‘search the web for best widget’ then by default, you are searching Google – no great news here, Google is the iOS search engine if choice. So the quick answer to the above question is ‘be on Google’.
Inevitably, this will lead to question 2:
2. So I just need to be #1 Google to be chosen as the Siri result, right?
Answer here is ‘ No, No and Yes’. (boy, I would hate someone to give me that kind of answer, but hear me out)
No- because Siri is not just a speech activated Google. People will not necessarily use it as per a search engine input box, and therefore the style of answers (‘results’) will be different.
No- because if your site does not return semantically rich data to Google but still does OK, this may be enough reason for reason for Siri to pass you by and choose the next guy instead. I would imagine that Siri is interested in the popular long tail, query based results rather than some of the more competitive but less helpful generic search phrases.
Yes- if you have mastered the above, it could well be the best move you make.
3. Can I sell ‘Siri Optimisation’?
No guesses here who’s piped up, its Mr SEO who is looking for the next bolt-on (whilst still riding the social media bandwagon). But to answer his question: No. Not yet. Until Siri collects (or learns from) enough question/ response data to form its own distinct algorithm, your best bet is to concentrate on optimising for the data sources that feed into Siri.
But, the day is coming when Siri will step out on its own. Siri is not a Google, rather it’s an entity that may choose to use Google. It may also choose to use Facebook one day, or look at it’s own database of answers others found useful. Because it will learn, and because its non-human, the fascinating thing is it may develop ultra-efficiant data search and retrieval methods that render current search front ends as useless. Plus of course it will shape itself to you.
This aspect alone makes it highly unlikely Siri can be ‘gamed’ in any way by the black hat SEO community. So it seems the best policy for now is to carry on as normal, but be ready for the complete opposite!