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Geo 101: Helping Your Brand Become A Voice Assistant’s ‘Preferred Answer’

The major players have remained mum on how their assistants actually choose answers — but there are steps that marketers can take in order to optimize.

From geo-targeting to voice search, technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far technology may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: what marketers need to know about getting recommended in voice search results.

Is There A Strategy To Getting Recommended?

We’ve covered why brands should begin building a voice strategy, as well as why the intelligent assistants (Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and more) that consumers interact with first and foremost via voice matter to marketers in general.

But the major question still on the table for marketers is this: Is there a way to improve your chances of being recommended/suggested by these voice assistants when a user asks a question related to your brand or business?

Well, yes and no. How Alexa, for example, actually chooses answers remains a black box. We can speculate that Amazon is pulling from common sources and situations like Google does (like Wikipedia, accuweather, answers with structured data, and the like), but they have not shared anything definitive.

That said, there are steps that marketers can take in order to optimize for the “voice-first era” — and improve their chances of getting “recommended” by intelligent assistants.

What Brands Can Do Today

“Some of this work is simple — if technical — while other elements are more difficult to move the needle on, and some even beyond a company’s direct control,” explained Duane Forrester, search marketing expert and VP of industry insights at Yext [Full disclosure: Yext owns GeoMarketing. More details on that relationship here]. “For example, including structured data mark up on your page can help (and www.schema.org is a great starting point for this). That’s a technical item you can directly change.

“The tougher nut to crack is the parts beyond your direct control. Reviews are an excellent example of this: You can impact service in positive ways, but a customer can still opt to leave a bad review. And because reviews matter so much today in terms of sentiment extraction — and thus ranking — you can never stop striving for better: service, products, communications, clarity, et cetera. But if you build useful content, take the technical steps to mark it up and you’re working for good reviews, you’re solidly in line to be spoken out loud in voice search today.”

In the future, it’s possible that options like paid recommendation — similar to paid search ads today — might become an option, but there’s no definitive sign of that yet. Today, success in voice appears to be a direct result of a combined effort across all content — from a business’ customer service to its technical site aspects.

“Never has this approach of focusing across all of your digital marketing and content areas been so important,” Forrester concluded. “But with today’s mobile-first focus — and the rapid growth of voice-powered systems and AI making filtering decisions at the engines — it’s critical to invest in all areas, rather than picking a singe tactic and hoping it will grow your business.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.