‘Tis the season to pick up the latest gadgets for your friends and family. This year, some of the hottest devices are hands-free assistants, such as the Amazon Echo, and the brand new Google Home. In an article on business2community.com author Brad Keys explains how SEO is affected by the key differentiators between Google Home and Amazon Echo, which is the Google Home’s robust updated software, a tool called “Google Assistant.”
Apart from being able to play music, edit your calendar, or create notes on your behalf, the biggest selling point of Google Home is its ability to quickly answer your questions in a conversational format. Due to the screen-less nature of these types of devices, the inherent difference between asking Google Assistant a question or running the same search query on your phone is that Google Assistant is going to provide you with a simple conversational answer to your question, and there will be no opportunity to explore a results page, as you would on your screened device.
So where does Google Assistant get its answers from, and how can you use them to your advantage?
Google Assistant relies heavily on Google’s featured snippets to answer questions. Featured snippets (also known as rich answers) are the brief explanations that appear at the top of the search engine results page when you ask a question that Google thinks it can answer. In simple terms, if you asked Google Assistant a question and then you ran the same search query on your desktop or mobile browser, you would likely see the same answer that Google Assistant gives you at the top of your results page as one of Google’s featured snippets.
If you want to turn your content into a featured snippet and claim this coveted top spot, there are some general steps you can follow. First, you will need to identify what question your content is trying to answer, and it should always be something relevant to your market area. It is important that the question literally appears (as it would in a search query) on your page within a header tag (h2, h3, etc.) Beneath that header is where you will provide the content as you want it to appear within the featured snippet box, this content should be within a <p> paragraph tag. The next step is to add valuable supporting information or content beyond the direct answer. Lastly, you should make it as easy as possible for Google to find your content by adding structured data, which allows Google to better understand what type of content you have on your site.
Focusing your website (or parts of it) towards influencing these featured snippets is an SEO technique that’s been around for some time now, but the emergence of hands free voice search devices brings a new importance to this strategy. If you are successful, you’ll not only increase the influence of your content, but you’ll also be limiting the influence of your competition by claiming the top spot, or in the case of hands-free devices, the only spot.