Have you played ‘Stump Alexa’? Maybe you should

Sep 13 , 2017

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

When it comes to new technologies, there’s always a learning curve. And learning often starts with games and conversations among new users and wannabes. That and much, much more seems to be happening now with Alexa, the voice-controlled personal assistant service that works with Amazon Echo and a growing number of other devices.

Business uses for Alexa are blossoming. The Consumer Electronics Show, held last month in Las Vegas, proved the point for the second year in a row. Ford, Westinghouse, LG, GE and ADT are only some of the brands building connections to Alexa In just one year, Alexa’s skills set has jumped from 1,000 to more than 10,000.

Asking around among the many technology adopters who either received Alexa as a holiday gift or are one of millions who have recently purchased it, some use it to find out the weather, raise and lower lighting, play music, set their alarms and/or play “Stump Alexa” at dinner parties.

A new world of voice search

Actually, playing “Stump Alexa” with friends may be more beneficial than it first sounds. Testing out your voice commands for Alexa can help you realize the changes that are necessary for a new world of “voice search,” which most studies say is already used daily by more than 50 percent of U.S. teenagers – who also use voice assistants like Siri on iPhones.

Asking Alexa questions will make you realize that your voice searches usually include more than five words and start with “how” or “what.” It will also help you understand the growing need for pages on your website that have “conversational content” that, when searched, can deliver understandable answers to voice queries.

Something else you learn from using Alexa or Siri is that while the queries are long, the answers are generally short. The average first page of a Google search contains close to 1,900 words. That is not the case with voice search. There is no opportunity to scan multiple answers or go to the next page without initiating a second query. This makes your voice search acumen a critical success factor for turning younger prospects into buyers. It means more audio/video on your website, as well.

Optimizing for voice is not just for Alexa

Alexa has surpassed and popularized voice search beyond Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Google Now and more. But it is only the beginning for the challenges of using voice search to promote products and services. Using voice services means continually making the search terms and the responses more conversational. Complicate the horizon with regional and national dialects, idioms and colloquialisms and voice search becomes an art form as much as a science.

Mobile SEO is still king

While we are excited about voice search, it is important that your organization continues to invest in optimizing your website for mobile search, and you continue to develop smartphone apps your prospects and customers can use to more easily do business with you or access your content.

Recent studies show that smartphone users spend about 90 hours a month on their device and the majority of that time is spent on apps. Many companies, particularly in the travel industry, have seen double-digit increases in mobile purchases. Additionally, the mobile device has proven to be a convenient and important business tool. Nearly 50 percent of business product researchers use their mobile devices at work.

However, with voice search growing by leaps and bounds, you need to be in the game. While you may not have an Alexis connection like GE has to actually operate its products, the same information that you’ve been serving up on search engines can also be served up by Alexa if your website is optimized for voice search. Playing “Stump Alexa” may, indeed, give you important insights into this new service – and that’s definitely a competitive advantage.

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