Prepare For Future Search: SEO For The Connected Home(Kit)
My wife called me at work last week to let me know that she locked herself out of the house. Oddly enough, she had her phone with her but not her keys. If this had happened six months in the future, I would have never received her call because she would have just unlocked the […]
Oddly enough, she had her phone with her but not her keys. If this had happened six months in the future, I would have never received her call because she would have just unlocked the door with her phone.
This is all thanks to a newly announced iOS feature called HomeKit, coming to iPhones and iPads this fall.
HomeKit, which premiered earlier this month at Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), turns your iPhone or iPad into a remote control for your house, giving you the ability to control lights, locks, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs and switches with the touch of your finger or a voice command to Siri.
With so many devices coming online, the SEO of the future must consider how smart devices might disrupt our industry.
I’m not just talking about how search engines will use smart devices to collect personal data which they can use to personalize search results — one reason why Google acquired Nest last year. More than that, smart devices already have the ability to perform searches themselves and will one day be able to initiate purchase decisions.
While certainly not mainstream yet, the technology exists for household appliances, such as the humble refrigerator, to perform some impressive tricks.
For example, LG has a smart refrigerator that can keep track of what food you have and when it expires. In tomorrow’s world we’ll see those appliances sync up with grocery delivery services to restock your fridge when it runs low, and soon they’ll begin to make purchase decisions and even recommend improvements to your grocery list (with your permission, of course).
These connected appliance recommendations will be given to you based on search results the device will run itself, based off which product or service best meets your usage needs, location, available inventory, consumer ratings, price matching, brand affinity, friends’ recommendations, available coupons and a host of other inputs it searches for online.
These aren’t traditional keyword searches; rather, they are more like data pulls from various online product feeds, social networks and user review sites. They don’t care about how entertaining that infographic or blog post you just wrote was. Their sole concern is matching online data inputs with their human’s usage preferences in order to recommend the best brand of batteries to replace those in your dimming smoke detector.
The SEO of the connected home, connected car and connected world future needs to understand what these devices are looking for, in a similar way to how we look at what humans are searching for today.
We’ll find that every device will act like a vertical search engine, and if your company sells a service or product that touches a smart device, you had better get ready to master that device’s search algorithm.
Mastering The Algorithm
SEOs need to understand the inputs each device is using to generate their recommendations. A refrigerator might be looking for party recipes with trusted reviews, while a TV might be looking at what shows your friends watched on Netflix. Your toilet might be analyzing local plumbers on AngiesList, while your washing machine is scouring coupon sites for discounts on color-safe detergent.
An SEO who wants their product or service to show up well as a device recommendation must then understand and try to influence the places these devices will go to for their data feeds. We already see this done to a small extent in the hospitality industry, where reviews on Yelp and Google+ can help determine what shows up for a local travel search.
Once you identify the data sources for your industry, you’ll want to focus on:
- Making sure your product/service profile is claimed, and the description is tailored to your target consumer.
- Getting users to engage with your listing through a review, share, rating, like, comment, etc.
There will be additional factors such as whether the product/service is local, in stock and at the right price. These are things that are generally beyond an SEO’s scope, but it will require us to work with various groups in the company to make sure they are fully optimized on all fronts.
Good For Consumers — Disrupting For Marketers
At the end of the day, smart devices doing searches on a consumer’s behalf is a good thing. With so much data out there, it’s impossible for consumers to keep up with all the latest and greatest product features, discounts and reviews. Delegating the mundane task of choosing a better dish soap to a device that’s designed for that specific task improves a consumer’s quality of life.
But make no mistake, it’s going to be disrupting for SEOs.
We’ll see more specialization in SEO as different skill sets emerge for different device optimization. The one-size-fits-all approach of developing great content will now need to be part of a more holistic SEO strategy. Tracking rankings and traffic from Google will be just one of several KPIs.
Remember, devices won’t visit your site as a human would. They prefer to simply pull data from third-party sources. This means all sorts of changes for how SEOs collect data and measure success.
But with every major change comes major opportunity, and marketers who understand and embrace how SEO will change as smart homes come alive will be the ones who thrive in the upcoming machine revolution.