You may have heard that the iPhone’s new voice-command and personal/search assistant “Siri” will be “the end of SEO as we know it.” Undoubtedly a shift is coming, but I for one doubt it will be as disruptive as the apocolyptos might have you believe. After all, we’re not all going to use only our phones for everything. We like our laptops, and in addition, bargain hunting (AKA commercial search) is deeply ingrained in human nature.
There are a lot of fun things Siri can do including transcribing text to voice, setting reminders, playing music, checking the weather, getting directions, and yes carrying out search queries. Undoubtedly, Siri will catch on like wildfire, and as a result will compete with many apps and tools, including search engines.
Optimizing for Siri
The integration of Siri will begin to affect strategies and optimization efforts, but most of these things should be part of an immersive SEO program from the start.
Local Search for Siri
People search from mobile devices on the move; they’re not sitting down to do in-depth research. A majority of mobile searches are location-specific including directions, finding nearby restaurants, or other local services.
With Siri, it’s not about people getting to your website through Google placement alone because visibility comes from other sources. Siri wants to give users a visual experience and draws data from local listing sites such as Yelp, Google Maps, Citysearch, YP, etc. There are more than 60 of these sites on which it is well worth your time to create a listing. It’s not just for Siri, getting listed on (and links from) all these sites improves local listing and organic placements in SERPs as well.
Obviously, you’ll want your information to be correct, up to date, and fully filled out on these sites with accurate address, phone number, images, positive reviews, and a high number of ratings. For more info on local optimization, check out our post on local listings SEO.
Rich Snippets and Schema Tags
Schema.org lets you use a specific markup language (web code) to identify specific information about your business and web presence and make that information more easily found by search engines.
Search engines are using on-page tags in a variety of ways. Google uses them to create rich snippets in search results and will continue to do so more and more. These snippets include author information, address, phone number, operating hours, and so on. So you can see how these tags have value to local searches such as are the focus of Siri. Offering a highly structured format for this information makes it that much easier to be found.
Variety in Linkbuilding and Long Tail Keywords
This is the first version of Siri, and its depth of language capabilities will continue to increase with new versions. Therefore the following effect will only continue to grow. Already, the length of Siri queries are longer because users are searching in natural speech rather than pecking away at keyboards or small iPhone touchscreens.
The result is more long-tail and highly targeted searches. Optimizing for long-tail means more words on the page and more flexible link building. Both of these strategies work in organic search as well, so you won’t even have to duplicate your efforts.
It used to be that you chose your anchor text and could simply bang away at it over and over. With enough links, you’d move on up. That hasn’t been best practice for a while, and Google is becoming even more focused on natural-looking anchor text profiles. Not only is this a safety-first method, but it’s also more efficient. Flexible anchor text (anchor text with the keyword integrated here and there, but also broadly varied) is more efficient in increasing rankings, even for the targeted, high-volume terms.
Back to Siri, the efforts you make to naturalize and get the most out of your link profile will also help you rank for long-tail searches, which Siri is all about. As a bonus, long tail searches are more targeted to the specific needs of a given search query and therefore convert at higher rates.
The iPhone 4s (S is for Siri? Seems that way to me…) is Apple’s best-selling phone to date, with 4 million sales in three days. Verizon started carrying the iPhone earlier this year and even Sprint has had no choice but to jump on the bandwagon. It’s a monolith, and it’s the impetus for a new fold of search optimization.