Today’s Reflect round-up is largely about digital assistants. CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas began yesterday and both Google and Amazon had some exciting news to share about Google Assistant and Alexa respectively.
Google has announced in the past that it is partnering with a lot of electrical manufacturers such as LG to bring the Google Assistant to more devices. At the CES show on Tuesday they elaborated that the assistant will be added to an even greater range of devices. This includes voice-activated speakers from Bang & Olufsen, JBL, Jensen, LG and Klipsch. Google also announced that the Assistant will be available in smart displays, touch screen devices that will have the Assistant built in. So not only can Google Assistant read out a recipe to you, it will be able to play you the video of the recipe being cooked. Google Assistant will also mean you are able to take video calls via Google Duo on the smart displays. Android Auto, software available in 40+ brands of automobiles will also benefit from Google Assistant, meaning tuning into your favourite playlist or getting directions whilst driving is going to be even simpler.
Apparently Google Assistant is now available on over 400 million devices.
Not to be left behind, Amazon has already installed Alexa within devices such as a bathroom mirror, an LG smart fridge and some glasses that sound suspiciously like the ill-fated Google Glass project. They aren’t stopping there either with Alexa due to roll out across a wide variety of other products.
This essentially means that voice search is going to be used in even more instances that traditional search could not be, such as when you are driving a car.
The question really is, who is going win in the end? Google or Amazon?
Google has recently started sending out notices via Google Search Console to podcast, recipe and news website owners in the US who have either AMP pages or structured data on their site. The notices instruct owners of how they can make the most of the newly created Google Assistant “Actions” on their site.
The Actions are devised to allow Google Assistant to return information for those types of content. Like start a podcast or read out a recipe. A bit like Alexa skills as far as I can tell.
Google has created a directory of Actions that can be completed using Google Assistant and individual websites that are eligible for these types of Actions can claim their own personalised directory.
So, it just shows that if you are serious about making your website available for digital assistants it will be prudent to pay attention to the ways your content can better be utilised through them.
Finally, Google has announced they have released their Google Assistant and voice search quality guidelines.
Similar to the search quality raters guidelines released last year, these new guidelines are provided to raters to help them determine whether the algorithms are returning sufficient information when a voice search is performed.
Raters are told to look at aspects such as information satisfaction, the length of answers and the elocution of answers when read out.
This gives website owners a clue that to make content that is suitable for digital assistants it needs to be easily understood when read out, so complicated, wordy answers that can’t be scanned with the eyes will not be great for meeting the needs of users. Similarly, words that are hard for a digital assistant to pronounce won’t be helpful to users as they might not be able to understand the words unless they can read it.
Essentially, the same advice still stands; write your website content with users in mind, not just the search engines, but really consider how it sounds when spoken out loud, not just read.