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Voice activated "What can I help you with?"

Voice search AI and local business strategy

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer system to perform tasks of human intelligence.

Conspiracy theories about what Artificial Intelligence is, can do, or what it’s used for are all over the place. Humans are naturally fearful of what we don’t fully understand so we create adverse ideas and scenarios to rationalize our fear.

Whether you harbor suspicions about AI or not it’s already here and making things easier. As I write this blog Google’s Smart Reply just identified the text in an email and provided me 3 options to use in response with the click of a button…boom just saved twelve keystrokes.

Speaking of saved keystrokes, AI has made huge strides in the voice activated virtual assistant channel. Virtual assistants are in-home devices like Alexa and Google Home, but they’re also available on your mobile devices like Siri and Cortana. Virtual assistants recognize voice commands in many different languages with only a 5.9% error rate; meaning they understand the same amount as you or I do in a conversation now.

When using a virtual assistant you are utilizing it’s AI to understand your spoken words to go to work for you. No they wont go get you a cup of coffee, but they can find you a good deal on a hotel. Virtual assistants deploy with your spoken request, filter through more lines of code than perhaps people on the planet, and return results within seconds. Pretty cool huh? What might have taken minutes or hours is done in a blink just by speaking.

As a business owner why should I care about virtual assistants?

It’s estimated that by 2020 50% of all search will be by voice command. As voice search becomes more highly used it is imperative that businesses develop a voice search strategy, especially smaller businesses that probably depend on local.

Here are a few areas to consider when designing a voice search strategy.

  • Consistent NAP listings (Name, Address, Phone) on all web presence i.e. Yelp, Website, Social
  • Rich Content (images, videos, keywords)
  • Relevant Content
  • Write content more conversational (for people not machines)
  • Use customer reviews and FAQ pages
  • Links to location specific webpages (Deep Linking)
  • List on Google My Business…psst…it’s free

When voice searching, people are more conversational than when text search (because we’re lazy). Keywords are no longer succinct, they are long-tail+ and which should mimic how people would talk to one another.

  • What restaurant near me has the best patio and a great bunch menu?
  • What grocery store around here has the freshest seafood?
  • Siri where are live music shows downtown this weekend?

Did you notice “near me”? About 22% of all voice queries contain “near me” or “nearby”, and 88% of all “near me” searches are done on mobile devices. The incorporation of a voice search strategy has quickly become a business’ flashing neon sign.

As AI evolves it’s paramount that local businesses pay attention to all advancements in AI that will help them create and retain customers. I know, AI is new, AI is complex, AI is a big scary digital monster tracking all you do and spreading all your secrets, but being fearful of, or headstrong against AI is a business’ doom.

Why do I work at AWG? “Having grown up locally, my second job as a teenager was actually at Price Chopper on 78th and State Ave., also throughout the years I have known many family and friends that have worked, or are still employed with AWG. Given all my exposure to AWG I have seen a stable, growing, company that cares about it’s employees. The qualities which I hold highest from an employer.” -Bryan

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