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The New SEO: 'Siri Engine Optimization'

  |  October 19, 2011   |  Comments

How will Siri, and voice-based search in general, change how people search from their mobile devices?

Recently, Apple unleashed its new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 5. Along with the update came the integration of a new voice command-based personal assistant dubbed "Siri," which allows the user to have a "conversation" with their device for things like setting reminders, meetings, as well as sending text messages and emails transcribed from voice. In addition to acting as a personal assistant, Siri is also able to search for nearly any type of data or information leveraging various third-party sites such as Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, and Google.

Traditionally, SEO has stood for search engine optimization. However, with the introduction of Siri, it is worth considering how people are using the functionality and to begin looking at a new form of SEO: Siri engine optimization. Certainly this technology is not new, and yet with the integration with such devices beyond Android, the volume is going to get significant.

The question search marketers should be asking is "How will the integration of Siri begin to affect our strategies and optimization efforts?" Having only been out a very short time, it's tough to say for sure, but below are a few surefire strategies that you should be considering.

Local Search

Many searches conducted from a mobile device are location specific, such as looking for directions, finding nearby restaurants, or local services such as finding a plumber. With Siri, the importance becomes less about the visit to your website and more about just being visible to the end user. Whenever possible, Siri checks for data that will allow it to create a more visual experience using listings from Yelp, Google Maps, etc.


Therefore, it's critical to ensure that your business is not only listed on these third-party sites, but is fully optimized with accurate address, phone number, and images, is receiving positive reviews, and is being rated highly by as many people as possible in order to increase the likelihood that you'll show up at the top of Siri's results. How to go about increasing these ratings and reviews is another post, but the following are a fast pass to the top of Siri's results.

Schema Tags for Structure Data

I've written previously on Schema.org tags and how they aim to assist the search engines in better understanding and structuring the content available on your website. These tags may prove to become even more important for Siri users. Siri conducts a complex analysis on the intent behind your spoken words and looks to provide you with results as close as possible to what you're asking. For example, if you are in need of a plumber, you may ask Siri "Who are the nearest plumbers in my area?" Siri could potentially check Google and return results based on sites using the Local Business schema tag for plumbers. With Rich Snippets being integrated into Google's result pages, it's also wise to include the address, telephone, and opening hours schema tags as well. Providing the engines with a highly structured and outlined view of your data will allow for a clearer picture of what your site has to offer and may be the key differentiator you need to get the potential customer's attention.

Longer Tail Keyword Optimization

Looking beyond local search activity, Siri has the potential to further expand the depth of language and specificity being used to search. Over recent years, we've seen the long tail of keyword searches increasing as people become smarter at using the engines to find exactly what they are looking for. With Siri, people are able to search in a more "natural" language without the bother of typing out long queries on small screens one letter at a time. Knowing that longer tail keywords typically have a high conversion rate, it will become increasingly important to closely monitor analytics packages for shifts and trends in the long tail traffic originating from mobile searches that may be beneficial to optimize against. Constantly striving to understand how people's search habits change over time as new technology is presented to them may allow you to take advantage of low-hanging fruit faster than the competition.

With over 4 million iPhone 4S's sold in the first three days, Siri is now in the hands of a huge user base in an industry where mobile search has seen significant growth in a very short amount of time. As voice functionality such as Siri are expanded into new devices and markets, it is up to marketers to understand the cumulative effects on the industry and determine which strategies are likely to result in the most visibility for their business. How else do you see Siri, and voice-based search in general, changing how people search from their mobile devices?

Crispin Sheridan

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Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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