Current projections suggest that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, and that by the same year screens won’t be used in 30% of searches. This is the new reality following the unstoppable rise of the voice assistant. Are you prepared for voice search? With a voice app available for UX Companion and much more besides, Cyber-Duck is well on the way to harnessing this exciting new technology.

Search engines are the beating heart of the internet, but until recently we could only interact with the internet and search engines via screens and keyboards. Humans are adept at using tools and adapting to new technologies. But using screens in this way isn’t as natural or as intuitive as we techies think it is. You need only ask older generations to use a smartphone or computer to see how disarming it really is.

However, with the rise of smart voice assistants, we now have a technological solution for interacting with the internet that is natural and user friendly. All you need to do is ask your device a question and it will read the best answer back to you.

This is a game-changer for technology, because when voice assistants work they bridge the gap between humans and computers like never before. For a user experience design agency specialising in digital transformation, it doesn't get any better than this.

And we’re not just saying that either. Cyber-Duck has produced several ‘proof of concepts’ for our clients to demonstrate the capabilities of voice assistant platforms. Some even made it to the backlog of our clients' 2018 delivery roadmap. 

Voice assistants will change SEO

For years, digital marketers have created amazing content to sell their wares and services online. A major part of that type of content marketing has been Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

SEO is a strategy for tailoring content in a way that makes it more likely to appear in the top results on search engines. Successful SEO takes keen research, a creative approach and an intimate knowledge of how search engine algorithms work and how people use search engines. It’s the reason why you might find bizarre phrases online, like London-based digital agency, appearing in the middle of sentences. (See what I did there?) People input words and phrases into search engines like Google in a way that is easy and quick. If a user wants to know if there’s a Thai restaurant in Brixton, for instance, they will simply search ‘Thai restaurant Brixton’. How we interact with computers and search engines when we type is specialised, and so SEO and the keywords we use has reflected that in the past.

Amazon Alexa Skill developers JimCare

How users search for information and interact with voice assistants is different to how they use standard search engines and browsers. We need to change our strategies to accommodate these changes.

But in the past few years, that has begun to change. Voice technology has been a major driver of this change, mainly because voice assistants mean that we must alter how we conduct SEO audits and implement keywords. When users interact with voice assistants, they are obviously speaking to the device, not typing into it; how we talk and how we write are entirely different. While businesses have been adopting longtail keywords that mimic speech for a long time now, the dawn of the voice assistant makes doing so even more urgent. We need to reflect how users actually speak to devices instead of how they write, and we need to do so sooner rather than later in order to maintain our rankings on Google. For the above example for a Thai restaurant, that means you need to answer the full question ‘Are there any Thai restaurants in Brixton?’ to guarantee that you rank higher. Google’s algorithms have been changed to accommodate these changes, as we’ll discuss further down.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. We get to utilise a whole new way of interacting with our audiences, and the faster that businesses understand that the better off users across the world will be. For SEO to work in the future, we need unique, keyword-rich and engaging content to drive visitors to share it. Higher quality content can only be beneficial to our users. 

Disruption is integral to success

Of course, it’s worth noting that when we shift to using voice assistants, how often we interact with screens will decrease dramatically. Up until now, if you ranked in the first page of Google for your keywords, you could happily chalk that up as a win for your marketing team. Not so with voice assistants. Voice assistants will only read out small snippets of one result from searches. The challenge is to ensure the voice assistant AI chooses your content over others.

As a result, we need to start making our websites more like authoritative voices in their own right. We need to answer the questions users are asking, and form our answers in ways that are friendly to voice assistants. That means ensuring we aim for the top spot on Google, looking to answer common and specialist questions which Google can extract and place in its Featured Snippet field. Failing to do so will see even the second result on a results page lose traffic.

Likewise, we need to think about how we can create intuitive apps and skills for voice assistant devices that help users. Only the most popular skills will be enabled by users on their devices so we need to move quickly to bring engaging content and exciting apps to voice assistants first to ensure we gain a competitive advantage.

Voice assistant developers in London

Cyber-Duck has developed several internal apps using the voice AI assistant. Most prominently, we used AWS Lambda to develop an Amazon Alexa skill for our award-winning app, UX Companion. First released in 2015, UX Companion is a handy glossary of key UX terms, designed to help UX designers and marketers to learn or refresh their knowledge on core UX design topics.

While the glossary did well on iOS and Android, we wanted to bring UX Companion to more users than ever before. Our expert mobile app developers therefore set to work developing UX Companion into an Amazon Alexa skill. Our experts Gareth and Simone utilised AWS Lambda to harness the power of Alexa and ensure our app provided a seamless experience through Alexa. Check out UX Companion’s Alexa skill demo video below.

UX Companion continues to evolve. Here's our trailer for the Amazon Alexa Skill of the app, Ask UX companion.

You can discover more about UX Companion here, and also see how we turned it into a Progressive Web Application (PWA).

But our expertise doesn’t stop there. At one of our latest hackathons, our designers, marketers and developers worked together to develop a proof of concept holiday companion app. This assistant would help you to budget for your holidays, and find out the best tourist attractions and restaurants. It’s all a bit hush hush for now, but it hopes to be a major helping hand for travellers to make the most of their holidays. Get in touch if you want a sneak preview of our Frügl bot & voice assistant.

Cyber-Duck is well-versed in the art of voice AI assistant development. Our work has been recognised time and again, and our proof of concepts have been optioned by our clients too. You can rest assured that if you require a skilled digital agency to deliver intuitive voice assistant marketing strategies and apps, you’re in safe hands with Cyber-Duck. Get in touch with our expert team today to find out more about making your business voice-friendly.

Join us at UX Live, october 2018

For more on how to create user-friendly voice assistants for your business, join us at UX Live from 25-26 October, 2018. We're a proud sponsor of one of London's largest UX conferences this year, where we'll be hosting live panel discussions and workshops. Our headlining workshop will feature practical tips on how to create your own user-friendly conversational user interface. Tickets available now.

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Sylvain Reiter

Client Services Officer

As Cyber-Duck's CSO, Sylvain works throughout the organisation to deliver high-quality technical solutions for our clients.

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