The evolution of how businesses are found online

One of the factors in why I first became interested in the Online Presence space was when I first saw SIRI (the voice that you talk to on your iPhone).  I am not talking about the watered down Apple version but what SIRI was before it was acquired by Apple and then subsequently hobbled (though its much better now).

In pre apple SIRI you could ask it to find nearby italian restaurants that are open now and then directly make a reservation.

 

This really brought home to me how important a business’s online information would be moving forward and how we are moving away from people looking for businesses and choosing one at their own discretion to a world where businesses will be recommended by an algorithm and the user will be given limited choice over which businesses they are presented.

This is as much a factor of form changes as anything else as we move from large desktop computers with big screens, to laptops, tablets, phones and watches and further.  User Interface is becoming No Interface where you interact increasingly with your voice from search to selection and action.  The integration of this technology into TV’s and Cars will help to accelerate this change.

This change has profound repercussions for traditional search marketing which relies on the searcher being able to see the ads or search results and then interact with them.  How will the major players adapt their business models to monetise a world with limited or no UI? Will businesses pay more to be recommended more often? Will a sponsored result be announced first in your list of recommendations?

The major players are preparing for battle in this new arena with Apple Siri,Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, Facebook M and many more upstarts preparing to take them on.

One of the major differentiators will be the quality of the recommendations generated by these Digital Assistants. Similarly to how google won search by giving the best search results the next era will be won on the back of quality recommendations that not only take into account traditional search metrics but will know a lot more about the context around the request.  Who is the searcher? What do they like? Who are they similar to and what do those people like? Have they made this request before? Which places have they already visited? Did they have a good or bad experience?

One thing is certain .. your business’s online presence and reputation will be of paramount importance and could potentially be one of your biggest assets.  These services will data-mine your online information and try to squeeze any valuable insight they can out of that information and your connections to make that all important magic recommendation that will keep users loyal to their app.

As a business owner you need to ensure that your presence and reputation online starts to be considered as one of the most important aspects of your business.  You should make sure that:

  • Your business is listed in all of the places online important to your business
  • Your information is accurate, complete and consistent everywhere
  • You make it possible for people to interact with your business online as much as possible by leaving reviews, ratings, photos, videos and interacting in any other way that creates connections and signals
  • You Claim your profiles

These recommendation engines will become more and more important and will eventually replace traditional search engines in many cases so be prepared for the change and stay ahead of your competition by getting your business ready.

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