How will Zero UI impact SEO Marketing?
How will Zero UI impact SEO Marketing?
What is Zero UI?
Zero UI, also known as Zero User Interface, is a new concept coming out of the design world and heading straight towards the average joe faster than you may think. Up until now, we as users relied predominantly on our chosen technology’s screen for information and interaction. To check the weather, we check our phones and to learn the news, we turn on our TVs. Zero UI is the idea that the importance of screens will diminish over time and our devices are going to understand us more intimately and respond more to our voice and gestures instead.
Therefore the world of SEO needs to start thinking of a backup plan. Search engine giants such as Google and Amazon have already kickstarted the transition by developing their own virtual assistants and AI technology. Now the question is; what do marketers need to do to make sure their companies or clients are still ‘seen’ in the SERPs in a world without screens?
Zero UI impact on SEO and Search Engine Marketing
Let us explain a few ways we expect Zero UI to change the SEO playing field;
Zero UI will take away choice from humans
Asking your virtual assistant to search for something for you ultimately means you no longer have to look at the search results yourself. No more navigation of the results pages and no more opportunity to browse the multiple sights of paid ads, knowledge graphs, rich results or featured snippets. The SERP beauty pageant is out the window and it now all comes down to who is in position zero.
Therefore the fight to reach the top spot is more fierce than ever. Whether you’re an in-house marketer, work for an agency, or you’re a business owner, establishing a solid SEO marketing plan with the budget and resources to support it should be moved to the top of your to do list.
Natural language and long-tail queries will dominate your keyword research process
A bold statement, but hear us out.
Text search and voice search are two very different things. Typically the way users ask a question to their tiny robot friend is very different from how they would type it into their phones or computers. Natural language search is more conversational and not that different from asking a question to a friend or colleague. Whereas originally, I would type ‘best burger restaurant near me’, I would now turn to Siri and say “Siri, where is the best burger restaurant in Nottingham?” – a slightly longer query with slightly more complex words for AIs to understand.
Due to this shift back to natural language, marketers will need to take this into consideration when optimising websites and creating content. Natural language consists of longer phrases and do not always consist of the keywords your keyword research tool told you to include. Therefore, remember to please your user too and not just Google’s ranking factors.
Interestingly enough, early 2000s favourite AskJeeves was ahead of its time when it came to natural search. AskJeeves’ search model was based on users entering a question rather than spending ages figuring out the right keywords to put into the query box to bring up the most relevant answer. However, rather frustratingly for Jeeves, this model was produced at a time where keywords were more important in the world of search and so keyword enthusiast Google took the lead.
Marketers will finally start paying attention to video SEO
One area of marketing we don’t believe will be obliterated by Zero UI is video. Where the key interaction with this type of media is visual, we believe video will remain a pretty even playing field for SEO (for now…) or a new opportunity for those who haven’t ventured into this area already.
Although video content has a tendency to keep users on the platform they are watching the video on rather than directing them to the company who created it in the first place, video content is still a fantastic way to raise brand awareness and reach a much wider audience.
With this in mind, video platforms, such as YouTube, do have best practice when it comes to optimising content. Backlinko has created this fantastic and very informative guide for optimising video content which we could not recommend enough. Or if you are looking for somewhere to start, focus on your channel first. Make sure your profile has your logo, the correct company details and a company description that naturally includes the main keywords you wish to target.
AIs will prioritise their own platforms and monopolise the search results
As many virtual assistants are produced by big players like Amazon, it’s inevitable that the technology will prioritise their creators when picking how to answer your voice queries. Subsequently, online retailers will always have the back foot when trying to get their products to appear in front of Alexa users because Alexa will present items from the Amazon catalogue first.
Arguably this isn’t something that can be avoided unless every business and their dog created their own virtual assistant. But it does present the question of whether smaller retailers need to seriously consider selling their items on Amazon, and striving for that ‘Amazon’s Choice’ badge of honour, if they want to stand a chance of making money in a screenless world.
You can almost hear Jeff Bezos rubbing his hands together from here…
App development or collaboration should be considered
Those who are already winning in the world of Zero UI are brands that have created quick and easy solutions that work seamlessly with screen-less devices. These same brands have started to change the playing field altogether by cutting out the need for search engines altogether.
Global vehicle hire firm Uber was one of the first to offer Zero UI with their Uber Alexa skill for the Amazon Echo. Those interested in trying out the experience just need to install the skill on their Echo, set your location in the Uber app settings and simply say “Alexa, ask Uber to book a ride” – before you know it, an Uber driver will have arrived at your door. A little creepy if you ask me but if days of manually Googling ‘taxi company near me’ are numbered, is it a direction all cabbies will eventually need to take?
Banking giant CapitalOne has revolutionised the banking world by taking advantage of creating an Alexa Skill. CapitalOne customers with an Amazon Echo (only in the US at the moment) can check their bank balance or transfer money just by asking Alexa nicely to do so.
Arguably both of the above examples require personal accounts to be made in the first place and so, the need for a search engine was never present. However if this is the direction technology is going in, be prepared to start convincing customers to use your app as well as pointing them in the direction of your website in any remaining organic results.
Will 100% Zero UI be an actual reality?
In short, yes. Eventually…
It’s hard to picture a screenless life right now. But let’s be honest, technology is getting smarter and advancements in how technology understands us has been on an upward trajectory for a while now. As more parts of our everyday lives are offered a technological solution that makes things quicker or easier, we are always going to take them.
However, before we immerse ourselves in full Zero UI we need to improve the interfaces we use at the moment. Also, there is still plenty more research to be done into alternative interfaces before we can make that screenless leap. Only at the point I’m wearing a VR headset, physically wrestling my client’s competitors out of the SERPs, will I admit that this dystopian future has become a reality.