The new iPhone 4s comes with a feature that is bound to impact how search marketers try to reach iPhone users.
Siri, the voice recognition app that comes standard with the new iPhone, can be used to control text messaging and reminders inside the device. But it can also be used as a search tool, to call up specific information from the outside world.
With the mobile search space already in flux, Siri adds a game-changing angle, particularly for marketers that want to reach the lucrative (presumably affluent) iPhone audience.
Here are some factors for businesses to consider as Siri grows in both audience and usage:
- Siri works. Siri’s voice recognition is nearly flawless, and its utility right now is only limited by the APIs that Apple has given it to work with. It’s likely that the API list will grow, giving iPhone users access to pretty much any form of information they can verbally request.
- Siri is a velvet rope. Apple’s choice of APIs to power Siri will, in effect, choose the leading search tools for the iPhone. As Danny Sullivan and Greg Sterling reported, an iPhone user can ask Siri to use Bing or Yahoo to perform a search. But Google is the default, and most users will take the default option if it serves them well.
- Pick your battle. For any given business, there will be one all-important API that needs to know who you are. Today, that’s pretty much limited to Google Search, Google Places and Yelp. But in the future, Apple may add APIs to cover more niches. For example, if one of the many physician portals is chosen as the API for look-ups, then it will be very important for doctors to get listed there.
- Make that two APIs. Google is also advancing the voice recognition functions on Android, and may match Siri for ease of use. If so, you can expect their “Siri” (“Andrew”?) to become the lead search method on many other smartphones. In which case, all the planning implied above gets doubled, with two tracks of promotional tactics to hit both platforms.
- Siri likes keywords. When searching for restaurants that serve ravioli, Siri returns a list of places that mention ravioli in their Yelp reviews. Yes folks, keyword optimization is still very much the name of the game.
- Siri localizes by default. “Show me restaurants” uses the Location Services in my iPhone to correctly assume that I want a list of Boston restaurants.
- Punjabi “Dubba”. One of my favorite Indian places is Punjabi Dhaba, a fast-paced joint that serves fresh, hot Indian on mess-hall steel trays. But Siri can’t understand the name. Fortunately, they happen to be No. 1 when you ask for a list of Indian places in Cambridge. In this case, attention to both keywords and category choices can help make up for a name that voice recognition systems find challenging.
As Apple continues to develop Siri, we’ll see what directions it (she?) takes, and I’ll post updates here to track how it impacts mobile search marketing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.