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Should the SEO industry be worried about Google’s Assistant Smart Display?

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At the end of June, Google announced the coming of a potential game changer for the search industry. The long-awaited smart screen display for Google home devices, which are, of course, powered by the Google Assistant. These devices now, will not only be able to tell you the answer to a question but will also be able to show you the answer as well. Google has said that this is going to make for a “richer visual experience” when using the home/assistant.

This means voice search is expanding and will inevitably become a bigger part of the overall search landscape. Offering a more interactive experience for many different types of searches. For example, the morning weather and traffic report will be more detailed and personalised to your movements. You’ll be able to see and verbally update your calendar, and so much more. The age of the digital assistant is definitely upon us.  Google also recently released a ‘speakable’ supported mark-up category for rich results, so it’s clear their investment in voice search is becoming more and more apparent.

All Response Media viewpoint

Smart assistant devices with screens may also change the way we shop online as well. If this is the case Google may see it as a huge opportunity to improve its monetisation model. Over the last few years as we have moved into a mobile-dominated world Google have heavily increased the size and complexity of their mobile search ads. It would make total sense then for them to take the commercial learnings from mobile and squeeze voice search for everything it’s worth.

For some in the SEO community, this may be a little concerning. As Google has become more advertising heavy on mobile they have also made the ad labelling less visible. They have clearly been on a mission to make the ads take up as much of the screen as possible while making them as indistinguishable from the natural listings as legally acceptable.

If you read the handbook to a Google Home device, it states that some of the recommendations that it could potentially offer are advertisements. This, however, is never made explicitly apparent when the device speaks the verbal recommendations.

It will be interesting to see if Google monetises their new assistant/display devices with even more stealth. Will we even know we are being advertised to? At the end of the day, Google’s natural search is their content, the classic ten blue links. Their product is the advertising they sell. If they plan to push their advertising more and more into the new era of voice search what will this mean for natural search results, and the SEO industry altogether?