Why PR pros need to get to know Siri, Alexa and Cortana

by | Apr 16, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

Meet the Spice Girls of the digital age: Apple’s glamorous Siri, Amazon’s athletic Alexa and Microsoft’s exotic Cortańa.

They stand as gatekeepers to vast troves of documents available on the internet. They find the best solutions to your problems within seconds. They guide you through life.

Canalys predicts that the global number of smart home speakers will more than double to 225 million by 2020. Currently nonexistent, worldwide ad spending on voice assistants will reach $19 billion by 2022, according to Juniper Research.

Some 55 percent of teens use voice search daily, 56 percent of adults say that using voice search makes them feel “tech savvy,” 20 percent of all Google queries are voice, and voice search has increased 35-fold since 2008.

“Contrary to popular belief, voice search isn’t just for mobile devices,” Angelo Frisina with Sunlight Media, LLC says. “More people are talking to their desktop computers and smart speakers. A full 65 percent of Google Home and Amazon Echo owners ‘can’t imagine going back.’”

The challenge for public relations professionals is to occupy more space inside the heads of Mmes. Siri, Alexa and Cortana than your competition.

Why PR pros need to get to know Siri, Alexa and Cortana

Google Snippets

Google is no longer a search engine. It is an answer engine.

Its Featured Snippets offering eclipsed the first and second rankings on search to become the coveted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) reward. Google runs Featured Snippets in a box at the top of its organic results.

They are meant to answer user questions immediately, without needing to visit the website. They also earn additional brand exposure within the snippet text.

“When someone voice-searches, they’re generally asking Google a question in search of a specific answer,” Nate Masterson with Maple Holistics says. “It is why you’re going to want to be the website to provide that answer in Google’s smart answer snippet.”


No better place to start a conversation than on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

Google prefers answers written in the style of how people talk and not lengthy technical responses with detailed descriptions. Voice search is more conversational and natural, so remember the KISS rule: Keep it Simple, Silly.

Research also demonstrates that the average Google Voice Search result was written at a 9th grade reading level.

“FAQs and snippets have the dual advantage of being attractive for voice search with smart home devices, since the searcher can quickly get the answer they need,” Linda Formichelli of Renegade Writer Press opines. “No one really knows how the virtual assistants choose the answer you’ll hear, but it seems they either bring up the result that’s in position 0 or 1, or rotate through the top four search results.”

Domain and page authority

Don’t forget the basics. Pages with powerful domain and page authority always receive priority in search as links remain the core foundation of Google’s desktop and mobile algorithm.

Search engines analyze the popularity of domains and pages based upon the number and prevalence of pages linking to them. They also include metrics such as trust and spam.

Why PR pros need to get to know Siri, Alexa and Cortana

“To optimize for voice search for home devices we ensure that we use a citation service that allows all databases to have accurate information about each company that we work with,” Bryan Pattman with 9Sail says. “We also target long tail keywords that are asked by searchers so that we can be in the rich snippet box. This allows us to be the ones who are used by the home smart devices without having to deal with the issue of highly competitive keywords.”

Dmitriy Shelepin with MiroMind recommends incorporating all suggestions from leading SEOs into a strategy for building authority such as fresh content, social media activity and referencing specific localities. Essentially, write terrific content that links to even better content.

“You can have a great markup and good content, but until you have enough authority, you won’t be ranking very well,” Shelepin concludes. “[T]here are no unique factors for voice search that are not typical for a regular search, but the key to success lies in providing content that clearly and unambiguously answers the user’s question.”

At least, that’s how Siri, Alexa and Cortana like to conversate.

Dave Yonkman
David Yonkman is a former Washington Correspondent for Newsmax, Capitol Hill Communications Director and the founding principal of DYS Media, LLC, a specialized public relations business with offices in Washington, D.C. and Holland, Mich.


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