Google’s always rolling something out, whether it’s a new search algorithm that places every creative design agency in a tizzy, a new smart speaker competing with Amazon, or a phone competing with Apple.
In other words, Google loves to introduce new things, and today we’re going to talk about such a thing, Google’s Smart Displays, and how to optimise your content for it.
We first had the Google Assistant, a voice activated AI-powered virtual assistant housed in Google’s smartphones (Pixel) and smart speakers (Google Home & Home Mini) that’s used to control music, appliances and so much more, and now we have Smart Displays, a new category of devices for the smart home that brings the Google Assistant to an interactive screen for a richer visual experience.
After all, aren’t screens wonderful?
While Google doesn’t have any smart displays in the market—yet—they have authorised third-party manufacturers like Lenovo (Smart Display), JBL(Link View —> coming soon) and LG (ThinQ View—> coming soon) to create them with Smart Displays housed in them.
Anyway, like Amazon’s smart display (Echo Show) that’s paired with Alexa for voice activation and controlling, Lenovo’s Smart Display and upcoming displays with Google’s Smart Displays are like smart speakers with screens that allow you to do all you can with a speaker, but even more because of the added visuals.
As Todd Haselton, Technology Product Editor at CNBC, said in a review of the Lenovo Smart Display, “Smart displays are an entirely new gadget category. You control it with your voice, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, but the embedded display is used to show you extra information. You can ask the Lenovo Smart Display anything. Who won last night’s Yankees game? Will it rain this weekend? What’s on my calendar? Instead of just hearing those responses by voice, the smart display will also show you the answer. It’s also good for watching video on services like YouTube.”
For example, instead of following a recipe by ear, you can follow it by sight; instead of hearing the news, you can watch the news; and instead of listening to a song, you can watch its video.
The point being that you can do a lot when you add a screen component, and Google wants you to know that, apart from what’s above, all of the following things are possible with Smart Displays:
Smart Displays offer a rich experience for enjoying music, news, podcasts or audiobooks from popular services. With the combination of voice and a screen, it’s easy to browse and find that perfect song, album, or playlist. Here are a few things you can do:
- Stream your favorite music with YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, and Pandora, with free tier available for all services
- Stay informed with Google News, including the latest video news briefs featuring national and local publishers like CNBC, CBS, and Cheddar
- Jam to your favorite radio stations with iHeartRadio and TuneIn
- Catch up on your favorite podcasts with Google Podcasts
- Or listen to audiobooks from Google Play Books. With audiobooks or podcasts, your Assistant will pick up right where you left off, even if you were listening on your phone earlier.
Ask YouTube to play anything: how-to videos, cooking videos, product reviews, you name it!
Your Assistant can even help you prepare a great meal on Smart Displays. Browse through thousands of recipes, then the Assistant can provide step-by-step hands-free guidance on screen. Of course, you can set timers and play music while you cook.
Google Assistant Routines makes it even easier to stay on top of your day using your Smart Display. Just say “Hey Google, good morning” to get a verbal and visual summary of the weather, traffic to work, reminders, your agenda and then play a video news brief from your preferred news sources.
You can even create and manage a shopping list on your Smart Display and bring up your list on your phone when you’re at the grocery store. Or, avoid the trip and order a delivery with Google Express from your favorite stores like Costco, Target and Walmart.
With video calling on Google Duo, you can instantly connect with your closest friends and family on Smart Displays. Duo is also built in on Android phones and available for free on iOS, so you can call your friends and family hands-free across devices. Just say, “Hey Google, call Rachel” to start a high-quality video or audio call.
The Smart Display is also a delightful way to enjoy Google Photos. When you’re not using your Smart Display, the screen can serve as an always-on digital photo album. And you can just ask the Assistant whenever you want to see specific pictures of a family vacation or other special moments with the important people in your life
Just ask “Hey Google, show me the family room” to check on things with the Nest Cam. Turn up the thermostat, dim the lights or change the color—all with your voice or a simple touch screen control.
Now that you’re familiar with Google’s Smart Displays and what they can do, it’s time to focus on what you can do. In other words, how to optimise your content for Smart Displays.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that, because smart displays like Lenovo’s act like smart speakers with screens, optimising content for them is just like optimising for speakers, i.e. voice search.
To do so, you can go to a creative digital agency like Appnova for some help, or keep things in-house and use the following tips.
Voice search differs from normal search in that you’re dealing with spoken queries as opposed to textual ones. For instance, whereas you type out a question for normal search, you ask virtual assistants like Siri or, in our case today, the Google Assistant, a question.
Because we tend to talk to virtual assistants like real people, this means that we have to exchange shorthand keywords for their long-tail counterparts that are more common in spoken queries.
For example, instead of food near Piccadilly Circus that says a lot with a few words, where can I find cheap food near Piccadilly Circus is more akin to a spoken query, as you would be asking an ‘assistant,’ not a search bar.
As you can see, these keywords also provide more searcher intent by virtue of being longer and including the Five Ws and how (who, what, where, when, why and how), which help search engines like Google provide results that are more aligned with what the searcher actually wants.
On the first, the addition of cheap tells Google that the searcher doesn’t only want food near Piccadilly Circus, but food that’s cheap. On the second, the use of where tells Google that the searcher is looking for a specific location.
Like the tip above, the fact that your users will be talking to the Google Assistant as opposed to a search engine means that they’re talking conversationally, not technically.
In other words, because they’re talking and not typing, you have to think and write like a person. After all, you want Google to be able to easily understand and say what you’re writing, and writing at a 12th grade just won’t cut it.
What you want is to avoid fancy words and keep things simple.
In fact, a voice search SEO to do list found that simple, easy-to-read content may help with voice search SEO, as the average Google voice search result is written at a 9th grade level.
If you’re wondering what this means, listen to what John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, had to say about voice search optimisation:
“Really kind of focus more on trying to make it so that Google and other search engines can understand the context of information a lot better and to make sure that your content is written in a way that can be read aloud. Which I think is a general guidance anyway… if you write naturally and you write in a clear kind of language that’s consistent across the type of queries you want to target then that’s the type of information that we could pick up for voice as well.”
For the third tip, create FAQ pages or FAQ-like content wherever you can.
As to why you would want to do this, it’s because FAQ-like content is perfect for voice search due to its structure: a conversational question followed by a short, conversational answer below.
Additionally, because they’re FAQs (frequently asked questions), they already contain things your audience is asking, which leads to a voice search treasure trove of long-tail and intent-focused words.
While Google’s rollouts tend to leave marketers and business owners feeling anxious, this doesn’t have to be the case.
For starters, if you’re feeling it, chances are good your competitors are too. Second, every new rollout, announcement or device means new opportunities to improve your website/content.
Case in point, Google’s Smart Displays, which are giving you more chances to appear for voice search queries… as long as you optimise your content for it.