How Siri is Changing Local Search

by on November 20, 2011 · 8 comments

Siri Personal Mobile Assistant

I‘ve only had my iPhone 4s for a couple of days, but already one thing is obvious to me: Siri is changing the way I search for local goods and services. A LOT.

Siri is the personal assistant that comes with iPhone. You interact with Siri by talking to her, and she can help you with a number of tasks, like setting appointments, location-based reminders, and finding nearby places based on your location.

In the past, when looking for a lunch spot or some other local business on my iPhone I would typically unlock my phone and bring up Google Maps. Or maybe the Yelp or Foursquare App. Then I’d type in “hamburgers cupertino” or something similar to get a list of restaurants nearby.

Siri greatly simplifies this. All I do is pick my phone up next to my ear and say “hamburger joint“.

Siri responds immediately with “I’ve found a number of burger restaurants, 17 of them are close to you:” and gives me a list of restaurants complete with star reviews, distance, and the ability to get map and directions.

Siri - Your Mobile Personal Assistant

It might seem like a relatively minor change on the surface, but I think it represents something much bigger. It saves some time and it just feels right. When you start using Siri for things like this, you just *know* this is the way that everyone will be interacting with their devices in the future.

The iPhone 4S sold FOUR MILLION devices in the first weekend it went on sale. You can bet that a lot of competitors are looking at the device and adjusting their plans to adapt to some of the new features like Siri. And some Android devices already have limited voice recognition features. This type of contextual voice recognition with a personal assistant will become ubiquitous in smartphones over the next few of years.

Siri: From Google’s Perspective

This was an important play for Apple. They’ve just become the “gateway” for finding things on millions of mobile devices. People will no longer go to Google first to type in their search on Apple devices. The way Siri is integrated into the device, people will just “speak” what they are looking for, making Apple’s servers the hub of all these searches.

Many times, Siri will still go to Google for search results, but now they can replace that on the back end with Bing or any other search provider. Indeed, many of the Siri results are already coming from Wolfram Alpha.

Much like Google benefits today from watching billions of search terms and continuously refining their results based on what people find useful, Apple has just positioned themselves in the middle of this for all the searches on tens of millions of mobile device users.

I can guarantee you Google has a special team in Mountain View looking at this right now and saying “Ok, crap. What are we going to do about THIS?”

Siri: From a Marketer’s Perspective

So the question small business owners should be asking is: How do you make your business show up in Siri’s results?

Well, the good news is this: if you are already doing well in the Local search rankings, you’re on the right track. Stephanie Hobbs has a great article on Search Engine Land called: 3 Simple Steps To Get Siri & Her Friends To Talk Up Your Local Business.

In this article, she recommends three steps to help you rank better with Siri recommendations:

  1. Make sure your Google Places Page is accurate and complete
  2. Generate positive reviews and content like photos and videos
  3. Make sure your Yelp profile is accurate and complete (Yelp is one of the data sources Siri uses)

These are all recommendations you’ve heard here before if you read this blog. Over and over again, having a solid local presence for your business helps you with new mobile efforts.

What do you think. Have you tried Siri yet? Does your business show up in Siri’s recommendations?

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Boyd Butler November 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Don, Siri is a game changer for Apple users. This is Star Trek technology today. Beam me up a place to go isn’t Beam me to the coffee shop, but it’s getting closer. I echo what you say. Local businesses have to take reviews, G Places and local SEO seriously. It’s just another way for people to abdicate choice and let a device make a decision. It’s lazy but it’s convenient. And people don’t really want to think too much. They just want social proof that they are making the right decision. I just wonder what you say to Siri when she makes the wrong choice. Do you get to tell her off? Or is she more like a wife…(you keep quiet even though you know she’s wrong).


Spencer Belkofer November 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I think the most significant way this will effect local SEO…at least in the short term…is keyword research.

People type in a different manner than they speak. (For example, if I was speaking that out loud, I would have said something like, “People don’t type the same way they speak”, or “People don’t type the same way they speak”, or “People type differently than they speak, even if they’re trying to achieve the same goal”, etc….

It will be interesting…and I’m sure frustrating at times…to see how voice interpretation technology complicates local SEO.


Don Campbell November 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

That’s a good insight Spencer. You are right – people don’t type the same way they speak and this could change the keywords we focus on…


Frank Felker November 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Wow Don –

Google isn’t the only one who’ll be staring at the ceiling tonight saying โ€œOk, crap. What are we going to do about THIS?โ€ Now I’ll be doing the same. Thanks a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously though, thanks for sharing this thought-provoking information. I’m going to relay your post on my blog and in presentations I do going forward. Before we know it, everyone will be staring at the ceiling.

Please continue to generate conversations on this topic. I’ll be listening!


Eileen lonergan November 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

@Boyd, I don’t know if people will view Siri as abdicating decision making or using their time efficiently, say while driving ๐Ÿ™‚ to your point it is convent, people go in for that big time! I know Andriod users are loving the voice recognition ability, so I think that this article is relevant for all of us who are involved in local SEO. Thanks Don for always being right here with useful relevant information!


Michael November 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Good content Don. I just got my 4s about a week ago. Unfortunately in Australia siri doesn’t give local business results yet… Looking forward to apples software update so we can participate as well.


doug gower November 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Really cool. Personally I had no idea how intuitive it was. It will certainly change the mobile marketplace and reinforces how important it is for businesses to incorporate ‘mobile’ into their budgets. Thanks


Alyssa Steve November 30, 2011 at 5:28 am

Siri has certainly revolutionized the way smart phones used ever before! But i give credit to Apple for positioning Siri as a feature making our life easy! There are some good Siri alternatives for Android phone like , etc are very promising. What wondered me is ‘myBantu’ is available in both the devices ( Android and iOS) for FREE ! M excited with these awesome smartphone apps.


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