Alexa vs Google Home: It’s BETAMAX vs VHS all over again

Alexa vs Google Home: It’s BETAMAX vs VHS all over again

The Smart Home is on the rise in every quarter. We all want a more connected home – who doesn’t? Nearly everyone has heard about the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices (otherwise known as “Alexa”). These smart speakers respond to your voice for hands-free help around the house. From answering random questions, from weather, to playing music and controlling a home’s heating and smart lights and much more.

They’re also an easy way to search online via voice for anything that the internet has to offer from ordering a pizza, to home shopping, to any fact you want to know. The world of Smart Speakers is building up to the Betamax vs VHS battle of the 1980’s or, if you’re a little more recent, iPhone vs Android.

What’s the difference between the two competing behemoths of Google and Amazon?

The Amazon Echo is the original smart speaker, which Amazon first released in 2015, who’s voice is Alexa (named after the development partners) – let’s call it that from now on.

Google Home speaker is named, rather less affectionately as “Google Assistant.”

Amazon Echo (Alexa) is great at controlling your smart home.

Alexa shines in controlling smart home devices like smart lights, smart door locks and smart thermostats. Alexa isn’t so great at answering everyday questions like “What movies came out recently?” and other internet searches as it’s engine is provided by Bing. As you’d expect, Alexa integrates with Amazon products like Amazon Fire TV, and of course it lets you order stuff from Amazon directly with your voice. No surprise there.

Google Home is great at answering your questions.

Launched at the end of 2016 and was therefore second to market. Google Home integrates with Google: You can vocally control your Chromecast TV, use Google Search and access your Google Calendar and Gmail, though it’s still currently less efficient connecting with smart home devices. It has fewer “apps” too.

The key here though could be that Google Home is supremely smart thanks to Google’s dominance in search. It does what we mostly want from a voice-based internet channel device.

This is really where the win for Google Home might come, positioning it more as the VHS than the Betamax.

Vital Voice Search – It’s different

Siri, Alexa, Google Home and their peers have already caused disruption among search specialists looking to come to terms with the new world of voice search. For one thing, they have found that people use very different search terms when speaking compared to when they are typing. As a result, long-tail keywords are more important than ever.

It’s conversational search:

Google has reported that 65% of all voice search queries are now delivered in a conversational manner. So people are no longer asking “Marketing advice online” but instead are asking “Where is the best place for me to get marketing advice online?”
It is important that SEO tactics of businesses take this into account and think about all the different ways that your business may be searched. Not just keywords but the way in which the keywords are used.

Information Soundbites:

Voice search has increased the importance of featured snippets. If you ask Alexa or your Google Assistant a question, the answer will often be accompanied by a featured snippet. These are the information boxes that appear at the top of conventional search results.

You might think, therefore, that the SEO landscape will remain unchanged – Not so! Google Home uses speakable mark-up consistently, but Google Home Hub is more focused on finding something for the searcher to look at as well as listen to. However, let’s just focus on the voice assistants for now.

Ultimately for businesses marketing to users, it seems apparent that right now, Google has the advantage as its simply more useful in terms of search – need and answer, Google will get it, whereas Alexa may not.

Either way, voice search is here to stay

Here are a few interesting statistics to back it up:

  • As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, per Alpine.AI.
  • 1 in 4 shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season, per CTA.
  • 65 percent of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker, per GeoMarketing.
  • 41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person, per Google.
  • 25% of individuals ages 16-24 use voice search on mobile, per Global Web Index
  • 52% of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales, and promotions from brands, per Google. 39% would like to receive options to find business information.
  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore.

And that’s just a taster.

The way Google Home and it’s peers are going voice search is most likely now to become an important new channel for brands, retailers and marketers more generally, even if slightly privacy-problematic (they’re always listening to our conversations).

What does this mean for search marketing?

No-one really knows exactly where voice search will take us but it will disrupt the current marketing landscape. The screen has been integral to the commercial aspect of the internet and search. There has been an absolute focus on SEO and optimisation of UX and UI but when there is no screen it becomes redundant. This is why the voice assistants are more disruptive even than Siri, a mobile voice assistant. As we know only too well, advertising is a huge part to the internet and creates incredible amounts of revenue for companies.

Where devices only give a few (or even just one) answer to queries, then ranking and placement on the web completely changes. How will you make sure your company is coming up in relevant searches – will sponsored voice search results be delivered in a “Google Advoice” in a Blade Runner like future – who knows? What’s important is that businesses prepare for these changes. The stats above tell a story of change in internet usage that will create a seismic shift.

And, the way Google Home and it’s peers are going voice search is most likely now to become an important new channel for brands, retailers and marketers more generally. Just as the screen is vital so the voice is likely to be too, whether it’s on VHS or Betamax.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how your marketing strategy needs to develop to include voice search then get in touch with Mobylise today.