What Apple's Siri Means for Auto Dealers

We're seeing constant evolution in the search space and one of the most significant to date is Apple's Siri. As this application has gained popularity, people have been asking me “How can I work with Siri?”  “How will Siri affect our search traffic?” What can we do to get optimized for Siri?” 

Apple describes Siri as “…the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” One of the features of Siri is to respond to user's instructions like “find a nearby (make) dealer”.  Siri then accesses information sources and delivers a relevant and specific answer. It's important to note that Siri typically delivers one answer and not a list as its goal is to simplify the user's life and do a lot of the filtering/assessing of information for them.

Siri is not a search engine or data source, but more like an intelligent interface between the user and information sources to deliver qualified and filtered results. Currently, Siri utilizes existing information sources, searches their information with some applied rules and then takes their answers and runs them through a set of filters to come up with the answer it presents to the user. 

Siri does use Google search, but reportedly, only when it cannot answer the question from it's other sources. Siri is reported to currently utilize Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha and Yelp as primary information providers before it will access Google. These are the known sources, but that does not mean there aren't others.  With the instruction “find a nearby (make) dealer”, Siri would apply the users present location and some other rules based on user data, use that as a search parameter inside of Yelp, and then qualify the Yelp data to return the highest rated such facility within a relative distance. Many believe that Apple's goal is to move completely away from Google, as rumors have sprung about a potential partnership with Bing to help power Siri.  And, there is also the possibility that eventually Apple will build their own search engine.

Siri users will do fewer Google searches.  A small study done by The Arora Report http://blog.thearorareport.com/2011/10/31/apple-siri-google-search-study/ , showed that Siri users used Google significantly less.  27 out of 40 Siri users reported that they did not conduct a single Google search since receiving their iPhone 4S. This study involved a small group of people and was for a short period of time, but it does indicate that Siri is a potential threat to Google search. The introduction of Siri and other similar future apps, means it is more important than ever for the car dealer to be well represented in a multitude of digital places as digital traffic sources will become more fractured.

Dealers need to set up and optimize their Yelp page, optimize for Google, and optimize their business listing pages throughout the web. Getting a head start and having a well established presence on these sites is never a bad idea, helps with your SEO efforts, and will make it easier in working with Siri and other personal assistant apps in the future as they branch out and make partnerships with various content sources.  Also, since Siri wants to deliver the “best” result it is imperative that dealers make sure they are highly rated on sites like Yelp and other review sites. I have seen it where it seems apparent that the Yelp ratings factored into the restaurant information that Siri delivered, and one has to assume that the Yelp star ratings will factor into which dealer listing Siri will present to the user as well.  As Apple adds content partners, dealers will want to monitor the changes and make sure that they are well represented on those sites.