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3 ways that voice activated search engines are changing & the effects on digital marketing

The Search Leeds conference hosted at the Royal Armouries offered a range of insightful talks into SEO (Search Engine Optimism) and digital marketing.

seoThe speakers included James Murray (Twitter: @james3murray) from Bing. James’ talk was not only insightful but really highlighted the astronomical rate that technology is evolving and the exciting advances happening in our industry every day: technology really is making the impossible a reality.

The main focus of James’ talk was around voice activated searches and the impact on digital marketing as a whole. James introduced Bing’s newest form of search intelligence, named Cortana. However, he describes Cortana as far more than a search engine, and more like a personal assistant, referring to Cortana as “her” or “she” throughout the talk.   IMG_3823

Cortana can operate on a range of devices including laptops, smartphones, X Boxes and tablets. However, he predicted that screen will soon be seen as antique, showing a video of interactive material that Microsoft has developed. Soon you will not need to take your phone out of your pocket to use a search engine, soon you will be able to do this from your pocket. The aim is to keep shortening the journey between the person and the information they want. He outlined a couple of the defining characteristics of Cortana and how these are shaping SEO.

1. Predictive Intelligence

Firstly, Murray discussed Cortana’s predictive intelligence including the ability to predict outcomes of events such as Eurovision and the Euros. But this predictive intelligence can also be used on a larger scale to save lives – for example detecting people who may have cancer through analysis of their online symptom searches. Pancreatic cancer, for example, which has a survival rate of 3% of caught after two years. Whereas, if it is caught before two years the survival rate is over double at 7%. This highlights an excellent opportunity that could make both big and positive changes in the world. Not only can predictive intelligence be beneficial for human kind as a whole, but it can also benefit your business if you’re aware that people are now using this kind of technology.

2. Proactive Intelligence

Secondly, James explored the concept of proactive intelligence. He used the example of his London commute. Cortana uses her initiative to check whether there are any blocks on the tube or any traffic and would notify him to prevent him being late.

James contextualised how proactive intelligence is not only beneficial in day to day life but also while online shopping. He did this by showing an advert created by Microsoft of group of girls using Cortana to search, plan and book a trip to Vegas. Cortana even suggested outfits for the girls to wear, as well as where to eat and go out once they were there. This new proactive intelligence means that SEO and your sites rankings are now more important than ever before. More tips on boosting your website reputation and rankings hereseo blog 3

3. How Cortana Affects SEO

So how do voice activated search engines affect your website SEO? Voice activated searches are on the up, with 70% of millennials now using them, 25% use every day. James predicted that by 2020 50% of all searches will be done through voice activated search engines. This means that now written searches have become conversational and less blunt than previously, with an increase of use of questions. It is essential to take this into consideration for when you think about how people will be searching for your business, or a business in your sector and integrate this into your long tail keyword strategy. For example, whereas people may have typed “cheap holiday Spain”, predominately using blunt language. However, now people are more inclined to search “Where is cheap to go on holiday in Spain?”

So what now?

Staying on top of the latest technologies and ensuring your business is adapting its digital marketing strategy accordingly will help to future proof your business and make the most of new opportunities. Make sure you’re following key influencers and innovative brands in your industry on Twitter and LinkedIn, sign up to industry blogs and news, and keep talking! posts weekly digital technology and digital marketing news, advice and insights – sign up to receive our blog here.


  • Are you seeing any effects from the rising influence of voice activated search?
  • Have you made any changes to your marketing campaigns or tactics as a result?
  • How much influence do you think it will have – or not at all?


We’re really interested in your comments and insights on this!  Please share in the comments box below.

  • […] We are living through an incredibly exciting time, where history is being made through technological changes and advances. What a time to be alive! In 1973 the first mobile phone was invented, and in under 50 years we have witnessed a “brick” phone which could only make calls evolve into a palm sized life essential, which we can do pretty much anything on from anywhere in the world. Not only has the mobile phone developed but also the internet and computers, laptops and tablets. You can now even access the internet from your watch, or browse the web through voice activated search engines! […]

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