Don CampbellDon Campbell

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 Personal Mobile Assistant

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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About The Author

Don is President and founder of Expand2Web.com, which provides WordPress Websites and Local Search Marketing solutions and training for small business owners and consultants.Don is a veteran of Silicon Valley Startup Interwoven, where he was created a $5M product line and Microsoft where he was technical evangelist for Office and Office Live. Check out his blog at http://www.expand2web.com/blog.

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