The internet of things (IoT)—the idea that everything from refrigerators to self-driving cars can be connected wirelessly—is set to upset many legacy technologies. According to sources, nearly 31 billion connected devices will be functioning globally by 2020, continuing to drive IoT investing. Consumers have been slow to adopt the technology, but forward-thinking business and industry leaders have seen the future and have already started developing new techniques of data-gathering.
Marketers are onboard, too, having realized that the platform delivers massive amounts of data on consumers’ buying patterns and shopping behavior. The end-goal, of course, is to drive sales, in this case by tailoring merchandising efforts to the wants and needs of specific users.
Like any breakthrough, this is sending ripples across the digital universe, even impacting the realms of internet marketing and SEO. So what is the next step? Here are some things we see happening:
- Lower organic click rates. This is simple cause-and-effect: if users start to depend on IoT technology for functions throughout their daily lives, simple processes that are now frequently addressed via phone or tablet won’t require users to search for answers. This will require changes to SEO formulas—specifically, optimizing for IoT searches instead of for search engine click-throughs.
- Less relevance to SERPs. If more people are going straight to sites as opposed to doing searches, it stands to reason that SERPs will change dramatically or even disappear altogether. While this might seem frustrating, there will still be a need for some type of search process. Overall click-through rates will undoubtedly fall, as we mentioned, but the number of new users who find a site probably won’t see dramatic changes.
- Conversational queries will be critical. As we’ve mentioned before on this site, all indicators point to searchers asking long-form questions as opposed to typing in one or two select keywords. As IoT technology becomes more ubiquitous, in fact, it may result in keyword-based queries practically disappearing. Obviously, that will require ongoing calibration efforts to maximize SEO.
- Personalization will be key. People have shown that they like the convenience of personalized experiences. With IoT, ultra-personalization will not only become more practical, but also the key to delivering the most relevant content and information. IoT allows us to collect data on individuals’ search histories, typical purchases, driving patterns, and more. The potential for personalization here is significant.
- The future is still uncertain. Despite what industry enthusiasts would have you believe, a fully IoT experience is not yet possible. While we have access to a certain amount of consumer-level technologies—smart thermostats, security cameras, doorbells, etc.—consumer adoption is still comparatively low, notably because in many cases the products have yet to fulfill the promise of the hype. There are other issues to be resolved, as well: for example, the problem of where all of this information will be stored. The Cloud isn’t really ethereal; the data must live on a server somewhere. Already, the amount of power required to both operate and cool these servers—not to mention the massive amounts of heat they generate—are becoming ecological issues that will need solutions like “edge” computing, which some experts tout as the next logical step.
With all of this, you can also expect a huge (somewhat justifiable, at this point) backlash over privacy concerns. More access points equals more entry opportunities for hackers. This type of reaction typically blows over as the technology improves and becomes more commonplace, leading to the diehards resigning themselves to reality.
Having said that, it is equally relevant to note that consumer adoption is not the final barometer: over 85% of healthcare organizations, for instance, have adopted some form of IoT technology, and estimates spending on IoT solutions in healthcare will reach $1 trillion half-way through the next decade.
This gives us at least a little time to prepare. At the same time, it keeps us from getting too far ahead. The truth is, there’s no sure way to tell exactly how this trend will develop.
Over and over, we see that new technologies can and do grow in unexpected ways and at unexpected paces. To successfully adapt your marketing strategy for the internet of things, you best plan is to look to the future but remain flexible. The experts here at Clearwater SEO can help you navigate the minefield of new technology. Contact us today to learn more.