With the recent launch of Pokémon Go, it’s no surprise that the term ‘Augmented Reality’ has become a hot topic for discussion. Whilst this buzzword has been around for a while, now is the time for SEO experts to start taking an interest in this up-and-coming technology, as it won’t be long until AR apps become a medium for consumers to perform their search queries. Therefore in order to remain competitive, businesses and their SEO consultants will need to evolve as Augmented Reality technologies develop, and thus be craftier and more diligent with their marketing strategies. But how exactly will this shape the future of SEO?
How will Augmented Reality increase the importance of local SEO?
Now as our electronic devices are all connected to a network of ‘sensors’ that track our daily movements and behaviors, Augmented Reality apps will play a large part in local SEO. Even in the early stages of its development, users can already do a number of things with AR apps. For example, say a person is walking around an unfamiliar area and wants to find a quick bite to eat. Using one of the AR apps, a person can simply ask for the location of the nearest restaurant, hold up his or her phone (or soon to be mainstreamed Augmented Reality display glasses), pan it around where he or she is currently standing, and images of restaurants alongside their customer reviews and menus will pop up as the phone passes through its general direction. Or say if a consumer is looking to buy a product - like a pair of shoes - and can’t decide where to go. The person can now pull up one of his or her AR apps, have the app point him or her in the direction of the nearest shoe store, and browse through a digitally interactive selection of the store’s stock before physically going to the shop. Not only will this experience make it more convenient for the consumer, but it will also help businesses attract the appropriate foot traffic, as the AR apps will attract the most relevant customers.
Needless to say, one of the most important SEO tools to leverage is the user data to be collected by these apps. SEO agencies will be able to capitalize on this user data and be able to learn even more about consumer behavior; hence SEO experts will be able to build more effective marketing strategies across search engines on all electronic devices for their clients.
However the most crucial factor that businesses and their SEO consultants will need to be mindful of, is geolocation. The rise in AR will mean that businesses’ local SEO strategies will be more important than ever before. Soon enough, as consumers walk around the streets, the AR apps they have on their smartphones will aggregate promotions offered by stores close-by, and send customers notifications about various deals.
For example, say in the future, somewhere like Chipotle has a promotion giving away free guac-and-chips with every meal order. If a person with an AR app on the smartphone is close to a Chipotle location – with the use of Augmented Reality technology and local SEO – customers could get a notification on their phones informing them about the promotion. Then, to entice the customers and make the walk more entertaining, on the screen of their smartphones, the AR app would be able to generate a trail of guac-and-chips images leading them to the restaurant and generating a sale. The search intent for augmented reality is currently at an all time high demonstrated by the graph below.
Soon enough, even retail stores will expand their presence with AR and create apps that will let customers virtually try the items of clothing. Some stores have already explored this channel, like De Beers – a diamond jewelry brand that allows customers to virtually try on its jewelry. If the store is close-by, customers could then automatically receive a notification with a route of how to get there, which will increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Therefore because of these new features in technology, there won’t be mistakes in a brand’s local SEO campaign. Everything with respect to a restaurant’s or store’s location has to be 100% accurate, down to the exact geo-coordinates! Otherwise if there is any error, businesses will miss out of their chance to be accurately tracked by AR apps and hence will decrease their revenue.
Augmented Reality Content
Furthermore we can predict, just as organic content lives on search engines like Google and Bing, there will be space for organic Augmented Reality content on virtual billboards of AR apps. This will mean that businesses will need to create AR friendly versions of their sites and stores, and tailor their content to make it suitable for the virtual platform. Businesses’ content for these apps will contain multiple media - video, social sharing, reviews, 3D objects - all in one promotion, and will be very interactive and digitally manipulative. Therefore, SEO experts will need to be very thorough when marking up these advertising tools and keep a close eye on upcoming ranking factors for AR apps.
What will this mean for Paid Search?
For the other side of search, we can speculate that this rise in AR apps and technologies will have a similar effect with Paid Search. Comparable to the concept of Pokémon lures - where businesses can purchase lures that create multiple Pokémon over a short period of time in order to track customers – Paid Search experts will be able to take advantage of similar features in other AR apps, and bid to have their ad copies displayed in virtual space. Therefore, paid consultants will have to start prepping themselves on developing bidding strategies for Augmented Reality apps!
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