Siri and Google Now have company. After months of speculation and rumors, Microsoft has announced their own virtual assistant, Cortana. The new virtual assistant will be released as part of Microsoft’s new Windows 8.1 software.

Part-Siri, Part-Google Now

This new virtual assistant is said to be part-Siri, Part-Google Now in that it features the capabilities of both. It has the capability to access applications and information on your phone, allowing it to give you tailored information on the go and letting it launch your apps like both its predecessors.

Like Google Now, it can set reminders and meetings in your calendar, and send notifications you’ve previously scheduled. It’s as sassy and perky as Apple’s Siri, and you can personalize your experience in Cortana as you can in both Google Now and Siri. The voice search feature is more integrated in comparison to Siri, and while Google Now comes closer, its assistant features have a long way to go.

What sets it apart from its competitors is Cortana’s capability to access and push information to third-party applications. CNN described the demonstration of Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Windows Phone design chief, using the Bing health tracker app. Cortana suggested the addition of a banana’s calorie count to Bing’s health tracker app after he used Cortana to search for the said information.

Mobile and Contextual Search

Microsoft also announced improvements to the Windows 8.1 interface, which includes placing Cortana in the middle of the home screen. It will display the latest news and information, similar to the function of Google Now. This means Cortana will be pulling and remembering information from its user’s searches, application preferences, and other activities.

The development of virtual assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana means you need to change the way you approach search. As you can see from Siri and Google Now’s early examples, and now in Cortana’s refined virtual assistant program, context is at the center of their functionality. Their information and suggestions will be based on what is contextually relevant to their users. The following main points are good ways to get started on changing your SEO approach:

  • Make your content mobile-friendly, optimizing text, images and site functionality for mobile.
  • Remember to optimize for local and social. Virtual assistants pull information not only from search, but from location and from social data as well.
  • Keep your branding, presentation, and message consistent throughout different online platforms. Having an integrated marketing strategy helps, especially since many of the online resources available to you and your clients today are now accessible through mobile.

Talk to your account manager to find out how we are preparing your campaigns for contextual search and virtual assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana. You can also view our complete SEO and online marketing products and get your free SEO dashboard by signing up to be our partner today. Keep checking back for more updates!

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