Alexa, the digital and personal voice assistant in Amazon Echo, has already been active in households and offices for several months even in this country.
But how does Alexa actually function and what differentiates the Amazon assistant from other products on the market?
As with Google Home, Amazon Echo also seeks to make the lives of users simpler by means of voice search. According to a study published by Google in 2014, speech search is used most frequently to find travel routes and target destinations, to dictate text and notes, as well as to dial phone contacts. This shows that it is particularly used in moments in which the user cannot type with his or her fingers, or only with great difficulty (e.g. while driving a car). According to statista.com, already in 2017 more than 700 million users regularly use a digital assistant with speech control or speech search.
In contrast to other assistants, Amazon’s Alexa can give weather forecasts, for example, or play music, or even order products from Amazon, in addition to answering simple questions and search commands. Many retailers thus rightly ask: "How can we optimize our own Amazon products for Alexa?" Here is the answer:
First, it is important to know which products Alexa can direct order:
The so-called Amazon Choice Badge designates products that are given as results via Alexa. Amazon has confirmed that the Choice Program is used to highlight products that can be ordered according to keywords in the speech command. To make your Amazon-listed products available for Alexa, you have to activate the Choice Badge.
Figure 2: Amazon Choice Badge (Source: searchengineland.com)
It is not possible, at this time, to be accepted into the Choice Program either manually or upon request. Amazon alone decides which products receive the badge, based on certain criteria. One criterion is, for example, the availability of the product via Amazon Prime. If Prime is not supported, acceptance into the Choice Program, and thus direct ordering via Alexa, is not possible.
If case no offerings with a Choice Badge can be found for certain voice commands, Alexa will point the user to other product recommendations that can only be ordered via Prime.
In order to receive a Choice Badge, these five optimizations and factors must be considered:
To register products for Amazon Prime, they usually have to be available via the Fullfilled by Amazon Program (FBA). For a monthly fee, Prime promises users delivery times of two days maximum.
Figure 3: Ensure products can be ordered via Amazon Prime
The shorter the delivery time, the better usability and thus product visibility on Amazon. As already mentioned, a maximum delivery time of two work days must be guaranteed with Amazon Prime, which is a prerequisite for accessibility via Alexa. If, however, not enough Amazon warehouses are supplied with enough products (guaranteeing nationwide shipping within this time frame), Alexa will not order the product directly via a speech command. Nevertheless, short delivery times also positively affect acceptance into the Choice Program and are therefore necessary for optimal disbursement in Alexa.
The most important thing for good product services and sales via Amazon and Alexa are customer opinions, evaluations, and experience reports. As a retailer, you should absolutely encourage satisfied customers to evaluate and leave a report on the Amazon product page. Negative customer reports, however, should ideally be sent directly to the retailer, who should strive to rectify the problem. Evaluations of products are probably the most important decision criteria for users - not only for acceptance into the Choice Program and therefore into the Alexa search, but also for any kind of direct transaction on Amazon.
For products that will be ordered not only once, but again and again within a foreseeable time-period, it is imperative that the first sale of the product is over Amazon. With a renewed order of a certain product, Alexa will check whether the user has already ordered a product on this topic or in this category via Amazon.
A user buys toilet paper from a certain brand over Amazon. If he or she is satisfied with the sale, leaves positive experience reports or evaluations and does not send the product back to Amazon, Alexa will more likely directly order the same product again with the next voice command to order toilet paper.
If a product has been bought by a customer on Amazon multiple times but it has not received a choice badge, Alexa will nevertheless also order this product from the same supplier based on sales history and customer satisfaction.
And don’t neglect the known, usual Amazon SEO Basics Products when optimizing for Alexa. In addition to the measures named above, you must also exhaust and implement the following potentials and optimizations:
You can find further information on Amazon SEO basics and a comparison with other search engines in this article by Nathan Grimm on moz.com.
At present, most orders via Amazons Alexa are for consumer products that have already been ordered frequently and are being ordered again. Therefore, it is important to encourage customers making their first purchases to do so directly via Amazon. Thus, Alexa will simply rely on user history for future purchases. Furthermore, additional programs from Amazon, such as Prime and Choice, are necessary in order to be able to achieve good visibility and sales with other product types.
Published on 03/28/2017 by Daniel Herndler.
Daniel works as senior SEO manager at Get On Top GmbH in Salzburg. His favorite topics are conversational and semantic search. Daniel also admits to being a true TV series junkie – as a huge “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” fan, he is already plotting his move to the Seven Kingdoms.