Coming on the heels of Microsoft’s Build 2017, Bing has updated its chatbot directory to include some major digital players. Chatbots from Facebook Messenger, Skype, Kik, Slack, and Telegram now have their own dedicated area at the top of search SERPs.
Microsoft has been using bot technology in its search for over a year now, but the ability to search for specific bots across different platforms and verticals just became more accessible to users.
Typically, bots have been the bane of search engine marketers’ existence for years now, flooding the internet with faux Twitter accounts and fooling advertisers out of billions of dollars. On the other hand, Bing plans to create the ultimate search engine bot directory, which may give Google a run for its money.
Users who search for specific businesses can chat with chatbots about a variety of tasks related to that specific vertical, such as making reservations at restaurants. Bing is working on implementing its Infobot to answer user questions directly from Wikipedia or other directories. Bing also promises to rollout bots for websites, such as webmd.com, allrecipes.com and stackoverflow.com, within the next year.
There are currently 130,000 developers using Microsoft’s Bot Framework and developers can submit their own chatbot to the platform for approval. Microsoft and many marketers promise to make bots the next big search engine revolution as Microsoft wants to be able to allow users to search for specific bots by category and vertical for their search needs.
How Bots will Change the SEO Landscape
First, let’s understand what a chatbot is. A bot simply impersonates human behaviours. A bot is really a software that automates repetitive tasks over the internet under a broad range of applications. But a bot is really important to users because it holds the capacity to learn a large range of information relating to a specific industry niche and vertical.
For one, a bot can hired to replace manual human labor, freeing up capital and opening new opportunities. Brands can leverage bots to provide more personalized customer experiences and increase consumer connections as a result. Chatbots are essentially designed as a CTA, and brands can leverage this technology to lead users to a desired conversion.
Juniper Research estimates that chatbots hold the potential of $8 billion in cost savings for businesses by 2022. The same team also found that the estimated success rate of bots in banking verticals could rise to 90% by 2022. Engagement rates among bots in expected to rise as the technology becomes more responsive and can be applied to different verticals.
Technological innovation will soon pave the way for bot metrics that apply to engagement rates, consumer interaction lengths, conversion rates, etc. What’s so interesting about bots is really their potential to segment and target specific audiences and demographics.
With machine learning written into chatbot code, chatbots will soon be able to understand specific speech patterns that can give insight into consumer trends and the keywords they search and ask questions with. This provides incredible consumer insight that will allow marketers to conduct more efficient retargeting campaigns, increase consumer retention rates, and segment audiences for paid search on specific keywords. Imagine discovering keyword ideas by hearing them directly from the horse’s mouth.
Sci-Fi or the Future of Search?
Messaging channels in digital marketing are always changing and marketers have to adapt. Imagine the sheer ROI that inserting a chatbot in your sales funnel could create for your brand. Once the technology becomes more advanced, a chatbot could be the first on-page element that users consult on your landing page. A chatbot could soon become the most important off-site element determining your CTR.
With advancements in AI technology and machine learning coming to the forefront of search, combining this technology with chatbots could create major changes to the face of major businesses. Most businesses already host automated phone services and virtual surveys to help resolve technical issues.
Imagine a world where a single business owner could model his business simply around bots. Finance bot, sales bot, and search bot could represent his main marketing department. Is this the future of search or is a trend that will be replaced by some other technology? Only time will tell now.