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Should you optimise your website for the Google Home Hub?

The Google Home Hub arrived with a bang in October 2018, primed for holiday purchases and with the potential for SEO upheaval. This competitively priced device (only NZD $199) is the latest addition to the booming virtual assistant market, but with a new central focus – a screen.

Admittedly this isn’t an entirely new development, Amazon’s Echo Spot and Echo Show have also incorporated screen displays. However Google’s integration with Youtube and focus on video responses rather than verbal, has the potential to shift the voice search market back to the screen before it has even become mainstream.

So should we be optimising for Google Home Hub? Probably not yet – but it’s important to acknowledge that sudden change could be on the horizon. We should see the Google Home Hub as one of the first few pioneers in this altered search format. It may take off or get left by the wayside. Only time will tell.

Let’s have a look at what the Google Home Hub is and how it has the potential to change the way we search.

What is the Google Home Hub?

The Google Home Hub is a smart display system. It puts together all the features of Google Assistant supported devices, while also being augmented by screen visuals. This means that when commands are given or questions asked, the Google Home Hub display will also respond and show users, for example, their calendar or relevant shopping sites. This is intended to create a richer and more intuitive experience for users.

Some of Google Home Hub’s key features are:

  • Voice matching function: Like other Google Assistant supported devices, the Home Hub has the ability to identify different users based on their voice characteristics. This means that each user can have personalised results.
  • Integrates with NEST smart systems: A key function of the Home Hub is that it will be able to integrate with the NEST suite of products along with other home-based IoT devices. For example the NEST Hello video doorbell can be used via the Home Hub. The ‘Home View’ dashboard allows users touchscreen access to every smart home gadget they may have.
  • Access to Google Photos: The Home Hub device has access to Google Photos and can enable ‘live albums’ to create slideshows of users favorite photos, or feature people they want to see regularly.
  • Affinity with YouTube: Google’s Home Hub display can also be used to play YouTube videos. In fact the Hub comes with a six month free subscription to Youtube Premium. The focus on YouTube is thought to also impact its search answer preferences, but more on that later.
  • No camera: Perhaps as a response to increasing privacy concerns Google has opted to not incorporate a camera into its Home Hub Device.

The move towards incorporating screen displays alongside voice technology has the potential to be hugely successful. Not only does it take advantage of the already booming voice search market, it also harnesses the growing trend towards searching quickly on a small touch screen. The marriage of these two concepts is a clear play towards the current market trends that may well succeed. So how exactly will this technology impact SEO?

What are the key themes of Home Hub search?

The Google Home Hub represents two huge potential game changers for the SEO landscape.

  1. The propagation of voice search.
  2. The YouTube-savvy smart screen.

Adapting to voice search

Voice assistance is still the central feature of the Google Home Hub, further solidifying voice as a major part of search in the near future. What does this mean for your SEO strategy?

In short, many things – which you can read about in detail here.

In regards to the Google Home Hub, though, the most important takeaway is that featured snippets and ultimately winning the SERP will be essential. Naturally this has always been an ideal goal of SEO strategies, but in the age of voice, it could soon be that or nothing. When users search with voice they are presented with a single answer to their question, which will usually be selected either from a featured snippet or in its absence the top SERP result. In most voice-assisted searches, including on Google Home Hub, there is no option to explore other possible resources, even with the screen.

In reality this means a shift towards hitting rank 0 to 1 in the SERP or not existing at all.

Adapting to the smart screen

The seven inch touch screen gives the Google Home Hub another edge entirely – video responses.

Given Google’s ownership of YouTube it is maybe unsurprising that it links so seamlessly with the platform, but it adds a previously  uncharted element to search queries. Now when a user asks a question that can most easily be explained via a video tutorial, the Home Hub will first search for the most relevant YouTube clip. It even uses YouTube video snippets to determine the page results for more general search queries. For example, if asked ‘how to make pancakes’ the Home Hub would give the user a selection of video tutorials to choose from, instead of a written recipe.

If the Google Home Hub were to become a major source of search queries, it would mean that high quality YouTube videos will become a staple of a successful SEO strategy. It will also be important to correctly label your YouTube videos, specifically having a clear description as this is what the Home Hub uses when searching for relevant content.

What should we be optimising for?

Good question… the not very satisfactory answer to this really is we will have to wait and see.

More practically we can safely say at this point that the voice search market is going from strength to strength, based on the sheer number of smart speaker units being bought and the growing popularity of voice search. Therefore optimising your SEO strategy to prepare for this shift is a very wise move. Whether the use of screen displays in conjunction with voice will follow is still uncertain.  

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Cathy Breed
Cathy Breed About the author

With a degree from Downing College at Cambridge University and experience as a Marketing Executive in London Cathy comes to the Castleford Blog with a reputation for deep research and high-level subject-matter expertise. Her current writing portfolio covers artificial intelligence, financial services, the property sector and not-for-profits. Clients include Stackchat, Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Fiserv and Investa.

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