“Alexa, is ‘voice search’ the next big thing to consider in digital politics?” Maybe — though I’m a bit skeptical of projections that half of ALL online search queries in the U.S. will be spoken in 2020. Still, with digital personal
surveillance devices assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home popping up everywhere, plus the obvious ease of talking into a cell phone rather than typing into it, digital communicators should at least try to keep audio search in mind. How can we put Alexa, Siri and Mr. Google to work in politics?
At the CampaignTech conference a few months ago in DC, panelist Brian Young (of ACRONYM) suggested a way to take advantage of the particular ways search engines prioritize results we hear rather than see. Thinking of the kinds of political questions one might ask on the run (“Alexa, for whom should I vote?”), a campaign could create a page its website that compares their candidate with the opponent — favorably (ex. “Bob Dobbs promises you endless Slack; our opponent wishes to subject you to crushing, eternal servitude”). Overview/summary pages like these seem likely to rank highly in results that we have to listen to rather than scan by eye, and they should do well in more-tradition text search as well.
Any search-optimized page needs a search-friendly headline (“Bob Dobbs vs. Bob Jones on the Issues”) and intro text, and of course your campaign site may be out-ranked in the results by media outlets hosting similar content. Still, building a comparison page sounds like a clever way to at least give yourself a chance to shape the opinion of a voter who’s asking for information at the last minute, including when standing in line at the polls. Of course, once we’re all plugged into the hive-mind permanently, all of this will be moot. But we’ll at least have tried.