Implement Voice SEO on Amazon Alexa with Nameless Invocation
Amazon announced a new feature on May 30th that is designed to improve Alexa skill discovery. Nameless invocation, also known as CanFulfillIntentRequest, enables you to make your skill and your brand discoverable through topics that consumers are searching for. The Alexa skill developer documentation puts it this way:
“To increase discoverability of your skill through name-free interaction, consider implementing the CanFulfillIntentRequest interface in your skill. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that your skill is selected when a customer who may not even have enabled your skill makes a request, question, or statement.”
Your Alexa skill can be recommended by Alexa to consumers that don’t know the name of your skill or even that you have one, and may not even be familiar with your brand. Nameless invocation represents the introduction of voice search engine optimization (SEO) for Alexa. You know about SEO for Google on the web. It’s time to build voice SEO for Alexa.
It Works By Making Alexa Smarter
Anytime a consumer asks Alexa for something, the voice assistant must decide how to respond and where to source the information. Previously, Alexa would search its own knowledge base, the Bing knowledge graph or other data sources it has designated for answering specific queries. Now, Alexa will also look at CanFulfillIntentRequest information from published skills. If the query can be fulfilled by an existing skill, Alexa will ask users if they would like to to try the skill. Think of it as instant discovery of your brand by making your content available through an Alexa skill. When you make Alexa smarter you benefit through direct connections with consumers.
Addressing the Alexa Skill Discovery Gap
Alexa skill discovery has been a problem for voice. There are over 38,000 Alexa skills in the U.S. alone. The only way to really browse through the options is in the visually driven Alexa skill store in the mobile app or online. That friction breaks the natural convenience of voice. As a consumer, how can you know that a brand can answer my question or is even available on Alexa?
On the web, you search on Google or Bing and receive some suggestions. You can do the same with Alexa , but the results are often underwhelming. For linking users to skills, the only thing Alexa really has had to go on is the invocation name. That is the equivalent of typing in a domain name on the web, but worse because you had to enable the skill before you could open it by name. The skill enablement requirement creates friction similar to downloading mobile apps. Voicebot has reported that Amazon is working on auto-enablement of skills, but it is not universal yet. Nameless Invocation will help Alexa know more about the types of requests specific skills can fulfill. Amazon is allowing skill developers to make Alexa smarter so consumers can connect more easily with your content and your brand through your skill(s).
Driving 150% More User Sessions
If you have built a Google Assistant Action, you may recognize that Alexa’s nameless invocations are similar to implicit invocations. This Google Action feature was previously called deeplink or implicit discoveries because it enabled discovery of Google Assistant Actions built by third-party developers–that means you.
XAPPmedia has implemented implicit invocations for a number of Google Actions for leading brands and media companies and they make a big difference. For example, one of our customers generates about 60% of all user sessions from implicit invocations. That means a user asked a question and that company’s brand was recommended by Google Assistant as being able to answer the user request. The user has the choice of whether to accept the recommendation, and a large number do.
At 60% of all user sessions, the math shows that implicit invocations increase usage of the Google Assistant Action by 150%. This doesn’t eliminate the need to promote your voice app through existing paid, earned and owned media channels, but it clearly makes a big difference. We expect nameless invocation can have a similar impact for discovery driving more consumer trial of optimized Alexa skills.
What Brands and Media Companies Should Do
Brands and media companies can use nameless invocation to become more visible to consumers, but first they must establish a presence on Alexa. If you don’t have an Alexa skill, it is time to connect directly with 35 million U.S. adults today and likely more than 50 million before year end. Nameless invocation also offers you some options around Alexa skills strategy. You can build an Alexa skill primarily to answer questions and thereby use your content to build trust with curious consumers that are looking for answers while increasing awareness.
If you have an existing Alexa skill, it requires a two step process. First, you need to consider how nameless invocations can help drive discovery of your Alexa skill and determine whether you have the right content to take full advantage of the feature. Then, you need to update your Alexa skill, enable the feature in the developer console and add the new CanFulfillIntentRequest logic to your skill. As Amazon rolls out the Alexa referrals capability, nameless invocations should generate a rise in user sessions just as we have seen for Google Actions.
Pat Higbie is CEO and co-founder of XAPPmedia which has launched and manages over 1,000 voice apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.