Amazon Echo isn’t just any Bluetooth speaker. It’s smart. Not only will it play whatever music you’d like it to, you can ask to look things up (“When did the pilgrims land on Plymouth?”), you can tell it to do stuff (“Add cranberry sauce to my shopping list”), and now, you can use it to search for local results (“I just ruined the Thanksgiving turkey — what’s the best pizza place around here?”).
In order to enable the new feature, a user needs to enter their physical address into the Alexa app, Echo’s companion app, so that the system knows where to focus its search. Then, you can ask Echo general questions and follow-up ones.
For example, “Where can I get an oil change around here?” Once Echo tells you that there’s a local mechanic a quarter of a mile away, the user can then ask “What’s the number?” and call them to make an appointment.
This is great news for consumers and businesses alike. Not only will it make it easier for people to find what they need, it will also help businesses bring in more consumers. Internet marketing research shows that half (50%) of all mobile searches are done in the hopes of finding local results, 61% of which end in a purchase.
“This innovative approach to localizing search engine results has fantastic possibilities for users,” says Colby Richards, Managing Partner, Brown Box Branding Seattle. “It also makes it more important than ever that businesses have effective SEO at work so users are more likely to be directed to their services. If there is a cluster of similar businesses near a potential customer, it is unlikely a business will reap the benefits of this innovation if they haven’t done the work to rank well. The power of SEO can position brands to be the beneficiaries of such ingenious innovations.”
This is so big that Mashable went as far as to say that adding local search to Echo “could be a huge move toward the holy grail of ecommerce: marrying local search to a massive backend inventory and ordering system in the cloud (Amazon.com), thus delivering region-specific, curated ecommerce.”
The new update also allows Echo to provide updates on a user’s favorite sports team and a new sleep timer option, so that they can listen to a podcast or audiobook as they go to bed.