Chatbots are a tremendous boon to business. They take the strain of dealing with repetitive customer service issues. They don’t flag or get irritable. They’re always ready to do more and don’t ask for pay rises.
Whatever the reasons, chatbots are growing extremely rapidly. In fact, over the last year, 67% of global customers had at least one interaction with them. So, it’s safe to say that chatbots are very much here to stay.
But what if they could do more than merely tell customers how to set up their new printer? Chatbots can deliver a lot more to a business, starting in the area of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We’ll take a quick ride around the SEO metrics landscape before plunging into the valley of the chatbots to learn more about what they offer.
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- Time on Page
This is the time an internet user spends on a site they’ve found on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This is measured by Google Analytics (GA), which arrives at the figure by registering when a user arrives and when there’s a next-page hit (which could be to another site or a return to SERP).
GA records the search term and the time the user spends on the site before abandoning it. The longer the user’s on there, the more likely it is that the site contains information that’s relevant to the search. This then assists with SEO as it propels the site up the rankings for that search term.
- Bounce Rate
This metric gives the number of times users visit a single page on a site before they bounce back to SERP. It is purely a frequency of visit measure: it doesn’t record how long a visitor spends on your site.
Again, by pairing the search term with the number of visits your site gets, GA can determine a corresponding position for the website on the search rankings.
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- Dwell Time
This one is similar to Time on Page but is a measure of the time a visitor to a site takes to click specifically back to SERP.
There’s a degree of murkiness with SEO metrics, however. Only the first two are accessible via GA. Moreover, none of them have been confirmed by Google as factors that determine ranking for a site. What is commonly accepted, though, is that these metrics (and others) feed Google’s machine learning, and therefore are significant figures for any website owner.
To assess all the many ways chatbots can help would require a lesson in how to do exploratory testing, but there are some major deliveries that we’ll cover shortly. But first, we’ll find out what chatbots are.
A chatbot is an application designed to have a natural interaction with a website user to propel them down a particular route, be it a sales funnel or simply an information avenue. They are made to seem like they have personalities that in some way chime with the brand image and ethos of the company.
Their interactions with customers tend to fall into one or more of these categories:
- Greeting the customer when they arrive at the site like the staff in a bricks-and-mortar store. You know the kind of thing: ‘Hi, how are you? Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with, etc.’ The salutation is supposed to show the customer that assistance is most certainly available, but they’re more than welcome to browse independently if that’s more their style.
- Explaining services and highlighting anything exciting. It can be from telling a customer in an ecommerce store about what products and offers are new to telling a business client a brief rundown on phone systems currently available.
- Answering (and asking) questions. Sometimes this is the quickest way to narrow down exactly what the customer wants, even if the customer’s not sure themselves. This is consequently a hugely important activity for chatbots.
- Providing services and detailed information. If that business client needs more specific data on hosted VoIP for business, for instance, the chatbot can either rustle that up itself or route the customer through to somebody that can.
Through the application of these services, chatbots have steadily worked their way into ecommerce, and their forecasted growth is impressive.
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Imagine wanting to find a dog coat with specific qualities. Your dog’s not the sort of creature who’ll relish being seen out and about in anything but the best, so you know you have particular standards to attain in your coat purchasing mission.
However, disaster strikes when you visit website after website only to find a very pedestrian array of garments, none of which will float your dog’s boat. After a while, you’re bouncing back and forth between quick site visits, then straight back to SERP like a dog playing flyball.
What’s needed is an information assistant that can respond to your particular query with product knowledge and unstinting enthusiasm (or a convincing facsimile of such). What’s needed is a chatbot. One of the great things about chatbots is that they can eliminate all the fruitless and frustrating searching and can cut straight to what the customer wants to see.
In the course of doing this, guess what? The chatbot sees to it that the Time on Page metric improves.
Chatbots do this not just by helping with specific queries. Sometimes, when a chatbot pops up, customers don’t necessarily have a particular product in mind; they’re just browsing. Chatbots can help here too, by asking the user questions to funnel them down areas that will likely be of interest to them.
This then encourages the user to remain on the site, helping that Time on Page metric no end.
One of the biggest bugbears for ecommerce merchants is the rate at which customers tend to leave a site before completing a purchase. Cart abandonment is a huge issue.
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The average cart abandonment rate? 79.8%, rising to 85.65% for mobile users. The global cost this represents is $4.6 trillion.
It’s easy to see why this happens so often. In much the same way that a store without a visible clerk will often see potential customers leave it rather than wait around for a chance of some service, a website sometimes could do with a bit of hands-on from a staff member. Chatbots will apply what hands they have to this.
By engaging with the customer, the chatbot can assist directly in terms of putting the products that the customer needs in their cart, then propelling them to the checkout with a cheery wave.
A chatbot’s entrance can be timed to occur after a specified time has elapsed since the customer arrived, or it can be programmed to pop up when particular user behaviour is in evidence. The latter is handy if the user is behaving in a way that has been shown to preface leaving the site altogether. A well-timed chatbot intervention here can pay dividends.
By boosting your overall customer service ratings, chatbots can help your reviews shine. They can do this by giving a business that 24/7 gold standard, but also by personalising the service.
Chatbots can be a very effective means by which personal data is gained on a customer. The more users grow accustomed to chatbot interactions, the more relaxed they become. It makes the chatbot-customer engagement an ideal milieu to acquire personal data, particularly concerning tastes and previous purchases.
The more a chatbot can then bring forth references to a customer’s personal preferences, the more likely it is that the customer will view the interaction positively. It is why personalisation is making such inroads into marketing.
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A great review often ensues, and whether you’re a shoe shop or a business VoIP provider, you will want great reviews, not least because great reviews will help your Google rankings.
Chatbots are great for discovering and storing the actual terms that customers are using when they’re looking for a product or service. By creating an up-to-date reservoir of current expressions, chatbots can help to ensure that the content on a site stays relevant and chimes not just with what people want, but with the actual words they use. Staying current in this way is one of the characteristics of good SEO.
Any site that collects and uses data to stay relevant in this way will find that its ranking benefits due to its outright findability on Google.
One of the strongest assistance that chatbot technology can give a business is its ability to take burdensome and time-consuming tasks away from the staff. These include of course having to deal with repetitive enquiries, which is where chatbots are worth their weight in gold.
Staff are then given the freedom to concentrate on other business activities, such as creative areas like marketing and other outreach, focus group moderation, product development, website UX improvements, blog updates, and SEO concerns.
By allowing staff to devote themselves to exciting and imaginative thought journeys, chatbots give teams a chance of developing new ideas to boost a company’s SEO performance.
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It’s the way that chatbots can delight a customer that will deliver the SEO performance uptick that businesses crave.
It’s interesting that, although the retail environment has undergone an enormous transformation in the last two decades or so, it’s good customer service that survives as a central tenet of commerce, as immutable as a Resilient Distributed Dataset.
Even more interesting is that it’s the same type of good customer service - readiness to help, product knowledge, knowing a customer’s likes - that still scores. It’s just got a slightly more robotic face nowadays.