How Does Google Assistant Work?

Voice assistants are becoming increasingly popular – whether we use them on our phones or through home assistants. While not everyone is entirely comfortable with the fact that these AI assistants are listening in, they are incredibly useful for those who are living busy day-to-day lives.

In this blog, we look at what the Google Assistant is, how it works and whether it’s possible to get your website featured in it’s spoken answers.


What is Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant developed by Google that is primarily available on mobile and smart home devices. The Google Assistant has the ability to engage in two-way conversations – if you ask it a question, it will provide you with a response. 

It is mainly intended to provide you with hands-free assistance in your everyday life. As well as providing quick spoken answers to your questions, it can also set reminders, plan journeys, play music and interact with smart home systems to turn lights on and off. 

Google Assistant is available on android phones and is also built into the Google Home speaker. You can also use it on iPhones by downloading the app. Google Assistant is a voice-activated AI technology so you can get it to work by saying the phrase ‘Okay Google’ or ‘Hey Google’. 


How does Google Assistant work?

Google Assistant works by using the Google search database to provide spoken answers to your questions. It also has the potential to complete tasks on your behalf, such as sending a text or scheduling a reminder. It does this by connecting with your Google account and phone to access your calendar, emails and more.

Since Google Assistant integrates with your Google account, it also has the ability to give you a run-through of your schedule for the day because it has access to your calendar and emails. If you say ‘Hey Google, what does my day look like?’, the Assistant will be able to run you through your appointments. You can also customise this so that you get a weather report, traffic report and the news included.


How do you appear in Google Assistant search results?

Optimising to feature in answers given by Google Assistant can be done and it requires slightly different SEO tactics to typical search results.

The first thing to bear in mind is that Google Assistant is looking only for one short answer, rather than providing a whole page of web results. It is therefore far more competitive than typical search results.

There is some evidence to suggest that Google Assistant takes answers from featured snippets – the answer box which now appears at the top of the search results for most queries. 


Related articles:

Google Featured Snippet: How Does it Work?

Safeguarding Your Business: How to Optimise for Voice Search


The key things to keep in mind if you want Google Assistant to read text from your website are the following: question and answer formats and language which sounds like the spoken word.

If you identify a search question, such as ‘what are disposable coffee cups made from?’, you can create a blog which looks at this topic in detail but includes a subtitle with the question and a short answer (30-50 words). Make sure that the language you use in this article will make sense when it’s read aloud. 

You can also look at implementing a new type of schema markup called ‘Speakable’ – you can read more about that here


However, we’d also recommend not worrying about Google Assistant too much. A lot of searches are still going to be performed manually – especially when people are researching products or services. 

Google Assistant works well for asking things such as ‘how tall is Anthony Joshua?’ or ‘what time is it in Australia?’ – and of course checking your schedule for the day – but when people need more detailed information, they’re likely to do the searching themselves.