In an era of sitting around doing nothing but using technology, typing was one of the few forms of physical exercise most of us got. Now it looks like this too will be phased out with the emergence of voice search.
Search engines are getting a lot smarter, and it’s now possible to adopt conversational tones in search queries. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm began this process, and now the likes of RankBrain are monitoring queries and learning (through artificial intelligence) how to supply users with better results.
2016 will see big changes in the way businesses approach SEO. Black hat tactics may be finally consigned to history thanks to a real-time Penguin 4.0 update, and out of the shadows will emerge voice search to help users craft new types of search queries. Here’s what your business can expect.
The End for Typing?
With mobile phones increasingly central to our lives, and capable of providing remarkable technological feats, there remain two bizarre performance anomalies. The first is battery life – even the best smartphone in the world has a battery life barely beyond 24 hours. The second is typing options – human fingers are clumsy when attempting to type out search queries. As we jab away at our screens with chubby index fingers, mistakes happen and peculiar emails and text messages get sent (often not helped by predictive text).
Voice search could well be the answer. iOS and Windows Phone users have already become familiar with virtual assistants they can order around (Siri and Cortana, respectively), and now businesses are eager to pick up on the convenience and accessibility by searching through speech. Were this take off in popularity, as it threatens to do, voice search would allow search engines to take a natural, evolutionary step – a conversational, essentially human type of search.
For the time being typing’s not going anywhere. There’s no way I would want to write an article such as this on anything other than a trusty computer. For consumers on the go, however, being able to pick up their phones, speak, and find an immediate response would be a major step forward.
What Will Voice Search Mean for Marketing?
For digital marketers, the implications are drastic for voice search on mobile phones. Google anticipated the change based on its thorough knowledge on modern search habits. The Google Now app features a number of voice-activated phrases to wake the device up, and Google search does, of course, feature voice search options. They’re just not particularly refined yet.
Similarly, with Siri and Cortana users can ask phrases such as “driving from Manchester to London” and they will receive an exact answer. Obviously this is particularly useful if you are on the go, which is where the importance of voice search really seems to lie. If you are out and about, picking up the phone and talking (as opposed to writing search queries) is more accessible, and brands will want to tap into this potential.
Businesses can expect the previously discussed conversational way of search, but it is a great opportunity to provide answers directly in content. The more naturally this is done, the better the chance it will appear in search results. As a result, it can be presumed long-tail keywords will become increasingly prevalent in content, and the importance of sentences or phrases will override even keywords. This is great news if you’re a fan of structuring unique content.
What Could Voice Search Change?
It’s still burgeoning technology which hasn’t been perfected, but we can expect it to be much more finely tuned within a few years. Apps are already taking advantage of the process, but there remains a taboo about openly talking at a mobile in public places – other than with phone calls. Ultimately, voice search has the potential to change the way Google shapes its search rankings.
We can expect user tracking to become increasingly granular as individuals reveal more about their personal preferences, which should allow digital marketing to hone an individualistic advertising experience.