In November Google launched their voice-activated search for laptops and PC's. Voice search has been around for a while on mobile devices, most notably Siri on iPhones and now it is on your PC. Voice search is most definitely coming of age and it has implications for both SEO and content marketing.
Those of you on Chrome will probably already be aware of the 'search by voice' icon that has appeared at the end of the Google search box.
In the US you can use the Chrome extension to simply say 'Ok Google' to activate a voice search. Those of us in the UK still have to click the icon to ask our question. In both cases you then get a prompt to 'speak now' and you can ask Google a question and get both a screen result and an audio commentary.
Why Voice Search And What Are The Implications?
Voice search is a natural evolution of search with the growth of mobile devices and devices without keyboards. After all, we all know hard it is to walk whilst typing into our smartphones. There seems to be a general acceptance that in future we will increasingly be using voice to interface with devices.
The potential implications of voice search are:
- More precise search results as search queries get longer. Voice searches tend to be longer and use more natural language than keyboard searches. Thus they are less keyword driven. Keyword matching can deliver masses of data and results whereas longer more natural search queries are likely to generate less but more precise results.
- Semantic search will get better. As Google and others gather spoken search query data the more they will understand natural language structure queries and the intent behind them. Each search and follow up action sends a signal to Google to help understand intent. In essence Google's semantic index will grow and very quickly.
- Conversational search will grow. Voice search is being set up on Google Voice and Siri so you can interact in a conversational manner. Thus you can ask one question and then follow up with another question as you drill into more detail e.g. where is a good place to ski in February, which resorts in that region do you recommend, what type of skiing is available, what are the hotel options, etc.
What Does It Mean For SEO and Content Marketing?
If users and search engines are relying less on keywords and more on natural language questions it means those of us involved in SEO and content marketing need to ensure we are producing content that answers these questions and content that fits a particular user context. This will mean less focus on keywords and more on understanding user requirements and providing content that answers questions in context.
If users also interact with voice search in a conversational manner by asking follow up questions, then content will also benefit from being structured in a similar manner.
Overall voice search and the semantic web is a very positive move for all us wanting to provide high quality content that addresses user queries.
See the Google video for an overview of voice search on laptops and PCs.