Voice Search Habits Could Change SEO
The growth in smartphone ownership has not only shifted the emphasis over to optimising for mobile search, but could lead to further SEO challenges in the near future.
This week a new Webmaster Help video from Google’s Matt Cutts has addressed the topic of voice search and the shifting habits of users, when it comes to looking for content using this particular platform.
Cutts was addressing a question about the shifts in search syntax which have occurred as a result of the rise in voice search usage.
The most significant point he makes is that people who use voice search are more inclined to speak naturally, using conversational language. This is as opposed to the traditional desktop search, which is typically oriented around keywords and short phrases, entered as text.
When using a keyboard to input search queries, people tend to be brief and efficient with their language to save time, which is why keyword choice has become so important to SEO in recent years.
Cutts said that Google is attempting to improve its ability to tackle conversational speech for the purposes of searching and given that it has recently released voice search capabilities for desktop, to complement its existing mobile solution, is an indication that it sees this as becoming even more significant in the near future.
There is a major distinction between traditional text-based searching and voice search. Cutts points out that more keywords added in standard search will result in a smaller number of potential results, as the pool of potential relevant pages becomes smaller.
With voice search, however, the more a person speaks, the greater variety of results will be gathered because the engine will be learning more about the topic that is up for discussion.
Google is basically required to get the gist of the user’s intention via voice search, which is quite different from the arrangement it relies upon traditionally.
Cutts compares this to entering an entire document as a text search, where an holistic approach would be required, rather than one which simply tries to match all of the contained keywords to relevant content, which would, of course, make it incredibly narrow.
Google’s ability to cater to the needs of voice searchers is still slightly erratic, as anyone who has experienced the service in its current form will agree. But given its track record for consistent updates, its accuracy when seeking out the searcher’s intent from what could be quite a rambling set of verbal parameters, should improve.
It is still unclear what this might mean for webmasters and the immediate suggestion is that SEO of the future will need to de-emphasise the significance of keywords.
However, Google could still use this approach as its underpinning and the full extent of the impact of voice search in the future remains unclear. Once its market share is better understood, along with the habits of users, then it will be easier to optimise in order to take advantage of it.