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Google voice search makes finding what you need even easier.

Just say “OK Google,” tell your phone or tablet what you want to find, and you’ll get results. Or use the microphone icon in your browser.

There’s even an official Chrome extension that combines voice search with Google Docs dictation, so you can type a document without touching a keyboard.

It’s really cool technology, but like most convenient tech, there are some tradeoffs.

In this case, the biggest trade-off is privacy. Voice search comes with some “features” that you might not be aware of, and privacy enthusiasts find those features a bit worrying. (Fortunately, you can mitigate them with a few clicks if you know where to look; we’ll get to that in a moment.)

First, let’s talk about how Google voice search is changing human-computer interaction.

Google Voice Search: The future of search

For years, Google has been making it easier to find the information you want on the internet. Extremely refined algorithms, sophisticated tracking and scoring, and integration with a variety of other services all remove barriers to getting great search results.

Voice search is an extension of that. If you can’t – or just don’t want to – type your query, all you need to do is speak it and Google will take a look. You can use it to search other search engines (like DuckDuckGo, which is much more privacy-focused), Wikipedia, YouTube, Wolfram Alpha, and a wide variety of other sites.

Google Assistant, a more powerful companion to simple voice search, will help you find photos, send text messages, keep your shopping list, and even order products.

It’s clear that Google is betting heavily on voice technology, and that it’s working. A 2018 survey by Stone Temple found that 16% of people prefer to use voice search over any other method.

And 60% used voice search at least some of the time. Users also took advantage of voice tech for sending texts, making calls, getting directions, and setting reminders.

Google stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device

Why do so many prefer voice-enabled apps? Mostly because it saves time. Over 60% said that they use voice because it’s fast. But the fact that it’s accurate, doesn’t require typing, and results in an audio answer were mentioned, too.

The past few years have seen increased usage of voice search and other voice-enabled technologies, and it’s unlikely to slow down any time soon. Google is leading the way in making it easier for users to interact with their devices using their voice.

But this convenience has a cost that many people aren’t aware of: privacy.

Why privacy advocates are wary of Google Voice Search

Most people using Google’s voice products without much thought. They say “OK Google,” or hold down the home button on their device, and start talking. When they’re done with the search, they forget about it.

But Google doesn’t.

It stores every voice command that you’ve ever given your device, plus a few seconds of audio before you gave the command. Which means that Google is always listening through your phone. They might not be saving everything you say near the device, but they’re always listening.

And much of it is saved. In fact, you can see how much. Head to myactivity.google.com and you’ll see the data that Google has stored. If you’ve used voice search recently, you should be able to find a record of it and even listen to the stored audio.

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer

It’s a little unnerving, hearing the things you said to your phone played back to you from your computer, and knowing that it’s coming from Google’s servers.

And, of course, we all know what Google does with your information that’s stored on its servers: analyzes it and uses it to serve you ads. That, combined with the fact that your phone is always listening and ready to record audio, has privacy enthusiasts worried.

What you can do to protect your privacy from Google Voice Search

The most obvious thing you can do to mitigate the privacy concerns of using Google voice search is to simply not use it. If you turn Google Assistant off, it won’t be listening, and it won’t be recording anything.

To turn it off, open Google Assistant, then tap the blue icon in the upper-right corner. Hit the three dots in the upper-right corner of the resulting screen and select Settings. Tap the name of your device, and move the slider for Google Assistant to the off position.

Of course, that means you won’t be able to use the full power voice search. And that’s inconvenient. But if you’re concerned about privacy, it might be worth it.

Especially because Google’s voice search capabilities may not work very well when you’re using a VPN. And using a high-quality, secure VPN is one of the most important things you can do to keep your mobile data safe.

If you want to keep using voice search, you can tell Google to stop recording and storing what you say. You can do this by going to myactivity.google.com, selecting Activity Controls from the sidebar menu, and scrolling down to Voice & Audio Activity. Click the slider to pause it.

This will prevent the storage of your voice searches and activity. That means Google won’t be using it to target ads . . . but it also means that it won’t be as good at recognizing your voice, have as much data for learning speech recognition, or learn things that might help it solve your problems.

But it’s a step in the right direction for privacy.

Weigh the options

Unfortunately, keeping your data secure means not getting as many benefits from Google’s voice-recognition technologies as you might otherwise. So you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of privacy versus the convenience of Google voice search and similar services.

In an age when privacy is increasingly threatened, it’s easy to assume that all of your data will end up in Google’s hands anyway. But if you put up a bit of a fight, you just might be able to maintain a bit of control over your data.

 Source: This article was Published ifsecglobal.com By John Mason

Published in How to

What does the future hold for voice search? If you search the web for these words – or a version of them – you’ll encounter no shortage of grand predictions.

“By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.” Or, “By 2020, 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice.” (I’ll come back to that one in a second). Or, “2017 will be the year of voice search.” Oops, looks like we might have missed the boat on that last one.

The great thing about the future is that no-one can know exactly what’s going to happen, but you can have fun throwing out wild predictions, which most people will have forgotten about by the time we actually get there.

That’s why you get so many sweeping, ambitious, and often contradictory forecasts doing the rounds – especially with a sexy, futuristic technology like voice. It doesn’t do anyone any real harm unless for some reason your company has decided to stake its entire marketing budget on optimizing for the 50% of the populace who are predicted to be using voice search by 2020.

However, in this state of voice search series, I’ve set out to take a realistic look at voice search in 2018, beyond the hype, to determine what opportunities it really presents for marketers. But when it comes to predicting the future, things get a little murkier.

I've made some cautious predictions to the tune of assuming that if smart speaker ownership increases over the coming years, voice search volume will also likely increase; or that mobile voice search might be dropping away as smart speaker voice search catches on.

In this article, though, I'll be looking at where voice search as a whole could be going: not just on mobile, or on smart speakers, but of any kind. What is the likelihood that voice search will go "mainstream" to the point that it makes up as substantial a portion of overall search volume as is predicted? What are the obstacles to that? And what does this mean for the future of voice optimisation?

Will half of all searches by 2020 really be voice searches?

I'm going to start by looking at one of the most popular predictions that is cited in relation to voice search: "By 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice."

This statistic is popularly attributed to comScore, but as is often the case with stats, things have become a little distorted in the retelling. The original prediction behind this stat actually came from Andrew Ng, then Chief Scientist at Baidu. In an exclusive interview with Fast Company in September 2014, he stated that "In five years' time, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech."

The quote was then popularised by Mary Meeker, who included it on a timeline of voice search in her Internet Trends 2016 Report, with "2020" as the year by which this prediction was slated to come true.

So, not just voice search, but voice and visual search. This makes things a little trickier to benchmark, not least because we don't have any statistics yet on how many searches are carried out through images. (I'm assuming this would include the likes of Google Lens and Pinterest Lens, as well as Google reverse image search).

Let's assume for the sake of argument that 35% of Ng's predicted 50% of searches will be voice search, since voice technology is that bit more widespread and well-supported, while a visual search is largely still in its infancy. How far along are we towards reaching that benchmark?

I'm going to be generous here and count voice queries of every kind in my calculations, even though as I indicated in Part 1, only around 20% of these searches can actually be ranked for. Around 60% of Google searches are carried out on mobile (per Hitwise), so if we use Google's most recent stat that 1 in every 5 mobile searches is carried out via voice, that means about 12% of all Google searches (420 million searches) are mobile voice queries.

In Part 2 I estimated that another 26.4 million queries are carried out via smart speakers, which is an additional 0.75% - so in total that makes 12.75% of searches, or if we're rounding up, 13% of Google searches that are voice queries.

This means that the number of voice queries on Google would need to increase by another 22 percentage points over the next year and a half for Ng's prediction to come true. To reach 50% - the stat most often cited by voice enthusiasts as to why voice is so crucial to optimise for - we would need to find an additional 1.3 billion voice searches per day from somewhere.

That's nearly ten times the number of smart speakers predicted to ship to the US over the next three years. Even if you believe that smart speakers will single-handedly bring voice search into the mainstream, it's a tall order.

So okay, we've established that voice enthusiasts might need to cool their jets a bit when it comes to the adoption of voice search. But if we return to (our interpretation of) Andrew Ng's prediction that 35% of searches by 2020 will be voice, what is going to make the volume of voice search leap up those remaining 22 percentage points in less than two years?

Is it sheer volume of voice device ownership? Is it the increasing normalisation of speaking aloud to a device in public? Or is it something else?

Ng made another prediction, via Twitter this time, in December 2016 which gives us a clue as to his thinking in this regard. He wrote, "As speech-recognition accuracy goes from 95% to 99%, we'll go from barely using it to using all the time!"

So, Andrew Ng believes that sheer accuracy of recognition is what will take voice search into the mainstream. 95% word recognition is actually the same threshold of accuracy as human speech (Google officially reached this threshold last year, to great excitement), so Ng is holding machines to a higher standard than humans – which is fair enough, since we tend to approach new technology and machine interfaces with a higher degree of scepticism, and are less forgiving of errors. In order to win us over, they have to really wow us.

But is a pure vocal recognition the only barrier to voice search going mainstream? Let's consider the user experience of voice search.

The UX problems with voice

As I mentioned in our last installment of natural language and conversational search, when using voice interfaces, we tend to hold the same expectations that we have for a conversation with a human being.

We expect machines to respond in a human way, seamlessly and intuitively carrying on the exchange; when they don't, bringing us up short with an "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question," we're thrown off and turned off.

This explains why voice recognition is weighted so highly as a measure of success for voice interfaces, but it's not the only important factor. Often, understanding you still isn't enough to produce the right response; many voice commands depend on specific phrasing to activate, meaning that you can still be brought up short if you don't know exactly what to utter to achieve the result you want.

The internet is full of examples of what happens when our voice assistants don't quite understand the question.

Or what about if you misspeak – the verbal equivalent of a typo? When typing, you can just delete and retype your query before you submit, but when speaking, there's no way to take back the last word or phrase you uttered. Instead, you have to wait for the device to respond, give you an error, and then start again.

If this happens multiple times, it can prompt the user to give up in exasperation. Writing for Gizmodo, Chris Thomson paints a vivid picture of the frustration experienced by users with speech impediments when trying to use voice-activated smart speakers.

One of the major reasons that voice interfaces are heralded as the future of technology is because speaking your query or command aloud is supposed to be so much faster and more frictionless than typing it. At the moment, though, that's far from being the case.

However, while they might be preventing the uptake of voice interfaces (which is intrinsically linked to the adoption of voice search) at the moment, these are all issues that could reasonably be solved in the future as the technology advances. None of them are deal-breakers.

For me, the real deal-breaker when it comes to voice search, and the reason why I believe it will never see widespread adoption in its present state, is this: it doesn't do what it's supposed to.

One result to rule them all?

Think back for a moment to what web search is designed to do. Though we take it for granted nowadays, before search engines came along, there was no systematic way to find web pages and navigate the world wide web. You had to know the web address of a site already in order to visit it, and the early "weblogs" (blogs) often contained lists of interesting sites that web users had found on their travels.

Web search changed all that by doing the hard work for users – pulling in information about what websites were out there, and presenting it to users so that they could navigate the web more easily. This last part is the issue that I'm getting at, in a sidelong sort of way: so that they could navigate the web.

Contrast that with what voice search currently does: it responds to a query from the user with a single, definitive result. It might be possible to follow up that query with subsequent searches, or to carry out an action (e.g. ordering pizza, hearing a recipe, receiving directions), but otherwise, the voice journey stops there. You can't browse the web using your Amazon Echo. You can use your smartphone, but for all intents and purposes, that's just mobile search. Nothing about that experience is unique to voice search.

This is the reason why voice search is only ever used for general knowledge queries or retrieving specific pieces of information: it's inherently hampered by an inability to explore the web.

It's why voice search in its present state is mostly a novelty: not just because voice devices themselves are a novelty, but because it's difficult to really search with it.

One result to rule them all?

Even when voice devices like smart speakers catch on and become part of people's daily lives, it's because of their other capabilities, not because of search. Search is always incidental.

This is also why Google, Amazon and other makers of smart speakers are more interested in expanding the commands that their devices respond to and the places they can respond to them. For them, that is the future of voice.

What does this mean for voice search?

What true voice search could sound like

I see two possible future scenarios for voice search.

One, voice search remains as a "single search result" tool which is mostly useful for fact-finding exercises and questions that have a definitive answer, in which case there will always be a limit to how big voice search can get, and voice will only ever be a minor channel in the grand scheme of search and SEO. Marketers should recognise the role that it plays in their overall search strategy (if any), think about the use cases realistically, and optimise for those – or not – if it makes sense to.

Or two, voice search develops into a genuine tool for searching the web. This might involve a user being initially read the top result for their search, and then being presented with the option to hear more search results – perhaps three or four, to keep things concise.

If they then want to hear content from one of the results, they can instruct the voice assistant to navigate to that webpage, and then proceed to listen to an audio version of the news article, blog post, Wikipedia page, or other websites that they've chosen.

Duane Forrester, VP Insights at Yext, envisages just such an eventuality during a wide-ranging video discussion on the future of voice search with Stone Temple Consulting's Eric Enge and PeakActivity's Brent Csutoras. The whole discussion is excellent and well, well worth a watch or a read (the transcript is available beneath the video).

Duane Forrester: We may see a resurgence in [long-form content] a couple of years from now if our voice assistants are now reading these things out loud.

Brent Csutoras: Sure. Like an audible.

Duane: Exactly, like a built-in native audible, like “I’m on this page, do you want me to read it? “Yes, read it out loud to me.” There we go.

Brent: Yes because in that sense, I’m going to want to hear more. I’m driving down the street and want to hear about what’s happening and I want to hear follow up pieces.

Duane: It immediately converts every single website, every page of content, every blog, it immediately converts all of those into on-demand podcasts. That’s a cool idea, it’s a cool adaptation. I’m not sure if we’ll get there. We will when we get to the point of having a digital agent. But that’s still years in the future.

At first, I was sceptical of the idea that people would ever want to consume web content primarily via audio. Surely it would be slower and less convenient than visually scanning the same information?

Then I thought about the fast-growing popularity of podcasts and audiobooks and realized that the audio web could fit into our lives in many of the same ways that other types of audio have – especially if voice devices become as omnipresent as many techs and marketing pundits are predicting they will.

Is this a distant future? Perhaps. But this is how I imagine voice search truly entering the mainstream, the same way that web search did: as a means of exploring the web.

The future of voice search might not be Google

What surprises me is that for all the hype surrounding voice search and its possibilities, hardly anyone has pointed out the obvious drawback of the single search result or considered what it could mean for voice adoption.

An article by Marieke van de Rakt of Yoast highlights it as an obstacle but believes that screen connectivity is the answer. This is a possibility, especially as Google and Amazon are now equipping their smart speakers with screens - but I think that requiring a screen removes some of the convenience of voice as a user interface, one that can be interacted with while doing other things (like driving) without pulling the user's attention away.

For the most part, however, it seems to me that marketers and SEOs have been too content to just follow Google's lead (and Bing's, because realistically, where Google goes, Bing will follow) when it comes to things like voice search. Is Google presenting the user with a single search result? Everyone optimize for single search results; the future of search will be one answer!

Why? What about that makes for a good user experience? Is this what search was meant to do?

I understand letting Google set the agenda when it comes to SEO more broadly because realistically it's so dominant that any SEO strategy has to mainly cater to Google. However, I don't think we should assume that Google will remain the leader of the search in every new, emerging area like voice or visual search.

Oh, Google is doing its best to stay on top, and there's no denying that it's taken an early lead; its speech recognition and conversational search capabilities are currently second to none. But Google isn't the hot young start-up that it was when it came along and challenged the web search status quo. It's much bigger now, and has investors to answer to.

Google makes a huge amount of revenue from its search and advertising empire; its primary interest is in maintaining that. One search result suits Google just fine, if it means that users won't leave its walled garden.

Marketers and SEOs should remember that Google wasn't always the king of web search; other web search engines entered the game first, and were very popular – but Google changed the game because the way it had of doing the search was so much better, and users loved it. Eventually, the other search engines couldn't compete.

The same thing could easily happen with voice search.

The logos of some of the early search engines that Google out-competed in its quest for web search dominance.

The future of voice optimisation

So where does that leave the future of voice optimisation?

Many of these eventualities seem like far-off possibilities at best, and there’s no way of being certain how they will pan out. How should marketers go about optimising for voice now and in the near future?

Though I’ve taken a fairly sceptical stance throughout this series, I do believe that voice is worth optimising for. However, the opportunity around voice search specifically is limited, and so I believe that brands should consider all the options for being present on voice as a whole – whether that’s on mobile, as a mobile voice search result, or on smart speakers, as an Alexa Skill or Google Home Action – and pursue whatever strategy makes most sense for their brand.

I’m interested in seeing us move away from thinking about voice and voice devices as a search channel, and more as a general marketing channel that it’s possible to be present on in various different ways – like social media.

It’s still extremely early days for this technology, and while the potential is huge, there are still many things we don’t know about what the future of voice will look like, so it’s important not to jump the gun.

Brent Csutoras sums things up extremely well in the future of voice search discussion:

This is an important technology I really think you should pay attention to. What I worry about is that people start feeling like they have to be involved, right? It’s like, “Oh crap, I don’t want to be left behind.”

What I would say is that in this space, it’s like the example of Instagram. Everybody wanted to have an Instagram account and they had nothing visual to show, so they just started creating crap to show it. If you have something that fits for voice search right now, then you should absolutely take the steps that you can to participate with it. If you don’t, then definitely just pay attention to it.

This space is going to open up, it is going to provide an opportunity for just about everyone, so stay abreast of what’s happening in this space, what’s the technology, and start envisioning your company in that space, and then wait until you have that opportunity to make that a reality. But don’t overstress yourself and feel like you’re failing because you’re not in the space right now.

 Source: This article was published econsultancy.com By Rebecca Sentance

Published in Search Engine

The time for brands to begin tuning their online presence for voice has arrived, says Michael Jenkins. Here is a brief guide to navigating the data barrier to voice marketing, AI in voice SEO and improving your searchability.

‘Hey Siri, how popular is voice search?’ The short answer is: very.

According to Alpine.AI, there are now over one billion voice searches each month.

Voice search has come a long way since Siri snuck onto the market in 2011 with painstakingly slow – and rarely accurate – search returns.  Voice assistants are now programmed to understand nuances in conversation, humour and, as we saw with the launch of a mind-blowingtechnology from Google last month, can even book haircuts.

With these technological advances, sales of smart technologies like Amazon Echo, Siri and Google Home have also grown astronomically over the past 12 months. Outside of the home or office, brands like BMW ensure that every car is fully optimised for ConnectedDrive, placing connectivity alongside electrification and autonomous driving on the customer priority list.

This seismic technological shift toward voice controlled search is something marketers simply cannot afford be complacent about when employing an SEO strategy. Here’s why.

Voice data

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face is the massive amount of data required to do voice search correctly. If you want to understand voice search you need to start by examining how voice data works.

Artificial intelligences programs have become highly sophisticated by learning more about:

  • Intent and parameter – while becoming increasingly sophisticated, voice search has more intent than traditional search. For example, common words such as ‘king’ can be confusing. Computers do not know if you referred to royalty or Elvis Presley. A parameter such as, ‘play the king of rock and roll music’ provides helpful data to choose the correct version.
  • Paths – instead of simply relying upon the search, companies like Google and Facebook explore how users interact with brands and other channels to predict voice interactions. When they know you came to their site from another, they can see how you liked this type of site and use it as a predicator for future possible voice searches.
  • Errors – while this has dropped dramatically, voice search is still in its infancy. Mistakes occur, and it is important for marketers to be aware of this when optimising for voice search.

Currently, cumulative spending on data accounts for 20% of all voice marketing. Those who do not store, manage and utilise their data cannot compete against the companies who have volumes of data at the ready to help guide their decisions.

Voice search is one area where having more data can help set you apart from the crowd.

Experiment

Like any emerging trend in SEO, you must experiment to determine what works best.

For example, many companies have just transferred their websites to a mobile apps. Instead of experimenting with the channel to understand the needs of their customers or how to gain advantages over their competitors, companies stuck with what they knew.

However, the mobile experience is completely different from websites. The same holds true for voice search. You do not need to make huge changes, but you need to continually tweak your voice search efforts. Fortunately, the data you collect will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your experimenting.

Long tail keywords

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling. What this means for marketers is that SEO now is about going for a larger keyword strategy. Searchers queries, particularly on voice are more conversational by nature. People are not typing – or saying for that matter – phrases like ‘clothing store’, they may, however ask, ‘best designer fashion stores to buy a cashmere coat near me’.

This behaviour highlights the importance of content. To do this a site requires more content on pages – content that is mapped to the search keyword strategy. Having more content means that you will also need to balance the user experience – ensuring that it both enhances usability and also enhances SEO. Most importantly, it’s imperative that longer tail keywords are seamlessly sprinkled through the syntax of website copy. This will allow search engines to see more context via voice-activated search and will result in pages appearing for a higher volume of phrases.

Structured data

Help search engines with voice search by including structured data in your website. A few years ago, the major search engines agreed upon a unified mark up structure that website admins should use on their website. This information is part of the data that search engines use for voice search to determine the relevancy of a website. Furthermore, this information is a goldmine for websites that want to get local search traffic.

Location plays a role in 80% of all searches, and voice search makes up a large percentage of these searches. Including micro-data on each page like location, product information and other essential details helps you improve your searchability when people ask for a local establishment.

This is one of the reasons we discussed why your name, address and phone must be correct on your website. Search engines extract this information when comparing users’ searches to nearby retail outlets – you can even it use it for keywords. We use structured data to let Google know some of the most important pages (e.g. social media agency, conversion rate optimisation, SEO agency and PPC) for them to index.

The structured data on your website provides the extra ammunition you need to increase your voice search traffic.

Final Thoughts

With voice search growing in popularity as voice queries improve in accuracy, it is vital that your company optimises your voice search efforts to reach consumers. Do this by looking at the data, testing and improving the structured data you have on your website to drive more targeted traffic.

Michael Jenkins is founder and director at Shout Agency.

Source: This article was published marketingmag.com.au

Published in Search Engine

Remember when it was considered weird to use a Bluetooth device in public? Back then, the last thing people wanted was for others to think they were ranting to themselves on the street. Today, using voice search on a mobile phone in public can still have some of the same stigma attached to it, especially in certain settings (like the restroom—more on that later), but that stigma is disappearing rapidly.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we recently surveyed more than 900 mobile phone users to find out how they use voice search, and the results give us insight into the way that digital marketing and SEO are changing.

Google Ramps Up for Voice Search

Google has been preparing for voice search for quite some time. The rise in mobile usage and voice commands, in fact, have led to some pretty significant changes in how Google’s search engine interprets queries.

In 2016, Google officially stated that 20 percent of mobile queries had become voice searches, and in an interview, we did here at Stone Temple Consulting with Google’s Gary Illyes the same year, he mentioned the search engine gets “30 times as many actions queries by voice as by typing.”

The percentage of voice search queries is expected to rise, especially as the younger generations continue to adopt voice search.

How People Use Voice Search

Until mass adoption, trying to understand why people do and don’t use voice search can enlighten our marketing strategies and help us understand how voice commands impact how search engines work to produce the most relevant results. We recently conducted a study of more than 900 users to see how they use voice search. You can see a video on the results from this survey here:

The results were fascinating. For example, did you know that more than two-thirds of people feel comfortable using voice search at home alone? That number drops to 54 percent when using it at home with people they know.

This is in line with findings of the 2016 Internet Trends Report by KPCB, where most of the voice searches were occurring in the home.

Then there are the pioneers of public voice search adoption—those who felt comfortable conducting voice searches no matter who was around. More than one-fifth of those surveyed were fine using voice commands in more public situations, like amongst coworkers, in a restaurant, on public transportation, or at a party.

A smaller amount of people were okay using voice commands in places like the gym or in the bathroom (which, understandably, could be awkward, to be muttering commands from the toilet), where 13 percent of people seem comfortable with speaking searches to their phone.

Men were much more willing than women to take risks in places like the bathroom, with men twice as likely to use the phone for a voice search in the restroom than women! Men were also three times as likely to use voice search in a theater than women.

Age plays a factor in public voice search adoption, too. Our survey found that folks in the Generation Z category (under age 24) were 33 percent more likely to use voice commands in some of those more “taboo” public settings than those older than 24.

Voice Search Will Grow Even More

Because we see comfort levels using voice commands on mobile devices are significantly higher among the younger generation, it’s reasonable to expect that voice command usage will increase over time. Other reasons for growing adoption will likely include improved technology, as outlined in the Internet Trends Report:

Different folks prefer different technologies when performing their voice searches. If you have an iPhone and know that Siri can take care of what you need, then you’ll likely ask Siri and not bother opening up a dedicated app or browser.

In fact, the Internet Trends Report showed Siri processed more than one billion voice commands per week by June 2015.

Also of interest in that data are the forecasts for continued growth of voice search. For example, Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng believes that at least 50 percent of search queries by 2020 will be performed as a voice or image search.

How to Prepare

Search boxes and browsers will remain with us for the foreseeable future, but their importance is going to decline significantly over the next decade. In fact, a forecast from Strategy Analytics shows that by the year 2020, less than 25 percent of internet-connected devices will be a PC, tablet, or smartphone.


What will those other devices be? They’ll be watches, thermostats, TVs, refrigerators, cars, game consoles, and many other types of devices. Most of these will not have a browser, and the main interface will be via voice.

Digital personal assistants may be the main connecting tissue that binds all these things together. Those are tools like Google Assistant, Cortana, Amazon Alexa, and Siri. This then will become the new key focus of your optimization efforts. When someone tells a personal assistant, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” you’ll need to have taken the right steps to be included in those results.

Some of these new steps will have a lot in common with those needed to show up in today’s search results, but not all will be that simple. For example, if the query is, “How do I change a tire?”, the personal assistant may only return one single response. This may come from what Google calls a   “featured snippet,” the direct answer the search engine gives to queries above the regular search results. It’s the first of three ideas I have for you on how to prepare for this new world:

  1. Learn how to get featured snippets for your site.  The great thing about this is that it both prepares you for the future, and it also will help you drive a traffic increase to your site right now.
  2. Learn the most common questions prospective customers have about products and services like yours. Get out there and learn what they want to know, and then start building content to answer those questions proactively. Being one of the best information sources in your market space will be critical to surviving and thriving.
  3. Start experimenting with conversational interfaces. These are different than traditional web interfaces. For example, on a website, users often navigate to what they want in a step-by-step process. If I want a running shoe, I might navigate in steps like this:
  • Pick sneakers in the menu
  • Pick running sneakers on the menu
  • Pick a brand
  • Pick a size and color
  • Pick a specific product

Imagine a world where I simply say what I want, starting with, “Give me a list of Nike Air running shoes for men, size 10.” In this world, I skip many steps in the process and get to what I want much faster. We won’t get to this world overnight, but we will get there, and the time to start learning is now. You can do this by experimenting with the Amazon Echo (learn how to build an Amazon Skill here) and Google Home (learn how to build an Action on Google here).

The world is changing fast, and we’re approaching a point of major disruption in our industry once again. While this can be frightening, it can also be exciting. One thing is for sure: It’s a time of great opportunity. Start exploring the right ways to set yourself up for success now, and you’ll be in a much better position to do well as the events of the next year unfold.

 Source: This article was published convinceandconvert.com By Chris Stobing

Published in How to

If you've read any 2018 SEO-trend articles, you know that voice search is the wave of the future. Though it may not completely eradicate screen-based searches, it will change the way users interact with content and the way search engines crawl, index, and retrieve website information.

When a user interacts with his or her voice assistant, the device reads back a single, definitive answer to the query. The equivalent for a screen-based search is the featured snippet—the answer box at the top of the search engine results page (SERP)—which shows up for about 30% of searches, according to a 2017 study. And to be the single result for a voice search, your content has to be the featured snippet result.

Note: If you work in marketing, I highly recommend tuning into our Pro Webinar series, where we often go over tips, tools, and examples of how to use data to inform your marketing strategy.

What Is a Featured Snippet?

Also referred to as an "answer box," a featured snippet is the box at the top of a SERP with an answer to the searcher's question. That answer is pulled from the organic listings of Google's first-page results, extracting the summary from the site's content. Google cites the source by linking to that site and displaying the title of the page from which the information was pulled:

Gaining and retaining a query's featured snippet builds credibility. It not only increases visibility and exposure but also inspires a sense of authority and trust as Google's chosen source of information.

There are three types of featured snippets:

  1. Paragraphs. This type of featured snippet most often appears in question-based queries and it is the most common of snippets. To ensure that this type of snippet doesn't diminish your clickthrough rate (CTR), answer the question within the first paragraph of the page and include information that entices the user to click through to learn more.
  2. Lists. List snippets often feature results such as how-to content, recipes, ranked lists (e.g., top schools in an area), or unordered lists (e.g., things to do in a specific destination). The plus side to this type of snippet is that users must click through to see all of the information.
  3. Tables. Table snippets are more popular than you might think. They often appear in search results for lists, pricing, rates, and data. With tables, Google gives itself the freedom to format the table by pulling only the specific information the user is searching for. To rank for this featured snippet, bigger is better: By having more than four rows to your table, you'll increase the likelihood of clickthroughs. Table data is harder to extract for voice search, however.

Optimizing for Voice Search and Featured Snippets

According to Google estimates, by 2020 fully half of the searches will be voice-based. The widespread acceptance of Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the like has increased massively over the past two years as homes become more automated and voice search becomes more fine-tuned. In fact, it's estimated that smart speakers will be in 55% of US households by 2022.

The rise of voice search means that marketers need to place a high priority on long-tail keywords and focus on natural, spoken language and a conversational approach.

Although Moz's Dr. Pete recommends that SEOs and content marketers not focus on voice search alone or throw in the towel on their other efforts, he also explains that focusing on writing content for the kind of questions users ask in your industry can benefit both voice- and screen-based searches.

Focus on Long-Tail Searches and Q&A

Many featured snippets come from question-based searches, and most voice searches are being phrased in the form of a question. For your new content to rank well enough for a featured snippet, focusing on writing content for long-tail keywords can bring the best results.

Often, long-tail keywords bring in less traffic, so marketers shy away from them. However, the traffic they do generate is in pursuit of something very specific; if you have the exact answer the user is looking for, he or she is more likely to convert.

So focus on answering the specific questions that people ask about your product, service, business, or industry. To figure out what people are asking, think about the FAQs that you get from both potential and current customers that could be answered in long-form content on your website.

You can research what people ask online through Answer the Public, listen to call recordings to determine what questions aren't currently being answered by your website, and check your Search Console to determine what queries you have impressions for but not clicks.

Writing content to answer those questions can help you be the "answer zero" in SERPs. For example, a fitness center could write a series on how to do various types of exercises:

It's Not About You! Write Tangential Content

Another beneficial tactic is what Moz calls tangential content. By playing down the direct promotion of your own products or services, you'll reach a wider audience, and the content will have a higher chance of getting inbound links, Moz has shown.

If a pool company writes a blog post on summer pool safety tips, more people are likely to share that with their friends and family than a post about how great the pool servicing prices are. People searching for pool safety information are also more likely to come across this blog post in voice search and featured snippet results because it's not about the company as much as it is an answer to an important question.

To learn about new ways to research potential long-tail keywords and tangential content ideas, check out this keyword research article on Marketing Profs.

Remember the Skyscraper Technique: Revamp Existing Content

If you already have content created in hopes of having it featured, but it's remained stagnant, it may be time revisit and revise that content. Most marketers refer to that method as the skyscraper technique, but because I was raised as an artist I refer to it as a Picasso technique: Steve Jobs attributed the quote "good artists copy, great artists steal," to Pablo Picasso.

I don't mean disrespecting copyright, of course. When good content creators copy, they make sure the reader is reminded of the original work and can easily trace the work back its origin. Though that approach may have success, it lacks original thought. Great artists, however, steal: They take the information, but they breathe new life into it—making it their own.

Because the skyscraper/Picasso technique means adding to old content and making the new content better than the original, it makes that contains the authoritative word on the matter.

If you're revamping existing content, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you answer the key question quickly and concisely within the content?
  • Are your statistics current?
  • Are your images current?
  • Are there new and relevant articles on your site that can link to the older piece of content?
  • Are you thinking evergreen?
  • Is your content the most thorough answer to the user's question?

When aiming for featured snippets, circle back to your understanding of core practices: Continue a methodical practice of technical SEO, create shareworthy content, and monitor metrics for success.

With keyword research that's based on an understanding of user queries and voice search nuances, you can get planning and create content that's worthy of "position zero" down to a science—and reach your target audience.

Source: This article was published marketingprofs.com By Melissa Garner

Published in Search Engine

Google has published a set of guidelines for its quality raters to follow when evaluating voice search results. A similar set of guidelines exist for rating the results in Google Search, this marks the first time guidelines have been put in place for rating results returned by Google Assistant.

More specifically, this document deals with results returned by an eyes-free voice assistant such as Google Home. It does not refer to results delivered on a device with a screen, such as the Google Assistant smartphone app.

Therefore, it’s the quality of spoken results that are being reviewed. Results are evaluated with ‘needs met’ and ‘speech quality’ ratings.

Needs Met Rating

Spoken search results are evaluated based on the following ‘needs met’ scale:

  • Fully meets
  • Highly meets
  • Moderately meets
  • Slightly meets
  • Fails to meet

If a spoken response fully meets a user’s query it will receive a rating of “fully meets.” Ratings go down based on how much additional information would be needed to fully satisfy the query.

For example, if a user asks for the weekend forecast and the device responds with the current temperature, then needs would be moderate to slightly meet. The user received partial information but would have to conduct another search to get all of the information they’re looking for.

Of course, if the query is not answered at all, then it would receive a failing grade.

Speech Quality Rating

In addition to rating the accuracy of the response, answers are also rated based on the following elements of speech quality:

  • Length: Was the length of the response appropriate considering its complexity? Should it have been more concise or more detailed?
  • Formulation: Was the response grammatically correct? Did it sound like something a native speaking human would say?
  • Elocution: Was the pronunciation, intonation, and speed of the spoken response appropriate?

All three of these elements are rated individually for each response, which produces an overall rating for speech quality.

Here is an example of what a quality rater might see when evaluating a spoken result. In this screenshot, the quality rater is evaluating two responses side-by-side.

 

Published in How to

OK, Google, why should I be optimizing my website for voice search?

Whether your potential customers are asking Google, Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, trust me—you want to be the answer. Google says that 20% of all searches are voice searches and I’m certain that number will only continue to skyrocket in the coming years.

Are you ready to claim a spot in that 20%? Are you even convinced that you should be doing whatever you can to benefit from that 20% statistic? Or perhaps—even if you’re already convinced of the importance of getting in the voice search game—you don’t even know where to start.

Let’s talk it all out. Let’s talk the what, why, and how of voice search SEO.

What Is Voice Search & How Does It Work?

As far as SEO jargon goes, voice search is probably the easiest to understand. Voice search is simply any search a person performs on the internet using a voice command instead of typing or text.

But you probably knew that. Heck, you probably already do it yourself. Maybe you’ve even performed a voice search today. (“Hey Siri, is it 5:00 yet?”)

Even if you do know what voice search is, I’m guessing that—like most people—you’re not entirely clear on how it works.

I don’t want to get too far into it, but I do think a basic breakdown of how things work will be handy before we dive in. Put simply:

  • A user initiates a voice search by pressing a button or addressing the device’s voice assistant with a pre-programmed voice command (“Hey Siri”, “OK Google”, “Alexa,”, “Hey Cortana”)
  • The user asks a question or gives a command, such as, “When Does SEO The Movie Come Out?” or “SEO Movie Release Date”
  • Depending on what kind of technology the voice search system uses, it’ll pick up on little packets of sound—whether those packets are individual syllables, words, or entire phrases and sentences
  • The voice search system will then translate these units of sound into text (using at least 1 of 4 methods) and then initiate that search just like it would a text search.

Whew! The good news is that we don’t need to worry about that too much. But isn’t it cool to know what goes on behind the scenes?

How Voice Search Affects SEO

Voice search is changing the way we use search engines in huge ways.

In short, voice search makes search inquiries way more conversational in nature. Which makes sense, since so many of the digital assistants who aid in voice searches make it feel like we’re talking to actual people sometimes.

This affects our voice search strategy in a number of ways, but we’ll get more into that below.

By 2020, voice search will account for 50% of searches

But that’s not all—voice searches also tend to change the nature of keywords themselves, including question words like what, how, when, and why.

Oh, and one last thing we should keep in mind: most digital assistants answer voice searches solely with—well, their voices. With the spoken word. Which means—for those of us in industries of a more visual nature like art or fashion—we’ll need to get clever about how we’re creating and describing our content.

Let’s get into it!

Use These Tips For Your Voice Search SEO Strategy

So how do we take advantage of the search landscape that’s resulted from an explosion in voice search? With these 5 tips, of course.

1. Use Microdata

clip_image002

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By using microdata, your site can feature rich snippets/cards like those above and can also help Google better understand what your site/content is all about!

Adding microdata like location, phone number, pricing, menus, and operating hours for search engines was crucial before, but it’s even more crucial now with voice search and SEO. Microdata helps search engines understand what is on any given page which is key for Voice Search.

How do digital assistants find this information from your site? By you having an organized and easily readable sitemap. Include all this information in pages labeled on your sitemap to make sure search engines know exactly where to find your microdata. You can also test your microdata with Google’s handy Structured Data Testing Tool.

Not sure what microdata you should cover or how to implement? Check out this guide from Search Engine Land.

2. Talk Like Your Customers Would

It’s not just about keywords anymore (not that it has been for some time anyway). It’s not just about robots and algorithms anymore, it’s about people and how people actually talk (Natural Language). That’s what Neil Patel recommends when it comes to voice search: “Think like a human.”

People aren’t searching for “Amazon Echo” anymore.

They’re searching for “where to buy Amazon Echo near me”, and “best prices on Amazon Echo”, and “Google Home versus Amazon Echo.”

The trend is shifting from short and stiff keywords to more human, more specific, and longer-tail search terms.

In short: phrases and longtail keywords are the way to go. Keep this in mind when you’re creating content and using keywords on your site pages. We’ll have to be mindful now more than ever to be genuine and specific in our keyword use.

3. Ask The Questions Your Target Customers Would

Again, it’s all about keeping language natural here.

It’s not enough to just figure out what your target keywords are and match them up with their longer-tail counterparts. You’ve got to make sure you know what kinds of questions those keywords will be hidden in, too.

What questions will your customers need to ask to find you? That’s what we need to figure out, and those are the keywords and phrases (or actually, questions) we need to include in our site content. (FAQ pages are great for this.)

How do you figure out what questions your target customers are asking? I recommend by starting with a tool called Answer the Public, in which you can type in short and simple keywords and get back data on how those terms fit in with search queries around the web.

clip_image008

Image Source
Let’s say you offer content marketing services. How do you find out what potential customers are asking about content marketing? Answer The Public has a few ideas.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly

clip_image010Image SourceWay to go Wikipedia! Isn’t it nice to know that Google really just wants to help you succeed, and at no cost to you? Their free tool will grade your site and even point you in the right direction for how to go about improving your scores.

I mean, you should be doing this already. But the rise of voice search makes having responsive web design more important than ever.

That’s because more voice searches are initiated from mobile devices than from desktop computers, and that’s probably because—well, what do you usually carry with you wherever you go? Right—probably not your laptop.

Your first step is to find out just how mobile friendly your website already is, and you can use Google’s free tool Test My Site for that.

The report you get back will help you be able to hone in on exactly what you need to do to improve your mobile friendliness. If you’re really starting from scratch on the mobile responsiveness front, I recommend tackling the basics first.

5. Dive Deeper With Semantics

Semantics may sound like this big, abstract thing, but all it is is the deeper “why” behind what searchers are saying.

For example, you may just be asking Alexa how much Nike Flyknits cost, but Alexa won’t just answer your question with a price tag and leave it at that. She’ll also probably be thinking about your question and learning things about you, namely that you’re in the market for shoes and you’re willing to pay a premium price for them.

Another way search engines use semantics is by making inferences when you ask questions, which is demonstrated fantastically by Wordstream’s in-depth study on semantics in voice search.

To take an example from their study, using semantics in search is like asking, “What planet is Gamora from?” without first having to let your digital assistant know that you're referring to Zoe Saldana’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy.

What does Google’s focus on semantics mean for you? It means that you should not only be focusing on the literal content of search queries but also on the intent behind the search inquiries.

Why are people searching what they’re searching? It’s not enough to know what questions they’re asking—we also have to ask ourselves why they’re asking the questions they’re asking.

If you can dive deeper into this why and weave it into the fabric of your website, you won’t have to worry as much about keyword use. Because—if you can offer valuable content that’ll answer your readers’ questions with authority and a genuinely helpful attitude—Google will recognize that your site is the answer on the most organic level.

Hey Siri, We’re Ready To Win At Voice Search Now

Do you have enough to add to your SEO to-do list now?

I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me—the dividends you’ll get back over time are totally worth the upfront work. If you can, try adding just one of these 5 tips to your to-do list each week and tackle them one by one, starting with the least advanced and abstract (using microdata) and ending on the more complicated stuff (responsive design and semantics). And then cheers yourself with a drink.

On that note, let me wrap us with one final question—a question not for Siri or Alexa, Google or Cortana, but for you: Hey Reader, how will you make voice search SEO a priority this week?

Source: This article was published searchenginepeople.com By Sam Algate

Published in Search Engine

Google has quality raters specifically for voice search-related search results. These raters look for information satisfaction, length, formulation, and elocution.

Google has published on the Google Research blog the search quality raters guidelines, contractors guidelines to evaluate Google’s search results, specifically for the Google Assistant and voice search results. It is similar to the web search quality guidelines, but it changes in that there is no screen to look at when evaluating such results; instead you are evaluating the voice responses from the Google Assistant.

Google explained, “The Google Assistant needs its own guidelines in place, as many of its interactions utilize what is called ‘eyes-free technology,’ when there is no screen as part of the experience.” Google has designed machine learning and algorithms to try to make the voice responses and “answers grammatical, fluent and concise.” Google said that they ask raters to make sure that answers are satisfactory across several dimensions:

  • Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.
  • Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.
  • Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.
  • Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

The short, only seven-page, guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF over here.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

Published in Search Engine

Will advertisers someday be able to buy recommendations?

It’s one thing to build a useful voice skill or app, but quite another for consumers to actually find it. That’s because people need to know a particular skill or app exists before they can use it, and today’s voice discovery tools are about as basic as a Yahoo search circa 1995.

Amazon publishes a directory of its 25,000 voice skills, as well as a bare-bones Skill Finder app, but consumers using those databases still need to know what they’re looking for. Brands looking to rise above the noise will need to figure out how to market and promote their voice skills if they hope to attract more than a handful of users.

“This is not an ‘if you build it they will come’ world,” said Greg Hedges, vp of emerging experiences at Rain, a digital consultancy that created an Alexa skill for Campbell’s, among others. “You really do have to enact the same kind of owned-earned-paid approach as you would elsewhere to generate awareness. And you have to give people a reason to return.”

To invoke a skill, you need to first enable it and call it by name: “Alexa, ask Campbell’s Kitchen to tell me how to make chicken soup.” If you were to simply ask, “Alexa, tell me how to make chicken soup,” however, the device would default to the Allrecipes skill. (An Amazon representative declined to explain why Alexa recommends that particular skill, saying only that “in limited scenarios, Alexa will respond to certain questions by suggesting skills that may be helpful.”)

So far, brands have been unable to lay claim to generic phrases on Alexa. But that hasn’t stopped Amazon from reserving some of them for its own products. For example, if you say, “Alexa, help me with my chores,” it will automatically enable and launch The Tick’s Housework Hero skill, which offers no actual help but plenty of hearty encouragement from actor Peter Serafinowicz, star of The Tick on Amazon Prime.

A bigger issue is voice commerce. Some Alexa skills can add products to an Amazon shopping list. Ask the Good Housekeeping skill how to remove a grass stain, for instance, and it will ask if you want to add bleach, detergent and stain remover to your list, without specifying a particular brand. Will brands one day be able to buy that recommendation? Amazon isn’t saying.

V-commerce is about to get a huge boost, thanks to Walmart and Google. Earlier this month, the retail colossus launched voice ordering on Google Home for more than 2 million products, as part of a bigger partnership with the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant. Meanwhile, Google also announced the $49 Google Home Mini, which will compete head-on with Amazon’s Echo Dot.


To search with love

Brands will need to lean more heavily on search to surface both their voice skills and their products. But when it comes to voice search, the rules are a bit different, cautioned Alex Lirtsman, chief strategist for digital agency Ready Set Rocket.

Rather than optimizing for the top keywords, brands will need to focus on more complex natural language queries, Lirtsman explained. Just as people have learned to use multiple keywords to get more specific results from online searches, they tend to ask more detailed questions with voice.

“Instead of saying, ‘Where’s a storage facility near me?’ they’ll say, ‘What’s the cheapest storage facility within a 10-minute drive?’” Lirtsman said. “There’s an expectation they’ll get pricing and other data. I don’t think a lot of brands have thought through all of these scenarios.”

Voice search also tends to be much more location-centric, Lirtsman added. Brands that lack a physical presence will be at a disadvantage.

And unlike the early days of internet search in the ’90s, the window of opportunity for voice is much narrower. On desktop and mobile, brands are usually happy to land on the first one or two pages of Google search results. But people are unlikely to listen to more than the first two or three search results on a device like an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

That puts even more pressure on brands to be at the top of the results list—assuming there is one, noted Gartner research director Charles Golvin. “For a lot of these searches, there’s just an answer,” he said. “And if you’re not the answer, you’re screwed, right?”

Pay to play?

This puts companies like Amazon and Google—and, eventually, Apple and Microsoft—in position to demand top dollar for placing a brand’s skill at the top of its directory or making it the first result in a voice search.

“It’s analogous to buying spots in the app store for a particular category,” said Golvin. “If someone is searching for word games, you can pay Apple to be the first result.”

Amazon declined to comment on whether it planned to monetize voice searches in the future, while a spokesperson for Google provided the following statement: “Similar to what we’ve done with other products, our initial goal is to provide users with a great Assistant experience. While we don’t have any plans to share right now, we’re looking at ways to create a business model that will also provide that great user experience.”

But some brands, fearing that they will be disintermediated in the same way that they were in the early days of Facebook, are concerned about big companies like Google and Amazon having such a powerful position in the voice assistance market, noted Susan Etlinger, industry analyst for Altimeter Group.

“In 2007, brands were asking, ‘If we create a Facebook page, and Facebook gets all the data, what is that going to look like 10 years from now?’” she said. “And now we know what that looks like. But at the same time, there’s undeniable value in it. So it’s a really tough decision.”

Source: This article was published adweek.com By Dan Tynan

Published in Search Engine

Search has been at the forefront of conversation for advertisers in recent months as the likes of Google, Pinterest and Asos announced their move away from the traditional search to focus on image and voice search. The step back from key words and search engine optimisation (SEO) has also brought around many questions about the use of data, machine learning and the morality of paid search.

At The Drum’s search breakfast, Daniel Wilkonson, head of paid media at Jellyfish, explained why he is worried that brands and marketers might be overlooking image search. Noting Asos’s recent image search update, which allows shoppers to snap an item they like in a shop and find similar items on Asos.com, he said: “I think, especially for fashion brands, image search is a great new way of providing an enhanced customer experience.

“But it can be used for other industries as well, and I think this ties into discovery using image search and discovery. As humans we respond better to images and videos, rather than seeing a text. The search pages, there are more images and videos now. And I think that is going to continue to grow.”

Moving on from image search

While also excited about the advancements in search, Thom Arkestal, head of insights EMEA, Microsoft Advertising, said: “image search will be one of the searches of future,” but noted that this is nothing new dubbing it “a big industry secret.”

He added: “If you look at where the industry is heading in digital advertising in general, search is becoming core to almost everything.”

However, while image search is expected to become important to brands and marketers, he also believes the future is automation and machine learning. “I wouldn’t talk about AI necessarily, but machine learning. It has automated bidding which is core as a search advertiser. I actually think in one or two years from now, it will question what I am going to do on a day to day basis.” Arkestal said.

“AI and machine learning are all about image search and voice search. Those capabilities and technologies are going to be core to search and that is where search and consumer engagement is headed.”

Due to a surge in customer data, brands and marketers alike are now able to use AI and machine learning to find a customers need and promote better results in search using these insights. This is something the likes of Amazon is already promoting with its repurchase function.

Can digital assistants provide paid search result?

A point that seems to be echoed throughout the industry however is how brands will be able to monetize voice search. While Google is the most trusted place for searches, Jon Hunter, search director at Every1, explains that this is due to their years of generating natural search results. While Google does use a user's data and machine learning capabilities to perhaps promote ads, the search results are predominantly natural.

However, when it comes to voice search, there is the problem that very few people will want to hear a list of results and will therefore result in only one response spoken back - this could be an issue which will bring to light the integrity of a digital assistant's search results if they are to promote paid search. Hunter asked: “How are search engines going to be able to deal with one value? All you’ve got to do is give one paid result that is bad and the trust is gone.

“There is a certain element where the natural search results are so important and based on trust that if we replace too much of it on advertising it will damage the overall trust values.”

Earlier this year, Amazon dipped its toe into paid voice search however as it stands nothing has come of the trial. Arkestal noted the attempt and suggested that all digital assistant companies are working to solve the problem of paid voice search. He said: “The fact is that the core of digital assistants future is consumer trust. If there is no trust, people are not going to use them and then they cannot be monetized.

“It might actually be more of what Amazon is doing with Alexa at now with a repeat purchase prospective and a chance to reengage with a customer. It is further away from discovery and current search but it is about building a loyalty with customers.

“If you already are using your voice, then the digital assistant will already be learning what your preferred brand is.”

Source: This article was published thedrum.com By Jenny Cleeton

Published in Search Engine
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