In August of 2017, a guy named Tylor Hermanson posted a video on YouTube showing how he did a voice search for an album by Scarlett Johanssen without ever using the words "Scarlett Johanssen" or the name of the album. You might not have seen it, because since as of August 2018, it only had about 200 views.
However, in the SEO world, it made the rounds because folks like us, interested in voice search, post it on their blogs as an example of where things are going in search. It's a perfect example of just how far Google's artificial intelligence has come, and how you can easily, and quickly, find what you're looking for without ever saying (or keying in) the actual words needed for, or which are part of, the final search results.
How did he do it?
You can watch the 34 second video clip here, but basically he only had to ask two questions:
- Who played Olivia in "The Prestige"? and
- What was her first album?
Google understood he was looking for an actresses' name from a specific movie, then Google, knowing Scarlett Johanssen's name, returned the result for her first (of two) albums, called "Anywhere I Lay My Head." You can listen to the title track of the "Anywhere I Lay My Head" album here.
How does voice search change searching?
Not as much as you think, because the real change was in Google's RankBrain algorithm update to accommodate voice search. However, the main differences are:
- Searches are becoming longer and more conversational, for example, "Where would go to get sciatica pain checked out near me?", and
- Searches are more local, since people often use the words "near me" instead of using a city name. This works because Google always knows where you are.
- In 2018, most voice saearches were for directions. Evidently, a full three-quarters of voice searches are asking for directions to somewhere.
For those of us in the SEO world, it opens new challenges. We've all done voice searches for things like "restaurants near me," or "car wash near me." And why do those searches work? Three reasons:
- Google knows where you are at all times, so when you say "near me" it knows where that is,
- It's artificial intelligence understands the words like car washes and restaurants, and
- Keywords, or in this case, the address, the ZIP code and phone number (with area code) on website(s) in tha area that link the "near me" phrase with a company's physical location (in a local search).
Bing has estimated that voice search wll be 50% of all searches by 2020.
That's just 2 years.
For those who like to use "exact match" keyword phrases, it's just not natural to incorporate the search term "restaurants (or whatever) near me" into a website's content. But do we really have to? Not anymore, for a couple of reasons:
- Google's RankBrain formulates questions asked in to known keywords, so when it runs across a word or phrase it hasn’t seen before, the algorithms "guess" at similar meanings to those words or phrases based on the billions of previous searches in it's "big data" bank, and
- In a local search, Google knows where your company is located, and where the person searching is located.
We give an example of that "similar meanings" in the keyword matrix below. It shows what keywords we explicity use in a website vs. what words are implied, and therefore, linked together in Google's algorithms.
Are keywords still relevant then?
Oh yeah! There's no way Google's algorithms would ever be able to give accurate search results to ANY query without basing it on relevant keywords used in websites. Keywords are the clues that Google's RankBrain, and all it's algoritms, use to find the best answer to any search request, whether that search is voice, or text.
Following is the example of search terms comparing "explicit" and "Implied" keywords for the search term: 55+ apartments Columbus. This keyword chart is based on keywords researched for Treplus Communities, a website we've designed and built. While certain keywords are the focial point of our SEO plan, they're not ALL the keywords we're shooting for.
|Looking for senior communities||Researching Future interest in moving|
|Interested in apartments||Looking for lower maintenance home|
|Wants to live in Columbus||Might consider living in Columbus suburbs|
|Possibly interested in condominiums|
|Looking for independent living, not assisted living|
|Not interested in lawn care|
|Probably an empty nester|
|Interested in downsizing|
Search term: 55+ apartments Columbus
Google equates the keywords we put in the website with the implied concepts and words in the right column. Because of that, it's possilble Treplus Communites' website will show up in a search for someone looking for a "condos in Dublin, Ohio," as well as for someone searching for a "55+ communities in Columbus."
Voice search is one of the exciting things happening with search, and as much as things change, keywords are still the basis for connecting the dots.