Voice Search Becomes Key Metric For Expressions Of Intent

by , Feb 22, 2012, 11:47 AM
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Rather than type, speak the query. Searchers won't click -- they will swipe, touch or gesture. These expressions of intent on search engines or in applications will become the means by which people find and access information on Google, Bing and Yahoo, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

BloomReach Co-founder Raj De Datta "noodles" ideas on how voice, touch and gesture will influence search engine marketing with the emergence of Apple Siri, Xbox Kinect and other voice-activated search tools. Ten years ago, if we used the same architectural structure, the Web would have been a lot smaller, he says. Search marketers would have referred mostly to textual content. And the front door most used would have been Yahoo.

Fast-forward 10 to 12 years later. The Web continues to grow much bigger -- now packed with text, photos, video, and rich media. Google, Bing, Facebook and others joined Yahoo to become front doors, similar to the way voice, gesture and touch will join the act of typing into a search box. And similar to the way someone might post a status update on Facebook, they will access a voice-based media to express themselves.

Search engine marketing companies will need to determine how to adapt to this change. "Web sites will have to be natively structured for the discovery of content through voice and gesture," says De Datta, who views this as a "new product opportunity."

De Datta predicts companies will spend much more time in the future optimizing Web sites for a variety of alternative search tools. For example, someone driving might voice a command over Bluetooth to a computer in the car to find a local business. The command might include the menu or the directions to the Italian restaurant, which will need to structure its Web site's content to make it more discoverable through voice commands.

Companies have work to do. Speaking and typing a query will require search engines to deliver the same results because serving up very different results for voice, compared with typing the query, would only frustrate searchers. The industry will also need to develop new metrics. How will comScore and other data companies determine search query market share and volume? 

Good news for De Datta. His company BloomReach developed tools that try to solve Web site structural problem based on search algorithms, so searchers can more easily find information.

Aside from Apple Siri, Google Voice, Microsoft Kinect, YP, and Ask.com, there are other mobile applications that focus on connecting through voice. VoiceForTwitter by Angel allows mobile users to call a phone number and post an audio message that is then shared as a link to an audio file on their Twitter feed. Users also can set up a dedicated twitter page with a unique phone number, so anyone can call and post a voice message to that page. Another mobile application, QWiPS allows users to create a 30-second audio message and tag it to any static image or text, Facebook or Twitter post.

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