Ever since Captain James T Kirk of the Starship Enterprise started speaking to his computer, as if it were a human, back in the original series in 1968, the idea of speaking to your computer and being able to ask it anything you wanted has been an ambition of many a computer programmer.
As a boy, I watched in awe as the library computer responded to his enquiry. Now almost 40 years later we have the technology to do what was magic in my childhood.
Back in the 1980’s I worked on a number of early dictation systems and could see the progress being made trying to understand the different accents and dialects for the same language. The developers never gave up and today we have speech recognition systems that cam deal with all the nuances that come with speech. The development will continue and get better as technology continues to be developed.
Many of you are already using voice search to search for information and shops that can sell the products that you are looking for. The technology in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence can take on some complex questioning from “Do I need an umbrella in Swansea on Wednesday?”, “What train do I need to catch to get into London by 12:30 next Tuesday?” or “Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?
It may not be immediately obvious to those who are working on promoting their company’s website but this has a profound affect on search. No longer do we see people typing two or three words into the search box in Google but they ask their questions as if speaking to another human. The question includes all the parts that are normally left out when typing the search query.
The first question I asked was “Do I need an umbrella in Swansea on Wednesday?” The answer came back from google with “Yes, the forecast on Wednesday in Swansea is 8 degrees with showers” the search results, on the results page, came back with a weather forecast and other information from Weather.com. The second and third results were from the weather pages of local newspaper websites followed by a mismatch of many websites totally unrelated to the question.
The next question was: What train do I need to catch to get into London by 12:30 next Tuesday? This is a little more difficult for the search but it did return relevant pages on the timetable for the trains for that day.
Finally, I asked the question “Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?” The female voice resonated with a selection of 3 local Chinese restaurants from local search. The rest of the results were all from large websites of intermediaries. No independent restaurants were showing on the first page of results.
This is very telling as I was interested in going to a local restaurant and looking at their website to see a menu and prices.
The temptation to criticise the system for not giving me all the results would be false as it is the websites that are not responding to the changes in the increasing use of voice in search. The leaders will be the companies that respond to these changes and start optimising their websites for the changes in technology and the adoption of the new technologies by customers.
We, at PelaTis Online, have been studying the use of voice in search for several years and developed a number of optimisation programs for clients to make their websites respond to voice.
If you would like to find out more on how you can get ahead of your competitors please give us a call on 01639 680248 to arrange a website SEO audit and recommendations. As James T Kirk would say “Warp speed Mr Zulu”