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Find Your Voice: Google Home & The Future of Hands-Free Searching

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld with the Bubble Boy? Sure you do: Jerry, Elaine, George, and Susan travel to the home of a boy who lives in quarantine due to an immune system deficiency. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. On the way up, thanks to George’s need to make great time, Jerry and Elaine lose sight of them and get lost, unable to locate their friends or the Bubble Boy’s house. And, of course, we know how that one ends…

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Credit: https://www.theodysseyonline.com

Ridiculously outdated, right? As dozens of Buzzfeed articles have pointed out, the concept of this episode would be impossible to replicate today thanks to the power of smartphones and, more importantly, mobile searches. The thing is, as dated as the concept seems now, we aren’t that far removed from this time. The Bubble Boy Episode premiered in 1992, just over 20 years ago and six years before Google was founded. In the eighteen years since its inception, Google has transformed the way we lived. And after the announcement of Google Home, in 20 years, mobile searches may seem just as outdated as the Bubble Boy concept, due to recent innovations in hands-free searching.

Hold On, We’re Going Home

In case you haven’t heard, Google recently made several large announcements, the two largest of which includes their new Siri and Cortana-esque voice assistant simply called Google Assistant and their speaker/helper, Google Home, a direct competitor to Amazon’s violently successful Echo. The focus of these two announcements is clear: Google wants to extend its prowess in search to a hands-free environment. Mobile search was close, and while your phone could read back the first answer it found, you still had to touch your phone to view additional results. No longer. With a simple, “Ok, Google”, Google Home is listening and ready to give you the answer you’re looking for.

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Credit: http://www.theverge.com/

You know… just like Amazon’s Alexa already does.

So who gives a hoot?

Speaking the Same Language

Google’s not used to second place. Amazon put it in an uncomfortable situation with the success of Amazon Echo, a speaker that can also answer simple questions, such as current weather conditions. Alexa, the voice that responds within the speaker, is a convenient way to get information that you need without interrupting what you’re doing. Now, despite her pleasant voice, Alexa is still just a voice and not an actual person. You can’t converse with her. You ask, she answers. It’s less of a chat and more of a response to a demand, like a butler without a body.

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Credit: http://tvtropes.org/

Google Assistant and, by extension, Google Home aims to change the sterilization of AI interaction. The Google Assistant is a more natural sounding, naturally speaking personality that can actually build off of what was previously said. Is that last part confusing? Have an iPhone? Then let me explain…

More Human Than Human

Ask Siri, “How tall is Michael Jordan?” To no one’s surprise, she will give you the answer: 6’6”. Now ask Siri a follow-up question… “What about LeBron James?” Instead of giving you the answer of 6’8”, she pulls up news articles and a Wikipedia article. But why? You were clearly asking a specific question, so why didn’t you get your answer? It’s because Siri and other voice assistants don’t think of a conversation semantically, but a list of individual questions. When you ask “What about LeBron James?”, Siri is only focusing on that specific question and not the conversation in its entirety.

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This is where Google Assistant is different. Utilizing the same technology on the much maligned Google Now on Tap, Google Assistant can read your conversation, contextualize it, and build off of what was previously said, making the engagement much less one sided. If you asked the questions above to Google Assistant, it would understand when you asked “What about LeBron James?”, you’re asking about height, since that’s what your last question was about. The way that Google Assistant can converse instead of just replying is much less Microsoft’s Cortana and much more Halo’s Cortana.

Someone Has to Answer for This

If you’re wondering if this has more application than asking the height of people with much more money than you, it does. While Google Assistant isn’t yet out, you can get a glimpse of it on Google Allo, Google’s newest messaging app. While having conversations with a friend, you are able to perform searches directly within the app, such as looking up a restaurant automatically when a friend recommends getting sushi and booking a table all without having to leave the app. This functionality will spread to Google Home, all without having to touch a thing.

And because Google is Google and knows things about you that you don’t know yourself, Google Home will be able to give you answers about personal questions as well, such as giving you a heads-up of traffic before you leave for work, or recapping your daily agenda all without you having to move. We’re one step closer from WALL-E becoming a reality.

A Redeeming Feature

As an SEO company, where Google Home has us most fascinated is how it reads Featured Snippets. Have you seen an answer to your question directly within the search engine results page, without even having to click on a website to get your answer?

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This is a featured snippet or, more specifically, a Quick Answer. If your site has an instance of a Quick Answer for a Keyword, you’re in a good place, as you’re typically ranking before any of the typical Organic results. Google Home adds to that prominence, not only reading your answer to a user who asks a specific question, but giving your site credit for the answer, both within your Analytics and out loud when reading the answer.

 


Soon, you’ll get the answers to your questions by just the sound of your voice. Just like the Bubble Boy episode, searches requiring touching a device will soon seem like an antique concept, as Google will read your Quick Answers out loud. Don’t have any Quick Answers for your site? We can help! Contact our digital marketing experts  and let us help you get ready for the future of search! Request a free quote today!

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