Speak: How Voice Search is Changing the Way we Ask and Answer Questions Online
It seems that human consciousness has been making another shift between written and verbal languages in the field of technology. And it is no surprise really. After all, cave drawings most likely came before speech in the prehistoric world. And oral story tradition had been the primary method of storytelling before the mass production methods of the printing press. It would make sense that speech would ebb back into the sphere of human influence. Especially since texting became a huge technological movement with cell phones over the last two decades.
But, part of me wonders, what does this mean for computer algorithms and search engines?
Also, what does it mean for the world of SEO? And how does that translate to how web-based businesses are trying to be seen (or heard )organically on search engines.
Well, computer scientists, mathematicians, and coders are already laying out the foundations for the implementation of this new movement.
How A Computer Can Recognize a Voice
- The first is simple matching, where a word is recognized in its entirety, and it is compared to similar sound stored in the memory. However, since it relies only on the specific sounds stored in its memory, there is a wide margin of error.
2. With this flaw in mind, the second form of speech recognition came to be, pattern and feature analysis. In this form of analysis, each word is broken into bits that are recognized from key features, like vowels, and other phenomes.
However, various languages use different phenomes. For instance, English uses about 46 phenomes while Spanish used only 26.
If a company wanted to sell speech recognition software internationally it would need to know what variables to keep and what to drop per user.
3. This lead to the third approach to speech recognition software, language modeling.
In language modeling, knowledge of grammar and the likelihood of certain sounds or words to follow each other is used to improve the accuracy and speed of voice recognition. It’s like the predictive text of your cell phone. If you curse a lot, use slang, or antiquated vocabulary words, the predictive text and speech will pick up on your patterns.
However, there was still a problem with voice search and recognition software. The programs still didn’t know how to distinguish background noise and how to shut them out specifically. What’s more, there was still a strong chance for accuracy to suffer overall.
4. The solution to that was to take the best model we knew for learning and recognizing human speech, our brains, and convert it to voice search software in the form of artificial neural networks.
If you want to learn more about it, Click here. It’s fascinating stuff.
How Many People are Using Voice Search Now?
We know how it works, but do we have any proof that this is an actual trend. Yes, actually.
According to current data from both the NPR and Edison Research, “One-in-six Americans (16%) own a voice-activated smart-speaker.” It has also been shaping our current e-commerce marketplace. According to that same study, “22% of U.S. smart speaker owners have purchased something using their devices.” And the numbers are projected to rise drastically by 2022.
It is very tempting to take the information and to utilize this trending towards your business for fun and profit.
However, the very last thing I want to do is to contribute to another dotcom crash. Instead of telling you to do something foolhardy like invest in stocks that have no guarantee of returns, why don’t I tell you how you can set up your website for voice search software. It can increase awareness of your business all around. Mainly, by modestly working as part of a passive portion of your overall advertising and marketing portfolio.
How to Optimize your Website for Voice Search SEO
Thankfully, it is not all that difficult for you to optimize your website for voice search. Mainly, because of a lot of the steps for basic website SEO run are mostly the same steps that you would take for regular SEO. This includes making sure you are properly listed on Google maps and creating engaging content on your website. However, there is one notable difference that needs to be addressed if you are going to optimize your website for voice search.
It is keywords.
See, when it comes to speaking, and writing, people have different habits overall.
When a person is typing something up on Google, they have learned to treat it like a library index. People expect to type in a word or three before they hit the search button and look at the front page.
When a person is asking a question organically, they speak in a complete question, as if talking to another person. So if you want to optimize your keywords for voice recognition, the best way for you to go about it is to write down relevant questions as your keywords.
Why is that?
It is my personal hypothesis that it is because the act of typing and keyboarding was only stressed as a marketable skill for a few decades at best. The act of talking and socialization, however, has been a marketable skill for as long as public speaking existed in ancient civilizations. What’s more, people feel comfortable personifying things like inanimate objects and animals, because it gives people a chance to relate to something alien to them. So why should it be a stretch that we talk to our voice recognition software like we would another person?
As technology marches on, we continue to lean on both the written and spoken word. Who knows what will be in store for us by the year 2050. Until then, let’s learn to speak the language of voice search technology.
Also published on Medium.