The revelation that Google is testing a single result for many ‘direct answer’ search queries will undoubtedly be creating ripples amongst the digital economy this morning.
In moving to remove all but its own answer to questions such as ‘what is the time in…’ and ‘What is [sum]’ style searches, many businesses that count organic search as a key channel may well be concerned – but we shouldn’t be surprised.
For many years now the search giant has painted a picture of its future; the ambition to build a ‘Star Trek computer’ that ‘gives you back exactly what you want, instantly’.
It was the dream of former Google engineering tsar Amit Singhal and in several blog posts and videos he discussed how such a computer would instantly ‘know’ the right, singular answer in nanoseconds - in his lifetime.
He may no longer be at Google but that dream is very close to becoming reality and the testing seen this week is simply the next stage in the search engine’s evolution to be a predominantly voice-activated information retrieval vehicle.
Fans of Star Trek will be very aware that the interface to that ‘computer’ was voice operated and it’s the future Google is building to.
It’s why, for the last eight months, we’ve been pushing voice strategy as a ‘must have’ for marketing plans and today’s news makes this even more imperative as we accelerate faster towards that end game.
And in turning to a proactive response, we move from a conversation of anger and fear to one of action and ambition to win in the next phase of that evolution.
I spoke this week on this very topic, explaining the urgency in which we need to begin including voice in our overall plans as computing closes in on the ability to run conversational voice programmes.
Experts predict computing power to move from ‘mouse brain’ standards (achieved in 2010) to human brain by 2020 and with it give voice assistants like Alexa, Home and Siri the ability to truly converse naturally.
And from where will they retrieve their knowledge? The answer is simple - search engines, and for them to do a good job means ‘knowing’ which is the right answer, instantly.
It’s why Answer Boxes and Featured Snippets were born, to prepare for this future and begin building out a database of the very best answers that could then be tested and changed in and out to gain user experience data and decide which answer truly is best.
This is why we see such volatility in those featured snippets!
Any move towards single result SERP will not be plain sailing for Google of course. Competition regulators will have something to say about such changes and the likelihood of this rolling out across all searches are very slim but there is a very real chance that many informational queries could be tested.
So, what can you do to take action? Our most recent voice strategy presentation highlights where you should be focusing efforts but, in short, that should fall on three key areas:
Below we share links to those most recent resources on voice and answer box strategy and tactical advice by our own team…
Make sure you don't fall behind in this vital area, if you have any questions about what we've said in this post, get in touch!
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