3 Predictions on Google’s Conversational Search

Recently at SMX, Behshad Behzadi, Principal Engineer at Google Zurich, said that Google is starting to work on conversational search. Conversational search will allow users to buy or locate products by talking to their phones operating system (OS). Along with this new search ability, Google is also working on “conversational shopping.” So, what does all of this mean for search marketing?

With this news of conversational search being used to buy products, I started thinking about what will change. What kind of an impact will it have on users and digital marketers? That said, I pondered my predictions on the topic and thought I’d share them.

Here is what I came up with:

Prediction #1: Demographic Segments will dictate mobile e-commerce sales

In a recent study conducted by Northstar Research, 55 percent of teens use voice search more than once a day, while adults are beginning to catch on at 41 percent. One of the biggest takeaways from the study was the difference in user intent for both teens and adults.

Adults tend to use voice search for informational purposes such as cooking instructions, whereas teens use voice search in a larger variety of ways.

Both demographics agreed that voice search is the future, but an additional section to the study differed when both groups were asked what they wished voice search was capable of doing. Teens expressed a desire for voice search to deliver them pizza; while adults hoped it would help them find (easily lost) items such as keys and remotes. These varying needs/desires support the overall assumption that as conversational search and conversational shopping roll out, teens will likely use conversational search and shopping to buy immediately and impulsively; while adults may need a longer sales funnel.

OR

Prediction #2: Meeting users in “Micro-Moments” will dictate mobile e-commerce sales

According to Google, mobile searches happen in spurts and are often very purpose driven. These moments have reshaped the consumer journey in mobile so much so that Google has written a new marketing model to target these moments. Google has now introduced “micro-moments” in mobile search, which are those “I want to moments” in life that we all experience. When users ask a question that starts with “I want to…” or “How to…” the intent is to act on their specific need right then and there.

By meeting users in the “micro-moments,” you are reaching users at different stages of consumer intent. Consumer intent may cover more users than focusing on demographics in conversational search efforts.

Prediction #3: Showrooms will never be safe again

Just think about how users conduct mobile search now when buying products. Some advertisers benefit from having a physical storefront or “showroom.” Right now users are utilizing it to learn more information about a product. They are also searching for deals while in the showroom, looking for ways to find the same product for less. The one hold up is the buying power of these moments. Right now, buying online with a mobile device on the go is not an easy task. But with the ability to purchase products online with that “act on need” intent and behavior, we can see a rise in online competitors stealing users offline.

Prediction #4: Structured Markup finally becomes a ranking factor

Google has said multiple times before that structured markup might be a ranking factor down the line. A recent article published by Search Engine Land entitled, “Google May Add Structured Markup & Data To Ranking Algorithm“, leads me to believe structured markup will determine rank.

Google’s John Mueller states in the article, “If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard. We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car.”

This statement directly aligns with Google’s goal to provide the best direct answer to the user.

Conclusion

At this point, it’s tough to tell how conversational search will impact users and digital marketers since Google is still working on this project. But for now, this is my best guess at the impact it will have based on what I’ve read so far. A little early in the game, I know, but it’s always fun to provide some predictions.

What are your thoughts on conversational search? How do you think it will impact the shopping and user experience as it gains momentum?

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