Google ups the ante with Conversational Search
Wednesday, 25th November 2020
What they describe as ‘Conversational Search’ is a series of upgrades to language understanding capabilities designed to replicate the way we converse in real life. When we’re having real conversations and asking multiple questions around a particular subject, we’re not only processing an understanding of what we’re hearing and saying, but we’re leading the conversation down a path which doesn’t require constant re-contextualisation.
For example, if you were to ask someone what the best local restaurant options are, they’re likely to give you some answers that elicit new questions, and before you know it you’ll have had a back and forth of questions and answers, and a raft of information pertaining to your original question – but you’ll only have asked that original question once, at the beginning of the conversation.
With Google, many searches follow a similar pattern – an original question which leads to a search result, which then elicits the next iteration of questions and search results as the user refines what they’re looking for.
However, until recently, Google wasn’t always able to carry the context of the original question over into the queries that followed, meaning that the results would become vaguer or ‘a little off topic’ the further the user went down the query journey.
Thankfully, Google’s latest enhancements to language understanding mean that you’ll get more contextualized prompts and results as you go deeper into a search topic, based on a continuous retrospective analysis that provides the original context.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new way to prepare your Christmas turkey, but then, a few searches later, start searching ‘carving methods’ – whilst this is a fairly generic search that could be applied to a number of different contexts, such as carving a roast beef for example, Google will now ‘remember’ that you’ve been searching specifically for turkey recipes and thus provide you with results and prompt questions related to turkey carving methods.
Similarly, even if you’re searching something less specific but within a ‘genre’, for example ‘action movies suitable for kids to watch’, Google will now recognize that context and make ongoing suggestions within that genre to help you browse more easily.
Google is also now able to surface more relevant suggested content for you, for example, taking into account the turkey recipe example from above, you might receive suggestions on how to set the perfect Christmas table, or side dishes that pair perfectly with turkey.
From a website owner’s perspective, this means that you’ll need to work continuously on ensuring your website copy is keyword strong, written in as natural a tone and style as possible to suit conversational convention, and as up to date as possible to ensure your content surfaces as part of these latest enhancements from Google.