The Future of Search

  • March 1, 2016
  • SEO
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How yesterday’s science fiction has become today’s reality.

In his keynote address at SMX West this morning, Beshad Behzadi (Google’s Director of Conversational Search) opened with two video clips.  The first – from a 1960’s episode of Star Trek – showed Captain Kirk (William Shatner) asking the ship’s computer for information on two different people.  The second was a trailer from the 2013 movie “Her” where Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely writer, develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

Behzadi’s underlying point was that “talking to the computer” using a natural conversational format – something we thought of as science fiction as little as 3 years ago – is today’s reality.

Live demos rarely work the way you want them to, but using his mobile phone and an overhead projector, Behzadi performed an impressive demo that showcased Google’s latest and greatest mobile search technology.

“OK Google. I’m interested in going to to dinner tonight.  Show me restaurants near my hotel.”

Google presents a list of restaurants near the San Jose Marriott.

“OK Google, I’m interested in Italian. No, make that French.”

Google presents a list of only French restaurants near the San Jose Marriott.

“OK Google.  I’d like to see the menu for the second one.”

Google opens a web page showing the restaurant’s menu.

“OK Google. What are the reviews?”

Google launches the Yelp app and shows the latest reviews for the restaurant.

“OK Google. Make a reservation for 5 people at 7 PM tonight.”

Google launches the Open Table app to the reservation screen for the second restaurant on the list.  Behzadi pushes the reserve button and the reservation is made.

Notice a few things happened here.

  • Google knew what hotel Behzadi was staying at because the reservation confirmation was in his email and the search algorithm knew that.
  • Google picked up the fact that Behzadi changed his preference from Italian to French in the middle of the query and made the appropriate adjustment.
  • Google was conscious of which restaurants were in what position on the screen and correctly showed him the menu for the one he wanted to view.
  • Google opened an app on the phone and showed him reviews for the restaurant he wanted to go to.
  • Google opened an app to the correct screen for him to make a reservation.

All of this happened because Google was able to understand and process the queries in a contextual environment. And it’s not just Google.  Duane Forrester shows this same kind of capability using Bing and Cortana on a Windows phone a few years ago.  And of course, there’s Apple’s Siri.

If you’re still using keyword density as a way of optimizing your web site’s content, I’d like to sell you some stock in MarchFIRST.  It’s gonna be big.

As the Founder of Expert SEO Consulting, Eric Richmond brings with him more than 20 years of experience in advertising and technology consulting. Prior to forming Expert SEO Consulting, Eric served as Head of Audience Development for Complex Media, VP of Search and Social Media for TechMediaNetwork. Before that, Eric was VP of Technology & SEO at 360i, where he was responsible for overseeing the development of proprietary technology solutions for 360i in addition to managing the Agency’s SEO practice. Eric came to 360i from RichFX, where he served as Director of Strategic Accounts serviced clients list Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Safeway. Prior to RichFX, Eric was VP/Global Account Director at Viewpoint, as well as CTO for Grey Interactive Worldwide and VP/Technology for APLDigital.

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