At its Worldwide Developers’ Conference in June, Apple announced it would be expanding its speech recognition technology, Siri, to iPads and cars. Cars? You read that correctly: hands-free voice search is coming soon to a vehicle near you. According to a MediaPost article, BMW, General Motors, Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi, Jaguar, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda have allegedly committed to integrating the Siri app, dubbed “Eyes-Free,” into vehicles within the next 12 months. It will make any app on the iPhone available by simply pushing a button on your steering wheel and speaking your commands.
But there’s a twist: Android’s new speech recognition technology, Robin, was also recently released, and it was specifically built to be used in cars. Although Robin doesn’t send text messages, you can ask her for directions, local places, and parking, traffic and gas information. Robin also responds to hand gestures, something Siri doesn’t do. Simply wave your hand twice in front of your Android device’s screen and speak, and Robin will respond.
With these recent announcements, it’s safe to say that people are going to be spending more time using voice search to carry out their requests.
Voice recognition is a game-changer for marketing gurus everywhere. First, it’s changed the way you need to approach search engine optimization. Say a user asks Siri to find good sushi places in Denver. Siri performs the search query by pulling information from Google Maps and from user reviews on websites like OpenTable, Yelp and CitySearch. There is no search engine involved in the process; all the information is presented to you cleanly within the Siri app. In other words, all the SEO in the world won’t improve your listings in voice search. Local businesses need to react to this change by placing added emphasis on optimizing their listings on Foursquare, Yelp, Google+ Local and more. Maintain a strong presence on these sites and actively manage the way your business is being presented by users. Marketers must also anticipate voice searchers’ longer, more casual search queries, rather than engine searchers’ keyword-dense queries.
Remember, voice search is still in its infancy. Today’s speech recognition technology simply takes the words users say and submits them through the same search algorithm that it would if users typed their queries into a search engine. But, much like Google’s Knowledge Graph project, voice search is taking baby steps toward integrating semantic search, which takes into account a searcher’s intent, into its technology.
Language is imperfect, and being understood by a rigid computational machine is no small feat. As amazing as speech recognition technology is, it’s still evolving. As the technology continues to advance, businesses must also advance their online marketing strategies.