Those younger readers among our base might be surprised to learn that only a few short years ago there was a wide range of popular search engines. Far from the Google-dominated market of today, the likes of Alta Vista and MSN Search used to share attention over a much wider range of services. With Google acting as an almost default choice for the majority of users today, the market surrounding search engines, specifically, that of search engine optimization (SEO), have become an immense and lucrative business.

Over the last couple of years, however, the growing market for voice controlled help services like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant have fundamentally changed the way in which searches operate. Here, we want to take a look at from where the current form originated, and speculate on what this could mean for other forms of media.

Understanding SEO

Search engine optimization, at least on a basic level, is the manipulation of internet content in such a way that it appears more commonly in most search engine result pages (SERP). More attention means more clicks, and more clicks mean more money, so this is entirely natural from a business perspective. While the actual code and mathematics for this is complex, with the surrounding industry constantly evolving in and of itself, the recent popularity of voice control systems has fundamentally shifted how websites target their writing.

Actual search assistant programs or hardware devices such as Alexa act differently for searches in that users are far more likely to adopt a more openly questioning tone when using oral rather than written communication. This means that writers and websites now necessitate a large-scale change of their learned layouts and practices in order to adjust to the shifting market.

The most visible component here for these technologies is called a featured snippet. This acts as a simple summarized answer to a common question which is asked to a search assistant. While the industry is still playing catch-up to this technology in many regards, these snippets are still poised to take centre stage in the next generation of SEO operations.

Extending the Use of Voice

Voice based commands were always an inevitability when it comes to computer operation, yet it is only now through the likes of Siri and Google Assistant that these are becoming viable on a major scale. This leaves us to wonder exactly what part these will take in general computing going forward. As this technology improves so too will its integration with more products and services, ranging from games to important operational tasks.

Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview” (CC BY 2.0) by okubax

We’ve already reached the stage where users could somewhat reliably ask their digital assistants to play that video of the cat playing the keyboard, open up a new email document, find real money casinos Canada, or search for a butterless recipe for cup brownies. In the future, however, this will extend to areas like complex updates, fixes, maintenance, and smaller personalised coded commands. This personally coded commands section is especially important, as it will tie into the future market of personalised assistants, similar to what vehicle GPS navigation systems employ with voices from Mr. T or other famous celebrities and fictional characters both.

The Next Big Thing

While such control being given to oral commands might still seem a ways off for many users, it's important to remember that, over the past 20 years, we have said many similar things about other technologies. Wireless communication used to be incredibly unreliable and short-reaching, yet now it enjoys a place as an essential element of many of our increasingly efficient lives. With this in mind, we can't say for sure exactly when these next few steps into a voice-led revolution will occur, though, if it's anything like what we have experienced already, we might not see it coming until it is already upon us.

Featured image: “amazon echo” (CC BY 2.0) by stockcatalog