What is “Conversational Search”?

Recently, a new buzzword has been making the rounds: “Conversational Search”. Google has been using this technology for certain search queries since this year. In this post we explain what this is all about and to what extent search engine optimization could change as a result.

A search query was previously more or less on its own. The user enters it and if he does not get the correct search results, he refines the search query. Even if a user is looking for several aspects of the same topic, each search query has so far also stood for itself.

Now, Google has started to respond to previous queries when searching. Imagine a conversation. A normal conversation builds up gradually and one interlocutor usually reacts to the statements of the other.

Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, it is now more possible for algorithms to better understand the user’s actual search intention. This benefits the new technology.

How does “Conversational Search” work? An example.

So far the search worked something like this:

The user searches for “gingerbread recipe”

So he receives recipes for gingerbread as search results.

Immediately afterwards the user searches for “bake”

As a search result, he receives a definition of the word “bake” from a dictionary.

→ This is exactly where the “conversational search” approach comes into play. The user is initially still shown the definition of the word “bake” from a dictionary, but together with a link that asks if he would like to find out how gingerbread is baked. If the user clicks on this link, he will find out exactly that.

“Is that all?” the other will ask himself.

First yes.

For a better understanding, a counter question:

Imagine you actually want to find out more about the word “bake” – without any reference to your previous search query on the subject of “gingerbread recipe”. Imagine that the search result would automatically show you hits on the topic of “baking gingerbread” – that would be pretty nonsensical, wouldn’t it?

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Conversational search is reaching its limits

Have you ever had a car with rain sensors? Then you might have already had the case that the windshield wiper wiped particularly quickly when it was drizzling, while it switched to a particularly slow interval during a downpour.

This is a general problem with technology: it often works well, but not always. It is always an advantage for the user if he can overrule the it.

Until the “conversational search” technology is fully developed, it definitely makes sense to offer the user this option as a voluntary option. The way Google is currently doing this is spot on.

Even later, when this technology is fully developed, it should continue to be offered to the user as a voluntary option – because it cannot be assumed that two consecutive search queries actually revolve around one and the same topic.

Imagine that you are sitting at your PC and looking for “Weather Cologne”. Google shows you that the sun is shining in Cologne and it is 25 ° C. Someone comes in and asks “How long is the takeout around the corner open?” Now you are looking for it and suddenly Google gives you search results for the question “How long can a currywurst last at an outside temperature of 25 ° C?”

It can therefore be assumed that “conversational search” will not become an automatism even later.

Where is conversational search already being used?

But the topic is still interesting. Both for users and for SEOs – the latter should deal with the search intent of their target group and also check which related search queries Google is now suggesting.

“Conversational Search” has so far only appeared in very few search queries. And so far primarily in English-speaking countries. It should only be a matter of time before technology is introduced in this country.

Even if some SEOs are already making a hype out of this new function, we don’t think this is justified. It is one useful function of many. SEO is unlikely to turn it upside down.

Video: Conversational Search in the Google Assistant – Aleksandr Chuklin, Google

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