How has query syntax changed since voice search has become more popular?

How has query syntax changed since voice search has become more popular? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from San Francisco. Blind Five Year Old asks, how has query syntax changed since voice search has become more popular? Great question– it’s definitely the case that if you have something coming in via voice, people are more likely to use natural language. They’re less likely to use search operators and keywords and that sort of thing. And that’s a general trend that we see. Google wants to do better at conversational search and just giving you answers directly if you’re asking in some sort of a conversational mode. At some point, we probably have to change our mental viewpoint a little bit, because normally, if you add words onto your query, you’re doing an “and” between each of those words. And so as you do more and more words, you get fewer and fewer results, because fewer and fewer documents match those words. What you would probably want, if you have spoken word queries, is the more that you talk, the more results you get, because we know more about it. And so you definitely have to change your viewpoint, from it’s an “and” with every single word to trying to extract the gist. Just summarize what they’re looking for and then matching that overall idea. If you take it to a limit, you could imagine trying to do a query to Google using an entire document or a thousand words or something like that. And rather than match only the documents that had all thousand of those words, ideally, you’d say, OK, well, what is the person looking for? Maybe they’re telling you a lot about this topic, but try to distill down what the important parts are and search for that. And so it’s definitely the case that query syntax has changed. I think it will continue to change. We allow people to query by images. So you can search for related images by dragging and dropping the picture onto Google Image search. So people want to be able to search in all kinds of ways. They don’t want to think about keywords if they can avoid it. And I think over time, we’ll get better and better at understanding that user’s intent whenever we’re trying to match that up and find the best set of information or answers or documents, whatever it is the user’s looking for.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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