With AI’s Help, Searching Becomes More Natural
Search algorithms over the years have focused on keywords. Often, the way people search most effectively does not at all mimic how they would talk if they were speaking to another person. The terms feel clumsy and unnatural. They work for a computer, which is going through the keywords and matching content, but you end up typing — or, with the recent focus on voice searches, saying — things that don’t reflect real speech patterns. Essentially, you find yourself consciously thinking about the fact that you’re using a computer and changing your communication tactics to match that experience. For instance, when looking for the best restaurant in New Mexico, you may ask a friend: “Hey, do you know of any great places to go out to eat in New Mexico?” To run a search for those results, you may type “top restaurants New Mexico five stars”. It works, but you can see how clunky and unnatural it sounds.
These days, users don’t want pages of results to sort through. They want to ask a question and they want a link to the best possible result. In some cases, they don’t want a webpage at all: They want the answer to that question. In other cases, with the rise of the smartphone, they want to search based on a picture, not a keyword. This is a fundamental change in the way that people look at technology, in general, and at search engines, specifically.
To keep up with this change, tech companies like Microsoft are trying to use AI systems to address more natural user input. They want to make talking to your phone or typing in a search engine more like talking to a friend or a coworker.
“Keyword search algorithms just fail when people ask a question or take a picture and ask the search engine, ‘What is this?’” said one Microsoft programmer. “The AI is making the products we work with more natural. Before, people had to think, ‘I’m using a computer, so how do I type in my input in a way that won’t break the search?’”
As evidence of the way that people have changed their outlook toward searches, he pointed out that “search queries were getting longer and longer.” He believes that this is because people have had poor experiences with inaccurate searches and try to over-explain as a result. It could also indicate that people are asking questions more often: They’re typing the whole thing out, the way they would say it to another person, rather than just punching in the keywords. He also claimed that they may be “trying to act like computers” if they had to enter a complex description. All of these actions are inconvenient and unnatural, and they detract from the search experience.
With the use of AI, the hope is that computers can get better at answering questions and searches in the forms people naturally want to use already. People should not have to learn how to use a search engine. Instead, the search engine should learn how people act and how it can give them what they’re looking for.
The Impact on SEO
At Content Customs, we understand that these changes can have a drastic impact on your approach to search engine optimization. You must know what search engines are looking for and how users are interacting with them in order to give users what they want and draw in that search traffic. We can help you do it with an array of content-based services to give you an edge as AI develops and search engines evolve.