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January 31, 2023

What is Conversational Search?

Author imaage
Bishwajyoti Roy
Software Engineer
Conversational search

Netizens around the world created close to a whopping 100 zettabytes of data (that's 100 billion terabytes) in 2022. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes a staggering 8.5 billion searches every day. And every single minute – 

There’s an avalanche of information online on every single topic. How often do you find yourself searching for something online only to find yourself clicking through page after page after page without even getting close to what you want?

While businesses are gaming the system by stuffing their content with keywords to optimize their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking, regular people are just looking for a quick answer to their questions. And with conversational search, they can get it. 

People don't want to search through a sea of results, they want an answer. With conversational search, the focus is on understanding the user's intent and finding the best answer, not just any answer.

It’s quite annoying to have to figure out the right keywords just so you can find that one piece of information you need. It’s like making your way through a new city without having a map or anyone to point you in the right direction. You can eventually find what you're looking for – but it's going to take a lot longer than necessary, and you'll probably get lost along the way.

This is where conversational search comes in. Just like you might ask a local for directions or for recommendations on what to do, with conversational search you can ask a question in plain English (or any language) and get an answer – no keywords necessary.

Conversational search is a new way of searching that allows users to speak in complete sentences – just as they would in a normal conversation – to an AI-powered voice assistant that returns answers in the form of a conversation. It's become more popular in recent years with the widespread use of voice assistants like Google Nest and Amazon Echo with Alexa.

Your users can find what they want with ease, and conversational searching allows you to connect with your customers in a more natural way, without having to worry about incorporating unnatural keywords in their content.

Picture this – you and your friends are trying to decide on a movie to watch. You could spend the next half hour scrolling through Netflix, looking at the same movies you’ve seen a hundred times before. Or, you could simply ask your voice assistant – "What's a good movie to watch with friends?" 

Now that we know what conversational search is, let’s explore why it has become so popular and how you can utilize it in your business.

The increasing popularity of conversational search can be attributed to a few key factors stated below.

Conversational Search

How is conversational search different from keyword or voice search?

Conversational search is a new way of searching that allows users to speak in complete sentences – just as they would in a normal conversation – to an AI-powered voice assistant that returns answers in the form of a conversation. It's become more popular in recent years with the widespread use of voice assistants like Google Nest and Amazon Echo with Alexa. The voice assistant then scours the internet – much like a regular search engine – for results that match the user's question.

Keyword or voice searches differ in how the user makes the searchby typing or voicing, but the displayed results are the same. 

Meanwhile, for conversational search – instead of returning a list of results, the voice assistant returns an answer in the form of a conversation. This allows users to get the information they need without having to sift through a list of results.

These voice assistants such as Siri, or Alexa are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which allows them to engage in intelligent conversation with the user. 

Conversational search uses advanced AI and ML techniques like NLP, text analysis, automatic speech recognition (ASR), and computer vision (which enables computers to make sense of and assign meaning to digital images) to:

It’s the holiday season, and you’re looking for the perfect gift for your brother who's recently picked up running as a hobby. You could google "running gifts" and spend hours trawling through the internet, reading reviews, and comparing products. Or you could ask your voice assistant, "What's a good gift for a beginner runner?" or “I need to get my brother a Christmas gift, he just started running, and I want to see him keep on going.”

Your voice assistant will give you your answer in seconds, not hours – and you can be confident that you're giving a great gift.

Revolutionize your search game with the power of conversation

Conversational search is beneficial because it's fast, convenient, and tailored to users' specific needs. People don't need to worry about keywords or sifting through thousands of results – they can just ask a question and get an answer. 

One of the main benefits is that conversational search simplifies the user's work. As we've seen, with traditional keyword searches, users have to put in a lot of effort to figure out the right keywords just to get close to the information they need. With conversational search, they can simply ask a question in their own words and get an answer. Not only is it more efficient, but also, it's more accurate, since conversational search relies on understanding not keyword optimization

Voice assistants also add a human touch to the online world. It can be difficult to find the right customer service representative when you need help with an online purchase or technical issue. With AI-powered voice assistants and conversational search, businesses can provide their customers with a human voice that they can interact with to get the information or assistance they need.

What does the shift to conversational search mean for businesses?

Conversational search represents a shift in how people are interacting with technology. 

In practical terms, the shift to conversational search means that businesses need to prioritize natural language processing (NLP) and understanding customer intent in their search and discovery processes. This also means optimizing content for human language and providing clear, concise information that can be easily understood by both humans and artificial intelligence.

For businesses that rely on search engine optimization (SEO), this shift also means adapting to new ranking factors and optimizing for long-tail keywords and conversational queries. Additionally, businesses that traditionally relied on static websites or traditional search forms may need to consider implementing chatbots or other conversational interfaces to provide a more seamless and intuitive experience for customers.

Want to take full advantage of this paradigm shift in searching? 

Here are some tips to optimize your website and stay ahead of the curve with conversational search:

1. Use natural language in your content 

Write like you would speak to a customer – use clear, concise language that's easy to understand. Not only does this make your content more informative and personal, but it also makes it more likely to be picked up by a voice assistant.

2. Think about your user and anticipate common questions

What do potential customers need to know? What are they looking for? Write content that addresses these needs. 

3. Use FAQs and structured snippets 

These are short, direct answers to user questions that appear at the top of the search results page. By focusing on providing helpful, accurate information to their customers, businesses can make sure they're appearing in featured snippets and delivering the best possible experience to their users.

Enjoy the future today with conversational search

Just as the telephone revolutionized communication, conversational search is revolutionizing how we access information. It's fast, convenient, and tailored to our specific needs.

By simply asking a question in our own words, we can get the answer we're looking for without having to wade through an endless sea of results. In a time of endless information and impersonal interactions, conversational search allows people to find what they need with ease – and connect with businesses more naturally. This, in turn, represents a huge opportunity for online businesses as well, as more satisfied customers mean better revenues.

Thus, if you’re an online business owner, it goes without saying that you need to allow your potential customers to find what they want as smoothly as possible. For a powerful site search engine that uses the same underlying technologies as conversational search engines, consider Zevi.The AI- and ML-based algorithms used by Zevi enable it to understand your site visitors’ search intent, so that it can deliver blazingly fast and highly relevant search results that help your business grow. Check out our easy-to-integrate Shopify App, or reach out to us for a free demo today.

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