Mobile SEO experts and users have long known that Google is probably the most user-friendly search engine out there, and it’s been like that for a very long time. However, Google Now, Google’s voice-activated search app, has faced competition from digital assistants such as Siri and Cortana. SEO experts have always wondered about who is the leader when it comes to directly answering questions asked in a voice-search query. A new study from Stone Temple Consulting Corp. shows that Google Now comes out on top.
Stone Temple Research Methodology
The study involved asking 3,086 queries that have specific answers with a search engine being given credit for the right answer. The participants – voice-activated search app Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, were asked questions with direct answers such as “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” rather than queries which have no specific answers such as “Am I happy in life?” There were also queries such as “Who is on the 5 dollar bill?”
The results revealed that Google Now led the way quite significantly in terms of the number of queries addressed and accuracy in answers. Google Now completely answered 88% of the 3,086 queries while Siri and Cortana completely answered only 53% and 40% of the queries, respectively.
When it came to enhanced results including knowledge panels, knowledge boxes or structured snippets, Google Now was found to return 58% of the search results, twice as many as Siri at 29% and thrice as many as Cortana at 20%, which gives Google Now a clear advantage.
Intelligent Searching on Google Now
The study also revealed that Google Now presents its results in more interesting ways. Stone Temple researchers queried, “How tall is the Eiffel Tower” and received not only the results for the Eiffel Tower including the figure in meters as a structured snippet above the regular results, but also the height listings of other tall buildings such as the Burj Khalifa, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Clicking on the Burj Khalifa link then resulted in a carousel of height listings of various other monuments including the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Google perceives how people who search for something might be interested in other related stuff, which is why the search is so comprehensive and interesting for the user.
In some instances, the snippets for a search are all the user needs. “Becoming a firefighter” returns instructions in the search results page above the regular listings. Google draws information from related, authoritative websites and presents it above the other listings, so that users do not have to visit these websites to get the requested information. Queries such as those requesting the capital city of a state or country or general knowledge related queries show results with and without attribution to a website in the ratio of 75:25. For those requiring a quick answer this would be helpful, while others requiring more information could check out the links in the attributed results.
Superiority of Google Now
The Stone Temple research concludes that Google Now scores high in the amount of queries addressed and in the accuracy of the results as well as in types of results with Knowledge Graph which focuses on comprehensive breadth and depth, and draws information from public sources such as Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook and Freebase. In 2012, Google’s Amit Singhal revealed that Knowledge Graph contained over 500 million objects and 3.5 billion facts as well as relationships between these objects and facts. All this information is tuned on the basis of how people use the search engine and what they find on the Web. Siri and Cortana have some catching up to do.
People will still continue to use Google Now more, so mobile SEO experts should know where to target their efforts.