We know, voice search is here, it’s banging on the doors. Everyone is using it. Marketers and Search Engine Optimisation specialists cannot stop talking about it. There is a reason for that. Not long from today by the end of this year, 2020, half of all searches on the internet are expected to be carried out using voice search.

voice search and nlp

Search Engine Optimisation experts are still very much reeling from the Google algorithm updates over the last few years. The way Google has shifted, strictly on to serving the user intent, has made it difficult for publishers and SEO’s and they are still in the phase of “catching up”.

What Is Natural Language Processing

When we talk to each other, we’re more informal than we are when we write a guide or give a speech. This is just a part of basic social behavior. When we talk to our friends, we use slang, contractions, and relaxed linguistics.

This informal use of language carries into our text messages and social media posts, too. To be voice search ready, businesses and brands need to take things down a notch in the formality department when creating content. According to Google, 70 percent of the requests asked to their voice assistants are in natural language. These assistants work the best when they’ve talked to like humans.

Think of natural language processing as a way for computers to understand the query intent from a large phrase. NLP now has a better understanding of language than the human baseline average for tasks like logic, common sense understanding, and lexical semantics. However, one of the major limitations of NLP at the moment remains its inability to deduce intent from a query, according to Gartner. In order to understand intent, it’s necessary for a voice search to identify the specific domain/product set to be searched.

Where Regular Search Engines Falter

Google is getting better by the day. They are raising the bar for voice search by enhancing their search engine with NLP. While this is good news for an everyday user, what does this mean for websites?

Suppose you have a store hosted on WordPress. Leave aside voice search, the default search in WordPress is very limiting. Most users generally replace it with a search plugin of some sort. But how well can these plugins hold up with voice searches?

To begin with, support for voice search is not prevalent among these plugins. Very few of them actually support it and the ones that do are not very good at handling query intent. With voice search becoming the new trend, it is essential that your site’s search engine can handle the queries well so as to not lose out on potential conversions.

Using ExpertRec Site Search

ExpertRec has been an advocate of voice search from the very beginning. While still inferior to Google, ExpertRec’s NLP is able to figure out the user’s query intent substantially better than competitors.

nlp for voice search

For the search query “how do you increase income”  the search engine is able to pick up the right results even though there is a perfect match for “how do you”. This is one case of understanding the query intent. Voice queries generally tend to be questions and the search engine needs to know when to keep stop words like “how”, “to”, “and”, etc and when to ignore them.

nlp voice search

Here’s another example. The query is worded differently from the results. As you can see, the system was able to identify “how to do” as meaning the same as “guide” and matched the results perfectly. This is another aspect of NLP and why NLP adds so much value to your search engine. Since users can word their voice searches in so many ways, it becomes near impossible for websites to optimize for SEO. It becomes crucial that the search engine can still handle these queries so that you never miss out on potential conversions.

voice nlp search

The last example I have is pretty similar to the previous one. Here the user is not very sure as to how to word his search. So he makes a general query about what he wants. Once again, the search engine is able to extract the query intent and match it to the right results.


The previous three examples were that of ExpertRec’s Custom search engine in action. ExpertRec provides search as a service and you can add a search bar with similar capabilities to your website easily. Find out how here!

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