Handwritten Search: Google’s New Offering
Ryan Buddenhagen, July 27, 2012
Google continues to roll out new offerings with their primary product: search. Moving into the mobile market, the social space, and other areas, Google has constantly been trying their hand at new functions, growing their reach and relevance, and for their sake, an ever-increasing user-base that enjoys what they offer.
Even in the midst of a projected push from Google for mobile development by industry analysts, search remains their focus, and obviously their primary driver of revenue (ppc) and web dominance. Many of these offerings have varying direct impacts on SEO and paid search, but many influence the overall experience with Google, which does ultimately impact how people use the search engine to find what they need. With this context, we look at their latest offering impacting their search functionality – handwritten search queries.
How Relevant are Handwritten Queries?
Yes, they brought us voice and image searching, and now they are delivering a convenient handwritten search query capability for mobile devices. On smartphones and tablets, users can spell out the desired words via their own fingertips right onto the screen, and Google’s handwriting decryption technology translates it to text in the query box.
It remains to be seen how much more convenient than typing searches this features ends up being, and if it will become a preference of mobile users. Some feel this is simply a gimmick, and opinions will vary, however, there is worth to the function. Users on the go may find it easier to handwrite the desired search term or at least a few letters rather than bringing up the keyboard and typing.
In essence, the feature highlights the importance of Google Instant which will be prominently used with the handwriting feature. As seen in Google’s promotional video for the feature, often users will not type the entire word or phrase, but only handwrite a few letters and then rely on the Google Instant results to connect them to the right query. This is a connecting step, but not a large one.
Due to its sole use on mobile, local SEO for businesses serving specific markets is most directly impacted. Local businesses must be sure to optimize for the most relevant keyword that people would be likely to “handwrite” and optimize that term for their specific location. People will most likely only be writing one or two words, so when people search this one term, for example, from their handwritten search, businesses want to make sure they are represented in the SERPs in their localized market as the search engine will return the most relevant results for that term in that specific area where the search was done, unless another area was specified.
With reliance on Google Instant that this feature brings, businesses and their marketers need to be aware of what the Google Instant results are for words related to your business or keywords, and evaluate the worth of optimizing for them. Do so only if they directly relate to information on your site and the main products and services you offer, otherwise building out such content would be pointless for you (non-conversion traffic) and misleading for the user.
Otherwise, this will be fun to track how much it gets used and what else search-related it impacts. Next up...will this handwritten search functionality start showing up in secondary searches on ecommerce and search-reliant sites.
Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd for thoughts or comments on this or other topics.