Search in a Screenless World – Barry Adams – Nottingham Digital Summit

Posted on 21/06/2018 by Team Hallam

Specialist in technical SEO, writer for Search Engine Land, Co Chief Editor at State of Digital and SEO Consultant at Polemic Digital, Barry Adams knows his onions and is worth a follow on Twitter (@Badams). When he talks or writes about SEO I tend to listen and he put it really well himself when he opened his talk...

Video: Barry Adams – Search in a Screenless World

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Barry Adams – Search in a screenless world – Nottingham Digital Summit from Hallam

For those of you with short spans of attention:

Voice Search Trends

We are talking to our devices and they talk back via smartphones and home assistants, which is changing the way we search e.g. Comscore = 50% all search will be voice by 2020. Barry doesn’t believe it BUT classic search will change to screenless search.

Voice is a new technology and will get steeper before flattening off, but interestingly 60% of people have only just started using voice search in the last year (MindMeld) so it’s a fast growing market.

What Will Happen?

Desktop search will not drop off. People will still use their desktop/laptop but the search industry if it continues on it’s current path may look very different from it’s current state because… Amazon Echo partnered with Bing and has 69% speaker market / Google Home 25% Other 6% (NPR Smart Audio Report 2018).

Contextual Triggers

Think of contextual triggers as search engines knowing what we want to do before we do. Scary? e.g.

  • Raining at the weekend = prompts to do indoor activities
  • Diary entry with holiday entry and flight time = delayed message or prompts to not travel to the airport yet

This represents a big opportunity for businesses, and a bigger opportunity to Google for advertising.

The “How” Comes Through Integration

What is needed is decent integration so machines know what you do and what you have. In fact, as much as 29% of your traffic is from “good” bots crawling and reading your data. Currently getting machine readable data can be done through the use of Structured Data.

Allowing the pages on your site to be machine readable e.g. an event, when, how much etc – it takes away the guess work and makes indexing easy for search engines:

  • *New and not live yet = Speakable structured data = so voice assistant can read that content
  • “How to” structured data  = How to do something with each step
  • You can also “define an action” through Google so it knows what to do with your product/service
  • You can also use good old HTML tables / bullets list = a form of structured data

Voice Search on Apps

Google don’t like apps as they are not crawlable, but they encourage app devs to make the app indexable e.g. Ticketmaster app, “How much are the tickets for X concert”, Google will show the result. However, developers then don’t get the incentive to build the apps.


Alternative versions of a site for fast user experience is great for a user, but it has its limits and restrictions such as tracking and advertising.

Why has Google introduced this? Because Google wanted to deliver faster responsive pages? No, because Google is scared about people spending so much time on native apps. Apps suck at discovery BUT apps are more engaging and very fast.

Why is AMP So Fast?

Mainly because of “integrated structured data”, therefore Google knows exactly what’s on it AND it has Google AMP Cache, so  it’s preloaded in the background.

So Overall, What Does Success Look like in the Future of Search?

Half your audience in the future will be for machines and not for humans. Therefore when you create your content, spend a bit more time catering for machines as well as for human needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • machine readable data
  • Provide USEFUL data
  • Don’t hide behind apps
  • stop seeing websites for purely human consumption

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Search in a Screenless World – Barry Adams – Nottingham Digital Summit

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