Why is Google Voice Giving Back Different Suggestions?

So Google launched Google Voice Search last week at their Inside Search Event. Wowza. Well, that is what many people think if you check Twitter. You can now talk to Google! And it will give you back results! At least, it works sometimes, like this Tweeter says it: “You click it and say what you want to google. It works sometimes.”

The feature has been taken from the mobile search, where you already could ‘talk to Google’ for a while. Last night I started playing with the feature on my computer. It turns out it is still a bit buggy sometimes, and I don’t mean because sometimes it just doesn’t understand what you are saying. It seems as if Google is using a different Google Suggest database for voice search, because in most cases the “suggestions” I got from Google were totally different from those I get when I do a textual search.

So this post is not about how Google sometimes mis-interprets my words, or how it just doesn’t understand my accent. It was to be expected that a search for “State of Search” didn’t get me the result I was hoping for, “status of search” was the closest Google got.

This post is about the Google Suggest I then got. Take a look at the differences between a Google Voice search and a Google Text search done right after:

See what happens? Every time I do a Voice Search Google gives me a lot less suggestions, and different ones. My first thought was: it must be my accent. But that is not it. It recognizes the words, so there would be no reason to give different suggestions there unless they think they didn’t quite understand what I was saying.

My second thought was: this is the mobile database. We are getting mobile suggests. Because of data they will probably give us less suggestions on the mobile, to save energy, right? Wrong. When I search on mobile the suggestions I get are as many as on the web, so that is not it either.

So what is this? My hunch is that it is indeed Google trying to give you more suggestions based on your voice. Just in case they got it wrong they are giving you suggestions which come ‘close’ (ahum) to what you were saying. Pretty smart.

Which made me think the next Google ‘feature’ in this direction might be something which is a combination of Suggest, Instant and Personalized Search: personalized suggestions, based on your behavior.

I am curious about what you all think of this!

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

4 thoughts on “Why is Google Voice Giving Back Different Suggestions?

  1. It seems Google is suggesting search queries that ‘sound’ like the first interpretation. They want to be sure they give you the right results, but because they probably can’t make it 100% sure they interpret it correctly they offer you the altenatives as well. When typing they want to offer you the possbile outcomes of your complete search query, when talking they want to offer you all the possible interpretations of your voice search. Sounds like a logical choice to me.

    Bu offering these suggestions they can also tweak the voice search when users click on an other query than the first one offered.

    I’m missing the link to ‘personalized suggestions’ however.

    1. Hey Jeroen, that is my guess too, they want to give the most relevant suggestions and want to make sure they ‘heard you correct”. The tweaking one is good too.

      As for the personalized suggestions: it was a brainwave of mine after seeing this. Google wants to become as personal as possible, they now do that with results, so why not suggest search queries based on your history?

  2. I may be totally wrong but i guess suggestions come from what other people are searching that is relevant to what you are typing.. so may be voice have a different data base and Google is suggesting you what other people are searching through voice that is relevant to what you are search!…

    1. Hey Moosa,it is based on both what people are searching for and what they are clicking on. The database might be different but doesn’t seem to be because it is not like they are mobile suggestions. I am not sure this is actually based on what other people are searching for, also because it is only “just” out. But who knows 🙂

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