One of the many bits of stories from Google I/O 2019 was that Google would quickly begin displaying podcasts in search outcomes. “Soon” turned out to be very quickly, as we’re already seeing these outcomes floor. Here’s one from a seek for our personal podcast, MozPod:
While the characteristic itself is attention-grabbing, and the undeniable fact that the fundamental outcome goes to Apple whereas the episodes go to Google is entertaining, the discuss out of I/O instructed one thing rather more intriguing – that Google would quickly be indexing podcast content material and returning audio clips in search outcomes.
Can Google transcribe audio content material?
Is this at present attainable? In a phrase: sure. We know that Google has supplied a speech-to-text service as a part of Google Cloud Platform since 2017, which has already undergone a number of iterations and upgrades. Earlier this yr, Android Police noticed supply code modifications which instructed that Google was proactively transcribing some podcasts on the Google Podcasts platform.
We see proof of this functionality in the broader Google ecosystem. For instance, this is an computerized transcript on my Google Pixel telephone for a current name …
We even see proof of this functionality in search outcomes, however in a special medium. As early as April 2017, Google was testing instructed clips in YouTube movies. Here’s a present instance from a seek for “how to swim butterfly”:
Note the “Suggested clip” highlighted in the blue field, and beginning at the 2:30 mark. What’s attention-grabbing is that variations on this search not solely produce totally different movies in some instances, however totally different clips inside the similar video. Here’s the outcome I obtained again for “how to swim the butterfly” (including solely the particular article “the”):
Now, the instructed clip is 101 seconds lengthy and begins at the 1:54 mark. It’s clear from some instructed clips that the characteristic continues to be in its infancy, but it surely’s troublesome to think about Google having the ability to implement this characteristic dynamically with out create a transcript of the audio portion of those movies.
Why begin with video? For Google, it simply makes bottom-line sense. YouTube is a planetary system to the nice suburb of Google Podcasts and has an immensely highly effective infrastructure backing it. If Google can return outcomes primarily based on the audio portion of a video, it is solely pure they’ll do the similar for audio recordsdata.
How will audio floor in search?
The apparent beginning factors will probably be extensions of the podcast engine, together with computerized transcription and full-text (full-audio) search – each of which already appear to be in the works. Once you may search inside Google Podcasts, although, anticipate that search functionality to broaden to normal Google searches.
One large query is whether or not Google will return audio content material immediately or will use transcribed textual content. In some instances, returning audio clips could also be a greater match to searcher intent. If you are trying to find a film clip or one thing you heard in a podcast, returning the unique is a richer expertise than returning plain textual content. The large benefit, although, will probably be to voice units, reminiscent of Google Home. Returning audio would fill a content material hole for voice units and supply a direct bridge into full podcasts and different non-text content material.
How many podcasts ought to I begin?
We do appear to be in the midst of a minor podcast revival, and audio search might spark that revival. As at all times, although, anticipate Google to launch modifications step by step and check them for weeks or months. If you are already producing a podcast and wish to make it accessible to go looking, be sure to’re a part of the Google Podcasts ecosystem and are getting into and updating the at present obtainable meta information.
Other than having clear audio in a format Google can course of, there’s most likely nothing particular you will need to do down the street to get that content material transcribed. It could also be price occupied with how your audio content material is structured. Completely free-form content material, whereas it definitely has a spot, could also be tougher for Google to judge. Is the theme of your podcast and every episode evident? Is there a construction the place a machine may probably parse questions and solutions. Are there concise takeaways – perhaps a abstract at the finish of every episode?
Ultimately, audio SEO will imply treating our audio content material in a extra structured and deliberate manner. The broader evolution of Google throughout many units additionally signifies that we should be extra conscious of what kind of content material most closely fits our viewers’s wants. Is the searcher in search of textual content, video, or audio? Each modality suits a special want and a special machine (or set of units) in the broader search ecosystem.