One of the various 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 function itself is attention-grabbing, and the truth that the primary end result goes to Apple whereas the episodes go to Google is entertaining, the speak out of I/O steered 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 presently potential? 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 couple of iterations and upgrades. Earlier this yr, Android Police noticed supply code adjustments which steered 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, here is an automated transcript on my Google Pixel cellphone for a latest name …
We even see proof of this functionality in search outcomes, however in a special medium. As early as April 2017, Google was testing steered 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 on the 2:30 mark. What’s attention-grabbing is that variations on this search not solely produce totally different movies in some circumstances, however totally different clips inside the identical video. Here’s the end result I acquired again for “how to swim the butterfly” (including solely the particular article “the”):
Now, the steered clip is 101 seconds lengthy and begins on the 1:54 mark. It’s clear from some steered clips that the function continues to be in its infancy, but it surely’s troublesome to think about Google having the ability to implement this function 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 based mostly on the audio portion of a video, it is solely pure they’ll do the identical for audio information.
How will audio floor in search?
The apparent beginning factors will probably be extensions of the podcast engine, together with automated transcription and full-text (full-audio) search – each of which already appear to be in the works. Once you’ll be able to search inside Google Podcasts, although, count on that search functionality to broaden to normal Google searches.
One huge query is whether or not Google will return audio content material straight or will use transcribed textual content. In some circumstances, returning audio clips could also be a greater match to searcher intent. If you are looking for a film clip or one thing you heard in a podcast, returning the unique is a richer expertise than returning plain textual content. The huge benefit, although, will probably be to voice units, equivalent to 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 could spark that revival. As all the time, although, count on Google to launch adjustments step by step and take a look at them for weeks or months. If you are already producing a podcast and need to make it accessible to look, ensure you’re a part of the Google Podcasts ecosystem and are getting into and updating the presently obtainable meta knowledge.
Other than having clear audio in a format Google can course of, there’s in all probability nothing particular you may need to do down the street to get that content material transcribed. It could also be price serious about 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 guage. 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 on the finish of every episode?
Ultimately, audio SEO will imply treating our audio content material in a extra structured and deliberate method. The broader evolution of Google throughout many units additionally signifies that we should be extra conscious of what sort 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 system (or set of units) in the broader search ecosystem.