Google Talks Back: Conversational Search Available on New Version of Chrome

Google unveiled conversational search at Google I/O last week, and began rolling it out on the latest version of Chrome this week.

Today, I chatted with Google to ask it burning questions like, "How many children does Madonna have?" and "What's the meaning of life?" While Google doesn't quite have the latter down just yet, it was able to comment on the matter, at least superficially (try it and see).

The "OK Google" search prompt we heard about at I/O isn't available yet, so we still have that extra click in the process. To strike up a conversation with Google in the new version of Chrome, turn up the volume on your computer, click on the microphone, and ask away.

ok-google-search

The feature is still working out bugs, and just like any search, using the information available to it on the Web. Often, Google displays its answer to the question in the form of "cards" at the top of search results while it relays the information verbally.

Depending on the way you ask the question, the search results below the card change, just like a regular ol' typed query. Here are the results to the question, "Who are Madonna's kids?":

who-are-madonna-s-kids

And here are the results to the question, "How many children does Madonna have?":

how-many-kids-does-madonna-have

Also, Google might be lazy. When answering my Madonna question verbally, Google named two of the four children, and simply said "and others" for the rest.

Some reports show Google is able to interpret and respond to a series of questions, even if nouns aren't used.

For example, if a user asks, "How many children does Madonna have?", and in a subsequent search, asks, "Where does she live?", Google should be able to answer both, understanding that Madonna is the subject of the latter question. I wasn't able to experience that in my searches.

Experimenting with searches reveals much. When editing this article, I had a question about punctuation, so I thought I'd ask Google. I asked, "Do you put a comma after a question mark?"

Google interpreted the words for punctuation into actual punctuation, and searched for the following, which didn't produce the results I was looking for:

google-punctuation-interpretation

I played with some local search questions, too, like: "Are there cupcakes in San Diego?", to which Google replied: "There are several listings for cupcakes near San Diego," and then showed me local search results.

Thanks, Google, for making searches a little sweeter.

Have you tried conversational search? Discovered anything interesting? Tell us about it!

About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.