SEO & Gboard

On May 12th, Google released a new keyboard for iPhone users, calling it “Gboard” due to the integration of Google into a modernized keyboard. The idea behind this new release is, when you are texting or emailing, instead of switching browsers to search for something (like finding directions or business hours) you can now search directly within the keyboard. You are also able to search for emojis (finally, you don’t have to keep scrolling endlessly to find the perfect one!), as well as use glide texting to streamline things even further.

Here’s a video from Google showing the usefulness of “Gboard”:

The one downfall is, of course, that this new keyboard has not been released on Android yet. Luckily, we have some iPhone users in the office eager to test any new Google product. There have been some mixed reviews so far with the suggested texts feature; however, it is still early in the product’s lifecycle, and we feel this integrated search feature might take some time to get used to.

Google’s blog also mentions the handy feature of searching and sending flight times, news articles, etc., so Gboard is not limited to lunch plans with friends or acquaintances. Right now it is only available in the U.S., but Google has revealed that more languages will be coming soon.

 

So What’s the Catch?

Of all the new things this Gboard promises us, there are a couple limitations at this time.

  1. iPhones are not able to enter passwords with 3rd party keyboards. So basically, when you login to an app or iTunes store, the iPhone will automatically switch back to the iPhone’s factory keyboard. This might be beneficial considering Google is known to store information on its users. However, it can also be a slight annoyance switching back and forth between keyboards due to password letter spacing and numerous UX adjustments.
  2. Apple also does not allow third-party keyboards to use dictation, so voice search is simply not a possibility with Gboard (for now).

 

Search Engine Optimization for Gboard

Gboard was officially released May 12th, 2016. Right now, we consider this app too new to have specific ways to optimize for the results. However, the idea behind the integration of the search function and the keyboard is to eliminate the step between switching apps when texting/emailing a friend for directions, flight times, etc. So you have to ask yourself what types of businesses will this affect, and what types of businesses shouldn’t worry about this?

On Google’s blog, they specifically mention restaurants, flight times, and news articles as the primary uses for this new feature.

Restaurants

So, for example, if you work in the restaurant industry, I would recommend updating your restaurant’s hours and location specifically within Google My Business so it will pull the correct information if someone searches for you.

Theaters

If you are working for a company that provides movie times, I would recommend updating the content as frequently as possible, as well as updating your movie theater’s information in Google My Business so the user will have the correct movie time and correct location of the theater to share with their friend(s).

Any Local Business

In the case of sharing a business address, the most useful thing to do would be to claim and update your Google My Business listing so users get the most updated information. These will most likely being the information people would be sharing with each other, and the businesses Gboard’s functionality could affect can be anything from a restaurant to a bar or a coffee shop.

News & Articles

On the other hand, if you are trying to get your article to rank in the first two results when someone searches a trending topic (and you’re not writing for the Star Tribune, New York Times, etc.), I would recommend posting as timely as possible, and updating your site as frequently as possible so Google sees it as a credible source.
Another opportunity could be an article that your business publishes being shared between outside friends/colleagues. Say your company writes an article on a trending topic in the industry. One professional outside of your company wants to share that information with his/her colleague, so they quickly search for it using their Gboard and send it over a text message. Optimization for this example would rely mostly on timeliness, as well as the quality, of the article. Again, my advice would be to make sure to post frequently and in a timely manner regarding the subject.

 

What About SEM for Gboard?

At this time there aren’t any opportunities to sneak paid ads in the results for Gboard. There is some speculation on whether there will be in the future. On one hand, how will Google make money off of this product if there aren’t paid ads? On the other hand, looking at the UI of the keyboard, it seems difficult to get ads in there without interfering with the results (the main purpose of Gboard). So we will have to watch and see what happens when it comes to PPC within Gboard.

 

Why iPhone, not Android?

So all you Android users might be thinking, when is this new Gboard coming out on Android, and why did it come out on iOS first instead of Android (one of Google’s subsidiaries)? There are many different ideas of why this happened. Rajan Patel, Gboard project lead, gave a brief explanation of this saying, “it’s a little more difficult to get quick access to information [on iOS]”. He has also suggested that they are working on something similar for Android devices, but it’s not a main priority because of the similar features Android users already have available.

 

Google Now On Tap

Android users currently have “Google Now On Tap” available to them, which uses the information on their screen to suggest related details, apps, and actions. If you have never heard of “Now on tap”, it’s located within Google Now on your phone, under “Settings,” where you can toggle it on or off. It allows you to instantly add calendar events from text messages, or view a Google Now card for that restaurant within all your apps.
Here’s a video from Google showing the usefulness of “Now on tap”:

 

Searching for an Answer

All in all, this new product is subject to change. Google is always fine-tuning its search algorithm, and we expect Gboard to have the same fluctuations. The only way to truly optimize your business or website for any of Google’s products, is to provide relevant information about what your company does while keeping the user in mind. Gboard is no different. Think of why a user would search for your business/article within their keyboard and send it to their colleagues, then try to optimize your information online for that user. Also, make sure to claim and update your Google My Business profile, because if someone is trying to send their friend the directions to your local coffee shop or restaurant, you want to ensure they arrive at the same place.
Make sure to try out Gboard by downloading the free app from the App Store. Happy Googling!