Google’s New Keyboard App “Gboard” for the Apple iOS Mobile Operating System
Google recently released a new keyboard application called Gboard for iOS, the operating system used by Apple’s iPhone and IPad. Gboard gives Google a way to insert itself into any iPhone application which uses a keyboard such as text messaging, email, facebook, etc.
Gboard’s major enhancement is greater in-app functionality in searching for and sharing information. This effectively introduces an entirely new medium for search traffic and begs the question, “What does this mean for internet marketing pros?”. Let’s look at 4 questions digital marketers are asking about the new Gboard keyboard.
1. What problems does Gboard solve and what problems does Gboard create?
Gboard brings a limited version of the search function to your keyboard for the purpose of sharing links through the programs you are using on Apple mobile devices, text messaging and email being the most obvious and highly utilized. This, theoretically, eliminates the need to close a program, then open a browser to search, copy a link, switch back to the original program and paste the link for sharing.
Below are examples of Gboard search and image results for “alaskan cruise” which I will share with my Grandma without having to leave my texting application.
Gboard’s search function can also launch any of the results in a mobile browser through the open icon at the bottom right of the search result box. If you were about to text someone but just want to check a fact or remember something before you text, you can skip a step getting to the search results. Unfortunately if you do find it necessary to open a result in a browser there isn’t a function to go directly back to your text message so you have to close out the browser and navigate back to the text message.
I mentioned before that Gboard has a limited version of its Google Search results. By this I mean you get only ten results (although, Google is known to experiment with this number) and you can’t request to view more results. Gboard displays one result at a time on a horizontal swiping carousel requiring users to swipe left to view the results one by one. This makes ranking in the top ten in Gboard’s algorithm necessary to participate and ranking first will probably get you the lion’s share of the clicks and shares. If you have multiple pages from the same site ranking in the top ten, then this will reinforce your website as relevant and theoretically yield you more clicks than if you simply had two separate sites ranking in the same positions.
Concerning the keyboard interface itself, the general opinion seems to be that Google’s word prediction is the best available so if that’s true then Gboard is an upgrade in keyboard functionality. It doesn’t seem to change as many words that are slang or curse words or just the way people text-shorten words which means with Gboard you won’t have to correct the auto-correct nearly as much.
Gboard has glide typing which lets users drag their finger to the letters in a word in one motion, thereby producing the word. Once mastered, this is a faster method of typing into a mobile device. There is however no voice dictation function as with the default iOS keyboard which you can bet is a deal breaker for many people.
Gboard currently does not collect user data from Gboard which is a blessing or a curse depending on your perspective as a user or a marketer. It means more privacy, but also less personalized search results.
The main element missing from Gboard results is advertising. Google claims to have no current plans to place ads in the results, but most of us suspect that it’s just a matter of time.
2. Who benefits from the current version of Gboard from a marketing standpoint?
Those blessed with Knowledge Graphs in Google will be very happy with Gboard’s heavy slant towards information rather than marketing. Knowledge Graphs are snippets of content Google feels can fulfill the intent of the searcher’s request without the searcher having to leave the search results page. Since Gboard only serves one visible result at a time, the Knowledge Graph may be the only thing a user sees or wants to see.
Top ranking sites in Google’s Local results will be featured high in Gboard results. Where a company is, what are their hours, etc. are informational results Google feels mobile users will generally prefer over a link to the company page where you have to look for information through navigation. So optimizing for Google Local is even more important now with the introduction of Gboard.
Companies invested in video content will prosper in Gboard results. Take the example keyword phrase “crossfit exercises”: Gboard has two videos ranking 1st and 2nd. Neither of these videos were on the first page of the regular Google search results and only one was in the Google mobile SERPs first-page results ranking 8th. Google is rewarding video content in every set of results but none so greatly as Gboard.
News sites will likely stay highly favored in Gboard with the idea that mobile users want quick relevant information without having to drill too far into the content. So to benefit from preferred News rankings, it might be time to consider having a press release strategy.
Another winner in Gboard is the high-authority aggregators such as Yelp, CarGurus, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Overstock, etc. These sites effectively help customers make quick decisions and purchases on mobile so Google wants to provide easy sharing from these aggregators in Gboard.
3. Where will Google take Gboard from here?
Obviously, placing PPC advertising in GBoard seems logical at some point. I imagine Google placing PPC ads in the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, and 15th slide in the Gboard results carousel for a 2:1 Organic to PPC results ratio. Another possibility would be a thin text banner ad running over each organic result slide in the carousel. Product listings could be added to the mix as well.
Aside from advertising, Google could certainly leverage Gboard data for profitable enhancements to their other services. If Google starts to collect more information about the device user through Gboard, they could serve more targeted PPC ads to those users on regular Google Search. They could also implement a type of re-marketing campaign whereby they could give advertisers the option to serve ads on regular Google only to people who register behaviors such as impressions or clicks for certain searches in Gboard. This increases the value of the PPC ad and would in turn increase competition for those ad spots bringing AdWords more revenue.
Having another source to track user queries and tendencies, Google will use the insights gained through Gboard to improve their regular Google search results as well. This should lead to a better understanding of language semantics furthering Google’s ability to determine which terms relate to other terms and in what context.
4. Should we develop a specific SEO strategy for Gboard?
Gboard in its infancy stage may not yield a high enough return of traffic to justify specifically targeting Gboard aside from what you should already be doing for the Google mobile SERPs. However, this move is a clear statement that Google intends to provide search applications in the Apple environment and will continue to develop the usefulness of these applications possibly making stand-alone mobile browsers obsolete in the near future.
For an in-depth introduction to the Gboard application visit: Meet Gboard: Search, GIFs, emojis & more. Right from your keyboard.