If you were asked to think about the largest companies on the planet, Google and Walmart would surely make the list. So, when these two titans announced their partnership, a lot of us in the ecommerce industry had to wonder, why? The short answer, of course, is Amazon.

For one thing, Amazon has successfully cracked the code to voice-controlled smart device technology with Alexa. In fact, the company may own over 70% of the market before the year is over.

By itself, Google is certainly a force to be reckoned with, but by bringing in help from the world’s largest retailer, it has a powerful new angle.

How Walmart and Google Home Will Work Together

The partnership between these two companies is relatively simple to understand. Wal-Mart shoppers will be able to link their accounts to Google Express and order items through Google's smart device, Google Home.

Past orders and saved items will be used by Google Home devices to make purchase recommendations on the hundreds of thousands of products available at Walmart.com. The entire order process can be done by voice for any single product. Otherwise, users can add multiple items to their carts and then complete orders through Google Home.

The Google Express marketplace, which has expanded to cover the entire country, will also benefit from this partnership. More and more, consumers are skipping Google and going straight to Amazon to buy -- and even research -- products. To fight back, Google needs access to a retailer that can offer a comparable inventory of items across the U.S.

For Walmart, its rivalry with Amazon is a clear hurdle to using Alexa’s voice-shopping service, leaving Google Home as the best (if not only) option to tap into smart devices.

Another big advantage for all parties involved -- including users -- is that Walmart already knows its customers’ preferences. So Google Home users can link their devices to their Walmart accounts and begin receiving personalized product recommendations based on previous purchases they’ve made on the company’s website and in person at stores.

By 2018, this will even include fresh groceries and other items that users can arrange to pick up at their nearest Walmart location.

How to Adapt Product Listings to Meet Voice Search Criteria

Anytime Google makes an update -- whether to its search algorithm, AdWords or Google Shopping – the industry evolves and online sellers must take heed. Otherwise, they’ll be left behind while competitors flourish.

If not for the immediate business this will bring sellers, this partnership should at least be seen as a sign of things to come.

Most notably, the Google-Walmart partnership should issue in the era of conversational search in product listings. In other words, sellers should start thinking about how people will search for products with their voices instead of text.

Voice Search vs Text Search

Text searches tend to be much more formal and come in the form of fragments. If you’re hungry for a pizza and live in Cleveland, you’d probably search for “pizza delivery in Cleveland” or something similar.

That’s not how people do searches with their voices, though. Instead, they are much more casual and, generally, come in the form of questions.

“Where can I order a pizza in Cleveland?”

“What’s the best pizza place in Cleveland?”

For years, Google’s semantic search has rewarded websites that answer common questions. Considering how conversational search works, it would be wise to double-down on any efforts you’ve made to prepare for the Google-Walmart partnership.

The Importance of Structured Data

Another important shift to prepare for will be the increased value of structured data.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the subject, structured data is how search engines pair the name of a product with a value that helps it categorize and index the information. Common examples include:

  • Brand
  • Category
  • Color
  • GTIN
  • SKU

These are all search-friendly traits that Google can rely on to better serve its users, so it is vital that you prioritize providing this kind of data to Walmart.com if you hope to find plenty of customers after this partnership takes effect. While conversational search is definitely going to influence Google’s results, structured data will remain a solid foundation for the search engine.

Time Is Running Out

At the moment, the most popular searches made by voice are for:

  • Apparel
  • Entertainment (e.g. movies, music, video games, etc.)
  • Household Items

If your inventory includes these, start thinking about the difference between text and voice searches. But even if you fall outside of those categories, that’s no reason to wait. You could enjoy an advantage your competition doesn’t even know about yet – though they will very soon.