For nearly twenty years, the core online search experience stayed the same: users typed a query into a box and were served a list of results.
That’s finally changing. Voice is transforming how people interact with their digital devices and with search engines. This is fundamentally changing every aspect of search, from how results are presented, to which optimizations are most effective.
Why is voice such a big deal? What does it have to do with search? Which types of businesses should be following this evolution most closely?
To find out, check out MDG’s helpful infographic, Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers.
Why Is Voice Suddenly Such a Big Deal?
The reason that voice has suddenly become such a big deal is simple: digital voice assistants. Specifically, these offerings from tech firms have been widely adopted by consumers:
- Amazon Alexa
- Apple Siri
- Google Assistant
- Microsoft Cortana
- Samsung Bixby
The mass appeal of voice assistants is rooted in the rapid proliferation of smartphones:
- 77% of Americans now own a smartphone
- Most smartphones have at least one voice assistant installed
Voice assistants have also been integrated into a wide range of other devices, most prominently into smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
- 32% of Americans now own a smart speaker
The integration of voice assistants has proven to be popular with consumers, especially among certain demographics:
- 72% of consumers who are aware of voice assistants have used one
- Voice assistant adoption is highest with:
- Younger consumers
- Households with children
- Households with incomes >$100k
What Do Voice Assistants Have to Do with Search?
So, what do voice assistants have to do with search? A lot. It turns out that people love to use their voice assistants to find information and to get questions answered.
Among consumers who use a voice assistant…
- 89% use it to search
- 88% ask it questions
The use of voice assistants to conduct searches isn’t just a novelty. In fact, once consumers try voice search, they tend to prefer it:
- 71% of voice assistant users say they’d rather search via voice than by typing
This behavior is already having a huge impact on search:
- More than 20% of all Google mobile searches are now conducted via voice
And this is just the beginning. Adoption is projected to jump in the coming years as voice assistants are incorporated into more and more devices:
- 30% of all searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020
What Can My Business Do to Optimize for Voice Search?
It’s important to realize that text-based search and voice-based search are not the same thing. Consumers and search engines approach each differently, so brands need to do the same.
Marketers should consider taking these steps to optimize for voice search:
Think conversation, not query
- Voice-based searches tend to be longer and more conversational than text queries
- Consider targeting a wider-range of keywords as well as more informal keywords
Optimize for questions
- Consumers commonly turn to turn to voice assistants to ask questions
- Consider optimizing for question-based queries and building out FAQ pages
Ensure your site performance is excellent
- Voice assistants often deliver only a few select results from sites they trust
- Consider focusing extra resources on site structure, speed, and mobile friendliness
Is Voice Search Especially Important for Some Businesses?
Is voice search something that every business should be thinking about? The simple answer is yes. Voice-driven searches are expected to soon impact brands of all types:
- Voice-driven purchasing will jump to $40 billion by 2022, up from $2 billion today
That said, there’s one type of firm that should be especially mindful of the impact of voice search: local businesses.
- 22% of consumers use voice search to find local information
- Mobile voice searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text searches
The effects of voice search on local businesses aren’t something in the far-off future. They can already be seen today:
- 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information
- 46% of voice search users say they regularly use voice to find local businesses
- 27% of voice search users find the websites of local businesses via voice
What can local businesses do to optimize for voice search? Because search engines often deliver only the nearest and top-rated results, these approaches are especially effective:
- Ensure that your details are correct on Google My Business and similar platforms
- Devote resources to encouraging and managing your online ratings and reviews
What Else Is Important to Keep in Mind About Voice Search?
Because voice search is fundamentally different from text search, it is important to familiarize yourself with how it works today and to watch closely as it evolves in the coming years.
Specifically, marketers looking to succeed with voice search would be well served to keep these two key things in mind:
Voice assistants aren’t all the same
Because Google is so dominant, marketers mainly only worry about it for text-based searches. The same is not true for voice: there are many assistants and each is different. For instance:
- Apple Siri draws ratings and reviews from Yelp
- Google Assistant draws ratings and reviews from its own data
This means that you’ll need tailored optimization strategies to succeed with voice search.
Voice search is driven by new technologies
The ubiquity and ease of use of voice assistants makes it easy to forget that these are new tools driven by cutting-edge technologies. For example:
- Sophisticated natural-language processing helps voice assistants to understand speech
- Powerful machine learning enables the right snippets to be served to voice searchers
In other words, voice assistants and voice search are just getting started. As the technologies that they are built upon mature, they will become more increasingly valuable to consumers — which will make them increasingly valuable to brands.
To find out more, take a look at our full infographic, Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers.
MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and Brooklyn, New York, is one of Florida’s top branding firms. MDG’s capabilities include print advertising, direct mail marketing, branding, logo design, creative, media buying and planning, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, digital marketing, website design and development, online video advertising, infographic development, email marketing, video marketing, mobile marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, paid search marketing, and SEO. To learn about the latest trends in advertising and branding, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante