What is a voice search?
A voice search, as you may already know, is a web search conducted through a product or service using one’s voice rather than words typed onto a screen. A computer processes speech into text and then analyzes the information collected to display search results. Notable uses of voice searches are Google’s Google Home enabled speakers, Amazon’s Echo devices, and Apple’s Siri virtual assistant. These products are readily available to much of the world’s population, and many people even use them on a daily basis. This makes it a powerful marketing tool in the pocket of any organization or business.
Who is using voice search?
Acceptance of voice searching technology has been increasing at a rapid rate over the past few years. A number of studies and surveys were conducted in the 2018-2019 time frame regarding users of voice search. A study conducted in 2019 found that 65% of people ages 25-49 use their voice-enabled devices at least once a day. That age range was found to be the most likely to perform voice searches, followed by those aged 18-24. This means that a younger demographic is clearly accepting of the developing technology.
Usually younger people tend to be more likely to adapt to new software and services like this. But what about people older than 49? Some less tech savvy users who are 50 or older use voice searches by simply speaking and getting their search results. However, this also works the other way. Many people over the age of 49 specifically do not use voice search services for the same reason. But even though they are the minority demographic, a very high percentage (almost 88%) of respondents to a 2019 survey claim to use voice search at least more than once a week. This means that even the group of people using voice searches the least are still getting substantial use out of the technology. So, companies targeting potential customers of any age over 18 have very little to lose by incorporating voice search optimization into their marketing strategy.
What are people voice searching with?
There is no denying that Google is the king of online searches, and that still holds true in this department. Studies show that Google’s voice search technology is the most used in the world, being responsible for approximately 40% of all voice searches. Second to Google is Apple. This may not come as a surprise to many, but Apple’s Siri is the second most used voice search service in the world, making up approximately 25% of all voice searches. Another extremely popular medium of voice searching is Amazon. While less popular than Apple and Google’s services, Amazon still makes a huge name for itself in the world of voice searches. Amazon’s Echo products featuring the Alexa virtual assistant supply approximately 20% of the world’s total voice searches.
Why do people voice search?
Perhaps the largest driving factors that push people to voice search are convenience and progression. Voice search technology is extremely easy to comprehend and use for most. Often times, it only involves either pressing a button or saying a trigger word or phrase before asking a question. But to further understand why people have adapted to this technology, a brief history of the topic should be explored. One of the first phases of voice recognition tech was released in 1961 as the IBM Shoebox speech recognition tool. Since then, many people have looked forward to the day that they could talk to a computer.
Google first introduced their take on voice searching with the release of Google Voice Search in 2010. This required a phone number to be called from a mobile device where users were prompted by a recorded message to recite their search keywords. The results could then be accessed through a link that would lead to the web search results based on those keywords. At the time, this was a new and bold system that admittedly was not extremely efficient. Since this technology was released, Google has been refining and incorporating it into their other services like Google Maps, Google Now, and Google.com searches. Today, Google Voice Search is used by a very large number of people on a regular basis, spanning across many physical products and applications.
Apple began releasing iPhones and other Apple devices with Siri voice assistant capabilities in 2011. Although Siri has essentially become synonymous with Apple, it actually started out as a project being developed by SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center until Steve Jobs and Apple acquired the rights to it in April 2010. This was close to the time that Google was rolling out their very first crack at voice search. While not initially received well among users, this young tech would grow to be one of the most identifiable names in voice search.
Amazon began releasing their Echo devices with Alexa capabilities a few years after Apple and Google in 2014. Similarly to Siri, Alexa was initially met with lukewarm reviews. But now there are over 40 million Amazon Echo devices in households across the United states.
How can businesses benefit from voice searches?
Voice search is a very popular method of web searching, and as such is a very broad market. In late 2019, it was projected that smart speaker sales will surpass $30 billion and be in 55% of all households by 2022 (a substantial 42% increase from what was reported at that time). In another survey taken in the same year, 78% of respondents believe that 50% of their searches will be conducted through voice search enabled devices in the near future. Of these respondents, 26% think that web searching through typing will become totally obsolete. If a business becomes voice search optimized, then it has the capability of grabbing the attention of any of these potential users.
So, what does it mean to be optimized for voice search? Voice search optimization is the organization of a business’s data that allows it to be effectively displayed with other voice search results. Since just about everybody is using voice searches to some degree, optimizing your organization’s data for it allows you to be seen by virtually all potential clients or customers. With the use of voice searches being shared among younger and older users, optimization yields a very high potential to increase traffic to your website, increase visibility of your organization in search results, and enhance customer engagement regarding your business.
A lot of voice searches conducted by users of smart speakers and virtual assistant devices are often phrased like this: “Alexa, are there any movie theaters near me?” So, if you own a movie theater that is within that user’s town or city it would likely be in your best interest to serve as an answer to that question whenever that search is made. Smaller local businesses should absolutely be capitalizing on this market if nothing else than for the “near me” searches such as this.
How does a site become voice search optimized?
Google My Business
Google My Business is a service offered by Google in which you can upload smaller details about your business that otherwise would not be visible in a normal search. Being very specific with your information here will not only improve overall traffic to your organization through Google voice searches, but also improve consumer engagement through normal desktop or mobile Google searches.
Yelp is a website where users can leave reviews about certain businesses for other potential customers to read before committing to them. While Google uses Google My Business to engage users to your organization, Yelp is primarily used by Siri on iOS devices like iPhones or iPads. Claiming your business on Yelp and ensuring that all of the information on your page is both up-to-date and reflective of your services will allow users to find you through voice searches conducted through Siri.
Make videos or articles that answer questions
Whenever a voice search is conducted through Google, what is often showed as the top result is what is referred to as the featured snippet. This is usually a video or article that answers the question or a question similar to the one that the searcher asked. The idea is to think of a very basic question relating to your business that people are likely to ask, and ideally name and tag your post as such while also answering said question. This heightens the likelihood of your information being shared with a voice search user. For example, if you own a carpentry business you might want to consider writing an article explaining how to use a circular saw. This way, whenever somebody asks: “Okay Google, how do I use a circular saw?” there is a higher chance of your article being one of the first results displayed or even being the featured snippet. Answerthepublic.com is a great tool for brainstorming question ideas that people are searching for if you need any help thinking.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Optimize your website for fast loading speeds. Google caters towards quick results, and if your site is not loading fast enough it negatively impacts the odds of your business being seen as a result of a voice search. Using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool allows you to enter your website’s address and receive recommendations on how to ensure your load times are as fast as they can be.
Conducting web searches using one’s voice is a marketing technology that has been on the rise for the past decade, and is becoming very widely accepted often as daily parts of people’s lives. With smart speakers and virtual assistants so popular among pretty much all ages, your business could definitely benefit from being aware that this technology is as popular as it is and knowing how to harness its potential.