Humanity has always valued convenience and ease in our day to day activates. In turn, technology is always being created to meet these needs. Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced that 20% of queries on the Google mobile app are voice searches. This is a large percentage, but in many ways it is not surprising as voice search applications continue to arise. Virtual assistance programmes such as Siri have encouraged a more conversational interaction between device and user.

Searching online is a tool we now take for granted, but why type when you can speak to your device?

Digital Personal Assistants

Using digital personal assistants is becoming second nature to many people. Becoming more and more integrated into every day products. For example, you can use Cortana on your laptop to add an event to your calendar, or you may have asked Siri on your iPhone to send a text to your friend. Those who consider themselves tech savvy may have made use of Amazon Echo to control their house lights or even add things to their shopping list.

As AI technology advances, it is starting to learn our behaviour when speaking to these devices. During voice search the user tends to ask a questions as though they are part of a conversation. Such voice queries often provide richer user intent, as the question is explicitly asked. The assumption from the user is that the search engine will be able to answer back accurately.

Voice input is the most likely reason there has been a rise in longer tail searches on search engines such as Google. With users often extending their question to entire phrases, rather than selecting key words via a keyboard. We speak differently to how we write. Using our natural language, we tend to be more specific and more phrase led. Therefore, in SEO terms we need to consider optimising pages for high value voice searches, as well as traditional written searches.

When we speak we are much likely to say “where is the nearest Indian restaurant”, as opposed to “Indian restaurants Manchester”. There is a change in discourse and search related queries. Questions are becoming based around words such as who, what, where and when.

Google is becoming frighteningly intelligent. Breaking down questions to understand the intent with increasingly good relevancy.

As voice searches rise, so does the wealth of new data from the user and their habits, which reinforces the knowledge it has already developed. Artificial intelligence technology is beginning to gain insight into user intent. Whilst utilising context signals – such as previous searches, past actions or behaviour and location. The self-learning technology is designed to anticipate your exact search needs.

voice search

At present, there is no way to tell who is reaching your site through the use of voice search, however such a feature is apparently being developed for Google Analytics. Currently we have no real way of tracking Voice Search, this means we are unable to understand its impact on conversation or how it impacts Search engine result pages. Once accurate data can be gleaned from Google Analytics, we can truly have insight into Voice Search and where the opportunities lie.

Voice search is certainly not full proof yet and still struggles to understand certain accents, dialects and abbreviations. However, by its very nature it is constantly learning, evolving to be more and more accurate for the user. It is only a matter of time.

How can we take advantage of Voice Search?

Voice search is being used more and more frequently, therefore as digital marketers we need to consider how to take advantage of this. Businesses that pay attention to the growing trends of voice search and converting customers via this route will have the upper hand as this search medium grows.

To drive voice search related traffic to your website – here are a few tips to consider:

  • Develop a conversational tone within your content to match natural language queries, ensuring the language on your website reflects how your customer would talk.
  • Consider what questions will be typically asked. Gain an understanding of your audiences queries and questions. Gather intelligence from your customer. Use an interview process to understand how they speak, how they ask and answer questions. Understand what phrases are being used in your industry to develop search strategies to match your customers tone and style.
  • Feature a Q and A section within your website, answering general questions that begin with the search terms – who, what, where & when.

Whilst voice search isn’t all there yet, it is bound to play a prominent role in the future of search. As wearable technology becomes more prevalent and more apps utilise voice, we will begin to see the integration of voice search into our everyday lives.