Voice Search is Coming

Technology is constantly progressing. We all know this. 60% of searches are now performed on a mobile device, according to Hitwise. Something that goes hand in hand with this statistic is the collection of studies being made that claim that voice search is going to be making up more and more of that 60% as time goes on. It makes sense—technology is always in the process of adapting to us. As humans, we tend to prefer technology that feels more natural and complements our lifestyles, so when presented with the option of either tapping away at a small screen to find information or the option of simply using your voice to interact with your devices, opting for the latter is understandable. From ordering food to operating the lights in your house to choosing a song, you can do it all with your voice alone.

Voice Search & SEO

It is a modern marvel, for sure. And while we already know that voice search is a growing functionality, we need more details. Who exactly is utilizing voice search? The answer is simple: everyone. It’s no shock that the leading demographic is 18-43 year olds, as that is typically the demographic that adapts to newer technologies first. However, those 44+ are not far behind the younger generations. The reason that those who are 44+ actually prefer this growing search technology is likely because it does away with small screens and buttons—it is technology in its ideal state. And if voice search is appealing to all demographics on all fronts, it is likely here to stay.

As a digital marketing agency, we need to know how to optimize voice search for SEO and keyword research because it is not the same as traditional search.

Here’s what we know: the way we word queries through voice search is different than the way we tend to word them through traditional, typed search queries. Data from Bing shows that when we typing a search query, we tend to keep it short and sweet. For example, if you were trying to figure out the age of Ajit Pai, you would likely search “Ajit Pai age.” Alternatively, if you were using voice search for the query, you would likely search “How old is Ajit Pai?” When you’re speaking your queries instead of typing them, it is a lot easier to stick with the natural, conversational tone you typically use when speaking.

Image Credit: Purna Virji

Something else to consider is that when we speak in full phrases instead of strings of keywords, our search intent is easier to figure out. If you were to search for “burger,” there’s no telling what you’re really looking for. Are you wanting to eat a burger? Find recipes for burgers? Pictures of burgers? When you ask a full question, you’re revealing your intent. This will certainly impact bids for question phrases and filler words.

Search Results Just Got More Narrow

Additionally, the age of SERPs might be coming to an end–or at least a sharp decline.With functionalities like voice search that enable users to do hands and eyes free searching, there’s less screen interaction and consequently devalues SERPs. Acquiring and holding top spots on search engine results pages used to be an end goal for those employing SEO strategies. Now, being Number 1 will be so much more critical. Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant aren’t going to provide you with the whole page of results with a voice search. They are going to be giving you the top answer to your voice query.

Where Do We Go from Here?

It may be too soon to really tell what the true reach of voice search is, but so far it has already dominated much of the market and does not show signs of stopping. Whenever game-changing technology is developed, it is exciting. It is exciting from a usability standpoint, but also from a digital marketing standpoint. The way that we communicate with each other is constantly in flux and it is an incredible challenge to tackle, and as digital marketers, we must stay on top of this challenge each time it evolves.

According to a study by Brightedge, 62% of marketers have no plan for voice search in the next 12 months. Numbers like that are often used to grab attention and cause fear of missing the ‘next big thing,’ but we need to look at some of the other contextual statistics to get a true analysis of what is going on. Nearly a third of those surveyed agree that voice search is that next big thing, but a quarter (27%) are still focused on transitioning from desktop to mobile – keeping mobile in their focus.

One thing to note when you are looking for validation that voice search is worth some attention is that Google reported that 20% of mobile searches on Android devices are done via voice. So even if you aren’t using voice search much right now, it is imperative to know that others are, and that number is only going to grow. Voice-driven digital assistants are still in their infancy. As voice recognition technology progresses, the interaction will get smoother, eventually to the point that we don’t even think twice.

Where Do You Go from Here?

With stats like those above, it is easy to say that you aren’t alone in feeling frustrated and exhausted. That is before we even start including artificial intelligence and machine learning into the mix. We love staying on top of technology trends, data science, and how it all works to affect your digital properties. Most importantly, we are confident that our framework of outcome-driven innovation can keep your business strong and even grow as all of these “next big things” come and go.

You’ll benefit from working with a digital agency that is prepared to evolve with the dynamic times of marketing and advertising online. At Evolve Digital Labs, we pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of digital strategy and tactics. We’d love to help you reach (and exceed) your business goals.