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Voice Search – 5 things you need to know

6 MINUTES TO READ
Voice Search – 5 things you need to know
Summary: Voice Technology is changing the way that we search for things online. We share the key insights you need to know so that your site is Voice Search ready.

You’ve seen that little microphone bar in your Google search, but have you actually used it?

Google microphone

Even if you don’t think you have – have you asked Siri for the weather? your Alexa to find you a song on Spotify? or Google Maps for new directions whilst in the move? If so, you have used Voice Search.

As often is the case with emerging technology, the younger age groups are currently the fastest adopters. However, all age groups, including our new Digital seniors, are also using Voice Search more. My Dad was recently surprised and delighted when he shouted in frustration at the TV, and the TV immediately found the channel he’d been looking for on the remote control for the previous 10 minutes.

 

  1. Why does Voice Search matter?

According to PWC research, a whopping 71% of people surveyed said they would rather use a voice assistant to search for something, as opposed to typing into a search bar. With 68% of all website visits coming from mobile devices (2020 data) this is hardly surprising – talking to your phone is certainly easier than typing into a teeny tiny keyboard. But can you trust the results?

Voice search is driven by AI, so no it isn’t perfect – but only for the same reasons that written search doesn’t always know quite what you mean. It is, however, getting better and better. When you hear that 65% of 25-49 year olds surveyed (PWC) are conversing with their voice control devices every day, and that voice driven commerce is expected to hit £40bn in 2022 (Siteefy), you can see the traction it’s getting.

Algolia’s research sums up the progress of Voice Search well : People are generally getting more comfortable with using their voices as a way to search. This leads to a virtuous circle, because as they use voice search more, more data is collected, which in turn improves machine-learning and AI predictions, thereby generating higher-quality responses to voice search queries, which makes voice search more attractive to users. Voice search functionality will continue to improve based on how customers and companies embrace it.

 

  1. What do people use Voice Search for?

Most voice searches are made whilst Watching TV, Cooking, Driving or Walking.

Whilst purchases made via voice are growing, they are very much based in familiar commodity products which people are happy to buy without seeing :

Purchases via voice assistant

The other major use for Voice Search is for Local and Hyper Local queries.  Google reports that 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information – this could be asking for directions to your shop or office, or to ask a “near me” question.

 

  1. What do consumers like and dislike about Voice Search?

Here’s a good summary from Couponfollow :

Pros and Cons of Voice Shopping
Source : Couponfollow

Basically, consumers find voice shopping convenient and less fiddly when they know what they want. When they aren’t sure what they want, or sites are poorly optimised, browsing is tricky and consumers see inaccuracies in their results. It’s no big surprise that the top categories are therefore Groceries, Toiletries and Beauty and Home Essentials.

As consumers get more familiar with the technology, and learn how to ask more precise questions, voice results will get better. There will always be certain products that we just want to see before we buy though!

 

  1. Voice Search and Privacy

For people who don’t use Voice Search, privacy is a particularly big barrier that this technology needs to continue to break down. People do still fear that the device is “listening in” on them.

Voice Search and Privacy

Even for people who do use Voice Search, uber-personalisation is also seen as a bit “creepy” :

“If I want to try out a new coffee brand and an ad for it shows up on [my social media account], fair enough. I was looking for it on the internet anyway. But if the voice assistant listens to everyday conversations I have with people in my life and then uses what’s said to recommend things, that’s just weird to me and I think it oversteps the boundaries of technology.”   PWC respondent – Female, 31

 

Consumers want to be able to control ads too. Being able to skip ads, being asked if they want to hear the ad, and making sure that ads don’t interrupt “events” (eg listening to music) are seen as the top 3 issues to address.

 

  1. How to optimize your site for Voice Search

Whichever way you look at it, voice search is growing… and fast.

Here are our tips for making your site works effectively with Voice Search :

  • Use natural conversational language that considers user intent.
  • Ask specific questions with direct answers to get shown in rich snippets. Rich snippets achieve higher click throughs.
  • Keep your Google My Business listing up to date – remember voice search is often used to conduct local searches.
  • Check your operating information is up to date on your website and on any listings. Google gains confidence when they match everywhere.
  • Check you are meeting SEO good practises these play a big role in the appearance in voice search results too.

 

Summary

Voice search is becoming a major way for people to look for products, places and services online. Make sure that your content is Voice Search ready as part of your SEO plan.

Want to know more? Please just contact us for a chat about how Voice Search can help your business.

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