It has been across every major online marketing blog for years. “Voice search is next year’s trend!”, pundits claim despite it never really taking off.
Now, in 2018, it is undeniable that voice search is making its way at us at a rapid pace. The introduction of Apple’s Siri in 2011 made intelligent personal assistants available to a majority of smartphone users. The other tech giants didn’t just sit back but focused on innovation and are still in an ultimate battle to create the best voice assistant. From Google Home and Amazon’s Echo to Baidu Raven and Microsoft’s Cortana, smart speakers and voice software have found their way into our world and are here to stay.
Since Google started shipping their Google Home Mini smart speakers in October 2017, they have been selling more than one smart speaker per second. With Google Assistant software now available on 400 million devices, this trend is definitely gaining traction. Let’s not forget Amazon, who currently drives 70% of the smart speaker market.
Smart speakers have thousands of functions besides voice search — hence, is voice search really used on devices with a personal assistant software? At Google’s I/O Keynote Developers conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that 20% of searches on Android phones or on Google’s mobile app are voice searches. Moreover, Bing stated in 2016 that 25% of their search queries in the Windows 10 taskbar are done through voice search.
Source: 2017 Stone Temple research among 914 voice assistant users
Error rates have been an impediment to voice assistant users for a long time. The average error rates, 25% in the previous years, have now decreased to 5%. This means it misunderstands one in every 20 words, comparable to the error rate of a conversation between humans. While this is a great improvement, there is still a long way to go.
Andrew Ng, former Chief Scientist at Baidu, stated: “I think that as speech recognition accuracy goes from 95% to 98%, 99% to 99.9%, all of us in the room will go from barely using it today or infrequently to using it all the time. Most people underestimate the difference between 95% and 99% accuracy — 99% is a game changer.”
Impact On SEO
So does the rise of voice search impact SEO? And if so, how? What are the consequences on organic rankings? In order to see the potential impact, it is important to see the major differences between text- and voice-based searches.
Thrive Analytics research reveals the importance of using long-tail keywords, especially for voice search.
The chart above shows that text searches generally consist of one to three words, whereas speech searches consist of seven or more words. Which makes sense — since typing ‘Italian restaurant KL’ is completely normal, but saying ‘Good Italian restaurant near me’ into a smart device is more natural.
How Do We Adjust To Voice Assistants?
With the rise of voice search, we have to understand that our devices will only give one answer. Therefore, providing value to your target group becomes even more crucial. So how do we optimise for voice search?
Find Out How Your Target Group Searches
As stated above, it is important to know how a target customer is looking for your business. Use long-tail, conversational keywords when finding out how potential customers look for your products or services.
Do you own a local shop or restaurant? Focus on local or ’near me’ queries. The time when you want to rank for the keyword with the highest search volume is over. Instead, it is time to focus on user intent. In 2018, your business wants to be found by customers searching for goods or solutions you provide directly instead of through tangential searches. That being the case, provide the search engine and searches with more information about your business through structured data such as schema markup. This way, local searchers can easily find your reviews, phone number, and address to immediately act upon.
By adding valuable content through blogs or FAQ pages, a business can give more relevant answers to potential customers’ search queries. By doing so, you would directly answer all the who’s, what’s, why’s, when’s, where’s, and how’s your target audiences might have in this space. Not only will this endear you to them, you might also reach the ‘position 0’ spot in Google: the featured snippet — the holy grail of SEO, the ultimate position in Google, and the answer to most voice search queries.
Mobile Above All
This should be straightforward, but the rise of voice search emphasises having a proper mobile website even more, especially since voice searches are mainly conducted through mobile devices. A fast, responsive mobile website is not merely a nice addition anymore — it is a requirement.
Stone Temple Consulting found that among 77 billion website visits, 56% of the traffic came from mobile devices. In addition, Google has announced their ‘mobile-first index’ to be carried out in 2018. This major update means that the search engine will value your mobile website over desktop websites in their rankings.
All in all, an increase in the popularity of voice search will have a massive impact on ordinary SEO practices. However, it might take a while before intelligent personal assistants can be found in every home.
Is voice search 2018’s next big thing? No one knows, but adjust your website for voice search, and keep an eye on developments so you can stay ahead of the competition.
Consider iProspect’s SEO services are constantly up-to-date according to the latest developments in the world of search engines. Our main focus points of SEO are the best rankings and user experience. We combine high rankings for the right keywords, traffic, and lead generation to enhance your business and evolve your brand.