Ok Google, what is voice search?
Voice search is when a person completes an internet search by speaking into a device. It could be a smart speaker, your mobile phone or even your desktop computer. The device uses a voice assistant to satisfy the person’s query by giving them the most relevant and accurate answer.
Is it cool? Yes.
Does it make you feel like Marty McFly from Back to The Future? Pretty much.
Has it changed the way we need to approach website content? Absolutely.
Make no mistake. This is a Kodak moment.
Many of us have been enjoying the novelty of smart speakers at home and in our pockets. If the wide-spread use of voice search seems a futuristic notion that'll never make it into the mainstream, cast your mind back to the digital camera. Kodak famously created the first digital camera in 1975. But, they didn’t use their technological head-start until 1995. They finally released their first digital camera 20 years after they invented one. For Kodak, the business strategy was film photography. They didn’t pivot to digital until the marketplace was over-crowded with successful competitors. Unsurprisingly, they lost out big time.
Fast forward to today. Our population is adapting to new technology faster than ever. According to the West Australian, 5.7 million Australians owned smart speakers in 2018. Juniper Research has estimated that by 2023, there’ll be eight billion digital voice in use globally. Acquisition of smart speakers is growing, and usage is too. Google Trends data suggests that use of voice search and its related commands have increased sevenfold since 2010. Much like the digital camera, voice search is an emerging technology that will make or break businesses around the world.
Voice Search and your business.
Customers find your brand online using search engines. If you’ve done enough hard work, your business will show up on the first page of Google. Potential customers will see your listing and compare your site to the others listed. They’ll click on the listing that seems most relevant based on the information you’ve provided.
Now things are changing. Imagine that a customer is given one answer to their search query by a voice assistant, and your business is not included in that answer.
Where does that leave you?
We’ll give you a clue: on the periphery of your customers' consciousness.
We’re not voice searching everything — yet.
Currently, your customers are mostly using voice search to answer quick questions. The words “who, which, when, where and how” are often used at the beginning of a voice search. And, they’re also using voice search to research products when shopping. They’re asking for the ‘best of’ or the ‘top’ of different product categories.
So, for bricks and mortar stores, a rise in voice search for local or ‘near me’ searches is good news. In a Campaign Monitor report, they discovered that mobile voice searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text-related searches. Additionally, 27% of people visit the website of a local business after making a voice search. And, 50% of local mobile voice searches lead to a store visit in a day. Which means foot-traffic and brand awareness can grow if your business optimises for local voice search.
And, voice shopping is one the rise too. In one study, it was discovered that 22% of people make purchases directly through voice after researching, and 17% have even used it to re-order items. Looking to the future, voice shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion in 2018.
Start optimising, yesterday.
There is no denying that voice search is growing, and it presents a great opportunity for many businesses to directly reach customers. But, like all good things, optimising for voice search will take time.
Voice search and SEO are undeniably linked. It makes sense that you need to improve your Google ranking if you want to feature in voice search. And, if you’ve ever optimised a website, you will know that SEO is a hard-won long game. It may take months or years of focus to drastically improve your Google ranking. But, don’t be deterred. Remember, a long-term view of SEO and voice search is a long-term view of your business.
And, if you need any further push to add voice into your strategy, we’ll leave this 2013 quote from Google right here. “The destiny of Google search is to become that Star Trek computer, and that’s what we are building.”