What is Voice Search?
As the name illustrates, “voice search” refers to the way users will ask their devices queries, often through smart assistants, Siri, Alexa or Google, as a hands-free alternative to traditional typed search queries.
Voice search has long been regarded as the more convenient avenue for search with rising popularity due to the rise of in-home smart speakers and other home automation technology. It’s also expected to continue to grow as 5G networks come on line. According to PWC, approximately 71% of US consumers prefer to conduct search queries by voice instead of typing.
Voice search has also become an area of focus across marketers’ search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies, given users tend to interact with it and traditional search queries differently. The main difference being the more conversational nature of the queries being searched by voice. For example, when searching for a cafe nearby you may simply type, “cafes near me”, whereas you might ask Google, “What are some good cafes in my area?”.
Traditional search is focused across keyword-based queries, but when we query voice assistants, we converse with them in full sentences or phrases, which means search engines have had to get better at understanding semantics and context (even more so than previously) to ensure they are delivering the most relevant results to users.
Voice Trends for 2022
While voice search has been around for several years now, its prevalence is fast-becoming the main way people conduct their search queries online. Search Engine Land estimates 48% of consumers are now using voice technology for general search queries, with smart speakers expected to be used in 55% of households by 2022.
Over the years, marketers have developed recommendations for the best strategies to optimise your website content to better support voice search queries (including our own). Voice search was also theorised as the ‘future of search’ and that traditional typed queries would become a thing of the past.
However, as voice technology improves and machine learning changes, SEO strategies specifically tailored for voice search may not be the fixation as we once thought it was.
Google expert, Martin Splitt, says:
“In the future, [voice search] won’t change and [sic] will naturally or magically become the number one thing that we need to worry about. Simply because it changes the input modality, and it changes probably how queries are phrased, but it doesnt change the fundamental use of natural language to retrieve information from the Internet.”
Essentially, Splitt highlights that while user ‘input’ has changed, it hasn’t changed the foundations of SEO. So while voice search is a dominating force to be mindful of, it can be appropriately catered to in a well-structured and well-executed SEO strategy.
So what does this mean for your brand?
Looking forward – What to expect?
Voice search has already grown significantly in the past few years, we expect that it will continue to expand as the main preference for users over traditional search, particularly across mobile devices. Here’s what we expect for the future of voice search:
1. Optimise for Local Voice Search
Voice search is frequently used in cars and while travelling, where users may find it easier, safer or more convenient to search by voice instead of manually typing queries. In fact, it may be as much as 58% of local searches in 2021. We expect this to continue to grow for users – so local SEO is key.
To perfect your local search marketing, ensure you’re leveraging local phrasing, such as ‘nearby’ and ‘near me’ as well as location keywords for your suburbs, city or state depending on your service offering.
You’ll also want to make sure that your brand’s information is up to date and included on your website, as well as adding this information across any local listings, such as Google MyBusiness, Bing Places and Yelp. These listings can often be forgotten about, so make sure content and information is frequently updated to improve its recency and relevance for the given topic or query.
2. AI & Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are going to continue to advance over the next few years, which will accelerate the adoption of voice search even more. Search engines are becoming smarter at understanding content through improvements across natural language processing capabilities, generating stronger understanding of context, semantics and other nuances of modern conversation that AI technology lacked previously.
Especially as Google and other search engines continue to collect massive amounts of data from users and their searches, machine learning will continue to grow and expand to make it easier for voice assistants to understand and respond to more complex queries. This is why Google experts believe that adopting best-practice SEO strategies will be the way to move forward rather than tailored voice search optimisations.
3. Mobile Capabilities
Mobile searches already make up the majority of voice searches, not only for searches on the go but hands-free searches such as when users are cooking or cleaning around the home. Plus it’s expected that capabilities in-app will increase across voice search, as well as growth in adoption from current low-use user segments.
With this in mind, it’s important your brand’s website has a strong mobile experience for users to take advantage of voice search on mobile. Many brands are still yet to embrace mobile websites but with user experience being the foundation of modern SEO and Google’s personal preference for mobile designs – now is the time to take action. Make sure your brand’s website is mobile-responsive, preferably mobile-first design. You’ll also want to ensure your website is easy to crawl and have fast load times to improve on-site engagement and user experience.
Do you need help with your search engine optimisation strategy? NOUS can help. We have in-house digital marketing experts who can help achieve your goals. Get in touch with the team at [email protected] or call us on 07 3003 0722.