Voice Search: Understanding and Strategic Planning (First in a Series)

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Welcome friends to this first-in-a-series of informative blog posts on the subject of “voice search.” If you regularly read SEO, marketing or tech blogs, you know that in recent months this subject has become the focus of much writing – and speculation.

While this technological innovation is still in its infancy, some of the contour lines are beginning to come into focus. These articles won’t be the “last word” on this subject, but in the course of presenting them we’ll give you information on what we know at this point.

The Reach and Impact of Voice Search

Should you be aware and stay up-to-date with developments in the area of voice search? Absolutely.

And the data, to-date, underlies it’s growing importance:

According to Google, 20-25% of queries on mobile and Android are voice searches.

25% of teens (13-18) use voice search, in some way or form, every day.

I’ll not lengthen this article with a lot of numbers – here is a Good statistical summary of range/impact of VS.

What is driving this popularity? Fundamentally, it is the technology at the root – voice recognition. Until just very recently, voice recognition technology was not consistently accurate — but huge strides have been made in VR and if you have used your phone or device to do a voice search you have no doubt noticed how much more accurate it has become in translating your spoken language.

And as VR has grown more accurate, overall, people are becoming more willing to use voice search as a way to query the search engines.

And of course there are now a wide range of virtual “assistants” and devices – Siri, Cortana, Viv, Google Assistant, Google Home (device), Amazon Alexa, etc.

Voice: Not Just Simple Queries – Actions Too!

Voice “search” is not just about returning information from spoken queries – you can actually get these devices to execute actions for you:

  • Securing a taxi ride
  • Ordering Domino’s pizza
  • Securing tickets to a music or sporting event
  • Placing Amazon orders

The list below details more fully how people are harnessing voice search technology:

Retrieving Local Information: Restaurants – shopping – ordering food at home – setting restaurant reservations – looking up local community events – getting directions – displaying map locations – researching home service professionals – getting current weather information and forecasts – sports scores – team schedules – traffic conditions – local news/headlines.

Recreation: Music events – athletic events – sports news – TV listings – movie reviews – interacting on social media – video search and viewing.

Help with Work: Dictating documents – sending emails – checking calendars – setting calendar reminders – prepping to-do lists – making phone calls – checking stock prices and market news – preparing shopping lists.

Generic/Quick Factoid Lookups: Travel research – Wikipedia information – recipes – restaurant menus

Voice Search-Enabled Devices

There are now a few major players in this area, each with their own device. It is instructive to note the search engine that powers searches on each of these devices:

Device ManufacturerDevice NameUses Search Info From
MicrosoftCortana (Not a Device)Bing
AmazonAlexaBing
AppleSiriBing
GoogleGoogle HomeGoogle

An interesting fact emerges from this data – Bing, not Google, powers a big chunk of these devices, and the searches they perform. So optimizing your search within Bing will take on increased importance in the future as these devices rely on that search engine.

Voice Search Vs. Traditional Search

How does traditional search work? Usually, the user (searcher) will type out a search query, and a number of proposed matches are returned in the SERP’s listings.

But the situation is different with voice search: With VS the user does not type but speaks – usually using full(er) sentences, often in question form. The voice search will usually try to return with is thought to be the “best” answer – the most relevant – to the question asked.

Voice search, then, becomes a kind of “conversation” between you (the searcher) and the underlying technology, using the device as the intermediary (to capture the spoken query and to reply in some manner).

A Couple of Interesting Questions

How are the search engines going to monetize these types of searches? This is not a display of results (although there are display devices starting to appear) but something spoken. Search engines are going to have to think carefully about how this will change the advertising game, and we’ll no doubt see a lot of experimentation with different approaches.

The other thing to think about is this: What if there is only one result returned for any single query/question? How difficult is that going to make it, to be in the top spot? Will this turn into a major dogfight among the big contenders? How will our SEO tactics need to evolve? It’s too early to tell, but watching this scene carefully is a must for professional SEO’rs.

Some Other Characteristics of Voice Searching

Voice searching is usually done as a response to a situational need or a reaction to something happening: You are travelling and blow a tire. You whip out the smartphone and ask, “Where are there towing services near me?” Or you are picking up the kids and they ask you, “Can we see a movie?” so out comes the phone and you query, “Show me a list of movies now playing at the XYZ Mall.

People don’t usually do voice searches for confidential information, at least while other people are around, as they don’t want others to overhear what was spoken (“Head shops near me,” or “Substance abuse clinics.”) In certain niches/industries, you may never see a high number of voice searches, no matter how the technology behind it evolves, just due to the subject-matter involved in the searching.

Voice searchers are not usually interested in interacting with sites that require a lot of typing or menu selections, etc. They just need answers and information without a lot of fuss, having to sign up for stuff, creating of logins, etc.

Here’s the big-takeaway from this first article – and something that you need to be thinking about NOW:

Voice search is growing – and as voice search takes off, those website pages providing answers – to asked questions – will become the most important asset of your site.

In our next installment, we’ll talk about the prerequisites and preliminaries – how to build a good foundation for voice search, no matter how it specifically deploys in the future.

Related Information: https://www.semrush.com/blog/how-voice-search-will-shape-seo-in-2016/ (This is a post from one of our FB Posirank SEO Insiders Members, a Private FB community – If you are a Posirank.com account holder, you already have access – Just login to your dashboard to find out how you can join and participate!)

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