If only Google could answer analytical questions - maybe soon!
Since Google can’t answer the question in the title directly, let me share my thoughts.
For now, Google and many other voice-enabled devices are able to at least answer your very basic queries without you needing to type them into a search page.
ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based which means it’s time for brands to start paying attention to this segment and get ready for the change that is about to come. 20% of Google searches and 25% of Bing searches are already via voice commands. As the usage of mobile devices increases, voice search is bound to grow further. The smaller screen sizes and keypads make it easier for people to search via voice commands as opposed to typing out their search queries.
More than 60% of the searches start with “OK Google”, “Alexa tell me” or “Siri what is the” and so on, as opposed to opening www.google.com to type in a search keyword. With the introduction of voice search enabled devices enabled, people no longer need to type when performing searches on search engine platforms. These devices with the voice search feature have been constantly enhanced over the years to understand natural speech, all kinds of accents, answer more precisely and ensure fewer errors in their responses.
Brands like Dominos and Uber have already started using voice search. Dominos has 15 different ways that a customer can place an order and voice search is one of the fifteen! Uber allows their users to book a ride through voice commands as well. These brands tied up with Amazon Alexa, Google Home etc to help their customers place orders/book a ride by launching their respective brand apps with a simple voice command.
Google has a host of 3rd party integrations that allows brands like Uber, Pandora, Spotify etc to enable its users to perform actions with the help of voice commands. Multiple integrations are due in the near future since the predicted Gartner 2020 deadline is not too far away.
Why do brands need to be prepared for voice search?
If you don’t do it someone else will
- 74.9% of voice search results came from a page ranking in the top 3 for the specific inquiry. When a user searches for something with a voice command, the device will go over the search results from the relevant search page and give you ONE answer. This ONE answer needs to be the best answer and it is usually the top of the page search result. So, if you are not on top of the search results, then someone else will be and you will lose to your competition.
Shift from visual cues
- The retention rate is higher when the cues are visual, so Marketers work hard to come up with
the best visual cues to engage with their customer base. However, when a user uses voice commands for their searches, they are not waiting around for the search results to appear on the screen. Instead, they are probably busy doing something else and are waiting to hear the answer. Given the rise in voice search, marketers and brands will soon need to rethink their marketing strategy, such that it includes audio cues for better brand recall and retention.
- Voice search differs from device to device. Google picks it’s replies from it’s Answer box and Siri’s replies are more location-based. It is therefore very important to ensure that content, keywords and tech stacks are optimised to suit the needs of voice search across devices. Any technology you plan to integrate with these devices should be adaptable to any of the voice-enabled devices available in the market
How can brands be prepared for the voice search evolution/revolution?
Optimise Optimise Optimise
- For local
Most searches these days, voice or otherwise are in-the-moment. People are searching on the go and for immediate needs, with queries like “Where can I find XYZ near me” or “Which is the best ABC in town” etc. As many as 88% of all “near me” searches are performed on mobile. Mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally based than text-related searches. Therefore, optimising for relevant search terms would ensure the localisation angle is covered.
- For mobile
Voice search is on the rise because people have moved away from desktops and towards mobile devices. Surveys show that 1 in 5 adults use voice search on mobile at least once a month. A website optimised for voice should load quickly. The average voice search results page loads in 4.6 seconds, which is 52% faster than the average page. It is therefore of utmost importance to optimise your website for the best mobile experience - if you haven’t already done so.
- For the right queries
As already mentioned, most voice searches are conversational and the keywords used are lengthier than usual. The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. The best way to optimise for these long-tail keywords is to generate a list of frequently asked questions, relevant to your brand and accordingly optimise for them. The longer the content on the page and the more basic the queries optimised for, the better.
- For backlinks & content
Keep it conversational
- The key to getting voice search right is the voice search query itself. A person searching for something on the Google search bar may type the query in a different way as opposed to a person speaking into the device when performing the search. For example, if I want to look for an Italian restaurant near me, I’d type “Italian restaurants near me” but if I were to give a voice command, I’d say “Ok Google, Can you tell me what are the Italian restaurants near me”. Notice how the search has changed from being just a bunch of keywords to a conversational phrase.
- Similar to chatbots, conversations are key to keeping customers engaged with voice search.
Close to 42% voice device users are already using them in their shopping journey. Just in the US, Voice commerce sales are all set to contribute 5% of total e-commerce sales. Given that APAC is a fast-growing market in the e-commerce domain, voice technology and smart assistants will have an even larger impact on sales and purchase decisions in Asia.
Like it or not voice technology is here to stay and it will soon become the conventional way of conducting searches. It is therefore vital for brands to keep this in mind while planning marketing strategies, lest they fall behind their competitors.