Volcano BLOG

It all started with Siri. In 2011, Apple gave us the ability to get answers to our most random questions by simply asking. We didn’t have to type our queries into a tiny search box, and our hands and eyeballs were free to do as they pleased. That was only the beginning.

Now that Amazon Echo is on the scene and speech recognition is a built-in feature on our phones, voice search is fast becoming standard practice. Here’s what marketers need to know:

Voice Search is Growing Fast

This isn’t a surprise. As voice recognition technology gets better and better, using our voices to search, get the latest weather, or ask for store hours will be the easy alternative to using our thumbs on a touchscreen. Here are a few stats that show just how fast voice search is gaining traction:

  • 55% of teens and 41% of adults now use voice search more than once a day thanks to tools like Siri, Google Voice, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Echo Alexa. (Source: Entrepreneur)
  • The use of search queries starting with “who,” “what,” where,” and “how” has increased by 61%. (Source:Entrepreneur)
  • Google Trends imply queries associated with voice-related commands have risen more than 35x since 2008 launch of iPhone and Google Voice Search. (Source: Entrepreneur)
  • In June of 2015, Siri handled more than 1 billion requests per week through speech. (Source: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)
  • Amazon Echo was the fastest-selling speaker in 2015 and accounted for 25% of the USA speaker market. (Source:Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)
  • As of May 2016, 25% of searches performed on the Windows 10 taskbar were voice searches per Microsoft reps. (Source: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)
  • 1 in 5 searches on mobile app in the USA are voice searches and that number is increasing. (Source: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)

More and more, people are turning to voice search for one reason: it’s convenient. Voice is fast—people talk way faster than they type on tiny touch screens. Voice allows for multitasking—people can use voice search while on the go. And finally, voice lets you speak like a human—users can speak naturally in full sentences. Marketers need to understand when and why people use voice so they can be prepared to offer the right answers.

Voice search is growing fast, but the technology still has a way to go before it reaches mass adoption. Here’s what you can expect:

  • “As speech recognition accuracy goes from say 95% to 99%, all of us in the room will go from barely using it today to using it all the time. Most people underestimate the difference between 95% and 99% accuracy—99% is a game changer …” — Mary Meeker. (Source: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)
  • According to Andrew Ng, Chief scientist at Baidu, in five years, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech. (Source: Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report)

How Can Marketers Take Advantage of the Voice Search Trend?

As voice search continues to rise, websites optimized or “stuffed” with keywords will become less relevant and will lose traffic. People using voice search speak in full sentences resulting in different query patterns than we see today. Marketers will need to put a greater emphasis on creating conversational copy over keywords and meta tags.

The first step is to figure out the common voice searches associated with your businesses. Remember that “who,” what,” “where” and “how” questions are on the rise. Research the popular voice search questions and make sure your content answers them.

Not only do keywords differ in voice searches compared to traditional searches, but someone using voice search may have different goals and expectations. For example, if someone is already using the personal assistant on their phone, you should keep the voice experience going by making it simple for customers to call you with a click-to-call button. Chances are if they would rather speak than type a query into a search field, they would rather talk to a live human than search your website for answers.

Voice won’t replace screen-based search, but it will be prevalent enough that businesses need to be able to employ strategies that will get them found by voice search. If you want more information on new voice search strategies, I’m sure Siri or Alexa can help you out.