Whether it is ‘Hey Siri’, ‘OK Google’, ‘Alexa’ or ‘Bixby’, digital assistants now look up what you need; no more typing out a query in a search engine. Thanks to the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies, you can now press a button on your device and command the voice assistant to give you the information you need, instead of browsing online. In fact, a recent study report indicates that:
- 90% of consumers are aware of voice-enabled features on their smart devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, car navigation systems, wearables and TV remotes.
- 72% of them use voice assistance as a smarter, faster and more convenient way of texting, searching something online, playing music, or even shopping.
- Driven by the preferences of 25 to 49-year-olds, voice search is being used during several routine activities, such as cooking, driving, watching TV, in bed, or while multi-tasking at home or work.
With an ever-increasing number of compatible smart home devices in the market, smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have a lot more takers than before, with tens of millions of units sold worldwide in 2018 alone. Given the rapid adoption of voice-assisted devices, can you imagine how voice search could be the new game changer in SEO strategies?
Will Voice Search Lead to A Paradigm Shift in SEO?
There are several factors that have led to the progress of voice assistance. AI and technology advancements, changes in user preferences from typing to talking, and increased availability of voice-assistance-compatible smart devices are just some of them. However, since this is still an emerging technology, here are some contrasting views on the role of voice-search in SEO strategies.
1- Featured Snippets May be the Future: One of the main reasons for the uptake in voice searches is the ‘Hummingbird’ update from Google in 2013, which led to a quantum leap in natural language processing. Nowadays, users do not need to modify their verbal communication while using their digital assistants. Instead, the search assistant’s algorithm understands the users’ intent and query context and reads out the snippets that feature precise and concise answers. In fact, Google Voice Search now supports about 60 different languages, giving a huge boost to voice search optimization. Moreover, digital assistants rely on featured snippets that provide definite, easy-to-read answers, which means, SEO specialists may have to think about creating a massive bank of snippets to win the voice search race and better engage potential customers or subscribers.
2- It Is Still Early Days for Voice Search Optimization: Although digital assistance has become increasingly popular, invasion of privacy and personal data breach are still major concerns for several smart speaker users. When it comes to credit card purchases, a majority of users still prefer traditional, visual checks, instead of relying on digital assistants alone. While voice-assistants have proven to be quite effective at responding to simple queries, telling jokes, or entertaining the family, it is still slightly early to predict if voice-search optimization will dominate SEO strategies in the future.
3- The Shortcomings Need Fixing: Many studies across the world predict highly optimistic numbers on the usage of voice searches in the near future, however, not many account for the shortcomings, such as:
- Some voice searches produce relevant results only on activation of a specific set of words or phrases.
- If you make a mistake during voice searches, you cannot delete like a typo. Instead, you have to wait till the device responds with an error, before restating your voice command.
- No-brainer: Voice search is not ideal for people with speech impediments.
- Unlike web searches, where you can counter an unsatisfactory or incomplete response by navigating the web or browsing for more relevant search results, voice searches produce a single, definitive result. You must either use a follow-up query, or modify your search command, to expect a different result.
However, these issues are not deal-breakers and may be fixed as the technology continues to evolve. In the meantime, voice search is here to stay and grow.
Be Future-Ready with a Voice Search Optimization Strategy
Voice searches may or may not achieve 50% share across all searches by 2020, but content specialists who wish to be future-ready with their SEO strategies should not ignore this feature. In fact, Google Voice Search by itself has grown over 3800% in the last 10 years. While the word is still out on the depth and reach of voice searches, you can work alongside the world’s leading digital marketers and consultants. Benefit from their expertise and experience in optimizing voice search content.
Interested in building voice search optimization capabilities? The Ottawa SEO experts at WSI eStrategies can help you create voice content strategies that are customized for your business. Contact us to learn more.