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With the rise in voice assistants and smart speakers, our marketing team take a look at voice search, what it means, and ask the question ‘is your website ready for voice search?’
Did you know? The first voice recognition system was actually invented in 1952 by Bell Laboratories and was called the “Audrey”. When this system was first invented, it could only recognise numbers spoken by one voice. Then, in 1962, IBM demonstrated their “Shoebox” machine, that could understand an ‘enormous’ 16 words.
Although voice recognition machines and systems seemed to take off in the 1970s, I think it’s safe to say that we have massively evolved these kinds of machines since then. In 2017, a survey showed that 9% of UK households owned a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, with this figure estimated to rise to approximately 40% in 2018!
So, if you own a smart speaker, or use a voice search assistant such as Siri or Google Assistant on your phone, I want you to take a moment and think about how you would search for something using voice assistant. You probably don’t think too much about it, but the chances are it will generally be different to the way you search when physically typing this into an online search engine.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for something to do for a day out in Chester. If you were sat at a desktop, or physically searching on your phone, you might literally type in “Chester” or possibly “Things to do Chester”. However, using voice assistant, you would more than likely use a much more natural language for your query, like “What are the best things to do in Chester?” or “What can I do today, in Chester?”, and just like that, search behaviour is changing and evolving.
Who is using voice search?
As we mentioned earlier, last year there were already 9% of UK households with smart speakers however, there were also an estimated 7.5 million iPhone’s sold in the UK, in 2017 – a lot of which could potentially be using Siri as a means of search. That doesn’t even take in to account the Android users, using Google Assistant, Bixby, Microsoft’s Cortana, Jarvis, Extreme, Databot Assistant, and the many other voice assistant apps out there.
Furthermore, if the estimations are correct, the use of smart speakers in households could rise to a huge 40% this year. That’s going to be almost half of the population that you could potentially be missing out on if you’re not optimising for voice search.
You might be thinking that people aren’t using voice search to make searches that are relevant to your business, and you may be right (for now), so let’s take a look at how people are currently using their voice assistant.
According to this Google studies, the following statistics show the primary things teenagers use voice to search for:
The study also showed, in comparison, what adults aged 20+ are currently using their voice assistants for:
As it currently stands your customers may not be using voice search to search for your services or products online, and the number of text search queries is still considerably higher than voice search queries.
However, as shown in this study, over 80% of both adults and teens have said that they use voice search because “it’s the future”. So, it’s only a matter of time before they’re using voice search for the majority of their online searches… why not make sure you’re ahead of the game, and ready and waiting for them when that happens?
How do I optimise my website for voice search?
When thinking about how to optimise your website for voice search, it’s all about thinking about how people may interact with their voice assistants and smart speakers. It’s about using more conversational content, and keywords. Here are a couple of examples of things to try out…
Use longer, more natural ‘voice-friendly’ keywords and phrases – Rather than ‘luxury travel’, try things like ‘Best Holiday Deals to the Maldives’
Try using question keywords, like “what information do people want to know that is related to your product/service?” Try targeting keywords like “how do I book a multi-centre holiday?” or ‘when is the best time to visit Florida?’
If you’re a local business such as a coffee shop, this could be of huge benefit to you. A lot of users are now performing searches like “coffee shops near me”, and this is something you seriously need to consider as a local business, as it’s very quickly becoming the way your customers are finding you (and this goes for both voice search and text search!)
One of the positives with the shift to voice search is, currently when a user performs a text search it can be so generic that we have no idea of the intent of that search. If someone searches for ‘digital marketing’, we don’t know whether that person is looking for information about digital marketing, jobs in digital marketing, or looking for an agency to do digital marketing for them.
However, with a more conversational voice search query, they may ask “who is the best digital marketing agency in Chester”, which means we can then determine the user intent a lot easier. Once we understand user intent a lot more, we can then identify the higher value phrases and optimise for these.
I think we are going to start seeing a lot of changes in how we use things, not just in the way we search online. I recently bought a new car, which has a built-in speech recognition, and I imagine it won’t be long before this kind of thing takes over a lot of our everyday lives.
Basically, you need to start taking action now in ensuring your customers are finding you and your business, no matter the medium!
If you’d like to find out more, use your voice and get in touch with the eJIGSAW team today! Give us a call on 0333 987 4224 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our marketing experts can help you today!