Voice search studies show you need to act now

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” aired in 1987. Imagine all people back then, sitting and watching how other people on TV had conversations with their computers. It looked like a faraway reality to voice search. 

“Star Trek: Discovery” aired in 2017. Are we still surprised? We already can speak to our smartwatches and interact with our phones through voice, while watching Star Trek Discovery. 

It is the new normal, but yet how much do we know about it? Ipervox has reviewed 10 studies and here’s what they are saying. 

Voice quotes from movies
Voice Search is the future

What is Voice Search?

It is one type of search. The fastest growing one. This technological feature enables users to search in the internet orally via a tablet, a smartphone or a smart device such as voice assistants. The most interesting part of it is the interaction with a voice search engine

Interaction with google assistants
Interaction with a voice search engine

Still not able to spot the difference? When you say “hey Google call Mike” to your voice assistant you are not performing a search using voice on your assistant, as it is not searching on the internet for that, but on your phone book. On the other hand, if you say “hey Google what’s the nearest ATM?” you are. 

How does voice impact search?

Back in the days Google reported that 20% of all searches will be through voice. In the three years since then, the percentage has almost certainly grown by 50%. It’s obvious that this is an area that Google will continue to invest in.

Voice search google
Voice Search according to Google

But how is voice impacting the way how search engines work?

  • RankBrain

Google launched an artificial intelligence system applied to the search results that better understands the meaning of a searcher’s words. 

  • Voice assistants

Unlike traditional ways of searching, where the user can choose between options, searching by using voice is different. Voice assistants make decisions for the users based on the most relevant answer to a question. 

Big Players

The most popular players in this market are the following brands:

Big players in the voice space
Big players in the voice space

Amazon with Alexa

Apple with Siri

Google with Google assistant and Google now

Microsoft with Cortana

Samsung with Bixby

Top keywords used

Kiran R.K.G has analyzed more than 50.000 voice search results and has concluded that the most used keywords for voice search are the below 

voice search keywords
Top keywords used for voice search

According to them, more than 20% of voice queries are triggered by the combination of these 25 trigger words. Among them, How and What are the two most popular trigger words. 

Voice search keywords-1
Question phrases that are more likely to be voice search

Key concepts 

Voice search SEO

Voice Search SEO
Voice Search SEO

It is the optimization of keywords and web pages for searches using voice assistants. Different studies suggest that we need to take into consideration the use of conversational terms.

Optimizations 

Voice Search Optimization
Voice Search Optimization

It is the process of optimizing your sites for the way people do verbal searches. It’s all about using the right keywords and key phrases. According to Bruce Clay, when you decide to optimize for voice search you should: know your audience, know the results, know your competition, be everywhere and be trusted. 

Featured snippets 

Featured Snipped
Featured Snipped

A featured snippet is the selected search result that appears on top of the search result page as the best answer to the query. According to Backlinko 40.7% of voice search results come from featured snippets. On the other hand, according to Semrush, 60% of voice search answers returned a featured snippet result. We can conclude that appearing on featured snippets will help you with SEO. 

Voice assistants 

Voice Assistants
Voice Assistants

Saying it simply, a voice assistant is a smart piece of technology that is able to communicate with the user audibly and perform different tasks. The most popular voice assistants are Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Bixby. 

Voice Search Stats

Oberlo did a very nice study about the 10 most popular voice search statistics. They emphasized through different statistics that voice is considered to be an e-commerce trend soon. Here’s what we thought would be of value to include. 

  • Users

All US households are expected to own at least one smart speaker by 2020. 40% of internet users in the USA use voice for searching and it will be 122.7 million users by 2021. Amazon currently holds about 70% of the smart speaker market share within the US, far outperforming its main rivals, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod. 

Voice Search Users
Voice Search Users
  • Usage

71% of customers prefer to search via voice. Despite the predicted need to use it for purchase, users are preferring mostly to use it as a way of asking simple things like checking the weather, listening to music or setting a reminder. 38 million US customers search via voice on smart speakers to buy online. 

Furthermore, 51% of online shoppers use voice to search for different products and around 33% use it to add new products on their shopping cart. The journey doesn’t end here. From these 33% of people that are using it to purchase new products, 20% of them are leaving reviews and 17% of them are reusing the same method to order again. 

Voice Search Usage
Voice Search Usage

Microsoft has done a survey in order to find out the common ways people use their digital assistants and the results are as per below: 

  • 68% search for quick facts.
  • 65% search for directions.
  • 47% search for businesses.
  • 44% research products or services. 

Voice Search SEO

Everyone is saying that you should make it part of your business strategy. It is evolving from voice recognition to voice understanding and helping users through their daily life. Optimizing for it is like optimizing for SEO of yesteryear, with a change in focus. 

What you need to know

Backlinko analyzed 10,000 Google home results and showed some important findings when it comes to voice search SEO. 

Queries length

How to optimize for different queries
How to optimize for different queries

Voice search queries in Google require short and concise answers. The average of the answer is 29 words. Some suggested structure would be to sentences stating according to whom this question is true or not. 

Semrush gave the same result in one of its studies. The average answer length for all analyzed assistants is 23 words, and Google Assistant devices return the longest answers, at 41 words. (Google Home length 41 words, Google Home Mini 41 words, Siri 15 words, Android phone 12 words, Google home hub 11 words, Alexa 11 words)

Content 

Creating content for voice search
Creating content for voice search

If you are producing content for searching through voice you need to follow the KISS approach. So, choose words that are easy to be pronounced, being able to comprehend without visual experience. Also do not include challenging words or phrases, since the text should be written like someone from the 9th grade

According to Semrush, the complexity of the written answer considered as a valuable voice search answer needs to be 8 on the Flesch Kincaid Grade. 

The average word count on the result page is 2312 words. How can this be when we said that the answer should be 29 words max? There is more content and therefore more options to be scanned by google on finding the right response to the query. FAQ pages are considered to be among the perfect formats for answers.

Tech specs

Technical checking for basic SEO
Technical checking for basic SEO

Page speed has a significant impact. The website landing page should be optimized to have a TTFB of no more than 0.54 seconds. When trying to understand if the HTTPS domain (secure domains) has an impact on results, Backlinko concluded that it has a minimal boost, but either way, it is suggested to have a secure domain. 

When it comes to authorized domains, the DR average needs to be 76.8 and PR needs to be 21.1. Websites with many links pointing to them rank higher in regular search.

Voice Search and businesses

Are businesses ready for it? 

According to a study done by Scott Services businesses have a lot yet to do in order to be ready for voice search. 

The most important online business information in order to be visible for searching with voice is: address, opening hours, phone number, business name, website and zip code. It is a must for all businesses to have this info put correctly online.  

Google Search, Google Maps, Yelp and Bing are the most popular search directories that occupy 90% of all directories. 

Structured online data for your business
Structured online data for your business

However 96% of all businesses fail to enter the correct business information and from that 4% who enter it correctly, most of them are enterprises. This comes to asking the question: Is there any cost for not being optimized for it? Here’s what can help:

  • 50% of searches are now done by voice and it is said to grow more. Searching by image is also growing. 
  • Adults spend more hours on the phone nowadays and phones are one of the most used devices for interacting with voice.  
  • 30% of people asked are using it on a weekly basis.  

Voice search SEO for local businesses

People are increasingly using voice to search for local products and services. According to statistics, 58% of people have used voice to find information about a local business.

If you are a local business, it is better to know that voice search is also being used for marketing through voice ads. Voice ads are seen as most successful compared to ads on TV, online or on social media. 

According to Semrush study, despite the difference in the nature of the devices, the Google Home Hub and Android phone have the highest percentage of matching results at 66%. 

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to voice assistants:

  • The number of questions unanswered from different google assistants is 6.3%. The highest number of unanswered questions is on Alexa, which counts 23% of questions unanswered. The rest of the assistants vary from 5 to 3% when it comes to unanswered questions. This makes Alexa merely a smart speaker for home-usage. 

What do assistants use for searching? Apple’s Siri gets the answers from Google, Google Assistant gets the answers from Google while Alexa uses Bing. 

Key takeaways

Voice search is like a natural extension of the human brain that allows its users to directly ask for information or purchase something online. Being embraced by the millennial generation, it is experiencing a boom that businesses shouldn’t miss. 

It requires optimization and is causing a rethink in marketing strategy and content strategy for businesses. 59% of people use voice to search for a local business, while on the other hand 96% of businesses fail to have their online data updated. 

This near future requires a preparation to rise to the challenges of the shift in search behaviour and a willingness to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Ipervox has prepared a detailed course for Voice Search to help you not be left behind. Reach out now!

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