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The Power of Voice Search

September 25, 2019 - Stephan Salt

I went to a design conference and a few years ago and never had the opportunity to express my feelings about Voice search and power it has on our society.

The rise of voice search

Approximately 20% of quotes through mobile phones are done through voice and where this number is expected to increase so much, it’s so important the awareness and effects that this may have. With virtual technology increasingly important, we are seeing a trend that is revolutionising people’s search patterns for content. This rise in using voice for search is getting to the point that businesses should be starting to take voice search more serious. What’s more, businesses should think about where they fit in with customers’ UX and SEO.  

So, what is Voice Search?

In its basic form Voice search is something that allows a user of a product to simply use their voice to command a device to search the internet or interact with an application.

But in the broader sense voice search is using keywords query information available on the internet. Instead of typing queries into a search box you just state them into a voice-activated device.

Voice Search flow chart Fifteen Design

Using your voice to search involves you to be very interactive. It takes several interactions to make the system you are using to better understand the questions that have been asked of it. This is normally what you would do to guess someone’s personality, asking them questions in the right way will give you a better understanding of the person.

The 3 main voice assistants

Searching without typing allows for greater accessibility without having to lift a thumb. There are many search bots out there however there are 3 main ones that dominate the market.

How do voice assistants work?

Input into these machines is known as automatic speech recognition and for the output, it gives you the text-speech. In many cases, a device that uses this would have to be awoken by using trigger words.

Once these words have been spoken aloud then the device will be fully reactive in listening out for what you’re asking it to do. Depending on the device and the output skills the device will return the results, all of this can be done without the device having a screen.

Amazon Echo Fifteen Design

So now we know how it works and what voice search is all about, why is the market so caught up on them? Plus, what are these companies (knowing full well they could be listening to us) wanting the public to buy into it?

The benefits of voice search

Convenience is the main draw. It’s easier to ask for information if you’re lounging on the couch or preparing dinner. According to Hitwise (a leading marketing company providing data on visitor trends and search behaviour), nearly 60% of the searches are now performed on a mobile device.

Like I’ve mentioned before, using this kind of technology can get information quicker, a definite perk in this fast-paced society. You’re also able to

  • set reminders
  • make calls
  • write messages via dictation
  • ask them play your favourite tracks

With users becoming more aware of this, it’s not a wonder how people have found voice searching or voice typing easier to use than physical typing.

What’s more, this will only increase in popularity. I think voice search is the next step in the technology evolution. It’s a small one, but it’s massive at the same time so knowing how it all works within UX and SEO can be very beneficial for any digital campaign.

Google Home Mini Fifteen Design

Why does it matter to my business?

With mobile devices, voice search is being used more for queries rather than traditional searches then why not stay miles ahead with your competitors? Three core factors play well into the success of voice search with local business.

  • What’s the proximity of you and the searcher?
  • What sort of engagement is there with the consumer?
  • How is the business ranking in search?

Studies suggest that by the year 2020 (which is only a year away) that just over 50% of searchable content will be searched by voice. This is where businesses should take note and understand this important way of thinking and take care to get their results found on voice search engines.

The difference with this form of searching is in the style of the queries. Searching with your voice is conversational and completely different from traditional searches. When Voice searching some of the queries that go through the device are somewhat longer in details rather than typed searches. So to give you an example, when you’re searching Google and you’re wanting to search for ‘Nottingham’s Best Pubs’ you’ll probably use a full sentence instead of just keywords. For example; ‘can you tell me the best pubs in Nottingham city centre area’.

Google Home Lit Up Fifteen Design

To get better results searching is that business in voice search you will need to understand and adapt to new SEO strategies.

It’s also apparent that the right context for searching is important, too, to evolve the search by voice. But what exactly needs to change? Below are ways in optimising your website to become better at voice search.

1) Your site should be friendly with mobile devices

Create a website that is mobile friendly is THE most important part of all this because designing a website in this way will allow you to be noticeable on mobile devices.

2) Making crawlable content

Make sure that the company’s mobile website never blocks JavaScript, CSS, any images and any videos.

3) DO NOT USE FLASH

I don’t mean the cleaning products, but Flash is unfortunately not viewable by many mobile web browsers. Flash has been around for a while but lately, it’s been moved away due to the rising usage of Apples Safari web browser. Google Chrome will no longer support Flash in search result; it will not be indexed, from December 2020.

4) Loading time

40% of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds until they bounce so, therefore, you’ll need to provide a quicker way to enhance the UX.

5) For the locals

Voice searching is fast becoming the primary search for local queries. You need to rank quite high within your local area of search to allow for a better digital experience.

6) Tracking

Consumers still feel that the quickest method of getting ahold of someone is by calling. So if the consumer uses their voice searching device to find their local takeaway, they’ll probably end up using type search or calling the restaurant to book a table rather than doing it through Google. Therefore tracking is somewhat important in helping a business to identify what channels or adverts should be used. 

7) FAQs

One very important asset to have for voice search is succinct answers to their questions. A FAQs page is where users find the answers they need very quickly to the most common questions. Many voice search queries start with the where what, why, who and how. 

I’m going to eat my own words…

Google (as I am normally an Apple enthusiast) has led this whole voice searching and sharing these would maybe change your mind too on using a device such as Google assistant. It’s for sure starting to change my mind. 

Google Home Logo on Phone Fifteen Design

Google and their mighty thinkers have worked on some amazing things throughout the years and it’s just getting better.

Google Assistant makes table reservations

Making a simple table reservation over the phone with person to person interaction is now a thing of the past. You heard me right. You’ll never need to book a table again, Google assistants can do that for you in the background. All you have to do is let Google Assist know that you would like to book a table at a certain restaurant, with a time, date, and number of guests. Then it’ll call the restaurant for you – speak to the person at the end of the phone and book a table for you. 

It’ll then prompt you with a message to say it’s done. With Google assistant, it takes the stress of small things allowing you to make bigger things happen. 

Check out this video:

It’ll blow you away. 

So to conclude there are even more reasons why voice searching is something you should adopt within your business. Voice expands optimisation efforts and shows how you can become more relevant to local and international audiences.

Where next for voice search?

There are many reasons why voice searching technology is such a pioneering piece of digital development. This allows people who are not capable of using a computer to communicate with others faster. It also helps us to communicate with others when there is a language barrier – what I mean is that we can simply ask a device “how do you say “hello” in German?” It should reply with “Hallo, or Guten Tag”.

Other important ways in which it’s something that you might need to spend some time thinking about this market is that more and more people will be able to access more content quicker and be able to shop, browse, buy and even sell through your business using the power of their voice.

At Fifteen we are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with your audience. Contact us now for concerns be they design, digital or development. Our specialist digital marketing team are on hand to offer award-winning expertise.

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