The Latest Word on Voice Search [Infographic]

Over the past two decades, the online search experience remained the same—the user simply typed a question into a box and received a list of results.

Today, online search is evolving due to the rising popularity of voice technologies. Voice is transforming the way people engage with digital devices, and it’s especially changing how people search for information. It’s changing how search results are presented, as well as which optimizations work best.

So, how does voice impact search? Which kinds of businesses should consider optimizing for voice search? MDG Advertising’s infographic, Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers, has the answers.

Why Is Voice So Important?

The reason voice search has become so popular is simple: the rise of digital voice assistants, which are available at home and while on the go. Popular voice assistants include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby.

Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s connected world, making these assistants all the more important. More than two-thirds of Americans—77 percent —own a smartphone, and most of these devices have a voice assistant component. This means that those consumers have access to their voice assistant at any time.

Plus, voice assistants are a critical part of digital home hubs, including Google Home and Amazon Echo. Thirty-two percent of Americans own a smart speaker, and 72 percent of consumers who are familiar with voice assistants have used one. This technology is especially popular with younger consumers, households with children, and households with annual incomes greater than $100,000.

How Do Voice Assistants Impact Search?

There’s no doubt that voice assistants are becoming more popular every day as consumers turn to them for quick information. So, how do voice assistants affect search?

The answers lie in how consumers use these tools. Among people who use an assistant, 89 percent use it to search, and 88 percent ask the assistant questions. Plus, the majority of voice assistant users—71 percent—say that they prefer it to a traditional text search.
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This shift in consumer behavior is having a dramatic impact on search, with Google reporting that more than 20 percent of its mobile searches are conducted through voice. This is expected to increase as voice assistants are added to more and more devices. Researchers expect that more than 30 percent of searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020.

How Can My Company Optimize for Voice Search?

While consumers use both text and voice searches to seek answers to questions, they’re not the same thing. Consumers use each differently, which means that brands should tailor their approaches to each platform. Marketers should keep the following three tips in mind when optimizing for voice search:

1. Think about the conversation, not the question:
Generally, voice searches are more conversational than a text query. Consumers may use more informal keywords, so target a wider range of keywords—when optimizing your content—including more casual and colloquial words.

2. Be sure to answer consumers’ questions:
Voice assistants are often used to get answers to questions. Optimize your website for question-based queries, which may include adding a FAQ page or similar content.

3. Focus on site performance:
Voice assistants are selective when providing results and only choose sites they trust. Your site structure, speed, and mobile friendliness will all determine whether a voice assistant chooses yours over others.

Which Businesses Should Focus on Voice Search?

Should every business consider voice search when choosing the right marketing approaches? The short answer is yes: voice search is expected to impact brands in all industries. Voice-driven purchases will jump to $40 billion over the next few years, up from $2 billion today.

Despite voice search affecting all business verticals, there’s one type of firm that should be especially aware of its impact: local businesses. When it comes to finding local information, 22 percent of consumers rely on voice search.
Related: Why digital marketers need to optimize their websites for voice search (infographic)
Local-based searches are three times more likely to be made via voice, and the effects of this can be seen today: more than half—58 percent—of consumers have used voice search to find a local business, and nearly half—46 percent—of voice search users use these tools regularly. In addition, 27 percent of search users found local websites through voice.

How can your local business optimize for voice searches? Search engines often select the nearest and most highly rated results, so start with your Google My Business page. Ensure that all the details are correct and provide as many customer ratings as possible. Encourage existing customers to write a positive review, which will help boost your business’s results.

What Else Should Brands Know About Voice Search?

As previously mentioned, voice search is different from text search and requires unique approaches. Familiarize yourself with today’s voice tools and watch them closely as they further evolve. Marketers looking to capitalize on voice search should keep the following in mind:

Not every voice assistant is the same: Google remains the dominant search tool when it comes to text queries, but there are multiple factors to consider when it comes to voice searches. For example, Apple Siri provides Yelp reviews and ratings during a voice search, while Google Assistant provides information based on its own data. This means that each will require its own customized optimization approach.

How Does Technology Drive Voice Search?

The user friendliness and popularity of voice search often makes marketers forget that these tools are sophisticated technologies. Voice searches utilize state-of-the-art natural-language processing programs, as well as powerful machine-learning techniques. This enables the devices to both recognize the user and provide the right answers to questions.

The full capabilities of voice search and voice assistants are yet to be seen. Voice technologies will continue to mature and become even more valuable to both brands and consumers.

Ready to engage consumers through voice technologies? Find out more about the impact of voice search optimization on your local business by viewing MDG’s full infographic below.

Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers [Infographic]
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