Voice recognition devices are quickly becoming the driving force behind a shift in consumer behaviour. People no longer want to waste time typing out a query into Google, they want to simply be able to speak it aloud and find the answers they’re looking for.
In fact, according to a recent survey, around 71% of smart technology users would prefer to use a voice search assistant than actually type their search. Given that just five years ago this technology was still in its infancy, it’s incredible to see how far it’s come in such a short space of time. It’s already the norm in many people’s lives.
Thanks to the developments in technology pioneered by the major players like Apple and Google, it is now easier than ever to ask a question from the comfort of your own sofa or while you’re in the car. Because of this dramatic shift in the way we use the internet, it’s only wise for businesses to adapt in order to keep up. Brands need to take voice search into consideration when preparing content for their website. So, what do you need to do to meet such requirements? And who is leading the way when it comes to voice search?
Where Did it All Begin?
In the beginning, voice search used to consist of calling a number from your phone and speaking your search term down the phone. And for much time, that seemed to be what voice search was going to be. In 2011, Google announced it would be rolling out voice search through Google.com. At first, it was only accessible in English, and now it’s available in 60 different languages. However, since then, it’s come on leaps and bounds.
The hummingbird update came in 2013, changing the concept of what it means to search via your voice through your phone. What if you didn’t need to call a number or search a site just to ask your query? What if you could simply speak to your phone and it could search instantly? This updated algorithm focused on natural language, taking the user’s way of speaking into consideration, as well as the context of the question being asked.
How Are Voice Recognition Devices Currently Being Used?
Now, over tens of millions of Amazon Echo devices have been sold, with app developers introducing a staggering 70,000 skills for Alexa. Having a personal assistant in the home is a completely common occurrence in many countries around the world. It’s only natural that consumers are curious, as they always are when it comes to innovative, potentially life-changing technology. This curiosity has led to sales, and consequently, a change in the way we do things. Because where more devices are being sold, it’s an indication that consumers are also searching the internet in a new way. Businesses are being thrown in the deep end when it comes to meeting consumer demand, having to create suitable content that’s going to be easy to find when they search with their voice.
Gearing Content Towards Voice Search
Currently, a great deal of content available on the web is keyword focused, meaning that it’s aiming to target customers through the keywords that they’re searching Google for. This could be anything from ‘printed t-shirts’ to ‘best restaurants in Shoreditch’. However, when a user starts asking Google a question using their voice instead of typing it into the search bar, the way it’s worded will inevitably be different.
To try and target their audience asking such questions, businesses may try adding more faqs to their website. That way, they can word them using LSI keywords which will seem more natural, emulating the way a person may actually ask the question. The idea is that this will capture both long-tail and voice search traffic, effectively preparing for the switch in searching methods before it’s begun.
Another way businesses may try to tailor their content towards voice search is to have clear, concise content that’ll serve as a rich snippet for when consumers ask questions. This will mean there is a short, effective reply for any query.
Furthermore, page speed is also a big factor when it comes to voice search. This also influences whether or not your page will appear in the voice search results. Considering the person using voice search is likely to be on-the-go or in a hurry, your page speed optimization should be a high priority. If you fail to ensure your page loads quickly, you risk losing out on a potential customer if they visit a competitor instead.
It’s crucial that companies stay ahead of the game when it comes to this shift in voice search. If they don’t, they risk losing out to competitors who were quick to roll out these changes to the content.
Setbacks with Voice Search
One of the main things holding voice search back is people’s lack of willingness to do it public. At home, searching via your voice on a device is fine, nobody’s around to hear you talking to a device. But in public, people are still little reserved when it comes to voice recognition helpers like Siri or Cortana. Over time, as the popularity of this way of searching grows, the hope is it will become more normalized.
With increased use should come increased accuracy, a problem that users have recently been experiencing with their voice recognition devices. Often, their queries are met with an ‘I’m sorry, I do not understand the question’ response. In addition to this, people do still need a physical search result in some cases where the information simply can’t be digested. For example, if you’re looking for things to do in London, seeing a block of information is a lot more helpful than information being read out to you. As a reader, you’re a lot more in control.
Voice Search and The IoT
Another element to voice search is the IoT (Internet of Things). Voice search is superior now, capable of doing more things far beyond just answering your search queries. The IoT refers to smart appliances and machines, geared to work with voice recognition devices. These smart devices aim to help people with tasks all around the home, such as controlling the heating, turning on the lights, picking a TV program and using entertainment systems. This plays into the idea of
The smart sensors in the devices gather information from the user, before actioning it into a task. When it comes to voice recognition ready appliances, all commands can be done via the voice. This isn’t just for use around the home, either. It can be used across a number of industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and retail.
What the Future of Voice Search Could Bring
It’s predicted that by 2020, around 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen. At the rate that Amazon’s Alexa devices are flying off the shelves, it’s not hard to imagine this prediction becoming a reality. It’s likely that it will become even more seamlessly integrated with the Internet of Things, meaning the whole home will become voice-recognition ready. It’s an exciting time for both voice search developers and the public alike, as we look forward to a futuristic world.
Richard Meadow is a freelance writer that has a current interest in the app development company Apadmi. He is always interested in modern and advanced technology and enjoys writing about it.