With the use of voice assistants set to triple by 2023, it’s safe to say that people are getting more comfortable asking their devices to find information, get directions, and reach out to friends and family. As marketers, these trends are essential for informing our marketing strategies, as the need to reach audiences in the right moments has never been greater.
Let’s take a look at the state of voice search right now, so we can understand how people are using speech to search for information, and the overall impact of voice search moving forward.
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The Current State of Voice Search
When it comes to voice search, the status is “it’s complicated.” On the one hand, voice search has shifted how people search for information and presented new opportunities for marketers. A recent article suggests voice search has made a smaller impact on search behavior than initially anticipated.
Searching by voice is indeed becoming more common. 72 percent of people have used voice search on a digital assistant, like Google Assistant or Siri, in the past six months. Comparatively, 35 percent have used voice search on a smart home speaker, such as Google Home or Alexa.
In a recent study, 70 percent of respondents said they use voice search at least a few times per week.
Marketers have responded to the shifts in behavior by creating content that answers questions since this is how many people use voice search on their smartphones and smart speakers. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages and Featured Snippets have given marketers the opportunity to position their content as the first answers served when users ask questions by voice.
Although all the traction voice search has made, there are definite complications. For one, some users are concerned about the privacy and security implications of voice search; they worry about hackers or the government listening in. Second, there is a lack of performance data. Google Search Console does not report data for voice searches made on smartphones or smart speakers; so it’s challenging to place any real, measurable value on voice search traffic.
Given these challenges, it’s not yet clear how most marketers will leverage voice search going forward, but this statistic could signal what to expect: 78 percent of people believe half of their searches will be done through voice search devices in the next 5-10 years.
How People are Using Voice Search?
Right now, the majority of voice searches occur on smartphones due to the proliferation of these devices. This also indicates searches happening on the go, perhaps while driving, shopping, or performing other activities. In other words, voice search is a valuable traveling companion to multi-taskers everywhere.
In a recent study, 55 percent of respondents said they are most likely to use voice assistants to perform actions rather than return information via a search behavior. Controlling appliances at home and setting reminders are going to be the most favored in terms of using voice technology.
Grey area: queries that are done both on smart speakers as well as on search engines on desktop, mobile, or tablet.
This is interesting information because it signals yet another shift in how people expect to use voice technology. Rather than using voice to search for things, people may end using it more to tell their devices what to do.
Looking Ahead at Voice Search
Considering the current state of voice search, it’s difficult to predict where we will land in terms of marketing. If the security and privacy of voice searches and devices improve, then perhaps we can expect more users to adopt this approach. If search engines like Google decide the data is critical, then maybe marketers will shift more of their resources to voice. Or, it may just be that the information we have now is enough to convince marketers that voice search is not a replacement for traditional SEO, but instead an additional marketing opportunity that complements their existing strategies.
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