Voice search, different to text search
I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the car this last week, driving between the hospital and home a round trip of roughly 130kms. With this I’ve also needed to rely on Siri more than usual, firing of voice instructions and search criteria.
We have an Apple HomePod in the kitchen at home which I find pretty useless to be frank, it’s an excellent timer and tells me the time in differing cities around the world no worries, but for more complex questions Siri passes me off to my phone for the results. Other people rave about their HomePods so I went off investigating why my experience hasn’t been so great.
So I thought I would do some research into this space.
Voice search is different to text search
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the use of voice search technology. With the increasing popularity of virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple's Siri, more and more people are using voice search to find information online. This has significant implications for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and content creation, as it changes the way people search for and find content online.
Voice search is different from traditional text-based search in a couple of ways. For one, voice searches tend to be longer and more conversational in tone. People are more likely to ask a question using natural language, rather than typing in a series of keywords. This search format difference requires a different type of result set. With text search the user can visually look through a list of results and choose the most relevant - which is essentially what Siri is asking me to go and do on my phone all the time.
Voice search uses natural language processing to understand and interpret spoken queries, in simple terms when we speak to the device it records our words and transcribes these into text, analyses the text - identifying our intent, adding relevant search history as context - and extracts the relevant key words before returning the best match results wise. All in a millisecond.
What does this mean for our websites?
Everything I read on the internet tells me the same statistic, 71% of searchers prefer to speak vs type their queries. That’s a lot and worth taking notice of, which made me wonder what we this means for our websites?
I couldn’t find the underlying study for the commonly quoted 71% but did find these survey results:
- 58% of consumers aged 25-34 use voice search daily
- 43% of 55+ year olds use voice search weekly
- 17% of consumers use voice search mainly for asking about the weather, followed by 16% asking for local “near me” results
Generally the trend is an increased use of this tech. At a basic level we need to optimise our websites for conversational searches vs key word search. We also need to ensure we localise our content as the majority of voice command searches are asking a device for insight into local things - who does the best coffee near me, or where is the nearest lawyers business.
This article has a good list of pointers:
- Phrases become a priority
- Position Zero in results sets become essential
- Conversational content needed in your brand
- Mobile design and speed are important
- Question queries become more important
- Your FAQ is a powerful tool
Some other interesting things about Voice technology generally:
- It seems as many as 1/3 of Americans own a smart speaker device but predictions are the market is going to massively explode in the next 10 years to be worth $100Billion USD as a market by 2032.
- Siri / Apple seem to hold the majority of market share and this is predicted to grow.
- Speaking is faster than typing, we can speak 110-150 words per minute and the average person can type 38-40 words per minute
- Uses of voice search for Elderly users is a massive part of the rapidly growing “Age Tech” space
Not sure this exercise helped me improve my experience with my own devices but it certainly gave me heaps of insight into how we need to structure our new ITP website. I also started to think about how we can use the masses of technology in our home to introduce smart home devices as well. That will be another blog. Ngā mihi Vic
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