Voice Search Google
David Vallance
David Vallance
13th Nov 2020

Latest trends in voice search

If you’d like to understand what voice search is, growing trends and how your business can optimise for it, this article is a great place to start.

What is voice search?

Voice search combines voice recognition technology with search engine queries to provide users with accurate search results via a smart device. A user verbally asks a smart device a question, and the answer is pulled from internet search results.

Voice search provides convenient and quick answers to users' questions. It could be a specific piece of information, asking if a nearby restaurant is open, or checking the weather for the day.

Voice search is an ever-growing trend in the world of search, but most businesses aren’t aware of how they can capitalise on it. If you’re willing to go the extra mile to reach voice search users, there’s a large market for the taking. The Versantus team is well-versed in creating Alexa Skills and Google Actions, so we know a thing or two about Voice Search and Conversational AI.

Here’s an infographic which visualises how search voice works in simple terms.

Voice-search.PNG

The technology, based on natural language processing and machine learning, connects the user to a search engine, without the need for a screen or interface.

It’s also worth noting that not all devices pull their information from the same sources.

For example, Google Assistant uses the full span of Google Search results to answer a user’s question. However, Amazon’s Alexa uses third party sources such as Wikipedia, Yelp and AccuWeather.

How popular is voice search?

With global smart speaker sales set to surpass $30 billion by 2024, voice search isn’t going anywhere. As a business, it can keep your customers regularly coming back to engage with your brand, products or services.

Voice search trends

Voice search is expanding the horizons of brand exposure, loyalty and increased conversions. Assistants like Google Home can recognise six different voices, meaning a whole household could be making individualised searches. This will increase opportunities for businesses to be a family-recognised brand, building relationships and loyalty straight from their living room.

What does the future of voice search look like?

Conversational AI

When you think of a home assistant, the real value is not in the searching of sources for an answer. The value is in the overall context provided, communicated in the same way we communicate.

If you were going to attend an event, knowing its location isn’t the only information you would want:

  • How much is it?
  • What time do doors open?
  • What’s the weather looking like for that day? 
  • How long will it take to get there?

Voice search provides these singular answers. Conversational AI provides connected, contextual information to inform a larger picture.

Versantus Voice Search Case Study

At Versantus, we created an Alexa ‘skill’ (an app for your Amazon home assistant which adds increased functionality) for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. With the skill enabled, the end user could find out key information as the trials progressed. But that’s not all. In line with conversational AI functionality, the end user could ask for a detailed timetable of the day, how long it would take them to get to the event, what else would be available to watch that day, and much more.The home assistant answers the end user’s initial query, and provides context of a larger picture through answering related queries.

Equally, voice-enabled apps understand what we are saying, how we are saying it and the context behind it to provide a contextual, detailed service too.

Local search

As a tool, voice search feeds our growing need for convenience and accessibility. What’s more convenient than buying a product or service from a local business?

Google voice search trends show that local search for businesses nearby is gaining traction. According to BrightLocal’s 2018 study, in the US alone, “58% of consumers used voice to find information on a local business”. This is a growing opportunity for companies that rely on local search to gain exposure, brand awareness and conversions.

Wearable technology

In 2019, Amazon reported the release of the Echo Loop smart ring. This was a monumental  step for voice search and conversational AI, as the Echo Loop is claimed to have a built-in Alexa home assistant.

Consumers would be be able to utilise the full capabilities of voice search on a regular basis. But even more exciting, voice search would be accessible everywhere the user goes, so long as they’re wearing the device.

There were multiple products and integrations too, signalling we’re at the beginning of this voice search, conversational AI journey.

Chatbots

As conversational AI is improving, chatbots are also progressing. While you may see them taking on a customer service role when browsing a site, there are developments on the horizon for chatbots.

Chatbots harvest useful data on their users which could inform higher level decisions. It could influence how a product or service is marketed, who to and where.

With increased technology, we could see voice-assisted bots helping to process orders, assist with banking and even act as call-handlers in call centres.

Here at Versantus, we’re developing our very own Ellobot, a free chatbot for businesses. We’ve previously developed conversational AI applications to answer questions, triage chocolate toxicity in dogs for a large veterinary group, and produced a voice-based commerce offering.

With all this experience, we knew we could provide businesses of all sizes with a solution to handle high volumes of inbound queries. Our chatbot uses conversational AI with an easy-to-use interface, so businesses can harness the innovative chatbot technology to their advantage.

How to optimise your website for voice search

Optimise responsiveness

Run your site through Google’s Mobile Friendly test because quick-loading websites are prioritised by Google Search. Just type in your URL and it’ll rank your site out of 100 on how mobile friendly it is. 

You can also use Page Speed Insights to review whether there are any issues on a page by page basis. The results are developer focused, but once any issues are resolved, your site will be more favourable as a voice search result.

Optimise content

In order to appear in voice searches, you need to understand what your users are searching in the first place. Rather than isolated words, the user will be searching in sentences. When optimising your content, keep in mind the majority of voice searches use conversational words such as what, where and when. Backlinko has provided an in depth guide to optimising your content specifically for voice search which should prove useful.

Ultimately, you should refine your content for featured snippets. The most relevant search result will be chosen for voice search, which in most cases is a featured snippet. As it’s the highest ranked organic position on a search engine results page, this is referred to as ‘Position Zero’

Providing informative, direct content which definitively answers the question will improve your chances of getting to that coveted position zero.

Optimise for organic search

Apple and Google use Google search results to source their information, so it's vital your site is crawlable and optimised for Google bots. Your site should be indexable, crawlable and not showing any errors in Google Search Console.

It’s also important to implement schema markup, or structured data. This helps Google understand the information you’ve provided on each page. Not only does this give Google bots the green light to crawl and highly rank your content, it also means if your result is used by a home assistant, it will be correctly relayed to the user.

Optimise local search

‘Near me’ queries are an integral part of voice search, so make sure you’re optimised for local search. Local search by voice results are returned from the Local pack listing, therefore It’s important to set up and optimise your Google My Business and Yelp listings.

Make sure all data about your business such as opening times and services is correct. Don’t forget to add images and obtain qualified reviews.

Local search is tailored to getting an answer, product or service to the user as quickly as possible. The search is fuelled with intent, which means the information should be available to the user as soon as they ask for it.

Utilise voice search for your business

The value of voice search is growing year-on-year as it’s consistently integrated into new, progressive technology. With accessibility, ease of use and quick responses, creating your own Alexa Skill or Google Action is a great way to keep users engaged and gain new customers.

If you’re interested in the positive impact voice search and conversational AI could have on your business, get in touch with our experienced team to discuss how we could help.