The digital world is so dynamic that the introduction of each new technology seems to create ripples in the tech industry that change how we all use the internet.

Today, thanks to improvements in voice technology, the way we search online is no different.

Introduced by Google in 2011, Voice Search was more of a novelty than something users relied upon at the time. However, improvements in speech recognition technology have thrust Voice Search to the forefront of search marketing. Current statistics show that 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day. Projections show that by the year 2020, at least 50% of all online searches will be voice searches.

With its popularity continuing to swell, identifying trends in Voice Search will play a vital role in learning what the future of voice search holds in store for marketers, and how they can leverage unique voice search patterns and user behaviors to reach and serve new audiences.

Voice Search Statistics

  • ComScore predicts that by the year 2020, 50% of all online searches will be performed with voice search.
  • A 2016 Gartner study predicts that 30% of all browsing sessions will include voice search by 2020.
  • According to NRP and Edison Research, 1 in 6 Americans owns a smart speaker.
  • Studies from Alpine.AI show that, as of January 2018, voice searches average 1 billion per month.
  • Over 20% of American homes equipped with Wi-Fi owned a smart speaker by the start of 2018, according to ComScore.
  • According to Google, 52% of smart speaker owners keep them in a common room such as a living room. 25% of these people keep them in their bedroom, while 22% keep a smart speaker assistant in their kitchen.
  • A study from Emarketer shows that in 2017, nearly 30% of millennials used a voice-enabled digital assistant to perform searches at least once per month. That degree of voice search is still over 15% for Gen X’ers, and nearly 10% for Baby Boomers.
  • A 2018 study from BrightLocal found that 58% of consumers have used voice search to find a local business in the past year, while 46% of people using voice search daily are searching for local business.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

Smart speakers are becoming more commonplace in households around the globe. Early products such as Alexa and Siri were merely novel and entertaining at first; it was fun to ask Alexa silly questions just to see how “she” would respond. But voice technologies have drastically improved, and new hardware like Google Home and Apple HomePod is now moving into the marketplace, with other tech giants rushing to release their own smart speaker technology and integrations to keep pace with consumer demand.  

Amazon Echo smart speaker with Alexa voice assistant

Popular smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo are speeding up market adoption of voice search

A study from Statista.com shows that in 2018, over 34 million smart speaker devices were sold in the U.S., with 2019 sales projected at 36 million units. In a recent post from emarketer.com, smart speaker usage is projected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 48% to include over 76 million users by 2020. As people become more accustomed to interacting with voice activated/responsive devices, smart speaker sales will continue to rise, and the use of voice search will increase accordingly.

As a result, voice search technology will only get better and better. How, you ask?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning are making a huge impact on the way we interact with our smart devices and how we search the internet. Google’s RankBrain is a prime example. RankBrain is designed to recognize words and phrases which it can then translate mathematically in order to learn and better predict outcomes. Put another way: When RankBrain encounters a phrase which it has never heard before, it actually makes its best “guess” as to the searcher’s meaning, then gives relatively appropriate answers. This ability to “think” makes AI such as RankBrain more effective at handling unexpected search queries.

Roughly 75% of voice search results will rank in the top 3 positions for a particular question on a desktop search.

The increasing prevalence of AI-powered devices means search algorithms must evolve to not only accommodate machine learning, but also the unique use cases stemming from how we use these devices in our everyday lives.

Voice Search Mobility

Smart speakers are not the only devices driving the adoption of voice search. Anyone with a smartphone knows that voice search is more mobile than ever. Google’s voice search on mobile devices is now available in over 60 languages. As far back as 2016, Google reported that 20% of searches on its apps and Android devices were performed using voice search.

Mary Meeker’s internet trends report found that almost 70% of these searches were done using natural or conversational language. Again, this trend is growing, facilitated by advances in speech recognition technology. In fact, Google’s speech recognition technology has a 95% accuracy rate when the spoken language is English.

Local Search and Hyperlocal Search

Trends show voice search users are increasingly searching for local results. Within the past year, 58% of consumers have found local businesses using voice search. And not only is the number of voice search users on the rise, but the volume of voice searches also continues to grow as 46% of those users will repeatedly use voice search for local business on a daily basis.

82% of customers research products and services online before making a purchase.

According to Google, searches for “near me” business have increased dramatically over the past few years. This increase in local voice search is great news for local business. Since 2015, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, one of the driving factors behind the growth of local search. This has forced retailers and marketers to fine tune their efforts to capitalize on the rise of hyperlocal searches. Ads can now be targeted at local search users, even to a defined geographic area of only a one block radius.

Related Read: 5 Ways B2B Companies can Generate Leads Through Organic Search

Voice Search Is Changing SEO

Voice recognition from Google already has an accuracy of 95%, and Google is not the only tech company working on the perfection of voice recognition to capitalize on voice search.

China’s iFlytek has a speech recognition system with an accuracy rate of 98%. Their system will not only accurately translate English to Mandarin, it will also translate Mandarin to English, Korean, Japanese and 22 different Chinese dialects. Their team predicts they will achieve 99% accuracy within three years.  This global movement to perfect voice technology means marketers will have to regularly fine-tune their SEO strategy to optimize for voice search.

  • Using natural language with direct answers to specific questions is key.
  • Schema markup and rich snippets can help keep queries and answers in a context that is better understood by search engines.
  • Since voice search is often conducted for local searches, it’s important for merchants to have their Google store in proper order with up-to-date operating information.
  • Make certain your content is optimized and current by eliminating duplicate pages, outdated contact information, and old operating hours.
  • Domain authority and traditional search rankings play a big role in the appearance of voice search results.

 

Optimizing for voice search is not only one of the latest trends, it is a necessity–and those who are not already preparing should start now. As voice recognition continues to improve and usage of voice assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google continue to grow, so too will the need to stay ahead of the competition.

 

Reach out to our expert team to discover how DBS Interactive can help optimize your site to leverage the growth of voice search.

Read more from the DBS Interactive Blog