In an age where multitasking and instant results are the norm, it comes as no surprise that voice search has been getting more attention. The current state of voice search is driven by virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google, these vocally-driven virtual assistants have made sourcing and managing information more intuitive, but they have also changed the way search engines work.
So how did we get to this point?…
Today, search engines are smarter than ever – they use machine learning to help process and rank information and can now understand natural human speech (Even authentic ‘Strayan).
As these devices reach more and more of our households, the data made available to businesses is going beyond traditional borders and allows us as marketers to understand our customer base in more personalised ways than ever before.
Australia is one of the leading countries in this space and has really become a testing ground outside of the US for this technology.
In the US, Google Assistant & Amazon Alexa are far more advanced in capabilities and they already work with over 1,000 smart home devices from more than 150 popular brands. This coming year in Australia we will undoubtedly see a similar trend with more brands utilising this new space as the data generated brings immense value.
As voice search continues to rise in popularity, the way in which consumers phrase queries is also shifting. Customers no longer insert key terms; they ask questions using full sentences to express themselves (long-form keywords). This will undoubtedly impact optimization strategies as brands strive to be the most relevant.
Voice search will undoubtedly continue to grow as the smart speaker showdown heats up in Australia but why should you get prepared as a business and start optimizing towards this increasing trend?
As seen with mobile & desktop queries, there’s certain keywords and phrases that create significant differences. Early on, mobile searchers created entirely new categories with features such as GPS and location services. Voice will create plenty of gaps in the market and therefore significant opportunities.
Virtual assistants and speech-to-text are changing the dynamic of search queries. Below are examples that show how voice search incorporates longer queries that more clearly identify user intent.
Text Search Query
Pizza in Raleigh
Voice Search Query
“Where’s the closest pizza place?”
“Find pizza delivery open now”
Currently, Google Home & Assistant source snippets from sites that are ranked in position zero and have been granted a featured snippet. This will gradually be shifting towards a wider focus for Google as providing good answers will be what separates them from the next smart assistant. The wider the visibility on featured snippets, the better the answers. The recommendation is to keep an eye on the Google Search Console this year for more visible data on featured snippets.
Amazon will be releasing their Echo speakers in Australia for a fight for market dominance later this year. This will make it even more important for businesses to understand how voice search can work for them.
Essentially, the real potential of voice-based media lies in the learning curve it provides. Google Voice Search and similar technologies “learn” to recognize voice commands and keywords through what is known as natural language processing. This means that, over time, Google learns not only the unique characteristics of your voice and the way you speak, but also your behaviour, browsing interests, and other personal information.
As Google learns more about us, we could see a profound shift toward increasingly personalized marketing based on not only our browsing history and shopping preferences but even our voices.
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