Voice command is not a new technology by any means, but it has been receiving a lot of attention recently. Much of this is due to the fact that voice recognition technology is now much more reliable than it was in the past. No longer will you have to repeat yourself several times or slowly pronounce each word precisely The newer voice systems can understand demands on the first try from the user’s natural speech pattern.
Now that the technology is more reliable, it has lead to the rise in popularity of things like voice-activated digital assistants. Consumers are starting to rapidly adopt voice command as a more convenient way to interact with devices like smartphones and tablets.
With a shift toward a “voice first” world, businesses are going to need to adapt their marketing strategies to align with this change in consumer behavior.
The Growing Importance of Voice Tech
Voice is already having a significant impact on a large portion of the market. According to a 2017 report from Pew, 46% of adults in the US say they use voice applications, with 42% saying they use voice on their smartphone. 14% prefer to use voice applications on computers, while only 8% choose standalone voice devices.
From the same Pew report, you can gain further insights into why consumers are starting to prefer voice technology. When asked why they use voice-assisted applications, 83% cited hands-free operation as the biggest reason. Beyond that, you also have 62% of users saying they like voice tech because it is fun. 60% stated that it was due to the fact that it allowed them to interact with the device using natural language.
When you look specifically at search results, you can see that the shift toward voice has been on the rise for some time. Numbers from Google show that 20% of all searches in the Google app were performed using voice in 2016. This is a trend that is only going to continue. ComScore predicts that half of all search queries will be by voice by the year 2020.
What Does This Mean for Advertisers?
As consumers continue to adopt voice as their primary method of search input, it means there will have to be some changes to the ways that businesses market themselves online. While some of these modifications have yet to become evident, there are some things you can do now.
The first thing to recognize is the difference in the ways people will interact with voice when compared to typing in search terms. According to Google, 70% of requests to Google Assistant are in natural language as opposed to the keyword queries you would expect with typed commands. This means that people speak to voice applications much in the same way they would communicate with a person.
This seems to indicate a need to adapt SEO strategies to account for this change in behavior. Businesses should update their keyword portfolio to include the long-tail, natural language commands and requests that people will soon use through voice search.
Furthermore, marketers should put an increased focus on the questions that are common among their customers. Much of voice search traffic comes from people asking the application or device a question. Identify the questions your customers are asking, and develop content that can provide an answer.
Finally, you want to pick your spots and look for the queries that offer the best chance of reaching one of the top three listings. You should also try to optimize your information for the featured snippet position. Most voice services are only going to read results in the top spots, so the value of these positions will increase dramatically as voice search grows in popularity.