Voice search: status report
A natural evolution
I recently found myself using the voice search engine on my Nexus 5 phone more and more. Was I becoming too lazy to type two words in Google? Did the high number of Google application updates over the last year subconsciously lead my mind to question my phone? Yet I did not see or hear anyone around me talking to their mobile?! Unless ... no, that's impossible. Was the Horla playing tricks on me? I became paranoid. I had to find a way to fight the sudden evil that filled my soul. The only solution was to do some proper research on the subject.
I was somewhat disappointed. With figures and statistics, unfortunately my search only revealed a whisper of a trend. Still, existing figures are frankly baffling. In October 2014, Google unveiled that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search every day. What? 55% and 41%? In 2014? And a few days ago, Bing stated that 25% of searches were voice generated. Very few details in both cases…
These technological improvements would explain this trend we are experiencing. This type of research has simply become more efficient. So, Google extolled since September 2015 that its engineers had adopted new acoustic pattern recognition much more powerful than before, faster and more efficient too. You have probably read some articles on Amazon’s new gadget, Echo? Therefore, I’m only a product of my era. That's one thing settled.
Much better statistics are also becoming available for digital marketing managers while Google officials indicated at the beginning of May - 2016 this time – that they plan to integrate data voice search in the Google Analytics tool. Then, things will become interesting, very interesting.
How are voice searches different from written ones?
The few articles that are found here and there on what distinguishes the voice search are still embryonic. They are not made in a meeting or a class, of course. Teenagers do it with friends (57%), whereas adults are still a bit shy (36%). A smaller portion does it in the bath. So much for the trivial element…
But what is more important, which has more impact for us, humble members of the digital age working class, is that they are longer than traditional written research, in addition to being presented as issues. In this sense, they are closer to human language. For example, instead of the written research "Australopithecus definition," rather the search will be "What is the definition of Australopithecus". Users ask "Who ..." "When ..." "Where is ..." (Source). Boom! That’s a significant impact.
What does this have to do with your website?
Structured Meta data tags
You must not skimp on Meta data (like https://schema.org). It is through this data that your information will be presented in a legible and understandable manner by Google, Siri and Cortana. Indeed, Google is integrating more and more information directly in its search results: phone number, address, opening hours, etc. With all this practical information available, users will never go to your site. This has been the case for over two years of course, but when a user ends up on his phone, the propensity to adopt this behaviour is multiplied. Indeed, on mobile, the user does not have dozens of click options ahead of him, as in the context of a PC, but also he or she has no time to lose. And that's what voice search offers: a relevant search result in less time. Before, it was not accurate at all, but now it is.
By extension of this last point, you must duly verify your presence in Google Maps. By default, and this has not changed, Google presents results from the category “All”. But if you are looking for a "garage" not far from home, on your phone, you click (with your thumb or favourite finger) on the "Google Maps" results tab and then, bingo, you will find several garages near you. The operation takes at the very most 5 seconds. A second to click the small microphone of your device, two seconds to look at the results, a second to click on "Google Maps", another to see the phone number or address you want. So make sure that the information is accurate. There’s nothing worse than not being able to see the opening hours of your favourite garage.
In the long run
It will soon be tempting to try integrating voice search applications on your own site. I say "begin" because there do not seem to be rigorously maintained application standards for now, even in the WordPress world. But it is technically possible, already. I’m telling you, it will quickly evolve among developers as within purchasing companies the day Google will have identified the best way to present such data in Google Analytics. I’m already dreaming about it.