Little more than a decade ago, the idea of digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa felt like something plucked from the script of an elaborate utopian sci-fi flick. Fast forward to 2018 and this technology has become a permanent fixture in our hyperconnected society.
To reiterate just how big an impact these digital assistants have made, US analytics firm Comscore estimates that roughly half of all searches will be done via Voice Search by 2020. The majority of us (nearly 60%) use our voice assistants for music, while weather updates are nearly as popular and almost half of us (46%) use them for timers and alarms.
“There is also an appetite for experimentation,” explained media agency Wavemaker, in an article for Marketing Week. “With around 12% of people using voice assistants to order food or taxis, while the same number ask for information from brands through them. Even more (13%) have learned to do something new through their voice assistant, such as listening how to do a new skill or job, like a DIY task or practising mindfulness.”
So what does all this – specifically the Voice Search app – mean for marketers? How can they make the most of this technological advancement?
Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of Seattle-based content marketing firm AudienceBloom, stressed the need to focus on “long-tail keywords” i.e. longer phrases with several words, usually in a conversational sentence-based format, in an article for Forbes.
“For example, a head keyword might be something like ‘hot dogs’, while a long-tail keyword might be something like ‘what’s the best hot dog stand near me?’” he expanded. “This is important to note, since the majority of voice searches tend to be long and conversational like this example; optimising for them increases the likelihood that you’ll appear for voice searches.”
He also emphasises the importance of paying close attention “to the types of queries your audience is making, and why they’re making them”. By types, he refers to three categories: ‘Informational’, ‘Navigational’ and ‘Transactional’, and suggests it should be possible to identify which category a user’s query fits into simply by analysing the phrase they have used.
It’s fair to say that the full extent of Voice Search’s impact on digital marketing remains to be seen, but describing it as anything less than a disruption would be inaccurate. Until now, the screen has been an integral part of the internet, with business in recent years centring around SEO and UX/UI optimisation. The absence of a screen renders these aspects obsolete.
“For many, the answer is not truly known as to where voice search will take us,” Smart Insights Marketing Executive Kag Katumba admitted earlier this year. “In a future where devices only give a few (or even just one) answer to queries, ranking and placement on the web completely changes. How will you make sure your company is coming up in relevant searches? Will companies be able to have sponsored search results in a “Google Advice” dystopian future?
“All of these are questions at this time we don’t know the answer to, but it is important businesses gear up for these changes. The stats above tell a story of change in internet usage that will rock the foundations as we know it.”