How the Use of Alexa and Siri Affect Audience Behaviour
Google revolutionises the ways in which we access information and found its way into our everyday language. Who hasn’t replied to a question with “just google it”, yet? Similarly, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a member of Gen Z or a Millennial who doesn’t list Google as their number one source of information. And the power of search engines is steadily growing thanks to the rise of Voice Search technologies and their effects on audience behaviour.
Google and its core products keep evolving constantly to improve our user experience and in doing so, redefine the world of information as we know it. As one of its main features, Google’s Voice Search is said to become a vital part of every consumer’s day-to-day life and dominate the field of Voice Search and natural language processing technology.
If you’re still swimming in speculation about what Voice Search actually is, how it might affect user behaviour and how you as a marketer can use it to your advantage, we’re going to shed some light in the dark.
The Basics: What is Voice Search?
Voice Search is a technology that translates human speech into text, which is then being scanned for questions and commands. A tricky undertaking considering that people are using conversational phrases, as opposed to simply typing a keyword into the search console and hitting “Google Search”. Luckily Voice Search software is highly sophisticated and able to filter out the vital parts of a question or request, and using external sources, such as Google or the Amazon webshop, or software you already have on your smartphone, finds relevant information or executes instructions within milliseconds. Since you only receive one answer, the software has to be very confident in its abilities. We’ll get to the ‘how’ this decision taking process works in a moment’s time.
Google Voice Search, more specifically, enables you to browse the worldwide web through spoken voice commands and can be used for both desktop and mobile phone searches. A simple “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” wakes up the Voice Search function, which can work without hitting the microphone button on the right side of the Google Search field, if your privacy and browser settings allow it.
Google isn’t the only tech company leveraging the power of Voice Search. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo, who brought the virtual assistant Alexa to many homes around the globe, are just two of numerous other examples for the smart use of Voice Search.
Here are some impressive stats showing that we’re in the midst of the Voice Search revolution:
58% of consumers use Voice Search to find a local business
Source: Bright Local Voice Search Study
46% of Voice Searchers use the feature on a daily basis to find a local business
Source: Bright Local Voice Search Study
Voice is expected to be worth $40 billion per year by 2022
Source: PR Newswire
Source: Social Media Today
But there is more to it: Voice Search already has a broad range of application areas besides search engine functions and allows us to do more than one thing at a time.
There are quite a few other things we’re already using Voice Search for, some of which don’t require internet access:
- To call and text
- Make a note
- Check the weather
- Schedule a reminder
- Set an alarm
- Open an app
- Play music
Source: Social Media Today
Without doubt, Voice Search is so popular because it makes our busy lives a lot easier. We can access information online, whilst doing other things: Whether we’re stuck in traffic and want to let our boss know we’re running late or are making a dinner reservation while walking the dog.
But Voice Search is not merely a convenient tool. It has the ability to change our attitudes, how we search for information and even the ways in which Google processes search queries. This is where things become interesting for us, as marketers.
For example, Voice Search has already altered the ways in which we shop. Desktop-based search, gives the user a certain transparency and choice, whereas Voice Search puts the convenience factor above everything else. And many consumers don’t seem to mind that formerly vital decision-making criteria such as price, ratings and brand preference are being outweighed. It’s important to see these trends and adjust your business and marketing strategies accordingly, to not get left behind.
How to Integrate Voice Search Into Your Marketing Efforts
In order to successfully integrate Voice Search technologies into your marketing efforts, you need to know your target audience and their behaviour inside and out. And be aware, there is a generational discrepancy: Whereas older folks seem to love the practicality of operating devices by the sound of their voice, younger people have grave concerns regarding their privacy.
A recent study found that 50 percent of users ages 65+ use Voice Search up to three times per day – in comparison to only 18 percent for the age group 44-54 ! So if your target audience is in this older age group, Voice Search should definitely be part of your marketing strategy.
What a marketing strategy that includes or targets Voice Search could look like is still controversial.
John Mueller from Google had this to say:
“… if you make a website such that the information is easily accessible and useful for search engines and for users as well, then you don’t need to do anything special for voice.”
– John Mueller (Source: Brighton SEO)
But is it all just luck? Can nothing be done besides the usual SEO efforts to improve your chances to be chosen for Voice Search results? It is true, there is still a lack of reporting metrics regarding Voice Search. But fortunately, we have a few tricks in our digital marketer’s toolbox that can help us create meaningful marketing strategies with the data we do have.
Here is what we know about Voice Search and SEO:
Websites with high domain and link authority tend to rank best in Voice Search
The average Voice Search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page)
Appearing in a featured snippet seems to help rank in Voice Search, as 40.7% of all answers came from a featured snippet
This information teaches us to identify relevant opportunities: If search queries generate featured snippets that are likely to be chosen by Voice Search mechanisms, how does your content rank in those search queries? Does your website appear in the featured snippet results?
If yes, great! You’re already well on the path of success and should continue what you’re doing. If not, it is about time to develop a plan of action. Ask yourself: Do you need to add structured content to your website? Have you been paying enough attention to on and off-page SEO efforts? In the next step, you have to implement those changes and keep analysing the effects of your hard work. Here are a few things to look out for!
Instead of static keywords, use conversational, easy-to-understand sentences and phrases to spruce up your content. Readability seems to be the key to success.
Long-tail Question Queries
According to ahrefs specific phrases “convert exceptionally well”. You can browse competitor long tail keywords by searching their domain in ahrefs under:
> organic keywords report
> filter for keywords with low search volumes
Strong Domain Authority
Backlinko discovered that the average Domain Rating of a Voice Search result is 76.8, whereas the average Page Rating is at 14.0. This leads us to assume that the Google Voice Search algorithm may emphasize trusted, authoritative domains regardless of the individual page authority.
Rank for Position 0
Also known as a featured snippet, these prominent positions give users immediate and brief answers to search queries without having to click a link or website. See how Google’s featured snippets work in the screenshots below.
Fast Website Loading Speed
Pages that load faster seem to have a slight edge over others, which makes sense, as people don’t like standing around while they’re waiting for an answer. It’s only natural, that the Google Voice Search algorithm favours those websites and even less surprising, data shows that Voice Search results load much faster than most traditional search results. You’re able to check your page-loading speed using Google’s PageSpeed tool or even Google Analytics.
Are Voice Search Devices Invading Privacy?
Source: PwC Consumer Intelligence Series 2018
As much as we praise technological innovation, more often than not, it also inspires ambivalence. It seems there is a generational divide between those who happily invite Voice Search soft- and hardware into their lives and those who are very sceptical. Trust, before cost, remains one of the major barriers to voice assistant shoppers. Many users feel uncomfortable, when targeted ads pop up on their phone screens, advertising things that they discussed in private. A PWC study on consumer intelligence services found that “consumers were vocal about the need to trust the assistant to fulfill simple tasks in order for them to be open to more “invasive” types of personalisation”.
In a Nutshell
While Voice Search is becoming increasingly popular, it will take time for the majority of users to build that trust. It is unlikely that Voice Search will completely outrun text-based search, but the opportunities and user friendliness of the technology will certainly continue to grow as the lives of its users are becoming increasingly busier and the need for simplification increases. In the end, websites will always have a place so don’t neglect yours.
If you have any questions on Voice Search and audience behaviour, feel free to contact our expert digital marketing team. We can help you beat the competition and stay relevant by capitalising the power of Voice Search technologies. If you don’t know where to start, feel welcome to browse our search engine optimisation services and blog for more helpful tools and guides.