google voiceVoice assistant technology isn’t really something new, but with advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it got tremendous attention and adoption has grown fast in recent years. The reasons for the success are clear, since voice-enabled devices and digital assistants allow consumers to engage through one of the most natural forms of communication, besides being convenient, fast, and easy to put into practice. To no surprise, Gartner expects 20% of user interactions to take place via voice assistant technologies on smartphones by 2019.

By introducing Google Voice Search mid of 2011, Google heralded in a new era of search queries, at the latest when it introduced the voice control in its Chrome browser two years later. After that, more and more users started to make use of voice search instead of typing requests in and this trend continues to grow till today. All is driven by the increasing spread of voice-driven assistants such as Siri, Cortana or Google Now and the associated behavioral change of users.

Direct and fast answers to search queries are preferred

Undeniably, more and more people are using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet and tend to enter their search requests quickly, comfortably and securely via voice input. In fact, today’s voice recognition software is already so good that dictated queries have fewer errors than the typed ones. According to Google, 20% of all search queries with mobile devices have already been made via voice input last year. Certainly, the behavioral change of the users regarding search requests has significant effects and an impact on the search engine optimization (SEO), too.

Google Answers - Direct responses to search queries

Google is striving to provide users with direct answers to their search queries. The Google search results show sections of web pages that directly show the user the response without having to click a link or accessing a web page. Even when using mobile devices, Google aims to provide always answers to a user’s questions, which could be carried out via voice output. Hence, the times when web pages have been optimized for the Google robots by means of keyword stuffing are over. Operators of websites rather must ask themselves how they can deliver direct answers to voice-controlled search queries, how they transmit their previously written texts, and which tone and sound they want to lend to their company or brand.

More individual search results

Voice search systems are constantly getting further developed to understand the search requests of the users correctly in the context. To deliver responses tailored to the user, factors like previous search queries and the location of the user are included in the search algorithms of Google Voice Search by using artificial intelligence. This means for website operators to focus more than before on content design to meet the individual needs of their visitors. A stronger differentiation of the own target groups can help to create and provide appropriate diversified content. Besides that, the content should also strike the "natural sound" of the users and provide specific answers to the most diverse user questions. A good example is FAQ-like prepared content, which can correctly answer a wide range of user-specific questions.

In the context of the importance of individually oriented website content, local SEO is also becoming more and more important. If the user searches for a "shopping center close by", Google will compare the location of the user with information from the web pages. Only when there is a match and relevant information such as opening hours and address, Google will display the corresponding websites to the user as search results.

New keyword research

Website operators who also want to optimize their pages for voice-based search queries need to re-search the optimal keywords, or keyword phrases, for the planning of new, more individual content. But how do the users formulate their questions, the answers of which should be provided by the website to be optimized? Even if the search queries have the same goal, they are formulated very differently, depending on the user. For this reason, the content and the orientation of the individual websites must be more complex than before to be an optimal search result for the users and to be displayed as high as possible in the Google search results

We might will be able to identify soon Google search-related requests separately in Google Search Console, if we believe a recent Twitter message from Google. The data is already available.
Nevertheless, to get to know already today what the own target group is looking for and how they verbalize their search requests, an ideal approach is to consult the target group itself. For the survey, you can use platforms from crowdsourcing companies such as clickworker to use the crowd as survey participants, selected according to target group criteria.

Operators of websites must focus on long-tail keywords and content design

Website operators should deal primarily with the question of how users are searching and be prepared that optimization measures will be very different compared to the previous written search. Voice search query inputs differ significantly from written ones, since they generally consist of longer phrases and completely dictated sentences and questions. Website operators should therefore focus their SEO efforts on long-tail keywords and whole sentences. The pages that are optimized for matching keywords and phrases should provide users with relevant information, and answers to their questions and should not focus solely on the placement of keywords.

The knowledge about the search engine optimization on voice input is still very limited today. Currently, it is best to use the language-based search on Google & Co. itself to understand how the voice queries work, what results are displayed and how your own site is ranked. However, voice search is a trend that will steadily grow on its own in the future, since the optimization of voice-controlled systems using artificial intelligence will make the systems more and more responsive and functional. That’s why it is so important to optimize your website for voice-based inquiries. It is essential for the future and the success of the website overall. Operators of websites should put their focus on content design to provide answers to search queries fast and conveniently on the go.

Adobe Digital Insights revelations

Although, the latest Adobe Analytics data shows that online sales of voice-enabled devices grew (39% YoY), with new generation of products driving innovation and consumer appetite, Adobe’s research revealed as well that voice assistants may not be too popular with everyone as might thought and that the market has still plenty of room for improvement.

According to Adobe Digital Insights, 49% of the people surveyed don’t use voice assistants and half of the potential market still needs convincing that voice assistants are the trend of the future.

Furthermore, 37% of people reported that their experiences with voice assistants are not up to par with their standards, describing their interactions with voice assistants as either “not good” or simply “terrible”.

However, the excitement for the devices is there, and sales are growing, and improving customer delight could lead to a healthy increase in sales, Adobe concludes.

By Daniela La Marca