Have you used voice search lately? Chances are, you or someone you know have become an adopter of some kind of voice search. From the Google App, to a number of digital personal assistants, voice search is increasing in popularity (last statistics I heard were as much as 10% of searches, up from statistical zero in 2015).
I recently posted an article from Search Engine Watch to LinkedIn, because I particularly liked the way they studied the “how, why, when and where” of voice search. Consistent with the increasing trend toward search catering to user convenience, voice search is improving and becoming more popular.
It is easy for us to overlook the human element in our work as search marketers, so periodically I like to focus on a more light-hearted story.
My favorite real-world example came this week. My kids absolutely love to “ask Google something”. Once in awhile I give in, though I always screen the questions first (my kids are young, who knows what might come out of Google if they asked anything they wanted?). This week, my four-year-old wanted to ask Google “do polar bears swim?” I told him “you can ask, but I bet I know the answer already.” You see, Google and I have a bit of a competition in my kids’ eyes to see who knows more. So far Google is well ahead of me, and gaining every day.
The fun part was in the results. Since he is four, my son’s first query was understood as “OK Google, what is a polar bear swim?” The result surprised me a little bit, as Google returned an image from Wikipedia of two bikini-clad young ladies, and started speaking to us, describing a polar bear plunge. Writing this article it wasn’t hard to find, but I’ll spare you the search result.
The second attempt proved to be much more successful. It was recognized as “OK Google, do polar bears swim?” The result was a good answer from the SeaWorld website explaining that polar bears are strong swimmers, can swim extended distances, etc. Obviously this was much more consistent with what I consider an “approved” result.
Hopefully you enjoyed the story. I’m sure we will see voice search results continue to improve over time. Personally, I hope that Google will consider introducing a way in Google Analytics to segment and identify traffic from voice search sources so we can identify even better trends on how voice searchers behave differently. There have been rumors of it over the last year, but as of yet we haven’t seen any action. With some of the recent interface changes in Google Analytics, I am hopeful that it is setting the stage for more good things to come.
As a small business owner, what does this mean for you? It is another reminder that the search landscape is still evolving at a rapid pace. Producing accurate, relevant results in searches continues to be the goal of search engines. The advent of Google’s RankBrain updates, Mobile First and other AI search algorithms will continue to increase in relevance. Having a trusted partner who monitors industry trends (like the Cazbah Internet Marketing Consultant team) will help make sure your site is prepared when opportunities present themselves. Not all websites will be impacted the same way by voice search trends, and evaluating that application for you is important. Also, being prepared if you will be impacted can set you up for success.
Want to learn more about voice search? Here are two helpful articles from Search Engine Watch you may find useful: