When I cook anything from a US recipe I always have to check oven temperature conversion, it’s just something I have to do…..
Anyway last week, I asked Siri, “Siri, what is 375 farenheit in celcius” Thank goodness for voice search, am I right?
This simple act got me thinking about voice search: According to the 2016 State of Inbound report, a huge number of marketers are making SEO their #1 priority. That’s great! But how does voice search fit into that strategy? Are marketers even thinking about it yet?
While it’s certainly gaining popularity the search engine Bing, for example, says that 25% of its queries are voice searches it’s clear that this technology is still a work in progress. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
As people use voice search differently, the way they search in general is evolving. So how should marketers be thinking about it especially when information and research are still limited? Let’s figure out how we got here, and where we are now.
Voice search, as we today know it, dates back to the early 2000’s, when Google first began to tinker with how voice recognition could be applied to their products. A patent was filed by Google in 2001 for a “voice interface for a search engine” and in 2004, the search engine rolled out what some called a “half-finished experiment.” That was a primitive version of voice search in which users called a phone number provided by Google, asked a question, then opened their desktop browsers to reveal the results. How funny is that! How far has voice search actually come in a comparatively short time!
Luckily and obviously that technology progressed, seeing many modifications that led to what is now Google’s Voice Search. And until 2013, that technology powered Apple’s Siri. Gotta love that girl Siri!
And although Siri is strongly associated with Apple iOS, it actually began as its own independent app. It was operated by a startup also aptly named Siri that was eventually acquired by Apple. In 2011, the technology was built into the iPhone 4s.
But in 2013, that all changed, when Apple began using Bing’s search engine technology to power Siri. It was a predecessor to Cortana, which launched in 2014 as Microsoft’s which owns Bing “voice-activated assistant.” (Fun fact: Bing also powers search engine results that are requested through Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, or AVS.) Cortana is largely marketed as a full-service virtual assistance platform, which some say is what differentiates it from competitors in the voice recognition space.
So, today, we have four major pillars of voice search:
As we saw from the story about the earliest version of Google Voice Search, speech recognition technology is improving. And because it’s getting better, more people are adopting voice search.
Google Voice Search queries have seen a 3400% increase since 2008. And of the current user population, the second-highest reason for using voice search is to get a faster result.
Those numbers, show how voice search “is changing the way people find information.” A main point of voice search is to get an answer immediately, without actively searching for it. It makes sense just thinking about my oven temperature conversion search. When it comes to voice searches, people are trying to do something, and they want to do it quickly. Those are things like layering appropriately for the weather, getting somewhere, or getting a temperature conversion.
But that made us wonder: What else are people looking for when they use voice search? Luckily, an app called Hound has been paying attention to what its users are doing. To shed some light on what people are using the app’s voice search features to uncover, check out this chart:
In its analysis of these categories, Search Engine Land broke down the different searches that took place within each of them:
- Personal Assistant: Reminders, shopping and to-do lists
- Fun and Entertainment: Searching for and playing music and video, social media interactions, sports and TV schedules
- General Information: Miscellaneous web searches for things like recipes, news, banking and travel
- Local Information: Local business listings (like restaurants and shops), food delivery, weather and traffic
It’s that last one, local information, that really set the stage for vocal search as it was first pioneered. And when it comes to SEO, that category might have the greatest implications.
When you use voice search, you might ask, “Where is the best sushi in Melbourne?” That contrasts from a conventional search, where you might type something like “Best sushi Melbourne,” (P.S. It’s Misuzu’s in Middle Park. Just saying…..)
That’s an opportunity for local businesses to optimise for voice search. As we covered, that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with SEO, but it does have to do with how these businesses package themselves elsewhere.
Questions? Drop us a note here.
Social Incite Team