Google Voice Search allows users to search on Google by speaking on a mobile phone or computer rather than typing. You may have seen the icon outlined below, which you can use to enable the feature during your Google search session.
How Has Google Voice Developed?
Google Voice Search was released by Google Labs in 2000, so it certainly isn’t an entirely new feature for the world’s most popular search engine. However, it has certainly developed over the last 17 years into a much more accurate and effective way of searching. I’m sure a number of us remember the early voice search when you didn’t necessarily get what you asked for…
As a method of search, it’s continuously increasing in popularity. In May 2016, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai announced that 20% of searches on its mobile app and Android services were voice searches.
It’s already evident how important voice search is becoming from the following statistics:
- Microsoft’s Cortana has 133 million users
- Over 40 million people use Apple’s Siri each month
- Amazon has sold over 11 million Echo devices
- There were 12 million voice-first devices at the end of 2016. It’s estimated there will be 33 million devices by the end of 2017
The demand is clearly there for voice search technology, so it’s no surprise that it’s not just Google investing time and money in its development.
Google Voice Search Accuracy
Google have been working hard over the last few years to improve the accuracy of Voice Search, striving to achieve human-levels of accuracy.
As the graph above shows, there is now just a 5% error in voice search accuracy, compared to over 20% 4 years ago. This shows that Google’s continued investment in voice search has been beneficial and with such high accuracy rates it’s no wonder that the number of people using voice search is also increasing.
Microsoft Reaches Speech Recognition Milestone
Microsoft probably wouldn’t be too happy if we didn’t make it clear that it’s not just Google that has made significant improvements when it comes to speech recognition. Microsoft recently announced that its voice recognition error rate has dropped to a new low of just 5.1%, surpassing last years error rate of 5.9%.
How is Voice Search changing SEO strategy?
For many years now SEO has been based on optimising sites for keyword searches, but now we also need to think about how we can optimise for voice search.
Voice search is changing the way Google handles search queries and how users search for information. People search differently when they speak compared to using a keyboard.
The main thing to consider when optimising for voice search is being human. What you type on your computer will be different to what you say. For example, you may say,’ How much are cheap flights to Spain in August?’, but if you typed that same search into Google you would probably use a more shorthand version of the query, such as ‘cheap flights Spain August’.
To rank for voice search you need to consider producing content to target long tail search queries, as this content will stand a much better chance of ranking.
The best way to think about how user intent works when it comes to voice search is to think about how you would ask someone a question in normal conversation. For example, you may ask some ‘Where should I buy sports clothing?’ It would sound very strange asking someone, ‘buy sports clothing’. Create content with a question and answer style, which will help increase your potential to rank for voice search.
Search Results Page
One of the most challenging issues facing SEO specialists is how voice search selects its results for search queries. Voice search tends to pick the first result, bypassing the Search Results page.
When browsing on a desktop or mobile you will see a number of search results on your screen. You will then have the option to browse through the results and choose what you think looks like the best answer to your search query. However, with voice search the option to browse results doesn’t exist and the most relevant answer is chosen for you.
Your website may rank second for a search query and that’s great, until you consider that Voice Search will only return the first result to that search query. Then ranking second doesn’t seem quite so good does it.
Why Do People Use Voice Search?
Voice search can be a much faster and, in some cases, much more convenient way of searching the web. It’s much easier to speak than type. We can type 40 words per minutes, but we can speak 150 words in the same time frame.
Most people will use voice search to get information about physical places they want to go to. For example, you may ask ‘find a pizza takeaway near me’. Voice search can recognise ‘near me’, and then uses your physical location to serve you with the most relevant results.
If you’re a business owner, voice search means it’s even more important to make sure your business details are up to date in Google My Business.
Is Voice The Future of Search?
The market for voice search will surely only grow, as more people start to use smart speaker devices. It’s predicted that 50% of searches by 2020 will be voice searches, meaning it’s only going to become more important for SEO.
Talk to Our Experts
If you’re interested in finding out more about the benefits of optimising your website for voice search, then why not speak to a member of our team who will be happy to help and offer useful advise. Feel free to contact us today.