What is Voice Search?

Did you know that by 2021, just over one third of all website sessions will be conducted without a screen? Now, you are probably wondering how this is even possible. The feature of voice-only search on smart phones, tablets and laptops allows users to browse the web to find information they require without physically having to scroll through sites.

Voice search allows uses to speak to a device instead of manually typing keywords into a search engine to produce results. Speech recognition is embedded into the software to understand what users are saying with a great deal of precision, once the results are generated, they are then spoken aloud to the user. Programs such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant all utilise voice search technology as well.

One of the biggest game changers in recent years was the Google update dubbed as “Hummingbird”. This update greatly emphasised the importance of semantic search – this improves search accuracy by understanding the underlying and contextual meaning of terms to generate the most relevant results.

We have seen a sharp increase in popularity for voice search in the past couple of years and one of the major reasons for this is because it is much easier to talk than type. A typical person can only type around 40 words a minute but can speak around 150 words – this allows for a more specific search, particularly when your hands may be busy doing other things. More than half of users use voice search when their hands or vision are occupied and almost all of users rely on this when they are at home or on the go.

From 2013-2017 “near me” searches have had a 900% increase in growth, this can be utilised for almost any business from retailers, beauty stores, restaurants and trades. The overwhelming majority of devices have location or GPS enabled, allowing for Google to detect their current location and present the most relevant and up to date results to the user within a matter of seconds.

Voice search changes how people search, the searches are generally longer and more conversational. As such, sites need to be optimised specifically for voice search or face the fact that they may be left behind. It is crucial that information such as your address, opening hours and what you offer are readily available so that Google can scan your content readily and easily. An extremely effective strategy is to target long-tail keywords, these are searches that are often specific and longer than your average search. These kinds of searches account for 70% of all voice searches!

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