The emergence of voice search

Satyakam mohanty

 

The growth of voice search has been exponential in recent years. There is no doubt about the fact that technology is changing and our interaction with the internet is also transforming. From small-tail keywords to long-tail ones, we are now moving towards ‘voice’. You can now pick up an iPhone and ask “Siri” to play a song of your choice or even shout, “Hey Alexa” to find Italian recipes for your next feast. There’s a growing tendency among users to rely on voice command or digital assistants to find answers.

The voice search revolution will impact the interactions between consumers with brands, current SEO practices, and more. Google voice search queries have increased more than 35-fold from 2008 to 2016. In 2016, 1 in 5 searches on Android devices were voice-based searches. In the same year, more than 40 percent of adults used voice search daily. ComScore estimates that by 2020, more than 50 percent of  searches will be voice-based.

So what does voice search mean for your business? How can we best prepare for this change?  Let’s dig a little deeper.

How Does Voice Search Work? 

Smart speakers are the reason behind the voice search revolution. They rely exclusively on voice command to answer questions and perform tasks.

Voice search is an amalgamation of Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). It is a way to recognize and process a user’s request. Once the user’s voice is identified and analyzed, the search query is entered into the vast database pool that matches the question with the relevant answer and then reverted to the user’s device. The device then converts the response into voice and delivers the same to the user.

Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant are already the master players in voice search technology. Instead of displaying millions of search results we see on Google, Bing or other search engines, these speakers answer directly to you.

Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing and Google Home uses Google to pull the best answer. With the replacement of search-based display results, it’s challenging for a company or service to stay on the top of their keyword ranking. The one winner will take it all.

The Challenges

One needs to gain insight on some voice query data. Cross-platforms, assisted conversions and multi-device attributions need to be analyzed to check for useful information. Moreover, are we absolutely sure about the kind of answers that are considered good to keep improving?

Also, conversational search witnesses questions in unpredictable ways. Questions or commands are without context and there are unanswerable ones. Humans miss the “action” words such as “play” and “reminder”, which are needed to trigger digital assistants.

Finally, understanding, extraction, and analyzing the right data to meet the query is difficult in voice commands as compared to search engines.

Voice Search: The Potential

Though search boxes and browsers will definitely stay with us for a while, their importance will decline. We are now searching more than ever before but not in a traditional way. We are in the logical progression of the convenience of the device that we use. We are searching every single minute – either for a fancy restaurant or for finding the right engagement ring.

As new search trends begin to shape the future of marketing, there is one keystone that is often overlooked: data. There are more than a billion websites and the amount of information will explode from 130 exabytes to an anticipated 40,000 by 2020. Advancements in AI and voice search will drive rich results and will help marketers understand user intent behind the query of each micro-moment.

Google has developed algorithms that cater directly to the intent of the queries. As voice search continues to rise, the shift to micro-targeting is the future. Brands will help data at their disposal and analyze how to use voice search at their command.

With each passing day of constant growth, optimizing for voice search is a must for all businesses.

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