Voice technology is still on the rise. It has been for the last decade. Beginning in 2011 with Apple’s “Siri,” the world of voice technology has completely transformed. From smart speakers to mobile messaging and voice-led social media apps, voice technology is constantly adapting and growing. Some would even argue that voice technology is now considered mainstream. This technological revolution also means that consumers, businesses, and tech have to adapt along with it. In this article, you will learn how voice technology has shaped human behavior and how to take advantage of this evolution in technology. Voice enabled artificial intelligence is no longer just in the movies, it is part of the devices we use on a daily basis.

Voice Assistance & Human Behavior

Plain and simple, voice-activated speakers make life easier. Rather than typing a question or search query on a mobile device you can say “hey Siri” or “hey Alexa” while doing the dishes and they will get the answer. This means that you are able to keep going about your daily life, uninterrupted.

In addition, voice technology imitates human behavior. When asking a question, please and thank you are used as if the person asking the question is doing so to another human being. At times, sorry is even said. This change in technology has altered the way humans view and perceive it. According to the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, “Human personalities shape the way we interact with the world, voice assistant personalities can also impact everyday interactions with our environment”. The advanced use of AI and algorithmic changes can have, and have had, an impact on our relationship to technology and our surrounding environment.

Voice Search for Your Business

Searching for information online is second nature. Have a question? Type it into Google, or, ask your smart device (phone, speaker, tablet) and have them get the answer for you. A recent study done by PwC concluded that 65% of consumers ages 25-49 talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. In addition, 52% of people use voice search while driving (Social Media Today). The accessibility of voice search has increased in the last few years and has made using this technology from a rarity to something we do all the time.

With staggering stats such as those listed above, you might be wondering how your business can take advantage of it and also, how to make sure you don’t get left behind (or in the world of SEO, left off the top search results). There are a few things we can look at:

  • Content that has been highly shared on social media ranks well in Google voice search (Backlinko)
  • Voice searches on mobile are 3x more likely to be local-based than text searches (Search Engine Watch), meaning there is an ever-increasing need for businesses to keep their Google My Business listing updated.
  • Conversational searches are more commonplace with voice search. Marketers need to ensure their content is written in a conversational tone and answers questions that current or future customers are asking
  • Roughly 75% of voice search results will rank in the top 3 positions for a particular question on a desktop search (com)

However, the most important thing to recognize is that search queries via type are different than those that are spoken. A few key differentiators are:

  • Voice search queries are longer, and typically ask a question. Type queries use short-hand and incomplete sentences.
  • Voice search queries utilize more inferred context, such as “restaurants near me”, and they partially rely on the data held within the device being used

The question then remains: If the query types are so different, how do we adapt and optimize the two? The answer is not cut and dry, but it begins with understanding your user/customer and their behavior. Does your customer fall within the age group that has adapted to this technology? According to salesforce, 67% of millennials and Gen Z have communicated via voice assistant whereas only 39% of Baby Boomers have. This is a huge difference and needs to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, what device is being used? Is your customer searching on the go or when they are in their home? Another question to ask is where the customer is at in their purchase journey. Are they just showing interest or do they have intent to purchase your product/service.

Once you have a solid grasp and understanding of who your customer is in relation to voice tech behaviors, it is important that your website is optimized. This means regularly using schemas and focusing on rank and position. Schema provides organization and structure, and according to Search Engine Journal, “For SEO, the impact of schemas is usually in rich snippets, featured snippets, and Position 0 Rankings”. Featured snippets are more prominent than other search results and account for over 40% of all answers for voice search (Backlinko). Now to bring it all together: utilizing conversational copy in your web content that answers the questions your ideal customer is asking helps you because Google uses machine learning to detect which pages answer a user’s question, in turn using said pages as the top result via featured snippets which is also often the voice-search answer.

The Future of Voice Technology

Voice technology is here to stay. It is going to continue adapting, growing, and changing our behaviors. While there are still barriers for use, such as trust (PwC), the industry is projected to hit $27.16B globally by 2025, up over 16% from 2019.. People feel more and more comfortable talking to their devices in public and the adoption of voice technology is steadily growing. Smart speaker sales are on the rise and 34% of current non-owners are at least “somewhat likely” to buy a smart speaker within the next six months (NPR). All of these stats back up the fact that voice technology is not going anywhere and the need to optimize for it is increasing in order to stay relevant in search queries. As this technology continues to evolve, it is important for advertisers and business owners to stay up to date on the ever-changing ways voice search can be optimized.