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The Future of Voice Search


Chances are you’ve used voice search to seek out information. Whether it’s through a smart speaker or your mobile phone, it’s hard to resist the convenience of asking a digital assistant for information. This is particularly helpful if your hands are full and you’re unable to type your query into your phone or if your focus is split.

In addition to being an avenue to share and receive information on a consumer level, as a marketer, it’s also an avenue to optimize. If you haven’t already started adjusting your PPC campaigns to accommodate voice search, there’s no time like the present! Digital assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Whether the search is initiated through a digital assistant via a mobile device or a smart speaker, voice search is on the rise. ComScore estimates that by 2020, more than half of all searches will be done via voice search. Additionally, Search Engine Land predicts that sales initiated via voice search in the U.S. will skyrocket from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $40 billion by 2022.
Digital assistants like Google, Alexa, Cortana and Siri are starting to hit their stride with better voice recognition and advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology. That isn’t to say everything is peachy-keen. Voice recognition for voice search still has some bumps, but it is improving, and one can only assume it will continue to progress.

Who Uses Smart Speakers?

As is the usual case with new technology, we’re seeing early adoption throughout younger generations. According to CapTech, adoption of the smart speaker is taking place at 53 percent among millennials and Gen Z, and at 32 percent for Gen X. They even dove a little deeper noting that “typical” smart speaker owners are young married couples at 73.5 percent. CapTech goes on to say that these are consumers that are “starting to get to the higher end of their salary potential, probably with kids, and own a home.” Meaning, consumers with a solid income base and money to spend have jumped on the smart speaker train. It would only make sense that marketers would want to be able to meet this target where they are searching for information.

Optimizing Campaigns for Voice Search

Marketers who want to be ahead of the game should start incorporating voice search keywords now. Especially if your product’s target market is in the Gen Z, Millennial or Gen X groups. Before you start, you might want to see if any of your terms are already receiving voice search traffic. When creating keywords, think about how you would ask the question out loud vs how you might search with text. Instead of typing “best nursing schools,” you might ask “What are the best nursing schools?” Voice search inquiries tend to be longer since they are asking in this conversational way clocking in around six words. They will also typically include one of the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) or how.

Voice search optimization tactics and best practices are still being developed, but for now you’ll also want to make sure to include the digital assistant introduction such as “Ok Google,” “Hey Siri” or “Hey Alexa” when creating your keyword list. This tactic may change in the future as we learn more about how people are using voice search and as technology changes, but this is a good place to start. So, your new keyword for your PPC campaign might look like:

Ok Google, what are the best nursing schools?

This is where the fun starts! Once you create your initial list, monitor performance and see what is working and what isn’t. Make adjustments based on analytics and keep digging for data in this space. The more data you have, the better you can optimize campaigns and the more prepared you’ll be to service your clients as voice search continues to gain momentum.

Ok Google, Where to Now?

The future of voice search lies in adoption and voice recognition improvements. Adoption is well on its way with about 50 percent of searches anticipated via voice by 2020. That’s only a year away. Also, with AI and machine learning tackling voice recognition and return results optimization, we’re headed toward voice search becoming more accurate, and consequently more used. With devices becoming smart and digital assistants being included into other technology such as home monitoring, entertainment systems and vehicle integration, it’s only a matter of time before having search campaigns optimized for voice will be a must. Might as well get ahead of the curve and start now!