Voice search 2018

Unlikely to replace text search, just yet

Voice search is still in its infancy, with a way to go before it fully takes off. What can you do now to take advantage of voice search in the future?

As an interface it’s more intuitive than text, and the ‘mental load’ of voice compared to text is significantly lower. Having looked at this from a client’s customer perspective, it’s got a long way to go before it’s useful, let alone a replacement for text search.

Our tests showed that Alexa doesn’t use search results and can only answer very basic questions; Google Home uses Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets, so it quickly says “Sorry, I can’t help” if the question falls outside of those answers and Siri generally shows a list of search results but doesn’t interact with you.

On top of that, recent Google changes (Nov 17) saw a 30% uplift in Knowledge Graph answers instead of Featured Snippet, so optimising for voice is now much harder as Google has taken ownership of some core terms (mainly very short terms like CRM and HDMI). Having said that, “47% expect their voice technology usage to increase” (via ComScore) and “42 percent say voice-activated devices have quickly become ‘essential’ to their lives” (via Geomarketing.com).

Knowing what keywords in your search journeys currently have featured snippets; optimising your content using natural language and using appropriate schemas are all things you can do now to prepare for this. That means that when this does take off your internal processes are already set-up and your content is optimised to take advantage of it.