With the inception of the internet, search engines sprang into existence to move the world towards a digital solution to people’s queries. One such search engine topped the rest and became the world’s platform for endless information. It became synonymous with the dictionary, with people frequently turning to it for everything from grammar and punctuation to general knowledge and recipes rather than hardcover or paperback resources. If something isn’t “google-able”, an unfathomable instance, it basically doesn’t exist. Google has strived towards adapting and altering itself to continue to be the world’s primary source of information and its number one reliance for technology. This led the search engine to become one of the most relied-upon technology companies in the world.

In recent years, there has been a distinct increase in developments in Artificial Intelligence and voice assistants. Google and the other three major technology companies, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, have been leading the progress to create a voice assistant people could rely on to receive information. People were able to use these assistants to access information quicker, and with these assistants now embedded in various devices, people have come to rely heavily on them. By the end of 2020, it is forecasted that 50% of all online searches will be voice or image searches. 65% of 25 to 49-year-old’s speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day, and 28% of people who perform a local voice search go on to call the business. With the popularity of voice search skyrocketing, businesses have to adapt to this trend in order to continue to connect with their audience.

The reasons behind the fast-paced adoption of voice search predominantly centre on convenience. As human speech is generally considered four times faster than we type, with the average person typing roughly 40 words per minute but speaking at around 150 words per minute, voice search is infinitely faster for people to use. In addition, with voice search easily accessible through hand-held devices and embedded into various smart objects e.g. TV, cars, Amazon Echo, Google Home, fridges and the like, the ease of access makes it more convenient than searching on internet browsers.

This application creates a faster interaction with users, leading to higher retention and engagement rates of customers. But for businesses, the biggest challenge with the adoption of voice search is the lack of results. When a user searches on search engines, they’re provided with a selection of results that have scanned internet pages for the keywords they’ve entered into the search bar. The most relevant pages are found towards the top of the list, on the first page, and sometimes, there’s a textbox that provides the answer to the question, known as the ‘knowledge panel’. Voice search has eliminated these results and provides only the most relevant information from one source.

This makes it easier for users to gain only the necessary information they need, and therefore why it is increasingly popular for local searches. And because of that popularity, the accuracy of the results is improving rapidly, which strengthens the users trust in the application. So, what does all this mean for businesses?

Businesses need to optimise their content for voice search. While on search engines, people tend to type keywords that target the results we desire, when using voice search, people tend to use more conversational, longer keywords. Often, this means asking the entire question. The results we get from voice searches tend to be prompt and to the point, valuing factual, fast responses to questions over longer descriptions. Content should focus on what voice queries are likely to be centred on e.g. the who, what, when, where, why and how of products, services and topics.

The key to optimising for voice search is to write content in the mindset of what your customers are likely to search for and making that information obvious, upfront and central to your website.

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