We’ve all seen the awkward video of Mark Zuckerberg using his AI assistant Jarvis. Despite being hard to watch, it does illustrate how far voice recognition technology has come, and how far it can go.
This year, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month. That’s a jump of 128.9% over last year.
Voice search (speech recognition technology that allows users to search online by saying terms aloud rather than typing them) is fast becoming the search method of choice. Systems like Apple’s Siri, Ok Google, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana are becoming a part of people’s day-to-day life.
As well as these systems, the accompanying voice-activated devices are taking up residence in people's homes and workplaces. Amazon has come out as the big player in this field, with around 70% of Americans choosing their voice-enabled speaker Amazon Echo over other brands.
We’ve watched the change coming, but now the technology has reached a place where those annoying misinterpretations are a thing of the past (like these Siri fails) - most systems are now close to a 95% accuracy of understanding voices in low-noise environments.
The step towards voice recognition technology makes sense, it is by far the most efficient way of computing: humans can speak 150 words per minute on average, but can only type 40.
But the real question this poses for marketers and businesses is: will voice search change search results? And with that, how should marketers and businesses now approach website SEO?
What you need to know about SEO
These AI digital assistants are more than just an easier way to Google search, the data they collect helps them understand user intent and behaviour, delivering more personalised and relevant information and helping consumers take actions. That’s why marketers need to pay attention and keep up with the evolving world of voice search.
The 3 steps to take
1. Focus on long-tail keywords
Wordstream say that voice search queries often return similar – if not virtually identical – results as typed queries. This means that the technology will be advanced enough to recognise user intent, even with different search methods.
But the point of difference with voice search is that people are more likely to use longer queries and more conversational language. And with a change of language style, it means keywords may also change. That’s why businesses will need to broaden their target keywords, including more alternate terms and phrases and particularly long-tail keywords.
Marketers will need to research relevant long-tail keywords that people using natural language searches may use and then target them in website content. That way you have a better chance of appearing as relevant content in all kinds of searches.
2. Improve for mobile
Having an optimised website for mobile has always been important, but with voice search it’s even more so. Most voice searches are happening on mobile devices, so businesses need to focus on user experience.
Websites need a responsive design for mobile, page load times need to be quick, videos need to be formatted to fit mobile screens, and things like intrusive pop-up ads and drop-down navigation might need to be removed.
3. Aim for featured snippets
Featured snippets are the search results Google shows in a special block at the top of the search results page. They have a summary of the answer Google thinks will be most relevant to you.
What’s important about featured snippets is that when they appear, voice search devices read the snippet and source aloud. This essentially means free advertising and brand authority for that source. As far as voice search is concerned, “position zero” is the new page one.
For some tactics for getting your website featured in snippets, head here.
It looks like voice-activated search and assistants are not just a thing of the future, they are quickly becoming part of the everyday. Make sure your website it ready.