In the digital marketing world, voice search has been on our radar for a number of years, following Apple’s launch of its first virtual assistant ‘Siri’ in October 2011.

Originally co-founded by Tom Gruber, Siri was designed to enable users to hold ‘conversations’ with the internet, highlighting both its level of intelligence and sophistication.

Today this creation has grown into a day-to-day phenomenon, with a recent study confirming that an estimated 61% of us now talk to our mobile devices through AI applications like Cortana and Google - not forgetting the growing popularity of Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The explosion of voice search has, therefore, transformed how consumers are engaging with the internet, which means both businesses and digital marketers need to understand this change to adapt, engage and drive forwards:

1. How are consumers using voice search?

During 2016 voice search experienced unprecedented growth, which is set to continue well into 2017.

This growth has been a result of increased accuracy in AI applications, with studies reporting that consumers are turning to Voice Search to save time, when on the go or when their vision or hands are occupied.

2. How can we optimise both onsite and offsite content for voice search?

Voice search queries differ to text-based queries in that they tend to be more conversational - For example, instead of searching ‘Best restaurants London’ voice search users will question, ‘What is the best restaurant in London?’.

This concept of ‘conversational search’ will be critical in how businesses and digital marketers should optimise web content for voice search – where moving away from traditional methods of targeting identified keywords and replacing it with conversational or more ‘long-tail’ search terms will be key for success.

Thankfully, due to the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in September 2013 marketers have been focusing on ‘long-tail search’ in content for a number of years, which means any tweaks to adhere to voice search or voice delivery shouldn’t bring about a complete overhaul in content marketing strategy.

3. What role with Voice Search play in digital marketing moving forwards?

It has been estimated that by 2020 50% of all searches online will be via voice search. So for every 10 searches that are relevant to your business, at least 5 of them will be directed via the likes of Siri or Cortana. I think from a digital marketing perspective, optimising websites or creating content for voice search or voice delivery is very much in hand and will be a key focus throughout 2017 – however, what will be more interesting is how voice search affects keyword strategies for PPC or other digital advertising campaigns? This will certainly be something to watch, analyse and address as AI popularity continues to unfold.


By Mark Wright, director at Climb Online

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