Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst at Google, said in a recent Virtual Keynote with Eric Enge and Mark Traphangen on Thursday that the number of voice searches has doubled in the past year. In this article, we will take a look at the details, including some statistics, and provide tips on how to optimize your content for Google Voice.
In the Virtual Keynote at 38:40 minutes, Mark Traphagen, Stone Temple Consulting, asked a question requested by one of their viewers. We have paraphrased for readability:
Question: Do you have any data that indicates growth of Voice search. He’d like to know how many people are using it features now. So that’s something that you track record with how many people are using voice-activated search?
Answer: It’s definitely Growing. In general, people speak like a person to their phone so, for example, queries like “when is my car reservation” or “remind me to buy flour for my wife.” We are getting more and more queries like this. We get thirty times as many action queries by voice as by typing.
Question: Is that affecting the way that you are designing the algorithm?
Answer: This will be discussed more at SMX West, and I don’t want to undermine the talk. I just remembered the figures — the number of mobile voice searches have more than doubled than the year before, which means we must get quite a few.
You can view the relevant part of the video below:
Voice Search Usage Statistics
In a post last October 2014, Google revealed at that the number of voice searches had also doubled at that time. We wonder if it is this data he is recalling, or whether the number of voice searches has doubled two years running. Either way, the increase in usage is impressive.
The 2014 User Survey results showed some fascinating statistics. Before we comment on those, though, it is worth noting that the statistics seem to cover all Voice functionality (i.e. Google App functionality “to call someone”), rather than just Voice Search:
- 55 percent of teens use voice search more than once a day
- 43 percent of teens use voice to call someone.
- 38 percent of teens use voice to ask for directions
- 31 percent of teens use voice for help with homework
- 30 percent of teens use voice to play a song
- 20 percent of teens use voice to find out movie times
- 13 percent of teens use voice to check the time
- 41 percent of adults use voice search more than once a day
- 40 percent of adults use voice to ask for directions
- 31 percent of adults use voice to call someone.
- 31 percent of adults use voice to dictate texts
- 11 percent of adults use voice to play a song
- 11 percent of adults use voice to check the time
- 9 percent of adults use voice to find out movie times
One interesting statistic revealed in the survey carried out by Google, is looking at when Users use voice search:
- With friends — 57 percent teens, 24 percent adults
- In the bathroom — 22 percent teens, 15 percent adults
- While Cooking — 8 percent teens, 23 percent adults
- While exercising — 17 percent teens, 15 percent adults
- While watching television — 59 percent teens, 36 percent adults
The statistics show that most of the searches involve obtaining direct actionable data. For example, checking movie times, recipes or directions. Moreover, many of the searches relate to a commercial transaction, or would if the functionality exists. For example, when asked what functionality users would like to see in the future 45 percent of teens, and 36 percent of adults wanted “Send me pizza.”
It would also seem that Voice search is used a lot when users are doing something that makes it harder to type manually, such as exercising or cooking. Equally, the younger generation is finding it more socially respectable to use Voice Search in front of friends.
This kind of data is invaluable to consider when deciding on your SEO strategy. No longer are you optimizing for just keywords or written keyword phrases, but you have to look at how users may ask a question when speaking.
Quick Tips to Optimize for Voice Search
There are many things you can consider when planning your SEO strategy:
- Optimize for Mobile — Apart from the fact that being mobile-friendly is now a ranking factor, the majority of searches happen on a Mobile Phone. Therefore, any results that show will be viewed on a much smaller screen. While voice search can be carried out on a desktop, it doesn’t appear to be used very much. Google even removed the “OK Google” functionality on Chrome as a default in October last year.
- Use Schema and optimize for the Knowledge Graph — Google now understands complex questions and the meaning of what you are asking. Google now breaks down each query to understand the semantics of each piece, as the example below shows:
- Answer Questions Naturally — Rather than use keywords, use natural sentences to respond to questions. While it is still useful to consider keywords, you should use them in a more natural way, including semantic variations.
- Think Local — With many search queries from Voice wanting actionable information, such as where the nearest Coffee Shop is, or where they can buy a pair of shoes. For this reason, you should optimize for local searches by adding full and correct information to places such as Google+ Local, Foursquare, Yelp, Yahoo, Yellow Pages and Facebook. In combination with this, encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews will help, some voice search assistants such as Siri will rank results by number and the average rating of reviews.