The simple human fact is that we can talk three times faster than we can type. This fact coupled with the vastly improved accuracy of voice to text transcription means that new ways of interacting with IT are on the horizon. This big opportunity is happening now and we are at the start of an adoption curve whereby 50% of search will be conducted by voice by 2020.
This voice first approach to IT has consequences to how we design and manage our websites. Users who use voice search tend to have longer query strings. People using devices such as Amazon Echo with Alexa and Google Home with Google Assistant are typically asking lots of how and what questions.
If search queries are becoming more conversational content online will become more and more like having a conversation. Google has a new position in search engine rankings, the position zero, and websites and content providers who give the most relevant results will be rewarded with this position.
The rise of voice technology and how this will change search has many connotations. For example, if you are on an Amazon Echo device and you ask a question instead of getting a page of results you only get one answer. This poses challenges and opportunities for advertisers.
Whilst voice is very much a less frictionless user experience brands need to think about how they get their message and their name across. With some voice controlled devices such as the Amazon echo showing screen displays, this gives adequate opportunities for visual branding. However, when a voice search returns results simply with audio companies need to think about how they can differentiate themselves and become front of mind in this context.
Alongside making your content on your website more conversational companies can think about developing things such as Alexa skills and Google actions, which are apps for voice enabled technology.
There particular scenarios where voice technology wins and one of the big opportunities is the connected car. When your hands are tied up at the steering wheel the only option is to use your voice. Another trend is lots of kitchens up and down the country have Amazon echo devices or equivalents playing music, playing latest Flash briefings and telling us the weather. These trends offer big opportunities for conversational commerce.
A priority for all webmasters and web designers must be to make their website voice friendly. One way to do this is to give a greater priority to frequently asked questions on websites. Voice is on the rise so frequently asked questions give your website content which would be more likely to turn up in voice search results.
Now of course frequently asked questions can be typed up but there is a faster way of generating this content. The more frequently asked question content you have on your site the greater the likelihood of you turning up in search results relevant to your industry and your products and services.
Frequently asked question content can be curated in 10 second chunks using a tool such as Sound Branch. All audio which is recorded on Sound Branch is transcribed into text with 96% accuracy. These transcripts can then be embedded on your websites along with the associated audio. This means that your content can be returned in the form of the search query. So if a person types in a search term they will get the text results but alternatively if they search with their voice we can return audio to the end user for a delightful user experience.
In summary, voice search is not going away. We are in the early stages of the adoption curve and big tech companies such as Samsung (Bixby), Google (Google Assistant), Microsoft (Cortana), Amazon (Alexa) and Apple (Siri) are fighting to win the battle of the voice assistant. Siri was probably the first to market but has since fallen behind. In terms of market share, Amazons approach of putting voice enabled devices and Amazon Alexa technology into lots of hardware in our homes is giving them a competitive advantage. Google is still the dominant search engine for the web but its position is under threat from a tie-up between Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Bing. Who will win the battle remains to be seen. One thing is for certain and that is that search is becoming more natural. To maximise this opportunity our website content must be friendly to the human voice.
You can sign up to Sound Branch, the voice notes app, for free by following the link below. You can then experiment creating conversational content such as frequently asked questions. This content then can be embedded on your website to improve your search engine results, gain extra traffic and ultimately new customers.