At a time when most businesses with an online presence focus on their position in Google rankings, there’s an increasingly important shift in the way people search for products and services – the rise of Voice Search.


The first thing to stress is that this is nothing new.  Voice Search has been rising for years, but the sharp upwards trend in 2020 and 2021 isn’t something a business can afford to ignore.


Before we look at the numbers, you might be wondering what is classified as Voice Search.


It isn’t just when you say “Hey, Google”.  It includes the use of Amazon Echo devices and their Alexa AI system, Apple’s Siri system and Microsoft’s Cortana.


More than half of UK homes have at least one Voice Search device.  On a percentage basis, that’s more than the USA.  In 2020, ownership of Amazon Echo or Google Home devices alone rose by 12% in the UK.


According to data released by Google, almost a third of all Google searches on a mobile phone in 2021 were voice powered.  ComScore have reported that more than half of all mobile users engage with voice search on their phone at least once a day.


If you add it all up, across all devices, Price Waterhouse Coopers say that over 70% of people prefer to use Voice Search compared to written queries.  The classic examples are “What’s the weather like?” or “Where is my nearest pizza shop?”, and that’s before we include the use of commands such as “Set a reminder” or “Set an alarm”.

Google Home

That brings us to why a business be aware of the importance of Voice Search?


The statistic that emphasises this is simple – more than 30% of all web browsing in 2022 is likely to be through Voice Search.  The algorithms, mechanics and AI (artificial intelligence) that powers the delivery of results through Voice Search is very different to that of typed search queries.  A business that is visible through written search could be entirely invisible in the results given for Voice Search.


When you consider how quickly a user can say something instead of typing it, the fact that 48% of all search queries in 2022 will be spoken is understandable.  That’s right, half of all search queries are likely to be result in otherwise visible businesses have no visibility whatsoever. 


If you’re a business that relies upon footfall into a physical store, the importance of Voice Search is even more stark.  You’ll want to be the result that an Amazon Echo or Google Home device gives to the person asking the question – because they’re not going to be given a list of 10 potential options to glance at on a screen.  They’re likely to be given one and listen to it.


This bring the relevance and necessity of local optimisation (local to your location and that of your core audience) to the fore.  People will often asking “Where is my closest DIY store” or similar, and location services on a device coupled with that the system being asked knows to be the closest store is key.  Businesses need to ensure their store is known to the Voice Search system being used and is the one the user will be given.


The complexity behind a business being the one of choice in spoken results is not to be under-estimated.  However, businesses need to recognise that optimised Google Local listings and the relevance of Schema Mark-Up are just two vital components. 


Research by Milestone Marketing discovered that sites with 40 Schema Mark-Up types were 20-30% more likely to feature in Voice Search results. 


Web pages that ask questions and give answers are essential.  It makes complete sense when you look at it in the most basic sense.  If a user is asking a question, and you can replicate that question on your site in a way that Voice Search recognises and can see you provide an answer it can “speak” to a user, you’re going to factor far more highly in the results it delivers.


There are a vast number of elements that need attention when looking at where a business might improve Voice Search visibility, but one thing is clear – businesses need to be aware that they’re going to be losing out on trade if they don’t treat it seriously.


There’s one last thing to think about – the businesses that don’t pay attention to Voice Search, but that rank on Page 1 of Google for typed queries, will almost always be completely unaware of what they’re losing out on.  It is easy to look and see where you rank on a standard Google search, but how many businesses will try a variety of Voice Search systems to see if they’re the given result?  We’d suggest the answer is very few..

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