Search Through Voice – Usage, Effectiveness & Challenges

By Published On: April 10th, 2018Categories: voice & assistants

The use of voice searches has recorded increasing popularity over the recent years. Virtual assistants such as Cortana, Siri, Viv, Amazon Alexa and Google Search/Now have also emerged to facilitate voice searches.  Such virtual assistants enable users to input search query upon request rather than having them type it themselves. The most commonly used devices for voice searches include smartphones and laptops.


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How people use voice search

With the increased number of voice searches, most of the questions asked lie under four categories that include local information, fun and entertainment, personal assistance and general information. Most of the voice searches are in conversational tone.

Moreover, voice searches make up 20% of all mobile searches, and they are from a local perspective since people are often looking for a service or a store near them.

The most searched questions among both teenagers and adults include: call someone, ask for directions, play a song, check time, and find out movie times. However, adults record high usage of voice search compared to teenagers.

Most of the voice answers come from featured snippets 87% of the time. Featured snippet refers to a block of google search results that appear at the top of search result pages.


How effective will voice searches be

Future Voice searches will enable people with physical disabilities and the blind to gain some level of independence. Through voice searches, their inability to manipulate keyboards will not hinder them from accessing information from the internet.

Voice searches will also save time for people working in demanding careers such as doctors. Instead of manually typing what they are searching for, they will tell browsers what to search for as they carry on with their duties.

People’s ability to speak at an average 150 words per minute compared to 40 words per minute typing speed makes voice searches supper fast compared to manual search.

Initially, it was difficult for voice searches to return the intended results since voice recognition accuracy rate was too low. Currently, the accuracy rate is about 95%. This means that any voice search has a probability of 5% error rate.


Possible challenges

The use of different phrases in voice search will return fewer results. Unlike the traditional searches that comprised of two to five words phrases, voice searches tend to be full sentences. Therefore voice searches will affect SEO tremendously.

The use of few phrases is what makes typing favor search engine optimization enabling brands to gear their content towards specific keywords. Search engine optimization favors the user by returning numerous results. However, the types of keywords that businesses are currently targeting will become less relevant as time moves on. Therefore, with voice searches, there is high probability that certain sentences will yield no results. Such instances will present users with a challenge of getting the right information.


Mobile-friendly sites

Another major issue will be the inability of voice search to return results from mobile-unfriendly sites. Currently, the number of voice searches from smartphones stands at 20% but, it will be much higher in the uture. Websites that have flash and uncrawlable resources are not suitable for mobile browsers. Uncompressed images also increase the load time.

Such factors decrease the number of people who view a particular web page since 40% of people abandon a site once the load time exceeds three seconds. Websites with flash and uncrawlable resources may not pop up at the top of voice search result list making them inaccessible to smartphone users.

It is clear that there will be a dominance of voice searches in future. According to predictions, most of the voice searches will come from smartphones. Therefore, there is a great need for web pages to be made of responsive text to make them mobile-friendly.

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