Whether you’re an “Okay, Google” or a “Hey, Siri” kind of user, chances are, at one occasion or another, you’ve tried out voice search. The technology isn’t perfect. Indeed, much of the initial amusement when it comes to interacting with voice assistants stemmed from the kookie answers or, in Siri’s case, the snarky replies.
Voice technology still has a long way to go, but since its initial emergence into the digital world, there’s no contesting that immense strides in growth and development have been made, as evident in the recent voice search statistics.
Adoption is on an uptick, even if it seems slow when it comes to certain voice-enabled devices. However, voice search has been recognized as one of the top SEO trends for 2020 and with the convenience that going hands-free provides, this phenomenon is surely here to stay.
To help you navigate the new frontier of voice search and voice technology, we’ve gathered the best and most current data on voice search, voice assistants, and other niches relevant to the topic.
Smartphones remain the leading device for voice interactions since consumers are always in possession of them. But it’s more than just the fact that voice search is great for instances necessitating hands-free use. Users are already accustomed to speaking into their phones. So engaging with voice assistants on their phones is second nature.
It shows just how much foresight Google itself had back then to have already started developing speech recognition nearly a decade ago. It’s hard to imagine, but at the start, the voice search function barely worked. Sometimes, it did nothing.
So what was the process for this early version of search like? To be able to do a voice search back then, the user needs to dial the Google Voice search number (650) 623-6706 using their phone. Then, recite the query keywords as a response at the behest of a pre-recorded prompt. Users would then be provided a link to their search results. It’s a far cry from the Google Voice capabilities we have now, but this older version was very much a huge contributor.
And it’s due to this fact that Gartner makes the insightful observation that as voice search usage grows, strategies for paid search and organic content in digital marketing will be significantly altered. Future transactions and voice search marketing will rely more on conversational interactions. If they haven’t already done so, businesses and marketers alike will have to quickly adapt.
Source: Think With Google
Are you wondering what percentage of searches are voice? Well, Search Engine Land reports that in the U.S., 20% of searches run on Android are voice searches. (This statement was attributed to Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai.) With the integration of third-party services that allow for a variety of transactions, this number has gone up and will continue to rise, according to voice search stats.
Source: Search Engine Watch
How conversational Google Assistant is nowadays may have something to do with this particular experiment back in 2016. BuzzFeed published a piece about it, interviewing Google software engineer, Andrew Dai.
Why romance novels? Dai cites that these works of fiction generally present the same plots using varying means of expression. This particular quality is what makes them the perfect tools for developing an AI’s understanding of nuances in language. While it would be interesting to test Google Assistant’s capabilities, we’re not saying you should put your assistant to the test with raunchy questions. But what you do in your own free time is really up to you.
Source: Search Engine Land
Google Assistant works by answering queries using the Google search index, then formulating the results into a verbal explanation for users. Alexa, on the other hand, relays questions to the cloud, where the user’s need is determined and looked up based on the skill needed to complete the request. Additionally, Alexa relies on Bing search engine instead of Google.
Source: Search Engine Land
Semantic search was also introduced with the advent of Google’s Hummingbird, which turned search query interpretation by search engines into something that’s more context-based than keyword-based. Because of this, long-tail phrases that mimic natural speech now have more importance to SEO strategies.
This data is significant since a BrightLocal survey has found that 33% of consumers take action once they read a positive review. This means that for businesses that are optimized for voice and local searches, there are many opportunities for revenue generation. Other user objectives included getting a business’ address, acquiring directions to its physical location, and getting the business phone number, based on the voice search stats report.
10. Did you know that Google Assistant can play quiz master?
The prompt “Talk to Music Quiz” will start the exchange, and Google Assistant will start asking relevant music trivia questions. It gets better. Not only does the assistant administer the quiz, it’ll also track your score as you go.
Not in the mood for trivia? You can play games like Tic-Tac-Toe. It seems that with just the words, “I’m bored,” users can trigger these sorts of amusing interactions.
Source: Tom’s Guide
According to the personal testing carried out in the article, Cortana had problems detecting user speech. Other voice search products and assistants failed to detect voice commands when media of some kind was playing in the background, but Cortana winds up unable to decipher queries even when they were spoken clearly and slowly, without any background noise. The article also reports that Cortana was the most difficult assistant to set up.
Source: Business News Daily
It seems that there are many opportunities for voice search in the food industry, as the study also determined that 54% of users would use voice search to make reservations at a local restaurant, pub, or bar. Aside from this particular feature, 46% of respondents would like to be able to find out the pricing information relevant to the businesses near them.
According to Higher Invisibility, over 34% of respondents stated that they use voice search primarily when they’re driving. Android users use voice search primarily for looking up directions. iOs users, on the other hand, showed a preference for using voice to ask a fun question and find music. Interestingly enough, though, Apple users are the ones who tend to use voice search the most while driving.
Source: Search Engine Watch
And with 90% of households in the U.S. owning a smartphone, that’s a tremendous number. As far as the general voice technology user population goes, nearly half expect their usage of the feature to increase even more. Already, a third of people who use voice technology, use it daily. Why go back to a more primitive way of doing things when voice makes everything so much more convenient?
It’s interesting to note that 45.64% of mobile users use Siri. In comparison, only 28.70% turned to Google Assistant. According to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, Siri has monthly active users totaling 375 million in the United States.
Aside from this, it turns out that smartphone use of voice search functions in 2018 is primarily informational. 83.6% of users ask general questions, 47.4% ask questions related to traffic and directions, and 28.8% use the feature to find a place to eat.
56% of users who used voice search in 2018 did so on their smartphone to find info on a local business, while 18% did so on smart speaker. Of the smartphone users that search for local info, more than 75% utilize voice search to run local business search queries at least once a week.
Users aged 35 to 54 come second at 64%. While less than 40% of users over the age of 55 use voice search to find local businesses. Across genders, it turns out that men have used voice search for local queries at 11% more than women.
Because of this, more than half of smart speaker owners place their voice-activated speakers in a common room of some kind.
Source: Think With Google
The survey also revealed that 61% of respondents (smart speaker owners) would also like smart technology integrated into their cars, given the opportunity to do so. With this in mind, it’s no wonder then that senior vice president at Edison Research, Tom Webster, perceives voice activated speakers as the most dynamic sector in consumer electronics.
These numbers were originally attributed to a report by tech publisher, The Information, and they are surprisingly low. Like you, we fully expected to see a larger group of users using voice for shopping. It makes sense to opt for the convenience, and what is voice search if not the epitome of that?
That’s when it started to make more sense, though. Perhaps adoption has been slow since businesses and the entire shopping experience has yet to fully jump on the voice search trend.
And as high as 36% of consumers wind up reaching a wrong number because the number provided by listings was incorrect. This just goes to show that websites, and updated once at that, continue to play a vital role in the customer journey. Until businesses make the effort to correct crucial errors like this, voice search growth may remain stunted for a time.
This warm regard for this technology may have something to do with the fact that 72% of voice-activated speaker owners maintain that their device is part of their daily routine. Due to the regular and high frequency of interactions they’re having, it’s not very surprising that they almost regard them as sentient beings, giving thanks and apologizing whenever they feel it’s necessary.
Source: Think With Google
Men are also two times more likely to make future purchases to replenish previously bought products. Meanwhile, across age groups, a separate eMarketer article finds that younger consumers readily use technologies that help them be more self-sufficient, while older, more traditional ones, aged 38 years old and up, consider ease of use and cost more when deciding whether or not to adopt to smart speakers and voice activated search.
Given that smartphones have more variety when it comes to models availability and pricing, this isn’t much of a surprise. As we mentioned, smart speakers have yet to reach that same level of availability. Plus, if a user had to choose (as is often the case with those from lower income brackets), voice search stats show that smartphones simply trump smart speakers when it comes to multi-functional use.
Smart speaker adoption may not yet rival smartphones, but there’s still a significantly high population of smart speaker owners. Year-over-year growth has also been pretty impressive. One out of six Americans owned a voice-activated speaker last year, which translates to a 128% growth from 2017.
Voice search queries are longer than normal queries in general. And as far as voice assistants go, it seems that both Siri and Google voice search assistants are intelligent enough to identify unique speech patterns. Through natural language processing, these personal assistants can recognize a user’s voice and inflections over time. Wordstream sets forth that Google even goes as far as learning individual shopping and browsing habits.
Source: Quora Creative
This is based on the case study presented by Brian Dean that found that the average voice search result page loads 52% faster than normal SERPs, at a load time of 4.6 seconds. The study also saw a correlation between voice searching results and HTTPS websites. HTTPS websites appear to show up 20% more in voice search results than HTTP ones, so setting up HTTPS may boost a site’s rankings for voice.
Typically, long-tail keywords are longer than normal keywords. They are also more specific and mimic natural speech better than their normal SEO keyword counterpart. Also, because they are more conversational, they more accurately reflect the questions users ask in Google Voice searches. WordStream further explains that not many websites are optimized for long-tail keyword SEO. Meaning to say that, marketers and businesses willing to integrate them into their SEO and advertising strategies are likely to see profitable opportunities.
Voice search data from a 2018 case study found that Schema doesn’t have a significant impact on voice search results rankings. Additionally, it seems that search results that show up in voice search rarely have title tags that contain specific keywords relevant to specific queries. Specifically, a teenie tiny 1.71% of voice search results contain the exact keyword in their title tags.
Instead of evaluating the quality of answers from search results based on whether or not a piece of content’s title tag contains a specific keyword, Google seems to take into account the context of an entire web page. In correlation with voice search stats that show voice search results tend to favor long form content, this actually makes a lot of sense.
Google only recently announced speakable schema’s existence. According to the Google developer site, the feature is still in beta. Again, speakable schema is currently only applicable to news results, and several guidelines determine how news content is deemed eligible to be considered as speakable data. Aside from the requirement that the data come from a valid news site, the submission of content for review by Google is also a mandatory part of the process.
Source: Google Developers
Evidently, content structure has been found to play a big part in voice search results, with FAQ pages appearing twice as much more than on desktop results. In addition to this, Google seems to source answers from substantive content, with sources having an average of 2,312 words. Average Google voice search results are shown to be simple ones, written in 9th grade level composition. So it appears that easy-to-digest content in terms of structure and writing style simply performs better for voice.
And if you’re going for answers that go straight to the point anyway, it’s useful to know that getting your content to show up on Featured Snippets may bolster rankings for voice search. Search by voice statistics reveal that a little over 40% of results are also ones that wind up “featured” (which, if you remember, is one of the top SEO tips for 2020). Even if you can’t hit that sweet spot, staying within top results matters. Highly ranked content on desktop tends to also appear in SERPs for voice search queries. Around 75% of voice results rank in the top 3 for the same queries.
These numbers were derived from a test conducted by Loup Ventures. Using Apple’s HomePod, Siri was asked a series of 800 questions. While Siri has shown more accuracy, it is still less accurate than Google Assistant. To further compare Siri and Google voice search numbers in terms of accuracy, Google Assistant answered 87.9% of questions correctly, surpassing Siri by over 10%.
Overall though, the fact remains that assistants are not intelligent enough to hold actual two-way conversations. Because the technology itself is still quite imperfect, security and privacy are key concerns within the voice-powered world.
However, artificial intelligence and machine learning are seeing a lot of practical uses these days. The more available and better understood related technology becomes, the sooner the quest for the perfect voice assistant may be realized.
Monthly use is consistently high, however, with music streaming reaching nearly 70% as the smart speaker owners’ activity of choice.
The data, from a survey conducted by Voicify, also showed that the top 3 uses for voice-activated speakers are streaming music, asking questions, and checking the weather. The survey itself consisted of over 1,000 adult respondents and was conducted in the U.S. this January 2019.
Voice assistants are seen as a means to do simple things more efficiently. For complex tasks that involve money, however, users prefer tried and true methods. This is likely because of the visual nature of shopping. While takeout might be a safe bet with a voice assistant, it’s less likely for users to trust Siri or Alexa to find them the right pair of black Nine West slingbacks in size 6.
Based on PWC’s search by voice statistics, many users also just want to keep information on purchases, preferences, and product recommendations personal. Some view pre-authorized spending as a recipe for disaster since anyone within hearing range can order their voice assistant to buy something online.
Among these respondents, 38% were worried about the fact that a voice assistant would be privy to everything auditory that takes place in their daily life. Meanwhile, 28% were anxious that the security of their personal data could be compromised while using voice technology. Voice search stats indicate that technology will develop to be more accurate, secure, and better supported by apps and brands. So we expect that overall adoption will eventually rise.
Opening hours have been found to be the most common error or missing information on business listings. Almost half of all listings contained this error. Website is the second most common, then location name and street name errors follow.
Source: Search Engine Watch
The least ready, on the other hand, are consumer protection entities, congressional representatives, and, surprisingly, business attorneys. Art galleries and wedding services also fall in this “least ready” category.
Source: Search Engine Watch
And as it turns out, there are more perks to voice search on top of increased user intent. It turns out that voice search is helping uncover new user intentions altogether through natural language processing (NLP) technology, according to a Gartner report.
The survey found that over half of users of voice search products would rather view advertisements on TV than listen to them on audio. If forced to do so, it’s clear that users prefer to be able to define their overall experience. Other preferences expressed in the survey included the desire to have personalized ads based on previous inquiries and the ability to pre-approve when ads play, and are that ads cause minimal disruption to their experiences like listening to music.
Voice search users listed restaurants and cafes, grocery stores, and food delivery as the top three things they would use the function to find. Further down the list are clothing stores, hotels, doctors, and pubs or bars. At the very bottom are senior living facilities and childcare services. This is handy information for restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores since it clearly illustrates increased ROI should they invest in voice search optimization.
Mobile ad spend is expected to take over as the platform of choice for advertising. Its market shares were projected to jump from $93.25 billion in 2019 to $141.36 by 2022. This is significantly higher than ad spend for desktops, which forecasts anticipate to go from $39.07 billion to $46.52 billion.
This figure translates to an expected total of more than 90 million users in the U.S. this past 2019. The article credits the rising availability of affordable smart home devices as one of the key reasons for this upward shift. It finds that smart speaker technology adoption is happening most with families and Gen Xers (women of this generation, in particular).
Of this data pool, around 21% of respondents professed that they use voice search on a weekly basis, while 57% say they have never used this feature. There’s still a long way to go for voice search when it comes to mainstream adoption.
Source: Search Engine Watch
And this prediction probably isn’t that far off. One of the hurdles commonly mentioned when it comes to voice shopping adoption is the inability of consumers to see what they’re buying. However, devices like Google Home and Alexa powered refrigerators with LCD screens are providing starting points to eliminating those hurdles since they integrate visuals capabilities with voice technology.
Source: Search Engine Land
These voice search statistics are in line with eMarketer’s prediction that smart speakers have become less popular in 2019. They attribute the anticipated decrease due to voice assistants integrating with a variety of other devices.
As a matter of fact, the past few years have seen major appliances by famous brands such as Bosch, Frigidaire, and GE become voice-capable. There is now a Whirlpool refrigerator that allows users to buy groceries through Amazon Prime right from its touchscreen LCD panel, for example. There are even voice command controlled robot assistants that exist in the market now, like LG’s CLOi Hub Robot.
Source: Higher Invisibility
Currently though, technology still has yet to catch up. Voice search statistics in 2020 may still see rising trends once it does. Meanwhile, it’s handy to know that respondents have expressed a readiness for in-store and online shopping help from voice assistants. The fact that people are even open to receiving ads that so long as they are relevant and personalized to their experience is a great indicator of readiness. It’s just a matter of transactions and voice technology itself becoming more secure. The further development of features that make the voice shopping experience more seamless is bound to attract consumers in the future.
Projections anticipated a huge jump from $2 billion in revenue to $40 billion by 2022. This is partially attributed to the growing number of households with smart speakers. We suspect it also has something to do with the variety of devices capable of voice integrations emerging on the market.
Transactions done over voice have been estimated to be at about 50% or higher by December 2018. As the technology around voice search and transactions using this channel develops further, it’s anticipated that more consumers will be using their smart speakers for online purchases. Increasing availability of voice search products and a wider range of prices is anticipated to bolster number of users for the device as well.
Many reports have found that one of the primary uses for voice search is in the car and on the road. When it comes to general voice assistant use, asking for directions is second only to making calls while driving. Indeed, driving requires hands-free use more than most other situations so this makes a lot of sense. Adoption is also easier among car owners since many drivers are already accustomed to interacting with voice-enabled GPS systems.
Of these users, a percentage of voice searches are from those who looked up symptoms and treatments — 65% to be exact. 32%, on the other hand, use voice to look up doctors or specialist. Another 29% use it to find information on hospitals, emergency clinics, or healthcare providers.
The top queries aren’t that dire though. “What causes hiccups?” and “How to stop snoring?” rank first and second. While adoption is still slow, the possibilities for voice technology in healthcare are many. Depending on how fast technologies around voice are developed, the day when voice activated Google search helps save a life probably isn’t that far off.
Source: Zion & Zion
Well, there you have it: a full compendium of the most current data on the topic. Despite the varying degrees of adoption reported in different studies and surveys, the fact of the matter is that the technology is here to stay. Ongoing developments that integrate voice functions into everything from home appliances to cars will result in even greater rising trends in future voice search statistics. With artificial intelligence and machine learning now seeing developments as well, the truly intelligent and reliable voice assistants will emerge. It’s just a matter of time until voice interactions become an indispensable part of everyday life.
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