The way in which we find things on the internet is changing. While we were once chained to our desktops and forced to type specific queries into the dominant search engine at the time, we’re now free to browse the web whenever and wherever we want using nothing more than our phones and our voices.
According to the latest stats from Northstar Research, 73% of teens surveyed in the US believe that voice searches are more efficient, while 89% believe that browsing the web in this way is “the future.”
Speaking of the Future…
This data is also backed up by more than 1,000 adults surveyed by Northstar Research. Despite only 41% of those surveyed stating that they use voice searching (through software such as Siri) more than once per day, 85% felt as though it will become the dominant method in the next few years.
If this is the case, then marketers and those involved in the promotion of online content need to start taking note. Greenlight Digital, a leading digital marketing agency based in the UK, already believes that making a mark online is extremely difficult thanks to an endless bombardment of “noise”.
Highlighting the 500 million tweets posted online each day, Greenlight’s experts are convinced that avoiding wallflower content is extremely important for the next generation of marketers. Taking this concept a step further, the article goes on to suggest that online content now needs to have “more meaning at its core” if it wants to be acknowledged by a new type of internet user.
Marketers Must Come Up with the Answers
This is something James A. Martin of CIO agrees with. Reviewing the potential impact of voice searches on SEO, Martin has highlighted Google’s increasing shift towards “direct answers” to search queries.
Instead of returning a list of websites that contain certain keywords, Google is now reacting to voice searches (which typically come in the form of a question or phrase) by returning direct answers almost 20% of the time.
Indeed, according to recent study of 850,000 search queries by Stone Temple Consulting, 19.5% of results returned took the form of a direct answer. Moreover, in the past two years, Google’s error rate when handling voice searches has dropped from 25% to 8%, according to USA Today.
As we can see, there has been a clear shift by Google and, therefore, the marketing world to move in line with modern technology and tech trends. In fact, if you’re inclined to believe Professor Steve Young of Cambridge University, then voice searches will not only redefine the search engine world, but they will also redefine the way we interact with the internet as a whole in the future.
The Birth of the Virtual Assistant
Working at the Information Engineering Division at Cambridge University, Young is helping design the next generation of voice technology. Known as VIQ, the software will “put Siri to shame” in the words of tech writer Michael Grothaus.
What Young believes will happen is that smartphones will move away from graphical interfaces and become more like personal assistants. Instead of asking a simple question and getting an answer from Google, Young’s technology will allow us to say a complex task (such as the one below) and wait for the software to carry it out for us automatically.
What’s clear is that online content will need to provide more answers, more information and more context in the future. As Martin has already noted, sites already have to add more structured data and provide “clear answers to specific questions” and this will only become more significant thanks to software such as VIQ.
Indeed, if digital marketers are to avoid becoming “wall flowers”, as Greenlight puts it, then they need to keep pace with rapidly increasing voice recognition technology and alter their content accordingly over the next few years.