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8 New Voice Search Trends & Predictions for 2020 You Should Be Thinking About

Category: B2B News

People have been typing text to search online over the past several decades. But since it’s natural for people to talk than to type or click, voice search trends are becoming significant.

With the expanding dominance of smartphones, voice search has been steadily growing. Voice is practically changing how people interact with technology, especially the increasing preference to talk with digital devices. This, in turn, is fundamentally changing online search as we know it.

To take advantage of its growing popularity, businesses and SEO strategists must identify emerging trends in voice search statistics. So we’ve gathered key emerging trends in voice search so you’ll know how to adjust and leverage these ongoing changes.

Voice Search Trends Featured Image

How did voice search become popular?

The growing use of voice search can be traced to one technological tool and two smart devices. That tool is the digital voice assistant, while the devices are the smartphone and the smart speaker. In recent years, people have become increasingly fond of using digital voice assistants because of their novel usefulness.

Smartphones typically have at least one digital voice assistant. And with the increasing use of mobile phones comes the same rise in digital voice assistant usage.

The growing global sales of smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo is also fuelling the popularity of digital voice assistants. And you guessed it right, every smart speaker has a built-in digital voice assistant.

Today, voice search is becoming the preferred online search method. By 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice search.

voice search quick stats

It’s not that surprising that voice search will one day dominate the online search space. It’s more natural for people to talk. And using voice search is quick, intuitive, and informal.

Today, more and more consumers are depending on voice search as a more reliable option that gives faster results. Businesses are also fast catching up on this voice search dominance.

Voice searches are not the same as text-based searches. Aside from having contrasting input methods, information received via voice search is also presented differently. This is why businesses and marketers must modify their SEO strategies.

To highlight how voice search deviates from text search, here are the key voice search trends for 2020. Along with other upcoming technology developments, we’ve integrated critical voice search predictions to make your reading time more worthwhile.

1. Voice is mostly used for local search

Online search trends show voice search users are increasingly searching for local results. Just last year, 58% of consumers used voice search to find local businesses.

This indicates that people are increasingly using voice search to help them locate nearby establishments or locations. Google says that searches for “near me” businesses have risen significantly over the past recent years.

This rise in local voice search opens the door for great opportunities for local businesses. 46% of such consumers will regularly use voice search to look for a local business, most likely on a daily basis.

Local business is voice-search king

Starting in 2015, mobile searches had exceeded desktop searches and this has been instrumental in voice search growth. Mobile searches are mostly done using digital voice assistants.

Yes, digital voice assistants are reliable and very knowledgeable in many things. But they can only answer questions they’ve been programmed to know.

For local searches, they can only suggest from local SEO-optimized voice search entries. They only provide citations from trusted sources, which is how voice search works.

If you’re a local business owner wanting to capitalize on this voice search opportunity, you must optimize for local SEO. To be cited as a “trusted” source, you must have complete NAP: business name, address, and phone number.

To further ensure you’ll get ahead of your local competitors, it’s recommended to use essential solutions for small businesses.

Trends highlights

  • The majority of voice search results include local businesses.
  • Searches results for “near me” businesses have dramatically grown in recent years.
  • You must be local SEO optimized to receive considerable “citations” as a “trusted” source.

2. Smart speakers drive voice search adoption

In 2018, 1 in every 6 Americans owns a smart speaker, that’s a total of 119 million. Experts expect the number to grow further from 2019 and in the coming years.

Their early use tends to lean more on the amusement side like asking fun questions.

The most common voice searches on smart speakers are asking for music (70%), weather forecast (64), and online search (47%).

Today, people are using smart speakers powered by significant voice technological innovations for more serious activities. These include managing their finances, researching flights or hotels, and ordering takeout.

From fun to Siri-ous things

More smart speaker users are turning to their devices to search online. As early as 2016, 40% of adults used voice search through smart speakers at least once a day.

In 2019, that figure had increased to 65%.

Before, smart speaker owners were uncomfortable when speaking to these devices. As the number of smart speakers further rises, more people have become more accustomed to interacting with voice-activated tools.

As smart speaker sales continue to boom, expect voice search via these devices to increase accordingly. Hey Alexa, how can a business optimize for voice search?

How often Do you Use your Smart Speaker?

From The Smart Audio Report 2019

Several times a day

%

Nearly every day

%

At least once per week

%

At least once per month

%

Less than once per month

%

Never

%

Source: NPR & Edison Research

Designed by

Trends highlights

  • Smart speakers are instrumental in the increasing popularity of voice search.
  • From doing fun things, consumers are now using smart speakers for more serious activities.
  • Every increase in smart speaker sales has a corresponding rise in voice search.

3. Voice search comes mainly from mobile locations

It’s easy to get engrossed by how powerful Siri, Cortana, and the rest of the gang had become. Yes, they’ve helped a lot in driving voice search adoption.

It should be noted, however, that in the larger scheme of things, smartphones will remain as the main driver of voice search.

Unlike text-based search, most voice searches are made when people are mobile. As early as 2016, Google reported that 20% of searches on its Android apps were done via voice search.

It’s no wonder Google has been expanding the availability of its voice search to a larger number of countries. At present, it is available in 119 languages and counting.

Speech recognition gets recognized worldwide

Another crucial element in the expansion of voice search is speech recognition technology. In fact, at the core of voice search and other innovations we’re enjoying right now is speech recognition.

After several waves of milestone innovations since the late 1700s, speech recognition is finally coming full circle. Empowered by AI, machine learning, and big data, speech recognition is achieving extensive applications. One such deployment case is voice search.

Google’s speech recognition technology is now 95%, thanks to speech recognition. A few more improvements would result in further applications, some of which will likely be novel or even unplanned.

History of Speech Recognition Technology - timeline

Trends highlights

  • Voice searches are mostly made by people on-the-go.
  • Speech recognition technology is the engine that drives voice search.
  • Big data, ML, and AI are driving speech recognition to new heights.

4. Voice AI and ML are learning fast

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are also changing how people search the Internet. 

A leading example of how AI is taking over the Internet is Google’s RankBrain. This machine-learning AI is part of the tech giant’s overall search algorithm, Hummingbird. 

Since 2015, Rankbrain has been improving Google searches. This search AI can learn and better predict outcomes since it is programmed to recognize words and phrases.

Is AI taking over internet search?

RankBrain provides a “best-guess” technique when it encounters a phrase at first instance to match the intent and meaning of the searcher. This capability to “think” makes RankBrain more efficient in managing unique search queries.

The rising number of AI-powered devices is compelling Google to turn to machine learning-based algorithms to maintain relevance. It also helps in keeping up with unique uses that emerge every day from using these devices.

As user intent became a most critical element of search, Google had made that critical shift to enable its search algorithm to identify the intention behind every unique search. By focusing on advancing its RankBrain machine learning system, Google can more efficiently deliver a better user experience.

This search-based AI is just one of the many ongoing industrial applications of ML. Our collection of important machine learning statistics indicates its numerous uses at present.

Trends highlights

  • AI and ML are changing online search protocols.
  • RankBrain allows Google to provide better search results.
  • This AI-based algorithm is designed to learn from user intent.

5. People are turning to voice for efficiency

The range of voice technology applications continues to expand. From marketing and HR to mass transport to finance, voice technology is being deployed extensively. Aside from streamlining business processes and reducing costs, it provides significant efficiency.

If the use case is right, voice technology enables people to complete tasks quickly and easily. By being very helpful, highly efficient, and getting things done. 

Overall, voice technology streamlines people’s lives in ways never before possible. One area that voice technology is simplifying significantly is voice search.

Voice search simply makes life better

On average, people can speak 125 to 150 words per minute. That’s over three times faster than the average typing speed. This is why leveraging this inherent human ability is providing beneficial results.

Efficiency is the most cited reason why people use voice. 76% of people who regularly use voice technology say that they find it very natural. Other top reasons for its use are because it is simple and faster than typing.

Note, however, that voice offers more than just efficiency. As such technology continues to achieve unprecedented advancements, it will likely expand its already important role in our daily activities. Voice-powered devices are a definite must-have along with today’s top productivity suite tools.

How Smart Speaker Owners Use Voice Assistants for Shopping

2018 U.S. Voice Assistant Survey Results

Product search / Research

%

Creating shopping lists

%

Price comparison

%

Researching store information

%

Checking for deals and promotions

%

Placing one time orders for delivery

%

Checking status of order/delivery

%

Re-ordering items frequently bought

%

Placing one-time orders for in-store pickup

%

Source: Adobe Digital Insights

Designed by

Trends highlights

  • The use of voice technology applications will further expand.
  • Voice technology offers a wide range of benefits to our daily lives.
  • Efficiency is the main reason why voice technology is expanding.

6. Voice-enabled chatbots will continue to increase

As of January 2018, the average number of voice searches per month is 1 billion. Most of these queries go through voice-enabled chatbots. 

As voice recognition technology continues to advance in accuracy, vendors are deploying a string of new applications. This is why an increasing number of consumers are turning to voice engagement.

Today, almost half of consumers are using voice search devices at least once a day.

Voice-based chatbots rock!

Voice-enabled applications, especially in their stand-alone form factor, are leading the way in the integration of the digital and physical worlds. This integration is producing a wide array of related services that aim to provide a seamless user experience.

Easily accessible and highly interactive, voice-based chatbots and related services are creating amazing value to consumers and businesses.

Some of the benefits that voice-based chatbots provide include:

  • Voice AI enhances customer insights
  • All text and no voice is monotonous
  • Faster responses and zero wait time
  • Better two-way interaction
  • Better customer experience
  • Increased productivity using multitasking
  • 24/7 availability
  • Fraud detection

All businesses should take advantage of how consumers use voice-based chatbots. One way to do so is by deploying chatbots in customer service.

how an ai chatbot works

Trends highlights

  • Voice-enabled chatbots handle most of today’s voice searches.
  • Advancements in voice voice recognition technology result in additional applications.
  • Voice-enabled applications spearhead the digital world-physical world integration.

7. Human behavior is changing due to voice technologies

Using voice search is changing how people behave in their daily lives. For instance, voice search technology enables people to multitask in ways that weren’t thinkable previously. 

This new multitasking capability per se is generating a new generation of unique human behaviors. Many voice device users today, for instance, are asking for flash briefings–a review of the key headlines of the day–in their daily morning routines. 

It’s also common to request a radio station to play while cooking, and ask for directions while driving to an event.

How do people use voice search today?

Everyday, 32% of people aged 18-64 use voice search. And around half of this group (52%) use voice search while driving. This growing behavioral change offers a host of possibilities and questions, especially for commercial purposes.

One interesting question that businesses should ask about this is: What is the most common query that people search for while driving? They’re looking for local services.

This is why our unanimous choice for the top voice search trend is local business search. Local businesses are truly the most affected by the voice search revolution.

Anyways, here are the top 5 ways voice search is changing human behavior:

  • It makes life easier
  • It’s at the center of the home
  • It’s part of the daily routine
  • It offers a new, more human relationship with technology
  • It’s a new playground for brands.

Bar chart of circumstances people would use voice search local business

Trends highlights

  • Voice search has altered human behavior.
  • One such change is the unprecedented capability to multitask a new set of activities.
  • Local businesses benefit immensely because of voice search emergence.

8. It’s part of the emerging Conversational AI

Voice search disrupts the previously-stable text-based search order. It should be noted, however, that voice search is only a part of the larger revolution called conversational AI. This bigger shift covers the entire technological innovation that aims to allow people to quickly receive the answers they need.

Perhaps unknown to some, conversational AI is the very force that’s changing the behavior of consumers. Still, voice search assumes a critical role in the larger scheme of obtaining solutions at the fastest time possible.

At the core of conversational AI is natural language processing. This technology that powers voice search, if sufficiently harnessed, is quite astonishing. None of the major technology firms such as Google and Microsoft have mastered NLP yet.

Search engines are busy looking for answers

SEO marketers are now turning to answer engine optimization (or AEO) to better engage with search engines to get the answers that match searcher’s queries. Search engine marketers can take advantage of the possibilities that conversational AI and AEO offer people’s unceasing need for information.

Conversational AI for voice-based searches has different aspects from text-based queries. Most text-based searches typically have one to three words. On the other hand, voice searches generally have four to six words. This conversational span offers more clues necessary for understanding the searcher’s intent.

While voice search offers the information, the “assistance” that conversational AI provides constitutes the more substantial help. This level of assistance embodies the complete benefit that technology aims to provide people.

Trends highlights

  • Conversational AI is the larger, overall technological disruptions that include voice search.
  • Conversational AI is the core application of natural language processing technology.
  • SEO marketers are using answer engine optimization to provide better responses to customer inquiries.

What should you do with these voice search trends?

These trends offer numerous implications for both consumers and businesses. The ongoing shift that favors voice search points to several factors, but the most basic is because people are born to talk, not to type.

Most voice searches involved inquiries for local businesses and they came about due to the rise in global mobility. Businesses must optimize their online presence and brand information to take advantage of these trends.

The rising global adoption of smart speakers and the benefits that voice-based chatbots offer are instrumental behind voice search emergence. Likewise, voice technologies have changed people’s everyday lives and people use them because of the efficiencies they provide.

Voice-based machine learning and conversational AI will continue to advance further, thanks to the significant works of Google and other tech firms.

These voice search trends are indeed very disruptive. Does this mean goodbye to a text-based search?

On the contrary, the best SEO approach, in line with these changes, is to embrace both text and voice search optimization. Besides, the textual search will continue to exist and is not exiting anytime soon.

This way, you’ll experience the best of both worlds. Just like aside from knowing the latest trends, it’s also good to be on top of the latest voice search statistics.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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