Voyager Legend CS images

More and more Americans are “speaking up” when it comes to finding what they want on the Internet. That’s because rather than type in requests on search engines, they are using voice search to find local or general information or they are interacting by voice with a digital assistant to accomplish a requested task. Want a good local Caffé Latte, ask Apple’s Siri to recommend a coffee shop and provide directions.

Voice search uses natural language processing and text to speech to understand the intent of a search, explains Search Engine Journal. The technology also matches the question to past queries, context and frequency of use to provide an answer. In addition to Siri, other voice-activated personal assistants include Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now. Google Voice Search (a Microphone is the app icon) enables users to speak on a smartphone or computer to conduct search queries.

Several of Plantronics headsets are compatible with today’s most popular voice search technology. As an example, the Voyager 5200 UC connects with Siri, Google Now or Cortana with one touch so that users can call phone contacts, send messages, schedule meetings and even search the web all via voice.

Voice search growing

In her 2016 annual Internet Trends report released in June, Mary Meeker, VC with Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, indicated that “Google trends imply queries associated with voice commands have risen greater than 35 times since 2008 after launch of iPhone & Google Voice Search.”

In a survey conducted by MindMeld of 1800 smartphone user respondents, cited in Meeker’s report,  the number one reason (61%) cited for the growing use of voice as a computing interface was “hands and vision-free interaction.” Other reasons:

  • 30% faster results
  • 24% difficulty typing on certain devices
  • 22% they’re fun/cool
  • 12% to avoid confusing menus

Leverage voice search

In “SEO Trends for 2017: Why Voice Search and Mobile Could be Big,” Sam Saidman, with AIS Media in Atlanta, points out how voice search will have implications for small business owners. He uses the example of a customer searching for a local plumber. Under traditional desktop or mobile searches, a high volume search might be something as simple as “plumber in Jacksonville.” However voice searches tend to be more contextual and longer so that the query might be more along the lines of a specific problem, such as “Why is water leaking from a vent in the plumbing system.”

To prepare websites for voice search queries, Toronto-based Internet marketing firm Reshift suggests small businesses will want to:

  • Improve their online presence: Make sure your small business is listed on major local listings sites, such as Yelp and Google My Business, and that company information is up to date.
  • Write relevant content: Write content and blog posts that are what local consumers are interested in. Find out what terms people use to search for businesses in your market and what questions they ask. Answer the most frequent questions in blog posts and web content.
  • Continue to make sure to follow best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through clear, relevant keywords; backlinks  (other sites that link to yours) and internal links to send visitors from one page to another within your site to keep them on your site longer.

Customers are speaking up with voice search. Make sure your website is ready to answer them.