Voice search: Hype or reality? [5 reading tips]

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Right now searching by voice is a trendy topic. Studies and surveys are flooding the media with tons of data about the expansion of voice search’s market acceptance. This data predicts a future in which the voice will be the main interface (opposite the screen) for each activity. There is talk of an SEO revolution that has triggered hysteria among SEO managers (but don’t panic)!

Conversation isn’t the same as convenience

The fact is that the use of voice assistants ís becoming more and more common with smart speakers like Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod. As a result, communication between people and voice assistants is steadily increasing. By 2020, about 30 percent of searches will take place without a screen. Until then, 50 percent of all searches should be based on voice input. Many users have been frustrated with the accuracy and usability of various voice assistants.

Most users, therefore, tend to use the assistants for less complex questions, e.g. Playing playlists or asking for the forecast. For conversations or for mere entertainment, language assistants are already used frequently. Why? Because communication simply doesn’t flow yet.

Alexa is quite useful for short and concrete answers. However, if the information is too detailed and rich, or when it comes to choices, the conversation becomes meaningless and endless, unless you have a smartphone (with a screen) on hand to follow the historical background.

There is also a (further) negative aspect. Would you search in public for accommodation in Majorca or abstract paintings for the renovation of the living room? Probably not. Here is the question: In which situations are we looking for things online? Mostly to bridge waiting times, e.g. At the doctor, in the cinema or boarding queue, or on the way somewhere on public transport. And always private, without disturbing others.

Context promotes visualisation

Voice Search is just a precursor to voice shopping. Retailers and manufacturers have already developed Alexa skills that allow products to be delivered directly to homes via voice commands. So far, so good. I could imagine buying everyday products by voice. But when it comes to expensive products or major purchases that require some preliminary research and time for consideration, voice-search is out of the question.

For price-intensive goods, it usually requires more context before the purchasing decision is made. In this context: Reading product descriptions or product reviews carefully on a screen, viewing product images and videos, or simply compare prices. I would not opt for a proposed Amazon product just for fun. But I would like to have the choice to discover other products before I make the last click.

Conclusion

Voice Search sounds exciting and revolutionary, especially for certain use cases where additional context (aka information) is not required. Voice-controlled assistants are already set up in cars and even in refrigerators. They are also designed to enter a private environment, since a search is primarily a private matter.

The technology isn’t just yet mature enough to take action of greater importance. In addition, the interface is, in most cases, not sufficient to enough execute complex commands. So far, there is only room for trivial and meaningless tasks. In addition, screen-based search offers significantly more scope for accuracy, convenience, privacy, choice, and inspiration.

SEO won’t change dramatically and will continue to do its utmost to deliver the best search results. People shouldn’t worry about finding new SEO strategies for voice search. According to Greg Gifford, this form of search is just a new way to make inquiries and not a new strategy. The same SEO procedures can be used as before. For the time being, voice search won’t change anything – neither in the search experience nor in our lives.

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