Voice search is going to rule the search universe in future: should you be worried?

With a number of virtual assistants available on desktops/laptops, mobile phones and standalone devices (e.g. Google Home, Siri), people are going to search more and more by giving voice commands. 

Voice search will take natural language search forward by leaps and bounds. Are present search engine optimization (SEO) actions geared towards this change?

Will voice search ever be popular or is it just a hype?

Talking is easier and less boring than typing. You need not be in a particular posture and tied to the device with fingers working on the keyboard. You can give the command while you are doing another task. Voice commands are unobtrusive and instant; you remember something suddenly or you need some help while doing a chore - and you speak to the device for an answer.

The trend may take some time before it breaks out in full swing and then becomes the norm. 2020 could be the time when voice search would have started becoming mainstream and  2021 when it becomes the preferred search option.

Voice queries are more conversational

Voice queries are likely to be more like our natural commands/ queries to a guide, an assistant or a friend in real life. So, search engines would need to learn the contextual meanings of  queries better than at present.

Before that, the voice recognition technology will have to be perfect. At present, there is a lot of gap between the spoken word and what is interpreted by the software due to voice quality issues and different accents.

Voice search will need to produce multiple results

Right now, virtual assistants are geared to give specific answers to specific questions. However, such single answers are not always sufficient. Bookmarking, opening multiple tabs, expanding the query with more specific queries, and saving useful links for future are other actions that searchers on desktops or tabs often take immediately after the first search query. 

On mobile phones, whether voice activated or typed, we often ask for nearby malls, restaurants, fuel pumps, directions etc and get instant results on screen with a great deal information attached to them. There are multiple answers and one can make  comparisons too (e.g. restaurants, based on customer reviews). However, such search and further actions are either not possible or are prone to error when searches are made for non-specific, nuanced and complex queries.

When there are no screens (e.g. with standalone assistants), display of answers is required even if the search engine is able to correctly figure out the query. That would mean another display hardware attached to the assistant or virtual solutions might emerge.

From a technology observer's point of view, voice search - for that matter, all voice activated ICT actions - will be a major development. For bloggers and website owners, the takeaway is that they have some time in hand to make their content better optimized for queries in natural language and they must make the best use of it.


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