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Voice Search - What Retailers Need to Know

Voice Search Android

Organic search is changing. It has evolved from a single database look-up, to a database and directory, to AI data rendering, and now an AI complete with voice and language recognition. Voice search has become a large part of the mobile search experience with 27.5% of all smartphone users in 2017 using a voice-enabled digital assistant (study by JWT and Mindshare Futures). This is expected to increase to 50% by 2020 according to


Google Voice SearchBut why does this matter to eCommerce companies? In a long term view, it means that customers will use voice assistants to make transactional queries, or queries indicating an intent to complete a purchase. Some companies are already on this path. For example, Amazon's Alexa lets customers order hundreds of thousands of digital and physical products ranging from pizza to jewelry – or even hail an Uber, using only their voice. Google Assistant lets shoppers order products from third party partners via Google Express and also integrates with other apps like Uber, OpenTable, and Spotify.


In the short term, it's important to understand what differentiates voice search from text search within search engines, and what the current use is. Google stated at their I/O keynote that 1 in 5 queries made on their mobile app and on Android devices were voice searches. Many of these searches are local and phrased conversationally as questions, full sentences and/or long phrases (ex. "Is it going to rain today?"). This means that the keyword behavior for voice search is very different from text search.


Terms most used on the voice list include:
  • pronouns
  • questions
  • function words like determiners
  • prepositions
  • but rarely any nouns


It can be challenging to tailor a page for both text search and voice search. To help you reach both search behaviours it is helpful to optimize one page for text search and another for voice. Both would address similar information, but that information would be displayed differently, in order to avoid content duplication. 

Businesses must now tailor their optimization efforts to accommodate the way people use voice search, by considering how people ask questions and how they speak. With AI technology evolving to understand intent within search context (from things like location and past searches) marketers will need to put more value on a user’s location within the sales cycle. These considerations should translate into website content, in order to provide relevant answers to the questions your users are asking.

Since voice search is very location based, HTML add-ons and optimizing microdata along with local SEO is an absolute necessity. Up-to-date locations, hours of operation, phone numbers and other data is very relevant for local searchers. With voice search queries like “restaurants near me” or “Buy SUP board in Ottawa”, local visibility is key. 


Important Stats to know:
  • “75% of consumers say that they now search on their mobiles more often because of the technology.” –
  • “1 in 5 online adults have used voice search on their mobile in the last month” via Global Web Index
  • “Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text” via Search Engine Watch
  • “Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products.” via Social Media Today
  • “28% think voice search is a more accurate way of searching” via Katherine Watier
  • “43% cite that using voice search is quicker than using a website or an app” via Katherine Watier


Voice Search is relevant today, and will only evolve to be more widely used and dynamic in the future. In time we'll be able to go though the entire sales process without touching a screen. Early adoption of this technology can put you years ahead of the competitors. 


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By Bethny Card

As a Digital Marketing Specialist, Bethny is a strong SEO resource for Thinkwrap and our clients. She holds an advanced diploma in Advertising, and brings with her over five years’ experience working in the digital marketing field across Canada and abroad. Her dedication to her career and thirst for knowledge contribute to her role helping customers achieve omnichannel growth maximum ROI.

Tags: SEO