Voice is in its early days and similar to the early browser-war days of the internet, access is limited, lacking interoperability and open usage. One of the most important questions for enterprise users is that of voice-based search.
AI-voice will soon be a primary interface to the internet. We’re on that path now.
We talk to the internet, and it talks back. In time, talk will evolve to dialogue and dialogue will evolve to the give and take of human-like conversation.
Voice is now in its early days. Similar to the early, browser-war days of the internet. Access is limited. Interoperability, nil. Usage is cramped and constrained in walled gardens.
And some very big questions wait for answers.
One of the most important questions for enterprise users is that of voice-based search.
The Open Voice Network has found voicebot.ai to be a good source of informative articles and reports. For the topic of SEO, we look to findings from voicebot.ai’s recent study “Voice Assistant SEO Report for Brands.”
- Google reported that voice was the interface for 20% of its 2018 mobile search. Serious calculations suggest that voice was close to 13% of Google’s 2018 total search volume. One in eight, trending toward one in seven internet searches. In total, some 250 billion voice-based searches.
- Voice search will not be decreasing. Given that there are now more than two billion devices worldwide that provide voice assistant access, the trend line will rise.
- Nearly 60% of US adults have used voice search, and 47% expect to increase usage this year – according to a January 2019 survey by Voicebot.
- A smartphone is used by more than 90% of all voice searchers. And smart speakers more and more – used by roughly 45 percent of all voice searchers – as smart speakers are soon to be available to one-third of all US adults.
- Fact-based questions (asked by more than 60% of users) are the most common type of voice search.
- Request for direction (asked by more than a third of users) are the next most common voice search topic, followed by questions about restaurants; nearly a quarter (23.5 percent) have researched a product or pricing before purchase; another 23 percent ask for recipes or cooking instructions.
- Search is increasingly balkanized. It’s not just Google – especially in commerce industries. Roughly 47% of product searches in the US now start on Amazon – it’s by far the top search engine for shopping. YouTube (owned by Google), is the top search engine for video, and the number two worldwide for all searches. Facebook users conduct more than two billion searches a day.
- Screen- and voice-based search can be radically different. On the screen, a user may see 10 or more search results. In voice, however, “a single audible result is the only decent user experience.” That’s right: one. There are some options for additional information beyond the first results (depending upon platform), and smartphone responses can be more extensive than smart speaker (again, depending upon platform.)
- When it comes to search, the interface – with apologies to Marshall McLuhan – is the message. Search experience and results can differ based on the interface. According to voicebot, voice assistants consult multiple data sources before tapping into Google’s or Bing’s knowledge graphs. These include proprietary databases for “reserve terms” through which the voice assistant provider wishes to control all messaging.
Voicebot’s summary: “as voice assistant optimized content increases, the traditional web search knowledge graphs will be consulted less frequently.”
What did we learn? Three big things. Voice search is big, and getting bigger. It’s being used for a queries that directly impact commerce industries – from getting directions to researching products to getting recipes. And proprietary voice platforms may have their own rules for search – ones a bit different from those on the touch-and-tap internet.
This is but one of the issues being explored by the Open Voice Network, an industry association dedicated to artificial intelligence-enabled voice that is open: standards-based, interoperable, accessible (to all and through all), and secure.
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