Someday soon, users may be interacting with the Internet by speaking more often than typing.
A Brief History of Voice Recognition
Voice recognition tech dates all the way back to 1962, when IBM introduced its Shoebox computer at the Seattle World’s Fair. Shoebox was obviously pretty primitive: it was a standalone machine that could recognize 16 spoken words and the numbers 0 through 9. However, it set the stage for the tech revolution we are seeing today.
With the introduction of Apple’s Siri in the 2011 iPhone 4S, voice assistants started to become an everyday tool for most Internet users. Since then, the use of voice searches has begun to explode, and will continue to do so as smart devices become increasingly integrated into people’s lives.
Who Are the Major Players?
In the United States, Apple’s Siri has become the most-used voice assistant due to its integration in every iOS device, including iPhones and iPads. Google Assistant comes in second place, as it’s included in virtually every modern Android smart device, as well as the new Google Home devices.
Amazon Alexa is becoming increasingly popular as well: it’s the voice assistant included with every Amazon Echo device. As smart home technology becomes increasingly common, Amazon Echo and similar devices are poised to become everyday household appliances in the average person’s life. In the near future, an Amazon Echo may be as integral to people’s daily home routines as a microwave or refrigerator.
How Are People Using Voice Recognition?
Since the technology is so new, a lot of people are still only using voice assistants for menial tasks. They’ll activate Siri or Google Assistant to set an alarm or send a quick text message reply on the go. However, as the technology progresses, people are increasingly using voice recognition in sophisticated ways that are relevant to marketers.
For example, most modern vehicles have infotainment systems that integrate with smartphones. If a user is driving down the road and wants to stop for lunch, they’re likely to use their hands-free voice recognition system to locate a nearby restaurant. The top suggestions that the user receives from their voice assistant are determined by SEO tactics the same way that traditional search engine results are.
Another example is with home assistants like the Amazon Echo. People are using their smart home devices to create media playlists, shopping lists, or look up recipes and other online content that is relevant to home life. It’s a newfound way of browsing the web that will be a goldmine to marketers who know how get their content to the top of the search results.
Optimizing Your Site for Voice Recognition
Local optimization is extremely important when it comes to voice assistants. As with the restaurant example above, users are increasingly using their voice assistants to search for local businesses on the go. To stay on top, you have to optimize your clients’ webpages to appear at the top of Google Maps searches so that they’re the first results users receive when asking their voice assistants for suggestions. Facebook, Yelp, and other social review sites are also exceedingly impactful.
Contextual searches are increasingly important as well. The search engine results a user receives from a voice assistant are contextual: the assistant considers previous searches, browsing history, and location data to determine what the user wants to see. That means you need to optimize your clients’ sites with great content and a streamlined user experience to cement their place in the top of the results.
Looking Toward the Future
Voice recognition technology is only going to become more widespread and sophisticated as time goes on. More and more people are going to use it, and the software is going to become increasingly sophisticated. That will be especially true when the revolution of augmented reality and virtual reality devices comes to fruition in the years ahead.
Currently, the way for digital marketers to stay ahead of the curve is by developing quality websites and apps that beat out the competition in terms of content and user experience. Those are the sites and apps that are going to live on at the top of both traditional search results and voice assistant searches as the algorithms continue to evolve.
Combine that quality with a proper social media campaign and local optimization and your clients will be poised to stay on top of the ongoing voice recognition revolution.
Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work.