I’ve never really been an advocate of Voice Search, yes I can see it as a useful way to reach your audience but over the past two years the adoption and frequency of use is low. I’ve seen people shout across social media about how important it is to optimise for voice search but how important is it really – we’ve got some facts for you to make your own decision. 

My real opinion (I’m not a fan of giving an opinion) is that when you use voice search you look like a donkey. People in my opinion tend to use voice search in only absolute situations, for example when their hands aren’t free, cycling, driving etc. 

What I notice is that people raise their voice, get frustrated at mistranslations by the device and the information relayed back often isn’t enough to satisfy as an answer. 

I’m a hater of opinions and I’ve just given you mine so here are the facts about Voice Search so you can make your own opinion

At this point I’d also like to credit, Amber Loode who wrote “The impact of Voice Search on Search Engine Optimization” 

Full Research Paper

Here is what her research discovered. 

Voice search is considered positon 0, meaning you’ve achieved a higher ranking than position one. For me this isn’t desirable, you’ve no opportunity to convert the user as they don;t make it to your site. Unfortunately for most SaaS companies voice search will be irrelevant for this reason. 

In the study they use a sample size of 374 which has a fairly accurate representation of a general public population. The only issue would be that the research conducted is very weighted towards students under 30, the results will be slightly skewed in the favour of people who are likely to use voice search.

  • 42% women
  • 58% men
  • 62% are students
  • 35% unemployed
  • 3% unemployed

The group was separated into people who used voice search and who didn’t use voice search. 

From a SaaS companies perspective

here is what you need to know

40% of people have never used search to their recollection, while 40% of the remaining 60% who do use voice search use it once a month or even less frequently. When you weigh up the number of searches made between google search and youtube it’s only a tiny drop in the ocean of searches are coming from voice.

People are still adapting to use voice search but the majority of searches are on mobile devices. For people who haven’t began to use voice search we’ve learned that 65% of people say they don’t see themselves adapting to voice search and see it as an unnecessary luxury. The people who said they can see themselves adopting need to see voice search becoming easier to use.

But here is the real gold nugget for SaaS companies – people don’t and aren’t going to use voice search to research a topic. They’re more likely going to use voice search to perform a task such as find a weather report, make a phone call, find directions, set and alarm. 20% of people have used it to find information about a company. The research doesn;t go into what sort of companies people searched for using voice search but I think from the other answers we can gather that a large majority of the companies searched for are local businesses

The majority of people using voice search find it handy when their hands are full. Again if you think of someone searching for information in your industry as a SaaS, are they going to be doing research when their hands are full? 

For a local business I think voice search is a very valuable thing, if I owned a pizza parlor I’d want to be all over voice search but as a SaaS Marketer I don’t think it fit’s the profile of the majority of the business I’ve worked with and I can’t see it being utilised in the near future either. 

Below you’ll find a full summary of questions and answers asked in the survey.

 

How often do you use Voice Search?

 

Every day – 5%

Couple of times in a week – 12%

Once a week – 6%

Once a month – 20%

Once a year – 19%

Never – 38%

 

For people who said they have used voice search here is when they started

 

One year ago – 31%

Two years ago – 30%

Three years ago – 7%

Three + years ago – 11%

Couple of months ago – 11%

Half a year ago – 10%

 

What devices do you use for voice search

 

Mobile – 90%

Smart Speaker – 14%

Tablet – 8%

Computer – 6%

Smart Watch – 5%

Car Device – 2%

Smart TV – 1%

 

When asked what do you ask here were the results

 

What are you searching for when using Voice? 

To call 44% 

To ask funny questions 41% 

To play music 34% 

To find a route 32% 

To check the weather forecasting 32% 

To set an alarm 28%

To ask questions 27% 

To check opening hours 27% 

Personal tips and information 26% 

Searching for ‘near me’ 25% 

Information about a company 20% 

To find the location of a company 19% 

To order food 19% 

Information about a product 18% 

Information about an event or activity 17% 

To check the news 16% 

To check my agenda 12% 

To check sport scores 12% 

To make a calculation 10% 

To find recipes 9% 

Information about traffic alerts 4%

Online shopping 2% 

Discounts and promotions 1% 

 

Sample size 225

 

Why are you using Voice Search?

 

Is that it is useful when hands are full 60%

Followed by it is fun – 45%

it is easy – 44%

no time to type – 29%

faster results – 22%

it reads the answer back – 9% 

it is clear – 2%

It is hard for me to type on certain devices – 2%

Avoid difficult overviews – 1% 

 

What the disadvantages are of Voice Search 

 

Is that it does not understand their questions. – 74%

It is awkward to talk to their device in public – 57%

It doesn’t have an answer on their question – 37%

They don’t want people to hear their search queries – 24%

They don’t trust the outcomes – 21%

There are no disadvantages for them – 4%

Google can listen to everything – 3%

It doesn’t work with background noises – 2%

 

When asked why they are not using Voice Search? (n=135)

 

Is that they think it is an unnecessary luxury – 44%

Never thought of using it – 33%

It is a lot of work – 35%

I didn’t know of the existence – 33% 

I don’t trust the outcomes – 18% 

I don’t want people to hear my queries – 13% 

I find it embarrassing to use it in public places – 16% 

I don’t understand how it works – 11%

I don’t have the appropriate devices – 4% 

 

Their expectations of using Voice Search in the future is somewhat pessimistic. (n=135) They had to indicate their future use from 1, being never, to 7, begin a lot.

 

1 – 18%

2 – 22%

3 – 24%

4 – 19%

5 – 11%

6 – 5%

7 – 1%

 

What reason will make them use Voice Search more (n=135)

 

Is when it turns out to be handy. – 37% 

Followed by when it works better – 27%

When it works faster – 23%

When it will be easier – 22%

When it becomes more normal -18%

 

Another interesting overview is the frequency of usage per device. 

 

A Mobile Phone is used 

every day (7%), 

couple times a week (20%), 

once a week (10%), 

once a month (35%), 

and once a year (31%). 

 

A Smart Speaker is used 

every day (21%), 

couple times a week (42%), 

once a week (15%), 

once a month (18%),

once a year (3%). 

 

A Tablet is used

every day (6%), 

couple times a week (35%), 

once a week (18%), 

once a month (29%), 

once a year (12%). 

 

A Computer is used 

every day (8%), 

couple times a week (31%), 

once a week (15%), 

once a month (31%), 

once a year (15%). 

 

A Smart Watch is used 

every day (8%), 

couple times a week (25%), 

once a week (17%), 

once a month (33%), 

once a year (17%).

 

When asked which Voice Assistant they use 

Google Assistant – 56% 

Followed by Apple Siri (47%), 

Samsung Bixby (9%), 

Amazon Alexa (4%), 

Huawei Assistant (2%), 

Microsoft Cortona (1%). 

 

The next question is to indicate between 1, being never, to 7, being a lot, of what their expectation is of how often they will use Voice Search in the future.

 

1 – 3%

2 – 10%

3 – 13%

4 – 16%

5 – 24%

6 – 18%

7 – 16%

 

When asked if they would see it as a loss if the option Voice Search did not exist (n=225), 

 

46% said ‘mwah’, 

45% said ‘not at all’,

9% said ‘yes’

 

When asked where they use Voice Search (n=225), the main answer is 

 

at home with 92%. 

in the car (29%), 

at the office (16%), 

in the city (12%), 

at school (10%),

 on the bike (7%), 

at a party (5%), 

in a restaurant (2%), 

at an event (2%), 

at the fitness (1%). 

 

When asked when they use Voice Search (n=225), the main answer, 

 

is when they drive.36% 

Followed by when they bike (31%), 

when they do another activity (27%), 

when they watch TV (24%), 

when they cook (23%), 

when they walk (23%), 

when they lay in bed (21%), 

when they work (16%), 

when they are with friends or family (16%), 

when they sport (6%), 

when they go to the toilet (5%), 

when they are bored (4%), 

when they sit on the couch (2%). 

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