The spread of voice assistants, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, heralds a new evolutionary stage for user interfaces.
According to a forecast once given by the market research company comScore, 50% of search queries should have been voice-based latest by 2020.
So, how did and will voice influence user behavior when searching and how do companies have to react to this?
The German agency for digital marketing, blueSummit, summarized the most important points in a guide, emphasizing that executing a search query via voice and getting the result spoken does not make sense in every context. Despite all the enthusiasm for new technologies, one thing should always be kept in mind, the company highlights, namely usability, the fundamental prerequisite for widespread acceptance of any technology by users.
Voice is unbeatable when it comes to receiving information or starting an interaction quickly and, above all, comfortably without long typing and perhaps even while doing other activities at the same time.
Voice search certainly makes sense wherever classic short head keywords are too imprecise for a good search result or where long-tail optimization would be a bottomless pit.
But there are also less advantageous scenarios, like for instance using voice search on public transport or in a noisy environment, or when it is mostly about visual searches: e.g., in the fashion industry a single voice search most probably can’t bring satisfying results. Hence, voice won’t replace the advantages of conventional search modes yet. With this in mind, we can expect that voice search is unlikely to become an all-encompassing game changer, rather continue to drive technological trends in the future.
Reason enough to start thinking about the strategies that voice assistants will play in their own business environment and to consider the following aspects:
- Customer benefits: Ask yourself where your user can benefit from voice search.
- Scenarios: Find out in which environment your user looks for your brand or product and ask yourself what added value a combination of different search modes can offer.
- Decision: Ask yourself if featured snippets are read out or if a dialogue via chatbot fits better with your brand image. Featured snippets can depict simple question-and-answer scenarios and are particularly suitable for W-questions, FAQs, or How-to. They can be easily integrated into a website and can be read out. Chatbots, on the other hand, can conduct detailed dialogues and offer multimodal interlinking with text or display, too.
- Intensity: Determine how deep a user should get into the dialogue and to what extent the traditional website user experience may reach its limits?
- Language: Determine how you want to address your customers and with what tonality, since language offers a lot of space for sympathy but misunderstandings, too.
Voice alone is not the future of search, but a user-centered mixture of traditional text search combines with voice and visual. Depending on the complexity of the search query, as well as the context and application scenario, the user should receive the appropriate search mode – sometimes purely and sometimes as a combined version. Hence, voice search should be understood as an additional part of the online user experience and be included in the SEO strategy. This is the only way to stage useful applications for the entire search area that really raise the interaction between user and interface to a new level.