We’re living in a time where most of our needs as humans, living in the west, are satisfied as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see image below). As we head higher up the in pyramid and towards esteem and self-actualisation needs, the thing that becomes most scarce is time. Therefore, people are looking for ways to save time. This is where the opportunity for Voice Search comes in play as it is much more convenient and less time-consuming to talk than type.


(Image source: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html )

Types of voice assistants

A voice search is when someone searches by verbally asking a question to a device such as a smartphone, smart home device or other devices like smartwatches. These devices will then provide a quick answer, verbally, as well as in a traditional SERP if they have a screen. The biggest players so far in terms of voice technology are Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.

Should we be optimising towards voice search?

Voice assistants can be a great tool in terms of routine, day-to-day tasks like writing down a shopping list, turning lights on and off while washing the dishes, or setting up an alarm etc. Yes, this is indeed the functionality that most of users have voice assistants for. However, ignoring voice search’s potential in terms of shopping, rendering it obsolete, means we’re failing to keep up with the latest and future trends.

A few facts & figures…

  • There were 4.2 billion voice assistants in use in 2020 and it is estimated that by 2023 there will be 8 billion of them. Meaning that there will be almost as many assistants as the global population.
  • According to Google, 27% of people in 2021 that use voice search are doing so on mobiles.
  • More than half of people with a smartphone in 2020 engage with voice search technology
  • 58% of consumers have found local businesses using voice search within the last year. If your business is dependent on local traffic, then it’s quite important to take it into consideration.
  • People not only interact with their voice assistants but are also becoming more likely to shop through them now as well. This is particularly important to e-commerce businesses, as well as local business, who could get leads through voice assistants. See the image below for some more interesting stats on voice search shopping.

(image source: https://uk.pcmag.com/shopping/133935/e-commerce-takes-a-new-pivot-voice-shopping )

How to capitalise on voice search in PPC

There are a few steps we can take in order to take advantage of voice search:

  • Get a web developer to create a voice search friendly website.
  • Have a strong mobile focus – most voice searches take place on mobile devices and it is important to have a good mobile customer experience.
  • Have high intent and local approach as people who are looking for something with voice search are more likely to be doing so locally. For instance, “Cafes near me”, “Plumbing services Edinburgh” or “pizza deliveries in Leith”.

Additionally, one of the most important ways to make the most of voice searches in PPC is by using longtail keywords. Search terms that are longer in size, help Google figure out the user’s intent better. It’s like talking to a human and trying to communicate, the longer our sentence, the more we can convey and communicate with someone. The same thing applies to voice assistants, longtail keywords allow us to demonstrate higher intent by being more specific on “when” and “what” we are looking to do.

To illustrate this, here is an example:

If we type “watch battery” into Google, we will get a list of battery pictures in the shopping section of the SERP with some details on price and the vendor. If we type “watch battery replacement”, we then show voice assistants some more intent and the SERP will offer us some more options like local listings of places where we can get our battery changed or an instructional video on how to replace a battery. Finally, if we say “Ok Google, where can I get my watch battery replaced?”, Google will then provide us with the best one answer based on our location and intent. That means the local store that has the closest longtail keyword will come up as the chosen result by the voice assistant. Of course, there are more parameters to consider with ad rank and who appears as the default first choice. However, this is just an example to show the importance of longtail keywords and why we should be capitalising on them during this period of ascend for voice assistants.

What does the future hold for voice search in PPC?

To sum up, voice assistants have been on the rise for a few years now. Although we have not yet fully transition into a voice search era, there are constant advancements in technology every year which are improving user experience. Therefore, as a result, we expect voice assistants to be an important part of user search and PPC.

So, it’s a good idea to start experimenting and taking the first steps towards this transition so that we can be prepared for what the future holds!

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