The Future of Voice Search – Slow but Steady?

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention over recent months that there’s been a lot of chatter with regard to both the present and future of voice search. Contrary to popular belief, the concept of voice search isn’t actually anything new – it’s been around in one form or another for decades. The only difference being that the search engines and systems accessed these days using voice search are using entirely different algorithms and software systems as a means by which to both decipher what it is the individual is looking for and provide them with what they need.

The only question being – what does this mean for the future of search and SEO for your own business?

The answer for the time being at least is…not a great deal.

There’s really no disputing the fact that voice search is more popular and more important as a concept today than it was say 20 years ago.  Nevertheless, there’s quite a bit of confusion with regard to the uptake of voice search – as in how many consumers are actually turning to it as anything other than a novelty. This is something that wasn’t helped in any particular way by Google, having painted a picture of voice search actually decreasing in popularity.

Recently, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that among Android device users carrying out searchers through Google’s mobile app, somewhere in the region of 20% were now voice searches. Which in its own right sounds like a pretty important figure, but not when considering the fact that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt reported in the third quarter of 2010 that approximately 25% of searches carried out by way of Android devices were voice searches.

Does this mean that voice search is dead in the water? Not at all – it’s simply a case that the technology only really began to emerge in any kind of useful form in 2010, before which it was effectively useless. Experts suggest that this was the year when the initial emergence of voice search became something of a fad, prompting a huge spike in the number of consumers making use of it.

What’s clear as of now is that while those routinely using voice search still exist in pretty limited numbers, the number of consumers at least giving it a try is growing exponentially. In fact, a study carried out by MindMeld found that over the past 12 months, no less than 60% of the respondents surveyed said that they had for the first time begun trying out virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Voice Search.

The migration of search to mobile devices is prompting a significant increase in consumer interest when it comes to voice search and assistants. Nevertheless, consumers are also becoming increasingly (and quite spectacularly) demanding when it comes to the quality of the service they are provided with while carrying out searches. Given the fact that voice search continues to lag behind traditional search in this particular arena, it’s generally acknowledged that this is why voice search is taking time to get off the ground.

Going forward, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that voice search will play a critically important role in how your business does business. The time for panic among those falling behind has not yet arrived, but being proactively mindful about the role voice search will play in your firm’s future is highly advisable.