What Your Law Firm Needs to Know About Voice Search
Voice search is a natural progression of the technologies Siri, Google Now, and Alexa have popularized. It is now natural for users to speak commands to a device to get specific actions. And why not? It’s much easier to speak commands or search phrases into your phone or smart speaker, compared to typing on a tiny keyboard. It’s also easier to do when you’re trying to concentrate on another task.
Voice recognition technology has advanced to the point where it is sophisticated enough to recognize what the user wants. Advances in smartphone hardware and software have made the integration of this technology into a seamless affair. Of course, there is some initial setup and training involved for the algorithm built into your device, but the training period has been vastly reduced to the point that it has become a minor inconvenience.
The rise of voice search
The rise of voice technologies had already been predicted in the early 1980s, although it took more than 2 decades to mature these technologies into a coherent whole. Eliminating the use of our hands and eyes to give instructions to a personal device drastically changes how we use that device. Instead of concentrating on using it, we just tap a button on the device and give instructions. Whether we’re driving, cooking, shopping, or doing a simple household task, a voice command is so much simpler to initiate compared to typing it using our hands and eyes.
That voice search will become a standard for how we interact with our personal devices is not in doubt. In 2018, voice interactions with our devices accounted for 50% while in the office, and around 30% in public areas. You’ll find further predictions that by 2020, 50% of searches would be done by voice.
Like any introduction of new technologies, it is the younger generation of users or the early adopters who embrace it most rapidly. Research has shown that of smart speaker users, 53% are below 37 years of age, and 32% is accounted for by those aged from 37 to 52. After that demographic, only 15% use voice-recognition devices. It’s pretty clear that as these younger users age, the rise in the use of voice recognition devices will only become more widespread.
Voice search outlook for the future
Like the shift to mobile devices from desktop PCs, voice search is a different experience for both the content provider and the user. Even with advances in technology from hardware and software, there are a lot of errors that can be introduced in a voice search. Accents differ. Words can have several meanings. This is where the data you are gathering from users of your website will be of use to your SEO agency. (if you don’t have an agency or require a second opinion, reach out)
For the user, the device you use also impacts the results. Ask Google Home for a laptop recommendation and it will read off a list from a tech site. Ask Siri the same question and it will give the Apple Mac as a recommendation. And Alexa will give another answer too, as it uses Bing and Amazon data to answer the questions posed to it.
From this example, it’s obvious that for now, voice is search is effective if you only need the specific answer to a query. For example, what the recipe is for apple strudel. While there are dozens of recipes that are posted on the web, only the most popular and most authoritative recipe will be chosen and voiced out to you.
But behind the scenes, work continues on artificial intelligence and natural language processing, so that the searcher’s intent is clearer to the search engine, and the best results can be returned.
Despite the rise of voice search, screens will not go away anytime soon. As has been demonstrated, a search initiated via voice will return a result that a particular search engine thinks is relevant. And as we’ve demonstrated, that relevance may depend on the search engine your particular device is attached to, as in Siri equals Apple and Samsung equals Android. If you want to scan through a list of results, a screen would still be the best interface, at least for now.
At this point, it remains to be seen how the mix of hands-free (voice) and traditional interfaces (hands, eyes, screen) will play out.
Voice search from an SEO perspective
Obviously, voice search provides results in a different way. Instead of giving you a host of links to tap or click on, the voice response will give you a result that the algorithm thinks is the most logical answer. This too will have a bearing on PPC (pay-per-click) ads, as you will not be looking at a screen where you will be presented with ads or links to tap or click on.
Although Google at this point is the dominant search engine, the rise of voice search has been a disruption to its business model. Already Bing has established itself as a leader in the voice search market because of its association with Amazon.
What this means for websites is that one cannot tailor its strategy for Google alone. Your keywords must be relevant in all search engines, and your keywords must be tailored for natural language searches. While text-based search phrases use 2-4 words, a voice query will be a sentence that is composed of a string of 10 words or more.
So, it’s very important to optimize your law firm’s website and its keywords for ranking. The single result returns that a voice search will give you usually come from the snippets that text-based searches return, so you must ensure that you are in those snippets.
Blogs will be as important, as these give your site authority. Location will be even more important with voice search, as results will be returned according to a user’s location. Thus, your firm’s listing will need to be up-to-date.
In short, SEO will still be highly relevant in the voice search world. Be up to date with your analytics, as the optimizations and adjustments you need to do will come from user data.
If your law firm needs help becoming optimized for voice search, we can help. In particular, if your website content needs to be better crafted to capitalize on specific keywords, our writing team can assist. If your requiring help with both SEO or Adwords, we can also assist! Reach out here