In 2018, voice search was one of the hottest topics in the SEO community. A popular article by Wordstream listed a handful of statistics around voice search, starting with the misconstrued Comscore statistic that by 2020, 50% of searches would be done through voice. It turns out, this statistic was related only to voice search in China. Despite the inaccuracy in the U.S. and overall global market, the quote has reverberated through the SEO industry and pushed digital marketers to frantically prepare themselves by learning everything they could about voice search optimization.
As 2020 approaches, marketers are now skeptical voice search will actually cause a cataclysmic shift to our marketing strategies. At BrightonSEO in April, Patrick Reinhart’s presentation was dedicated to questioning whether voice should be the main focus in SEO, with statistics to support that, so far, voice search has made a much smaller impact on searcher behavior than we anticipated.
At the same conference, keynote speaker John Mueller from Google had this to say:
“From my point of view, I see it as people are searching with voice. Obviously, these voice interactions are getting more and more common. But at the moment, I don’t really know what we would do with those [metrics.] If you knew for my website, these and these queries are getting voice queries, what would I change at the moment? Because I think for the most part if you make a website such that the information is easily accessible and useful for search engines and for users as well, then you don’t need to do anything special for voice.”
At Path Interactive, we wanted answers. How many people are really using voice search, and how are they using it? Has the rise in voice search changed or replaced how users search for things on desktop and mobile? How many searches will actually be replaced by voice in the next year?
We set out to answer these questions by conducting a 600–plus person survey that attempted to answer the SEO question of the year: Is voice search optimization really a crucial marketing strategy, or just a big nothingburger?
We surveyed 620 respondents ages 13-85 from the U.S. (57.4%), India (21.6%), Europe (11.4%), Canada (4.1%) and other countries. Respondents generally considered themselves to be somewhat tech-savvy: on a scale of 1 to 5 for “tech-savviness,” 47% of users scored themselves as a 4 out of 5, 19% as a 3 out of 5, and 30% as a 5 out of 5.
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