Voice search has come a long way since Apple debuted Siri in 2011. Today, the voice-enabled home assistant is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the American household, with Google, Amazon, and Apple, all offering products designed to answer questions, play music, and (in time) help you shop. The evolution of voice technology has scaled quickly, and implications for retail are becoming more apparent. In fact, comScore predicts that 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
At the end of its fourth quarter, Amazon announced it sold "tens of millions of Echo devices" in 2017, with three separate reports estimating Amazon's U.S. market share of voice assistants, or smart speakers, is between 70-76 percent. Couple those results with Amazon's ad business growing by 60 percent in Q4, and it becomes clear that voice search is set to become a major factor in advertising, particularly for retail.
With the growing popularity of voice assistants, retailers will need to adapt from simple text queries to complex conversational queries. So what will it take to optimize for voice search?
It isn't what you said, but how you said it
The two most obvious distinctions between traditional search and voice search are the way consumers phrase questions and the way answers are presented. Traditionally, typed searches involved short keywords and simple phrases with many text results listed. In contrast, voice search is generally made up of longer action-oriented phrases, including complete sentences phrased as questions, generally producing a single answer.