The most important statistical prediction you must consider for the health and survival of your business is the following: 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 according to comScore. Voice search and the impending Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) revolution is upon us. Future internet trends are pointing us in a new direction that will contain many challenges.
What would you do if your business faced the possibility that the great expense, time, and effort you invested in building your company’s search engine optimization (SEO) rankings could become obsolete within a decade? The first questions you would probably ask would be “obsolete how?”, “why and for what reason(s)?”, and “how would the decline of traditional SEO effect my business?” The simple answers would be supplanted by voice engine optimization, because voice search is easier than typing in a search query, and if the trend in consumer behavior is to search for services and products by voice, your traditional SEO most likely will not be effective for voice searches.
Voice Engine Optimization the New SEO
This is both a warning and a plea – do not wait to take action in preparation for the coming tidal wave of search queries initiated by voice. These adoption rate predictions are why you must begin to prepare now:
- 47.3 million adults (20% of the US adult population) have adopted voice-powered devices aka smart speakers
- 25 million smart speakers were sold in 2017 with Amazon Echo and Google Home accounting for the most sales
- By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be performed without a screen
- 10 million homes are equipped with screenless devices as of the end of 2017
In addition, this massive movement to voice search capable devices includes our mobile phones, tablets, and new smart speaker technologies emerging at a rapid pace. This is your opportunity to get in front of the wave, be an early adopter, and stake your claim in the incredibly competitive VEO revolution to evolution.
Three reasons for the explosive growth of voice search:
- It’s much faster than a typed text search; consumers save time
- The answer, in most cases, is read back to you so you are not required to read the answer
- You don’t have to type – it’s hands free
Adoption Rate of Television vs Smart Speakers
How explosive is the growth of voice search and devices that support these searches? To understand this growth, compare the adoption rate of television to the smart speaker. It took television 13 years to reach 50M viewers. It has taken 2 years for smart speakers to reach 50M users.
What is Voice Engine Optimization?
Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) is the next generation of search engine optimization tactics based on voice search. As mentioned, VEO relies upon a voice query while SEO is initiated from a typed text search in a search engine.
There are a number of names for VEO. Many top SEO pundits and experts like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, and others refer to Voice Engine Optimization as Voice Search Optimization or Answer Engine Optimization. These names appear to be interchangeable terms for the same thing.
The Critical Voice Engine Optimization Reality: One Answer per Query
For years businesses have optimized for user typed search queries using SEO tactics. The payoff is for each search query, the user is served, a number of results are returned to the user in order of relevance according to Google. Within this paradigm, the user performing the search query, can choose their answers based on what appears on their screen. They browse and click. The fight for page one top ten slot placement is fierce and yet many answers are available to the consumer. This plethora of answers gives marketers and businesses hope that they too will be seen by users even if they didn’t make the page one search engine results pages (SERPs). In addition, many opportunities to improve organic rankings, improve search engine optimized rankings or run Google Ads are available to businesses and marketers. This does not seem to be the case with voice search.
The shift to voice search, according to many SEO pundits, is being led by the change in user habits, the proliferation of smart speakers, and also by Google whose goal in voice search is to provide the best most definitive answer to the user. In essence one answer returned for each voice search query. Google wants to speed up the search process by reducing the need for users to vet through a number of search results and then click through in order to find their answers. Voice search accelerates this shift, with the majority of voice searches receiving a single answer read back to the user by a digital assistant e.g. Echo or Google Home. Did the impact of this last statement stick? Here it is in a nutshell:
- One answer per query is returned to the user
- Page one, top ten positions are eliminated in voice search
- Businesses will be competing for the one answer slot
- Google is still trying to determine how they will replace or invent Google Ads (formerly Adwords) for voice search queries
What Types of Businesses Must Adopt Voice Engine Optimization?
Many people assume that businesses like restaurants, retail goods, hotels, and entertainment will be the most likely targets of people using voice search to find their answers. But that is shortsighted on a number of levels. Although service industry, restaurants, hotels and retail goods, and entertainment will certainly be a prime target of consumers using voice search, professional services industries will also be competing for ears.
Leading the professional services industries will be the legal and financial services sectors. Optimizing for local voice engine search, like in SEO, will be a prominent lead generation tactic.
Next Up: How to Voice Engine Optimize Your Business
This is an introduction to voice engine optimization. Because this is still a new paradigm, the strategies to optimize voice search are being tested and formulated. In our next article, we will identify some of these new tactics with an eye for helping you begin the process of competing for the coveted single answer voice search output Google will return to users. In less than 18 months, consumers will be listening for your business – will you be there to answer them?