Voice Search: Is It Worth Your Time?

This week I’m going to do a little bit of investigating and dive into whether or not I think it’s worth your time, right now in 2018, to optimize for voice search.

This is based on the numbers, research, and data I’ve looked at and the way I see the trends going.

Note: Since, as some of you know, I’m NC based and also, as some of you know, NC is in the path of this Hurricane, this will be much shorter than usual…I have things to do.


What Is Voice Search?


Come on, you know what voice search is. It’s when you go to your Amazon Echo or Google Home or Siri or Cortana(lol) and ask it to find something for you.

I’ve done it, you’ve probably done it and right now it’s estimated there are one billion voice searches per month. Granted, this doesn’t sound like much when you realize there are about forty thousand google searches PER SECOND right now but still, it’s a bit sizeable.

But is it big enough for most people to worry about right now?

Spoiler alert: In my personal opinion, NO.


Wait. One Billion Searches Per Month and You DON’T Think It’s Worth My Time?


Well, let me rephrase that – ‘No, BUT….’

Let me explain:

Unless you’re a local business that relies on ‘near me’ searches, a large corporation that would seem weird if you didn’t have results on voice, have a huge digital marketing team or are working in an industry niche where you need to be on voice search right now (I can’t think of any but maybe those exist?) you probably shouldn’t sit down and come up with a huge, planned out ‘VEO’ (Voice Engine Optimization..no, I didn’t just make that up) strategy.

Now I’m going to tell you why not.

Before we jump in, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should IGNORE voice search or not be thinking about it. I have both the Amazon Echo and the Google Home and I love both, I’m just saying it probably shouldn’t be the main concern for most people right now.


You Probably Don’t Need A Voice Specific Search Strategy


In 2017, Wil Reynolds and the folks at Seer Interactive put out a great study about whether or not it’s worth optimizing for voice. Guess what they found?

That’s right. It wasn’t worth it. The technology just wasn’t there and neither was the adoption of it by end users. Not for PPC and not for organic search.

While voice searches are consistently growing and the estimates are that by 2020 30% of searches will be done with voice or without a screen, there’s just no reason right now to upend everything you’re doing in marketing to focus on some huge VEO project plan.

On top of everything else, usually, if you have a solid technical & local SEO strategy in place including proper schema markup, using Google My Business properly and everything else, the rest sort of falls into place.

Which leads me to my next point…


Most Of You Aren’t Even Doing SEO Right


Considering that most people in 2018 still think regular old SEO consists of ‘just update the metatags and spam some keywords on the page!’, it’s my opinion you need to worry about that before you move on to anything else, including voice search.

What good is it to worry about having a highly detailed, super in-depth voice search strategy when your site isn’t even responsive and it takes thirty seconds to load?

Why should you go through all that time and effort to build out your voice search when you don’t have good product descriptions on your ecom pages and you refuse to optimize your checkout workflow?




What I’m getting at is there are a lot of things that too many people are still doing wrong before they should worry about getting this one right. It would be like putting frosting on a cake that fell in the garbage.

Before you worry about voice search you need to be more worried about your SEO, PPC, Social Media, Content marketing and email marketing plans. Once you have all of that locked down – and I can bet like 80% of you or more don’t have all those in place properly yet – then you can worry about voice search.

Far more people will be searching for your business via those channels than will go through their smart speakers and assistants so you want to make sure those are good to go.


The Bottom Line


While optimizing for voice search is a good idea and more and more people are searching using those methods, the adoption still just isn’t there yet to make it a high priority.

Yes, just like you probably have, I’ve seen the ten thousand presentations, webinars and everything else that dropped from a few big names in our industry in the past month alone about how to optimize for voice and even after that, I still just don’t think it’s worth it right now.

This is definitely something to keep an eye on for 2019 and beyond but right now, unless you’re a local business where voice/local search is an extreme priority, most of you need to just focus on getting everything else right first – which, if we’re being honest here, most of you don’t – before you go on a VEO kick.

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