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Prediction: 1/3 of Web Searches Won't Involve a Screen

voice search

Over the years, web searches have changed and shifted dynamically. Computers shrank. Desktops arrived in every home. Laptops flooded college campuses. Phones started connecting to the internet, then smartphones changed things so dramatically that some people stopped using computers entirely. On the side, there was the steady growth of tablets and other hybrid devices. People could access the internet from anywhere, running web searches on a wide variety of machines.

One thing that those machines always had in common, though, was a screen. We understood that the internet was delivered to us through a screen. That was the portal. It could be the basic screen of a desktop monitor, the large frame of a television screen, or the tiny screen on a smartphone, but you needed something. If felt like the internet existed out of sight, like radio waves, but these various screens allowed us to explore it endlessly.

However, some predictions now claim that a second web search revolution is coming, and it's coming quickly. By just 2020, they say that as many as 30% of all of these searches -- a bit under one out of every three -- will not involve any type of screen.

Voice Search

The reason that this is possible is simple: voice search. It has many different brand names: Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Siri. But the basic concept is always the same. The user can simply speak to the computer and tell it what to do, and the computer then runs the search as specified. This is still technically web browsing, even though you see nothing and it feels so drastically different than what browsing has been for decades.

A Major Difference

In some ways, voice search is still the same. What the user says is the keyword or phrase, and the results are based on that. However, there are some major differences.

First and foremost, a search engine traditionally comes back with ads and links, allowing the user to then select the one that they want. This is the second chance for those who own these links to hook them. While most users will pick something on the first page -- overwhelmingly so -- they, technically, have hundreds of options and dozens of pages for most searches.

With a voice search, that list is gone. The system running the search has to determine exactly what the person wanted. They get only a single result, and it has to be right. There's no second chance to hook them. The user is, in this way, removed from the equation. If they do not like the result, they have to run another search. That single top result becomes all that matters, rather than just getting onto the first page of the search results in general.

Another potential difference is that many users may not search with their voice the same way that they would type. They're more likely to be conversational. For some, this could mean asking questions or saying whole sentences and phrases. For others, it could mean using even simple keywords more in line with the way they would speak.

For example, someone typing into a search bar while looking for a hotel may start with the subject and then remember that it needs to be in a certain geographic location, opting to tack that onto the end of the search. That's why you get search terms like "hotel Dallas Texas." With a voice search, the user is far more likely to say "hotels in Dallas." They may even say an entire phrase, such as "Find me the best deal on a hotel in Dallas." Fragmented, jumbled keywords will get traded out for those that sound, if not grammatically correct, at least the way people would speak.

Embracing the Future

While the majority of search traffic still comes through screens, it's important to understand how the future may turn out and how it impacts your SEO goals. Here at Content Customs, we can make sure that you're ready for everything the future brings.

Jonathan Schlosser

Posted on 24th October, 2019 by Jonathan Schlosser

About Jonathan Schlosser

Jon Schlosser is a professional writer and SEO specialist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

View all posts by Jonathan Schlosser