The State of Voice Search in 2023

Five or six years ago, voice search was going to be the Next Big Thing. How’d that pan out? Let’s look at Google Trends to see the volume of interest over time:

Google Trends results of the volume of interest in Voice Search over time.

Not exactly hockey-stick growth, right? But if you look closely, it’s starting to gain a little steam. And in 2023, we’re far beyond the early hype stages – it’s actual adoption that’s driving interest.

A recent report from Demand Sage (from April 2023) shows the following:

  • The biggest voice search adopters are aged 18-34. 
  • 77% of that group said that they use voice search on smartphones (including smart watches), while 37% of them used voice search on tablets. 
  • 34% of them used voice search on desktop. 
  • The most searched topic on voice, at 75%, is weather. Music came in 2nd at 71%.

Going a level deeper, from an SEO perspective, voice search presents a growth opportunity for eCommerce and/or local businesses. Some of the most common voice queries focus on restaurants, local entertainment venues, and physical products. These queries aren’t just identifying questions about these places or products, or where to find them and purchase them; they include queries about sales, discounts, and coupons at these particular businesses. 

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The role of voice search for consumers in 2023

Many voice searchers are quickly looking for ‘something’ near them when they’re on the go. If a user searches “Hey Siri, where can I get a vegan cheeseburger near me?” while driving, those local restaurants and food trucks are going to want to be discovered, and accessed quickly - allowing the user to add the location to their map/GPS straight from the smartphone, watch, device, etc.  

As you might have noted in the stats above, a good chunk of users are accessing voice search through desktops and tablets, which indicates more stationary searches – many focused on location-agnostic products. A user could be prepping for a vacation and searching “Okay Google, where can I buy a 2-piece bikini for petite plus-sized women?” You want to make sure that you’re optimizing for these types of queries and showing up world-wide to searchers looking for your products. 


The impact of AI and the future of voice search

Personally, and as an avid gamer, I think that voice search will only continue to grow in popularity and importance for SEOs as more and more intuitive devices like virtual assistants (VAs) and even virtual reality marketplaces emerge. As more AI, more VAs, and more virtual marketplaces develop, a wider range of businesses will see an influx of very specific longtail queries and a need for better voice search optimization.

AI specifically has the potential to change how formal and transactional copy starts to evolve and become much more conversational and personal to buyers/users. Much like the excessive retargeting ads of years past, AI can very easily overstep into creepy personalization and customization vibes if applied without guardrails. 


What to watch

Devices, adoption of new techniques and technologies, and behavioral trends are all in a highly dynamic state for platforms, marketers, and users in 2023. Even if you’re not in eCommerce or a locally focused business, you’d be wise to pay attention to all of those elements and consider how they might influence the significance of voice search with your most valuable audiences.

Stay tuned to the JDM blog for our recommendations for voice search optimization!

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