I heard something last week that may be common knowledge to many but came as a bit of a surprise to me. By 2020, 50% of all global search queries, will be voice. That’s right 50% in just two years’ time, or at least that’s the prediction of ComScore. I personally haven’t used voice search before and looked on it as a bit of a gimmick if I’m to be honest. The first time I did a voice search was this week. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 and the phones AI “Bixby” suggested that I try voice search. It’s almost as if my phone is reading my mind or is it listening to my conversations? I think I’ll leave that conspiracy theory, or not, for another day. Oh, and by the way, I’m at Bixby level 3, whatever that means. So, I’ve been doing a bit of reading on voice search and it appears it really is the way forward. I did find it a bit strange speaking out load to the phone on my desk saying, “Ok Google” and I did get one or two strange looks although that may be nothing to do with Google. Looking back to the early 90’s; I didn’t think I would ever own a mobile phone and thought anyone who had one was a bit of a poser. Now admittedly, I am a bit of a tech geek, lack of knowledge on Voice Search aside.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search “does exactly what it say’s on the tin”, a means to search on the internet using your voice. One of the first mainstream voice enabled services was Apples virtual assistant Siri. Since then, many applications have appeared on the market, most notably, Google Voice Search, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and not forgetting my Galaxy’s Bixby.

Why is it on the rise?

I mentioned earlier that I felt a bit strange speaking aloud into my phone to perform a voice search, however I am increasingly in the minority. A recent study from Stone Temple suggests that people are becoming more comfortable using voice search.

What’s most noticeable is the rise in the willingness of people to use voice search in public places. 20% are comfortable using voice search in a theatre; Seriously, does this concern anyone else?

What is position "0"

Before I explain what position #0 is; you need to understand what “Featured Snippets” are. Featured snippets are boxes at the top of Google SERPs. For the example on the right. I simply typed, “What is a featured snippet” and the result returned the featured snippet shown here. It would have been funny had that particular query not returned a featured snippet. Search Engine Land describe the featured snipped as the answer to the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why)

The featured snippet is a summary of the user’s query and is known as position #0. Position #1 was always the coveted position in organic ranking, however if Google chooses your site as the result in a featured snipped, you have in fact beaten position#1. Featured snippets come in several shapes and sizes and include:

  • Paragraphs
  • Tables
  • Numbered lists
  • Bullet lists
  • YouTube Videos
  • Charts
  • Images

Voice search will not return a list of results for you to choose from. When you enter a query via voice search the answered returned is the answer chosen as position #0.  With 50% of all search expected to be voice search in 2020, you can see the obvious benefits of optimising your site for voice search.

OK Google – Feel Free to share.