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Voices Carry: 3 Ways Voice Search is Changing the Digital Landscape in 2020

With about two-thirds of the American population working from home due to the global pandemic, we are seeing a shift in the way we use technology. In fact, in the first quarter of the year smart speaker sales rose 6 percent placing more of these devices in our homes with us while we practiced social distancing. 

Expectedly, our voice search trends have changed quite a bit. Many have pivoted from using the voice search function to receive morning traffic updates, to ask for the latest COVID-19 pandemic statistics and even to gauge their symptoms.

Let’s dive into how voice search is changing the digital landscape in 2020.

Using Voice Search for Pandemic-Related Information

“Alexa, how long should I wash my hands to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?”

A major shift in voice search trends has occurred due to the spread of COVID-19. Questions that were never searched before are now the top search queries in 2020. Users are asking their smart devices pandemic-related questions in order to get the most up to date information. Smart speakers even have special skills specifically tailored to answer COVID-19 questions. 

Is this shift here to stay? It’s hard to say. The spike in COVID-19 related searches will likely continue until a vaccine is created and/or the number of cases greatly decreases. Until then, try asking your smart device “Alexa, open Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19,” to ask questions about COVID-19. 

Unveiling America’s Hobbies Through Voice Search Trends

“Hey Siri, how do I bake sourdough bread?”

As the world took shelter in the Spring of 2020, the age-old practice of bread making rose the ranks of the search engine results page (SERPs). Voice search trends are now illustrating how people are spending their time both online and offline. 

The most popular voice search keywords include the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when, why. This shows us that people are using voice search to solve their everyday problems. 

During the global pandemic, these searches included shifts from “what is a gym near me” to “how to do an at-home workout” and from “where is the nearest bakery” to “how to bake bread at home” – a trend so popular that online and in-store grocery aisles were left barren of flour and yeast

With so many in self-isolation or working from home, it’s not surprising that this, among other trends, is highlighting the cultural shifts underway amid the global pandemic.

Voice Search and Social Justice

“Hey Google, tell me more about the Black Lives Matter movement.”

In addition to COVID-19, our nation is experiencing a social shift in the wake of global protests against racism and systemic injustices. Leaders, companies, and industries are being held to a new standard and have been required to not only respond, but take action to promote anti-racism through their work practices and marketing.

This expands to voice search as well.  Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all updated their smart devices to respond to Black Lives Matter searches. 

For example, when asked, “Do Black lives matter?,” Siri will respond with “Yes, Black lives matter,” followed up with a link to BlackLivesMatter.com. Google Assistant responds to the same question with: “Black lives matter. Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognizing the injustice they face is the step towards fixing it.”

The devices respond in a way that educates the audience on the harmful rhetoric of “All Lives Matter” and the significance of “Black Lives Matter” during this particular time.

Voice Search in 2020 and Beyond

Voice search trends won’t stop at the basics of bread making. The capability will continue to serve as a hub for accessible information, a COVID-19 prevention tool, and a game-changer for advertising and marketing.  

So how should your team approach voice search for your brand, product, or industry? Smart leaders will work with their digital teams to ensure that website content is optimized for voice search. This means they will have to delve into keyword research and content writing optimized for voice search queries. 

Technical teams can also build smart speaker skills to capture a new audience of voice-enabled device users. These skills, or capabilities, can be downloaded to smart speakers similar to how an app can be downloaded to a mobile device. Marketers can pay attention to trends, and create speaker skills that make customers’ lives easier, all while extending reach or increasing sales. 

The most important take-away is that your team should always be re-evaluating your search strategy to include the most relevant changes in the digital landscape and real-life current events. 

At Proof, we always Ask Better Questions in order to uncover better outcomes for our clients. Stay ahead of digital trends by partnering with Proof Strategies. Contact us for a free digital audit for your company or organization.

Shelby Burns

Shelby Burns

Shelby’s love for communications and the digital world has blossomed into a passion for digital marketing and content creation. A native Floridian, Shelby spends her spare time exploring the DC area. She loves planning outdoor adventures in the nearby National Parks, discovering new restaurants, and visiting all of the local museums.

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