More threads by JoshuaMackens


Local Search Expert
Sep 12, 2012
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I haven't seen a lot of people talking about voice search on the forum.

I've seen TONS of articles about the importance of voice search for businesses but I'm just not sure I agree.

I want to know what you guys think because if I'm wrong here, I want to know. I don't want this thing blowing up into something I don't see coming ;)

My opinion on this is contrarian to the industry right now. Personally, I think voice search is overhyped.

1) Currently, voice search blows for unbranded searches. Mostly because smart devices can't understand what you're saying.

2) When voice assistants get sophisticated enough with their language processing to understand not only what you're asking, but intent, do you think consumers will even use their voice assistants for unbranded searches? Unbranded searches are very research based. Your eyes take in information much faster than your ears. I personally can't see myself doing unbranded searches through a voice assistant. I want to see all of my options, their reviews, and other factors. I can take that all in at a glance on a device. You certainly cannot do that via voice search, no matter how good the technology is. You will always have to process your information in an auditory manner, which makes voice search tough for unbranded, consumer shopping.

3) Let's say I'm 100% wrong (definitely possible) and unbranded search does catch on. As voice search progresses, it's unlikely that search engines will develop a separate search quality algorithm for voice search. It only makes sense for search engines to connect voice search to their core search algorithm with maybe a different way to interpret voice queries. My point here is I think voice search will be much like mobile search. If you rank well on regular search, you're probably going to rank well on mobile search. Same thing would apply to voice search as well.

4) Tackling branded searches, that's not "voice search" as it is being branded in the industry and that I'm reading about in all of these articles. "Voice search" as it is being used in context, is consumers actively using voice search to shop and spend money, which, again, I think is a long shot. Branded search is fairly easy and voice assistants are great at it now. "Siri, get me the phone number for ABC," "Alexa, is DEF open?". But that's fairly easy to nail. Just be on Yelp and have your information accurate. Alexa pulls from Yelp and I'm guessing Siri does too? Accurate local business data is tough. Only Yelp and Google are really able to pull it off. No sane company in voice search and assistants would use any other database because all other databases are full of flaws. Want a quick way for your voice search product to tank? Pair it with Bing Maps or Yellowpages. Heck, even Facebook. My point is, branded searches are not a big deal. Fix your info on 1-2 spots, maybe 3-4 if another database develops, and be done with it.

This reminds me a lot of beacon technology. Remember when it was all the rage 2-3 years ago? I never hear about it now. I personally thought adoption wasn't going to take off. I don't know why beacon didn't take off but voice search looks and feels similar as well.

What do you think?
I agree. I see the benefits like urgency, speed of contact and ease of finding information. However, it seems rare that people make a series of queries that lead them to a purchase in the way that results in a lead/sale.

The intelligibility errors are a huge pitfall. Why ask a question 3 different ways at 7 different volumes (each increasingly louder) when you can type something and be understood perfectly.

Also voice-to-text isn't the advantage over typing it used to be with features like Swype and Google's predictive/suggested query features you're likely to find more and better answers imho via search and anyone who searches a lot usually learns this pretty quickly.

Voice search very much seems like a flash in the pan but if the iron ever heats up we will be right there with it.

How will voice search effect local search.

I am starting to use Amazon Alexa more for local search how should i optimise my business for local voice search?


Hey Ollie,

I'm going to merge this with another thread that came up recently on the same topic so you can see the responses.
Many Thanks Joy

As a new member this forum is really useful as a resource for local search. I find the people at GMB are slow to respond via twitter and their telephone support is ok.

Yeah, Google is the last place I would look for advice on ranking ;)

GMB support is great for fixing specific issues like merging a listing but when it comes to questions like the one you posted, this forum is the best place to get some solid opinions and advice.

I 100% agree with what Michael wrote above.
I think basically the entire conversation around voice search is for marketing technologists positing the future. It's def not the current reality, and I would bet money on it not being relevant near-term (at least in the way most people think about it). More thoughts:

Though it's a good way for Google to lock local searches exclusively into HSAs (which they do now for categories they are in).
To be in a good position with voice search is like Joshua said, make sure your business information is correct in places like Yelp. I haven't seen much for unbranded searches, but maybe that could change for local businesses in the future.

Maybe "near me" searches could be more important for voice, but to echo Dan's point voice search is not good right now. Siri and Alexa constantly misunderstand what I ask.
I think you nailed it, Joshua.

If voice search was so consequential, we'd probably see less spam (or different kinds of spam), for one thing. Few people would call the businesses that sound fishy.

"Siri, find plumbers near me."

"Plumbers Near Me," "Best Plumbing Company Near You..."

"No, Siri, I want you to find plumbers near ME."

Lot's of "who's on first?" situations.

Spam goes where the opportunities are.

Voice search is fun for people to write about. I think that's the main reason so much ink has been spilled on it.
Voice search is fun for people to write about. I think that's the main reason so much ink has been spilled on it.

That makes a lot of sense.

It's interesting the gap between what is written about in media and reality. Search experts aren't even driving the narrative on voice search. It's media whose expertise is Although I fully realize that is how media works, there's a gap that needs to be closed somewhere.
@JoshuaMackens This is a great thread and alot of good info in your initial post! Wondering how your thoughts have changed in the last year regarding voice search?

I still don't think the level of sophistication for voice assistants has made any greats leaps since you wrote this.
Thanks for asking!

I haven't done as much research but I think most of what I wrote then is still true. I think there's no reason to create a brand new algorithm for voice search, just like there isn't a brand new algorithm for mobile. It's slightly modified. So, generally, if you rank well, you'll rank well across all algorithms. That still makes sense to me as of today.

Maybe some of the others will weigh in and we'll see what they think regarding voice search and the progress it's made in the last year.

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