A couple of years ago I discovered that I could talk into my phone and send a text or email that way. It changed my life.
In fact, I’m not even writing this blog post on a computer. I’m talking it to you right now.
I have always been a verbal communicator. When I studied French in middle school, my teacher told me that there was no point in learning to read or write in French if you could not speak it. That was music to my ears. I always enjoyed speaking French and never really cared much to read or write in it. Why? Because as a little kid when my parents wanted to communicate something without the six of us understanding it, once we got to the point that we could spell, they began speaking in their very broken college French. My motivation was that if I could understand what they were saying, they could never get anything by me again… Of course as a parent now, I realize there are other ways to communicate without your kids knowing. Back then, I thought I had ‘em.
Although it sounds quaint to say it now, what attracted me to the Internet in 1999, when I started Union Street Media, was the power that the online world had in changing the offline world. The way that the online world continues to change the offline world never ends… and the next stage of what is coming has me particularly excited.
Here comes voice search.
In fact, it’s actually been here for a while.
As Stefan Swanepoel said at the T3 Summit that I attended this spring in Miami, voice search is a great example of how the world is changing “gradually, then suddenly”.
Today, 20% of searches are voice searches. They are run by people talking to Siri, talking to Alexa. By 2020, 55% of searches are projected to be voice searches.
Why does this matter? Well, if you can tell by the tone of how this blog post reads – when you speak you communicate differently than you do when you write. Makes sense, right?
One of my favorite lines these days is that “reading is hard”. Writing is way harder!
In the past, someone would search for “Beacon Hill apartment for sale” or maybe “Stowe condo”. When it comes to voice search, these searches are getting way, way more specific. A user would never take the time to write “beacon hill two bedroom apartment with direct outdoor access for under $750,000” or “three-bedroom ski on ski off Stowe condo built after 1990”. However, when you’re talking to Siri or Alexa, asking them to find either of those things seems completely logical. In fact, it’s what you’re looking for.
The result: the world of search engine optimization is totally changing. The number of search queries being run by Google that have never been run before is increasing exponentially. People are asking for what they want, verbally, instead of in writing, and it’s totally changing the game for what brokers need to have on their websites to capitalize on this trend.
In the old world of search engine optimization, it was all about things like inbound links that drove people to your site. In the voice world, it’s all about the neighborhood: everything from the underlying structure of how your site is hosted and deployed to the content that appears on a page and the corresponding listing information that goes with it.
Due to my personal passion for voice search, this is an area that Union Street Media has been spending a lot of time. We have already helped some of our most progressive clients get ahead of the voice search tsunami. If you would like to talk about where this is going and how we can help you, please give me a call. I always prefer that over corresponding in writing.