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New research reveals the intricacies of how voice search is used

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Rabbit & Pork shares surprising findings from new research as to how voice search is actually used

As voice assistants continue to evolve, so does the way users search; the expectation of quick and accurate responses from our devices is high, paired with sometimes low patience for inaccuracy or lack of understanding. For brands to maximize this growing channel, it’s crucial to understand user demand to advance their voice search strategy.

Brands wanting to benefit from the rapidly-growing voice experience market will need to get under the skin of how they are truly being used. We can’t solely rely on traditional search data. The way voice devices are used is inherently different to keying a query into a computer. By unlocking these behavioral insights for voice search we can adjust and optimize brand or product content accordingly.

Traditionally voice search data hasn’t been readily accessible – unlike traditional search data there is no key phrase tool detailing what people voice search for and how many searches per month.

Our report, launched last week, looks at a subset of data, which gives some key insights and data around what people are voice searching for and how often. At the same time users can use the new voice search key phrase tool to explore the different searches from the report.

One of the key findings included language semantics of voice search – the average number of words per search was 6.4 words in the UK, compared to 5.8 words in the US.

Across all territories there is also a clear variance in categories when using voice search. Searches for history, video games and climate tend to be longer in length. Video and animal searches tend to be much shorter, for example, “Alexa, can June bugs bite?” or “Alexa, do dogs howl?”

How people search is also important to understand – 77.5% of the searches start with either “what,” “how,” “who” or “what’s,” with a third overall starting with the query “what”.

Knowing when users are most engaged will allow brands to more effectively serve ads to an active audience. When splitting out searches by days of the week, there was a clear, growing trend from Monday to Wednesday. Time of the day for voice search is another key factor for brands to look at. From 5am in the morning there is steady growth of voice search usage, all the way to the peak at 7pm in the evening.

Some findings from the report are unsurprising. Naturally, voice search behavior and usage has shifted since Covid-19. In 2020 and 2021 there was far higher usage during the day, with more users working from home, whereas in 2019 usage would rapidly peak in the afternoon and evening as people came home from work.

Searches for food as one would expect peak around 5/6pm as people start to make their evening meals. Sport voice searches peak at 3pm and 8pm – both times football generally starts. For music we see peak usage at 9am, with people starting their working day, and then again at 7pm after people have eaten.

To uncover many more key trends, and find out how users are really using voice devices to search, download our voice search report here.

John Campbell, managing director at Rabbit & Pork.

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