Surprised? So were we when we first heard. Microsoft recently announced that 24% of all searches on Bing are voice searches.
Voice searches are longer than text searches, and getting longer. That’s according to Rob Wilks, VP North America, search sales at Microsoft Search Advertising, who adds that where text searches are commonly one to three words, voice searches have grown to between six-to-10 words.
But why the high ratio of voice to text searches on Bing? One reason may be that Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana, integrated into Windows 10, now uses Bing exclusively. Another is the increasing use of mobile devices, with around 40% of voice searches on mobile devices concerning places and locations.
And who’s using voice search? A 2014 survey found that 55 percent of teenagers use voice search every day, and 56 percent of adults use it because it helps them feel more “tech-savvy.” The survey,conducted by Northstar Research, interviewed 1,400 Americans and was commissioned by Google.
Speaking of that other search engine, Google says the percentage of voice searches it receives has doubled over the past year. But we doubt the ratio of voice to keyboard entry is anywhere near as high as for Bing.
Why should you care?
While we are surprised by the figures from Bing, we expect voice searches to increase as mobile usage continues to grow and technology improves.
But why wait? Think about adding website content that will work well for natural language queries now.
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Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.