'Hey AlexaSiriGoogle, how is Tech changing the norm?'
This week we talk conversational AI, beauty AR and Instagram pronouns.

We need to talk about Voice Search

Why brands need to consider Voice Search and Conversational AI as an important part of their marketing strategy – now and in the future.

Max Kitchen



4 minute read

Last month, my wife bought me a Google Nest Hub for my birthday. While it was dressed up as a thoughtful gift, I have a sneaky feeling the real reason for bringing a Virtual AI Assistant into our home was because she couldn’t stand looking at the random scattering of post-its that would appear overnight on our kitchen benchtop. (Note: If I don’t write something down right away, I’ll never do it).

Here’s a sample of said to-dos on any given day:

Put washing on / Take mince out of freezer / Write amazing blog piece / Leo clarinet / Feed Bruno / Leave home / etc

While these analogue, citrusy-hued reminders were (mostly) effective, it occurred to me – and evidently my wife – that there had to be a better way of keeping on top of things.

And so it was, one balmy Saturday I ventured boldly into the land of tech-nerdery and spent a good few hours getting to know my virtual housemate. After much faffing, I managed to set up the voice match feature and link our Gmail calendars so we could, in theory, plan our days better.
In short
  • Voice Search is growing in uptake, meaning customers search for information in a completely different way to typing in queries.
  • Your online content should be optimised to suit those new search techniques and keywords.
  • Three ways to improve your Voice Search keywords.
How it’s all going

Interestingly I’m already seeing a slight behavioural shift in the way I search for stuff. And as long as I start my ‘hunts’ with a polite ‘Hey Google…' it will pretty much do exactly what I ask it to, with the bonus of not having to type a single character.

Here’s what else I’ve found useful:


  • Set up voice reminders.

  • Set up routines. With a simple 'Hey Google, good morning' I’ll get a readout of my work day, the weather, morning commute, reminders, activities, and notifications.

  • Order pizza or an Uber.

  • Tee-up recipe videos while I’m cooking.

  • Play any song on Spotify.

  • Dig up facts/definitions and the history of pretty much anything.
How does marketing come into this?

Well that’s a good question – and probably a good time to insert some obligatory stats around the rise of Voice Search:


  • 20% of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are made with voice.1

  • 31% of smartphone users use voice at least once a week, according to Statista.2

  • Comscore predicts that 50% of online searches will be made through voice.3

  • From 2020, 30% of online searches will be made on devices without a screen.4

  • Juniper Research predicts that 3.25 billion voice assistants are in use – a figure they forecast to reach eight billion by 2023.5

Looking at these numbers, I’d say there’s a fair chance that Voice Search and Conversational AI, which is basically the more natural search used by Google Nest, are here to stay.


“The real challenge for brands: how best to optimise their site so it speaks to customers who increasingly use voice as their preferred search method."

The road ahead for brands
The real challenge in the future will be how to best optimise their site so it speaks to those customers who are increasingly using voice as their preferred search method, and therefore only receiving one specific answer from an audio speaker.

The simple answer lies in how they adjust their keyword research strategy. If I’m sitting at my laptop, for instance, and want to find a local hairdresser I might type 'barber Drummoyne'. If I use voice search, however, I might say 'Hey Google, where’s the closest hairdresser near me?'.

Statistics suggest there’s been a substantial increase in 'near me' keywords in the last year or so, but they’re also becoming more conversational, with users chatting to their voice assistants like they’re a real person.

It’s clear that future keyword strategies need to account for that.
Some quick keyword wins.
For brands looking to compete in the Voice Search keyword-stakes, there are a few quick things they can do to help optimise their site content:  

Structure key information like a question.

Use who, what, why, where, when, or how.

Make it short and sweet.

Stick to snippets of 40-50 words, ensuring they’re written in clear, straightforward language. (Note: A snippet, specifically, is the short summary of website content that appears in a Google search).

Focus on long-tail, conversational keywords.

Voice search is more natural and conversational, so long-tail keywords will work better.   
A final (written) word on voice search

The rise of voice search promises to change the game for brands and families like mine, serving up content that’s more relevant and valuable.

Add to this the lightning-quick learning capabilities of AI, and it means that in the future products (like Google Nest) will be able to continually deliver more personalised suggestions for discerning consumers, leading to higher engagement and increased brand loyalty.


Beauty in another form
Is Google AR the new way to try-before-you-buy?

COVID-19 has hit beauty brands hard (with all that risk of icky contagion). Especially considering in-store makeup testing is the traditional linchpin of consumer choice.

But just in time, Google has announced they’re testing a new feature of the Google Shopping experience: augmented reality ads.6 Customers can now try lippie shades, blush tones, and eyeshadows by camera filter. So far, L’Oréal, MAC, Black Opal, and Charlotte Tilbury are on board.

The ickiness factor might pass as we actually get around to being vaccinated, but we reckon this solution’s a keeper.
on Instagram inclusivity
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that our world is built from real and virtual places. Platforms become spaces we inhabit, and Instagram is making it easier to live as ourselves – whoever we decide that to be. Forget fashion; pronouns displayed at the top of an Instagram profile is the new form of self-expression.
  1. Roy Castleman, What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020? (3 January 2020) Search Engine Watch.
  2. Shanhong Liu, Frequency with which smartphone owners use voice-enabled technology worldwide in 2017 (12 July 2018) Statista.
  3. Susuan Engleson, The Future of Voice From Smartphones to Smart Speakers to Smart Homes (15 December 2017) Comscore
  4. Heather Pemberton Levy, Gartner Predicts a Virtual World of Exponential Change (18 October 2016) Gartner.
  5. Juniper Research, Digital voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023, driven by smart home devices (12 February 2018) Juniper Research.
  6. Archana Kannan, Shopping for a beauty product? Try it on with Google (17 December 2020) Google Shopping

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