How Voice Search Works


Well, howdy. Good morning, good afternoon. It's funny, 'cause right before we came on the air, Ed brought up a blast from my past, DragonSearch. And back in a previous life, when I was a full-time developer, I used to do a lot of work with... At that point in time, they were Search. Speech API is what we call 'em, Application Programming Interfaces. So we spent a lot of very kinda frustrating hours trying to figure out a way to get computers to actually... And in those days, it was primarily dictation. And so we spent a lot of time trying to develop applications that actually made that stuff work. And one thing that I mentioned to Ed was that... And we're talking late '90s-ish, we had applications that would run and have a 90% success rate. And we thought that was amazing, and fantastic, and wonderful. The issue though is that that 10% is a huge chunk of misses that frustrate the user. And at that point in time, it frustrated the user so much that people just didn't use the products. And Dragon, I'm pretty sure that Dragon and NaturallySpeaking are still out there on the market to sell.


A lot of that functionality has been built in... I use a Mac. A lot of that's been built into the Mac automatically now, and I would assume on the Windows side. But primarily, what I wanna talk about today, in the new area of speech, and this is the great grandchild of what we were doing back in the 1990s, is the artificial intelligence and the search capabilities, not only on the products like the Amazon Alexa, like the HomePod... And I'm gonna be very careful, and I apologize ahead of time if I use any trigger words for any of these devices. That drives me out of my mind when podcasters do that...



Because everything in my house lights up.



I will tell you ahead of time, I'm trying not to use those trigger words, but if I do, I apologize now. And we're talking about the Google Home device. We're also talking about Cortana. Cortana from Microsoft is an interesting animal, because Harman Kardon has got a smart speaker that they've got Cortana built into, and it's a beautiful, high-end-ish audio speaker competing with Apple's HomePod. But one thing a lot of folks don't know, is that 25% of searches that happen on Windows Desktop today are done through speech. And that, to me, when I found out that number a few months ago, I was flabbergasted that you've got, 25% of the time, somebody that's searching for something on... And because what happens is, on the Windows Desktop, you can search anywhere on the Desktop, and it searches the operating system, and the web, and your email, and everything for you at the same time. So people are just talking to their computers and it's getting the answers back.


So not only do we have those products out there, that have all this audio speech functionality built into it, you also have to consider that 60% of all searches for businesses and for services happen on mobile devices today. On top of that, some other interesting numbers, Siri is currently handling well over a billion searches per week worldwide. And now, we know that 20%... Well, in fact, this was back in May of 2017, which is almost a year ago, 20% of searches a year ago, on mobile devices, were done through voice activation, and through assistants, and things like that. So what does this mean for us? 


In very real terms, if you've got a business that is going to be hyper-local, a localized business providing services and things like that, or if you're selling products that are gonna come out of a business like that, it's pretty important to you, 82% of folks that do searches now are searching on mobile devices. Half of those people, this is an insane number, half of the people that do a search on a mobile device visit a brick and mortar store within 24 hours. And of those people that visit, 18% purchase something. Now, before this happened, email marketing was still the absolute king in online marketing, pound for pound. And in email marketing, we are hanging the moon, if we think we're getting 12% open rate.


Forget about conversion. If you can get 12% open rate, you think that your you-know-what doesn't stink. And if you can get a 2% conversion rate, you think you're a rockstar. We're talking about a platform now that has got an 18% conversion rate. That is outrageous. And nobody in marketing, from a standpoint of, "How do I technically attack this and position myself, so I can take advantage of that," hardly anybody's doing it. Why? Because as marketers, we're wired to think about creative, and pictures, and verbiage, and words, and, in fact, calls to action. We do not wanna mess with coding, and this requires coding, if you're gonna own this.


Do you mind? I noted usually...


I've got Ed all excited on the other side of the table.


Yeah, you can tell.



Well, you triggered me. I'm like the machine myself. But the question I think that comes up here, is that based on what you just said, how important is it to optimize your website for vocal search at the local level? 


At the local level is the absolute key, because there are plenty of folks that this just doesn't matter for. And so at the local level is probably the most important element in this. If you're a CEO of a company and you've got 25 dry cleaners throughout a metropolitan area, if you own restaurants, if you own any kind of a brick and mortar store, and your business is focused on... And this is the primary audience, if you have any kind of a business that requires somebody to search for you, and they want you now, and they have to drive to find you, this is where the money's at.


There's four kind of primary searches people do on audible searches. Number one is a "who and what." "Who is Steve Jobs?" "Who was the last winner of the World Series?" "Who hit the most home runs in a World Series... " Those are worth $0 for us, okay? We don't care. That's informational. The number one is a "how." "How do I build a table?" "How do I make enchiladas?" Again, not a whole lot of money in that, unless you're a content provider and you have how-to videos. There's a brand that I worked with years and years ago called Howdini. They're one of the biggest how-to channels on YouTube still today. And they make all their money by driving traffic to their website, to watch videos about how to put on fake eyelashes, and how to change the oil in your car, and stuff like that. Next level is "when." "When is the next showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi?" Those kind of questions. That can start bringing cash into you. "When is the next Texas Rangers baseball game?"


The big money is "where." Anybody who's doing a search on anything that is close to what your brand does looking for a "where." Those are the folks that are going to go and put money into your bank account. I have run so long already, we're gonna have to finish up next week, but I'm gonna give you a couple of tips. I'm gonna give you some stuff to do right now, to start looking at, and then next week, we're gonna get into more detail about how to actually implement some voice search.


Number one is answering the right questions. What's old is new again. On your websites, we have gotten away from doing FAQs on your website. FAQs need to be put back on your website and the questions on the FAQ need to come directly from an idea. If someone is on Preston Road here in Dallas, and my restaurant is over on Hillcrest, and I wanna find the closest Tex-Mex restaurant, I wanna find the closest insurance agency, you need to put the text on your page that says, "Where is the closest insurance agent to me?" And then you need to answer it in a conversational tone. And so you would answer it in a way that says, "The closest insurance agency to you is State Farm, agent name, over on Hillcrest Road. You can get there in x amount of time." That's the way you answer the stuff.


And so you start testing yourself by purchasing one of these products... If you're a CEO, these things are 100 bucks. Go out, and get one, and start asking it questions related to your business. Find out where your competitors show up. I've got some amazing screenshots I wanna bring into the website, and we'll talk about that later, but next week, I wanna get into some very defined technical implementations that I can share with folks, and I don't expect the CEOs to do this. I expect the nerds on their team to do it. But I can walk them through exactly what they need to do, so that they can own this space, because none of their competitors are doing it.