The way Duane Forrester sees it, digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home are just the beginning. The voice recognition technology and UI will continue to improve—and to infiltrate every area of our lives, including how we search for businesses large and small online. Unlike paid search, though, there’s currently no paid shortcut into the voice search landscape, meaning companies with the deepest pockets can’t get a leg up just because they pay to play.
Duane is the Vice President of Industry Insights at Yext. Watch his full presentation, The Power of Voice Search + Digital Knowledge Management, here:
“To be crystal clear on this, the sexiest part of voice today is the UI,” Forrester says. “It’s being able to speak to your device and issue a command without having to type. In order to actually be spoken out loud, there is not one thing you have to do; you have to meet a very long list of requirements.”
Currently, search rankings for all businesses are influenced by a collection of factors including the crawlability of their website, quality and usefulness of content, ratings, and reviews. This aggregate of data is then used by search engines to understand your business thoroughly and whether it’s useful and relevant to a customer’s search query… or not. With roughly 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker using them every day, law firms and private practices who want to stay relevant in the future need to pay attention to the voice search space.
“This is not a fad. It’s not going to wear out; it’s not going to go away,” Forrester says. “Human beings are lazy as a species, and anything that we can get that will increase that laziness factor and yet give us greater returns, we embrace.”
One of the primary reasons voice search is all but guaranteed to be the future of search is the low barrier to entry. With 40 percent of Americans already owning a voice-enabled device, and a price point as low as $20, everyone can participate. More than that, speaking is an ability almost everyone possesses and doesn’t require a $500 to $1,000 device.
Some reports estimate that, by 2020, 50 percent of searches will be conducted by voice. Forrester thinks it will be higher, between 60 and 70 percent. This significant shift in how we ask for and find information will change consumer expectations and behavior forever.
Because of that, businesses have to meet those expectations. This is actually good news for businesses like boutique law firms, because they can be more nimble and grab a piece of the market before larger companies have a chance to change. The firms that do this will succeed in the modern world, and the ones who don’t will continue to be skipped over in search engine results.
Forrester believes that for lawyers to flourish in this new era, they have to focus on building a vast digital footprint and manage every aspect of it to their advantage. From working with digital agents to tailoring your content for a more conversational tone—the way people speak instead of the way they read—the future is bright for lawyers and firms that adapt.