Voice search technology is on the rise. The popularity of Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, and the pending launch of Apple's HomePod, has led many to consider voice search to be the future of internet searching. However, there are still some experts who believe that voice search is simply a passing craze.
Whilst most experts accept that voice search is having an impact on internet searches, some claim that it is not the game changer many believe it to be. It is true that traditional searches still lead the way, with 80% of last year’s searches being typed. It is also true that, despite a growth in popularity, voice search will most likely never replace traditional methods. In part this is due to practicality. Voice searching is situational dependent; people often don't feel comfortable using it in public, or in quiet spaces such as libraries. Therefore, there will always be a need for traditional text-based searching.
Just because voice search is unlikely to completely replace typed searching, doesn't mean that it will not have a noticeable impact. The 2016 Internet Trend Report estimates that by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice activated. Whilst Google Home and Amazon's Alexa have become increasingly popular in the last year, experts still consider this to be the early stages of a revolution that doesn't show any sign of slowing down. In part, this is due to improvements in the technology, making it less frustrating to use. Voice search may be considered the natural next step in our technological evolution, increasing the ease and efficiency of our interaction with the internet.
The Big Issue
Despite their obvious appeal to the public, there is one barrier to the continued popularity of voice search devices. In order to hear your commands, they are always listening. However, concerns have been raised as to whether this could allow hackers to listen in, or access the stored recordings at a later date. As well as an invasion of the owner's privacy, this increases the risk of criminals obtaining valuable information, such as credit card details that have been dictated aloud. There is also an increased risk of man-in-the-middle attacks, as data is being stored in the cloud. Both Amazon's Alexa and the Google Home have been criticised for poor encryption of information, allowing hackers to easily obtain passwords and other personal data.
In general, there has been an increasing concern over security issues surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result of poor security, those with the ability to hack these systems may not only be able to access information, but control parts of the home. They may be able to turn lights on and off, turn off the boiler, or even unlock your doors and switch off the alarm. There has already been several instances of voice search devices causing problems in consumer's homes. One parent in Dallas, had the shock of a $170 bill after her six-year old daughter purchased a dolls house and cookies through one of these devices. With purchasing options automatically enabled on most home assistants, these events will become increasingly common and more serious.
The lax security of voice search devices is in part due to the unawareness of data storage, and its accessibility. The sudden surge of consumer interest in the products have also meant that companies are rushing to get their products on the market, for the cheapest price possible. As a result, security concerns have not been paid enough attention. Ultimately, the push for manufacturers to prioritise security will have to come from consumers. If the problems aren't resolved, it is likely their popularity will diminish.
Whether or not it will become the main way to browse the web, we believe voice search technology is here to stay. It is worth considering whether SEO targeted towards voice searching would be beneficial for your business. Stay tuned for our tips on how to easily optimise your site in relation to this.
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