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How is Wearable Tech Going to Change Local Search?

Apple Watch

Consumer search is evolving. We’ve already seen the change from desktop/laptop search to mobile search, and now we’re seeing the change from mobile search to voice search. Alpine.AI has estimated that about 1 billion voice searches are already being made on a monthly basis by users, and ComScore is predicting that 50% of all searches will be made via voice by 2020. In this article, we’ll be talking about how wearable tech has impacted voice search numbers, while covering stats about voice search and wearable tech sales. We’ll also be talking about how this is changing local search as we know it.

There was a time when wearable tech mostly meant just Bluetooth headsets and the like, but this has changed. The past decade has seen several new introductions to the world of wearable tech with products like the Apple Watch and the Google Glass, things that rely almost completely on voice search for searches. The introduction of these devices has also contributed to the increase in voice searches made over the past few years. Wearable tech sales, proportional to voice searches made, is estimated to double to a total of 86 million units sold by 2021.

Voice search has become the de facto standard for the input devices in wearable tech. For the most part, this is because of the fact that hosting an on-screen keyboard is difficult when you have such a tiny screen. Let’s take a look at the text input options on an Apple Watch, for instance. Users can only pick from ‘Dictation’ (voice search) and ‘Scribble’ (a method of input that’s cumbersome if you are going to key in long words or phrases, since it requires users to add search phrases letter by letter).

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It is at this juncture that user search behavior changes drastically. As much as users go for voice searches on their smartphone, they always have the option to search via text. In fact, apps like Google Lens even help users make visual searches based on the data on the user’s screen. As it stands, smartphone users seem to be making voice searches mostly in the privacy of their cars and homes. The amount of voice searches from users are rising, but stats suggest that text searches still contribute to the majority of searches made.

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However, the Apple Watch or Google Glass user does not have this luxury. Users who use their wearable tech regularly will likely prefer using voice search rather than text. And this is not an assumption either — there seems to be a positive correlation between the wearable tech sales and the amount of voice searches that have been made. We’re not saying that that is the sole reason, but it contributes to the increase.

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While some may think that the possibility of only being able to search with their voice might put wearable tech users at a disadvantage, that is not the case. Devices like the Apple Watch not only allow users to search online for generic things, but also allows them to make localized searches with absolute ease. The presence of directories like Google My Business and Apple Maps Connect have been aiding this evolution. Users can now search using their voice on smartphones, smart speakers and smartwatches and their results will be largely from these two sources. For instance, this is how local search results look on an Apple Watch:

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Wearable tech has been increasing the number of voice searches made and this means that wearable tech is likely going to help improve the transition to voice search that we’re going through.

There are big updates coming in the way of commercial wearable tech as well. The WWDC 2018 Apple Keynote spoke about Yelp being available directly on Apple Watches under the notifications. Features such as this are going to enable users to use voice search more frequently, since consumer behavior is largely dependent on the tools that they use.

So, the final question here is, how can marketers make sure that websites/businesses are optimized for the world of wearable tech? Here are 4 things that can be done right away.

  1. Get the business listed on all top forums — especially Apple Maps Connect and Google My Business — to optimize for searches on wearable tech. You can use an automated listings platform if you feel like it’s going to be time consuming to get listed online manually.
  2. Add local business schema to websites. This is available at Schema.org and is pretty straightforward to implement.
  3. Rework SEO and optimize it to rank for voice searches as well. For example, users will type in “plumbers near me” on text search, but voice search users will likely ask for something like “Okay Google, search for plumbers near me who can come to my house and fix my tap”. Users’ conversations with their phone will be different in comparison to their text searches, often, and optimizing for the right keywords is important.

Optimizing for the wearable tech revolution requires users to do everything that they would to optimize for voice search, with the addition of a couple of things. With the world of local SEO facing changes with every passing year, keeping yourself updated with trends and updates that are coming up around the corner is instrumental in making sure that you stay ahead of the curve.

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