Voice Search And Why It's Time To Show Bing A Little Love

Just because you ignore something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Take Bing, for example. If it’s been a while since you reviewed how your mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) Website ranked in the #2 search engine, you might want to get to that sooner rather than later.

While Bing is unlikely to ever topple Google on the desktop (and Google continues to enhance its own Google Now voice search capability), Bing is the search engine that Apple’s Siri sources for voice search results.


Of course, you care how your site performs for all searchers. But a quick look at your Web analytics will likely show that most of your financial advisor mobile (smartphone and tablet) traffic comes from Apple products. Heightened advisor adoption of voice search—including on the Apple watch coming next year—may mean that Bing could lead advisors to more search results.

I’ve had reason to research the topic lately and thought you might be interested in a few questions I’ve had and the answers that I found.

Q. Are people really searching with their voices?

A. More than half (56%) of adults now use a personal assistant, up from 30% over the prior 12 months. This is according to a Thrive Analytics report, “Is the Personal Assistant the Successor to Search?”, published in October. Usage of personal assistants such as Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, have increased by 87% over the past 12 months, the report says.

Google’s own Mobile Voice Study, released last month, reported that 41% of adults and 55% of teens use voice search more than once a day.


Market or investment-related topics failed to rate among the more common searches reported. A likely scenario that I could imagine would be advisor voice searches when they're leaning back, during after-hours iPad use, for example.

Q. Are voice searches relevant to non-local businesses?

A. According to this SearchEngineWatch.com article by David Cato of Covario, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text. That makes sense.

But non-local searches—such as those that would conceivably lead to asset manager sites—using voice do take place and they’re different from text searches.

“Voice search users typically search in more complete sentences or questions. Additionally, the user tends to complete more searches on a faster basis, adding more words around their main query,” Cato wrote in September of last year.

“Brands can optimize for conversational or long tail queries by deploying an FAQ or Q&A content strategy. A Q&A strategy would not only improve customer service by answering common questions, but it may increase search presence by ranking for more long tail keywords,” Cato concludes.

Helpful but, again, think of the context of the device. FAQs may be overkill on a watch.

Q. How different are the Bing and Google search results?

A. The prevailing opinion has been that if you optimize your site for Google, you should rank similarly—without any additional specific work—in Bing. But there is plenty of commentary online about the differences between the algorithms used by the two.

At the highest level, Google’s indexing is more mature, typically more thorough, more text-based and relies more on linking authority. Bing does better with images, flash and social. You may find this Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your SEO for Bing from July helpful.

And, you’ll definitely want to check out Bing’s SEO analysis tool and get going with Bing Webmaster Tools

Your firm and Rock The Boat Marketing have very little in common. But I can tell you that when I forced myself out of my own all-Google world to confirm that all was showing as expected on Bing, I was shocked to see that Bing located my business at an address from six years ago. A trip to Bing Places remedied that.

More helpful for you, probably: See the difference between the results of a Siri search on the iPad for “retirement planning” and a Google voice search on an (Android) Samsung Galaxy S5.


In this search you can see one possible byproduct of searches shifting to Bing: If you’re a Google AdWords advertiser hoping to snag some searching advisors, you may be headed for a decline in volumes. Then again, you might consider the Yahoo Bing Network. An AdGooroo study (here’s a link to the PDF) conducted a year ago reported that Yahoo Bing led in ad impressions in the financial services category, probably due to the popularity of financial news on the Yahoo! and MSN portals.

For a more exhaustive analysis, see the results of a comparison by Stone Temple Consulting of the search results returned by Google Now, Siri and Cortana. As of October 2014, the firm concluded, "Google Now has a clear lead in terms of the sheer volume of queries addressed, and more complete accuracy with its queries than either Siri or Cortana."

The video below illustrates some of the points made. Note that a few searches are answered on the spot, without leading to an additional Web page. That's a discussion for another day.

Q. How can we spot voice searches in Web analytics?

A. Don’t expect to see a pronounced rise in traffic sourced by Bing. Voice requests are encrypted so they can’t be intercepted and no one can listen to them, according to this LocalVox post.

That being the case, voice searches aren’t distinguishable in Google Analytics, for example. Sessions that initiate via voice search are lumped in the “direct traffic” bucket. To see this for yourself, use voice search to go to your site and check out your real-time traffic sources. The source for your session will be listed as Direct.

Your thoughts, or experiences, on any of the above? They're always welcome below.