50% of U.S. Consumers Use Voice Search Daily: 2022 Survey
With more of the workforce outside of the umbrella of networked corporate devices and working in less formal settings, it would follow that some of their online behaviors would change as well.
Most notably, there has been an increase in the use of voice search technology to accomplish simple daily tasks as workers strive to improve productivity and efficiency. To explore the rising popularity of voice search technology, UpCity partnered with Pollfish to survey 600 U.S. consumers of all ages on how daily technology acquires information in 2022. We’ve broken down the data points according to two primary discussions:
- Voice Search Technology Usage
- Voice Search Languages and Drawbacks
We’ve also gathered insight from many U.S. adults and international adults. Through their feedback, we’ll explore how consumer use of voice search technology has evolved over the years and the challenges it presents to new users and veteran voice searchers alike.
58% of consumers ages 25-34 use voice search daily. Meanwhile, 43% of 55+-year-old consumers leverage voice search weekly
To dig into some of the reasoning behind how often users were relying upon voice search, we reached out to a wider portion of the consumer population:
“I use voice search on a daily basis because it has provided a significant level of ease and convenience to the way I do things. It strips away a layer of effort in doing little things such as making a quick search on locations or checking the weather.”
—Josh Tyler, CEO of Tell Me Best
“I would say that we use voice search technology on a daily basis. It helps create efficiency and boosts the productivity of my workforce, even though it’s not free from drawbacks.”
—Karen Comen, Editor in Chief, ZodiacSign.com
39% of respondents have been using voice search technology for 1-2 years, regardless of age
While there’s not a smoking gun pointing to the pandemic as the root cause behind these numbers, it’s interesting that a technology that has been in play since around 2012 is gaining popularity with a rising number of users over the last two years.
Many respondents who have been using the technology for one to five years, where a majority of our respondents say they adopted the tools, point to how inaccurate or unreliable voice search results can be due to past shortcomings on why it took so long to incorporate voice search into their daily routines.
It’s taken several years of technological advancements in voice recognition, the integration of artificial intelligence, and years of voice search stats to convince consumers that voice search technology provides the value and versatility necessary to support their daily online navigation needs.
12% – Less than 1 year
39% – 1-2 years
33% – 3-5 years
16% – 5+ years
With a growing reliance on mobile devices for local search and eCommerce, mobile voice search has grown concurrently for the last few years. We asked our community how long they’ve been using voice search to simplify their lives:
“I have been using voice search for years now, and the sole reason is that it is so convenient to use as a hands-free method. I have become so habitual in voice search that I now use it almost daily.”
—Vikas Chaudhary, Co-founder,Nihal Fashions
“I have been using voice search technology for almost four years since 2018. I used it sparingly at the time, only occasionally while I’m at work in the office to search for product information on some kitchenware and coffee equipment. My usage of voice search has evolved, and now I conduct local searches using voice search once or twice every two weeks.”
—Nunzio Ross, Founder and CEO of Majesty Coffee
17% of consumers mainly use voice search for asking questions about the weather, followed by local “near me” searches at 16%
While the use of voice-assisted search and hands-free functionality to determine whether and provide navigation assistance while driving should surprise no one, they aren’t the most crucial uses for voice search by consumers that businesses should be paying close attention to.
With the importance of local search growing across industries, SEO strategies designed to improve search engine result page rankings should pay the most attention to how more consumers are leveraging voice searches for local businesses or service providers. This means that businesses should be incorporating the longer voice search strings into their website SEO and paid search to capture user traffic more effectively.
Our Pollfish respondents demonstrated a wide range of preferred uses for voice search tools. We opened the query to a wider range of consumers to provide a more rounded view of how voice search was being utilized by users.
“I use it for a variety of purposes, such as looking up information, finding a specific website, or asking a question for hands-free driving.”
—Ayush Singhvi, CEO of Byldd
“I mostly prefer using voice search technology instead of typing the whole search to conduct searches. I use it most often when I’m doing other tasks that keep my hands busy, such as driving. It’s not always optimal though, as sometimes when there is a crowd in my surroundings, my voice search technology can’t take the voice input adequately. In such cases, I type the full search or sometimes delay it for later.”
—David Reid, Sales Director, VEM Tooling
“I use voice search technology mainly for communication while I’m driving. Texting and driving is a big no. But, at times, you do need to make an important call or send an urgent text message. That’s when I use voice search technology. I simply have to speak, and the technology will type the message or make that call for me.”
—Najaf Husain, Co-founder and CEO of Elastio
64% of respondents leverage Android phones over iPhones to conduct voice searches
This is perhaps one of the most interesting usage statistics to come out of the Pollfish study, given the prevalence of the Apple brand in the mobile devices technology sphere. According to a Statista report in 2022, Apple’s iOS could be found on close to 60% of mobile devices in the U.S. alone.
Our data could be an indicator that many of our respondents are using voice search technology with company devices rather than personal devices, which in many cases will likely be the more affordable Android phones. The data showing more respondents using voice search across Android devices could also be driven by the age range of our respondents, with studies showing that mobile device users 35 and older tend to use Android devices over Apple devices.
Data also reveals that people who use voice assistants become attached to the digital assistants that come with their devices. The competition for market share in the voice search arena is largely dominated by the major technology players. Amazon Echo smart speaker owners laud Amazon’s Alexa as their favorite, while iPhone users will defend Apple’s Siri.
On devices run by Windows, people use Microsoft’s Cortana. Those who use multiple platforms and devices might keep it simpler by relying on the Google Assistant by calling out, “Hey Google.” Whatever their preference for a virtual assistant, this choice tends to be the standard against which they judge all other digital search assistants on other platforms.
36% – iPhone
64% – Android
The voice search technology used the most will largely depend upon the smartphones, mobile phones, or mobile devices being used by those conducting voice searches. As one of our community members points out, however, many voice search users are forced to use multiple platforms depending if they are at work or home.
“I have an iPhone and an Android phone, and I use each for different things. If I’m at home, and I want to play music or look up something on my phone, I’ll usually use the iPhone. But if I’m out and about, or in the car, and need to get directions or find a good restaurant nearby, I’ll use my Android phone.”
—Lauren Farley, Co-founder, MotelMatcher.com
67% of consumers of all ages noted that they’re very likely to use voice search when seeking information
Voice search has a very specific use case for a majority of mobile users, and that’s to track down answers to specific questions with a limited scope of answers. This could range from getting directions, finding out what year a product was released, or any number of data-focused searches. When an inquiry might require more research or a more in-depth multi-query search to find the required information, many consumers prefer to type their searches out into the search engine interface.
3% – Unlikely
31% – Somewhat Likely
67% – Very Likely
The increasing reliance on voice search stems largely from society’s increasing focus on efficiency and people’s need to multitask. We wanted to find out from our community just how many of them would first turn to voice search before typing in their online search manually.
“About half of the time I am going to choose to use voice search, more often if I know it is a simple answer, such as a definition or a question with a specific, simple answer. If it is a more detailed question that might require further research, I’m more likely to type the information in.”
—Caleb Hannon, Chief Operating Officer and Partner, StayLakeNorman
“I will definitely use voice search over manually typing for information when I am busy. It helps me multi-task and makes communication easier.”
—Aima Irfan, Editor in Chief, InsideTechWorld
“I am very likely to use voice search over manually typing. It is a faster and quicker way to search. As I said before, it also depends on how busy I am. I usually use it when I am driving, walking or in a hurry.”
—David Clark, CEO, Basement Guides
The demographics around voice-assisted search reveal the technology to be largely relied upon for informational searches by generations of consumers who have been using the technology since it was first introduced. While it’s lauded as a powerful tool to improve efficiency and support multitasking, there are still limitations in its effectiveness that many point to as drawbacks.
Voice Search Languages and Drawbacks
90% of those consumers primarily use voice search in English as opposed to other languages
UpCity tasked Pollfish with gathering data on this metric for a specific reason. With many languages spoken across the U.S., the fact that voice recognition tools across the board tend to struggle with accents left us asking if our respondents were conducting searches in languages other than English. While the demographic spread was representative of a diverse population, the almost exclusive use of English for voice search points to a consensus among consumers that this is the most effective way to get results from voice search software platforms in their current forms.
0% -I only use voice search in another language (not Spanish)
1% -I use voice search in both English and another language (not Spanish)
2% – I only use voice search in Spanish
7% -I use voice search in both English and Spanish
90% -I only use voice search in English
A majority of respondents noted noisy environments as the biggest challenge of using voice search
Ambient noise in the surrounding environment can make voice search almost impossible to use. Depending on the voice-activated speakers you’re using to conduct a voice search, you can adjust certain settings that will impact microphone input sensitivity and can make it easier to use in areas where there are crowds or the sound of machinery that could otherwise prevent the use of a voice search.
Smart speaker users and users of other voice-enabled devices will point to the need for these devices in their living rooms to support the creation of a smart home, but often have issues with the devices being extremely sensitive to people talking throughout the house triggering the search functionality or initiating other automated activities.
Regardless of the reason, inaccurate translation of the search terms by the software can be a major drawback of attempting to use voice-assisted search. Depending on the noise in the surrounding environment, your accent, how loudly or clearly you speak, and any number of other variables, it’s sometimes faster to simply type in your search after a single failed transcription.
We discussed how accents tend to greatly impact the accuracy of voice search, but we see this more in the data here referring to a difficulty using other languages as being a major challenge in using voice searches regularly. With this data point in mind, it makes much more sense why so many of our respondents perform voice-assisted searches using only English.
Challenging to use in a noisy environment
Slow loading results
Difficult to use when speaking different languages
Voice-assisted search is by no means a perfect technology. Respondents to our community-focused inquiry shared just how difficult it can be to execute a successful voice search on some devices.
“I’ve found that voice assistants often fail to adequately respond to a question because they have misunderstood it and the user experience suffers as a result. People often have to try multiple variations of their search before they find what they need. It’s annoying to have to keep repeating yourself to get the help you need when you’re trying to find something. A browser search will accomplish the same thing, but with the added flexibility of real-time query refinement, you’ll get more relevant results.”
—Steve Elliott, Franchise Owner, Restoration1
“Accents can cause issues for voice recognition software. Even though some people may eventually figure out how you speak, you must learn to speak properly and consistently at all times to reduce mistakes. The software might not always work if you mumble, speak too quickly, or mix words. If your voice changes, such as when you have a cold, cough, sinus issue, or throat difficulty, programs may also have trouble identifying speech as usual.”
—Daniel Foley, Director, SEO-Audits.io
“One of the biggest issues with my phone and the voice search feature is that my phone misunderstands me and searches for the wrong thing. I find that the keyboard is much more accurate than the voice search feature. However, voice search is a good option when I need to go hands-free. It never seems to matter how clearly I speak into my phone, it still misunderstands my voice enough that I find the voice search option too frustrating to use all the time. The keyboard is my go-to, but voice search is a great backup plan.”
—Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio
While voice-activated search can be useful for specific, directed search queries, more complex searches are often difficult to execute, mostly because of the inaccuracy that comes with voice recognition software in its current state. Whether due to an accent or background noise, many users find it more of a burden to use regularly than a benefit.
Voice Search Trends Show Voice Search Usage On The Rise. Is Your Website Optimized For Voice Search Devices?
Regardless of the drawbacks and challenges, voice search statistics show this trend that will not fade away. In fact, of the marketing trends that have been evolving throughout the pandemic, voice-assisted search has been one of the most consistent and persistent trends despite seismic shifts in overall marketing strategies being embraced across industries.
The persistent rise in mobile device usage by consumers in local search queries ensures that voice search will continue to evolve, and therefore optimizing for it should be a priority for any company looking to future-proof their websites and improve their SEO performance.
If your marketing team isn’t quite sure how to adapt your online assets to respond to queries made through voice-enabled devices such as voice-activated speakers or other tools, you can find a skilled consultant in our marketplace of digital marketing service providers capable of helping you keep up with current marketing strategies and initiatives.
About the author
David J. Brin
Having recently escaped a 20-year career in Food & Beverage operations management, David is now a Facility Director for a Code Ninjas franchise, a STEM-education concept that uses game development to teach children how to code in various programming languages. David got his start writing professionally as a communications assistant for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and has been a freelance copywriter providing white-label services to clients since 2016. His clients operate in industries ranging from managed IT services and software development to marketing and advertising.