If you work in the SEO industry, then there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve come across this statistic: “voice search will by 50% of all searches by 2020”.
It’s used in presentations, constantly referenced in articles, and even if you do a Google search for “voice search statistics”, you’ll likely come across a reference to Comscore:
For at least the past year, many of the more experienced SEOs in the industry have criticised this statistic. While we all know Voice Search will be important in the future, there’s still a ways to go.
I decided to go straight to the source of this infamous Voice Search statistic. I sent an email… and here’s the response that I received back from Comscore:
The “50% by 2020” prediction was NOT published by Comscore in the first place. It was a 2014 prediction made by Baidu’s former Chief Data Scientist, Andrew Ng.
The prediction included the following information:
“At the moment, around 10% of Baidu search queries are done by voice, with a much smaller percentage carried out using images. If progress continues at its current rate, however, Ng forecasts that “in five years time at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech.”– Andrew Ng, Baidu
Look, I’m not here to argue Voice Search adoption rates. I’m here to let you know that the SEO community is unknowingly distributing completely false information.
For starters, this is information from the search engine “Baidu”. This is a completely different market and as Peter Macinkovic mentions, Chinese people have different behaviour patterns with devices:
So this is for Baidu? Chinese speakers have a very different behaviour pattern with devices – they are more likely to use voice in things like messaging because it is faster and easier than typing Chinese characters or pinyin on a mobile device.— Peter Macinkovic (@inkovic) January 16, 2020
So that’s one part of this. The other is that the prediction was made for Voice AND Images. NOT just Voice, which is a huge misinterpretation.
And don’t let me get started on the date for when it was published. The world has changed a lot since 2014. Using a Voice Search statistic from this time really isn’t reliable.
I’m hoping that the SEO and wider Internet Marketing communities can push past this false information and start using correct referencing.
If you have a suggestion for a more reliable study on Voice Search, let me know! I’ll add it to the bottom of this post.
One last point. This will be the last you’ll hear from me on this. Sent more emails:— Brodie Clark (@brodieseo) January 25, 2020
Me: “What has ComScore done to fix the situation?”
ComScore: “We explain whenever anyone asks”
Me: “That’s good, but what have you done proactively?”
ComScore: ….. *no response* https://t.co/YJ6yaG8Mqw