In the last 3 months, we did extensive research into the voice results from the Google Assistant via both smart speaker (Google Home Mini) and as a smartphone app on IOS. In total, we asked Google Assistant 3,784 questions. From this research, we learned several very interesting insights. Below is a summary of the research and conclusions we draw from the results.
1. Via the smart speaker the answers are:
- 6% direct answer
- 20% reference to a website
- 74% no answer
2. Via the Google Assistant smartphone app the results are:
- 7% direct answer
- 86% reference to a website
- 7% no answer
3. In only 25.67% of all searches that gave an answer, the answer is the same via the Google Home Mini and via the smartphone app.
4. With local searches, the answer is the same in 66% of all searches.
5. If there is a featured snippet for a search, that answer is the same answer you get via the Google Assistant smartphone app 86% of the time.
6. If there is a featured snippet for a search, that answer is the same answer you get via the Google Home Mini 69% of the time.
7. In only 53% of all searches with a featured snippet, the featured snippet is the #1 organic result.
8. In 91% of all searches that don’t have a featured snippet, the voice answer is the #1 result in organic search.
9. 91% or more of all ‘local’ searches gives either a Google-My-Business (GMB) profile or a website as the answer.
10. 61% of all searches with a ‘buy’ keyword in it (e.g. buy, shop, or order) don’t give any answer via the Google Home Mini.
11. 100% of all searches with a ‘buy’ keyword in it gives a website or GMB profile via the Google Assistant smartphone app.
12. 90%+ of all searches with ‘local’ and ‘buy’ keywords in it asked via the Google Assistant smartphone app is also the number 1 organic search result or number 1 in Google maps.
13. No search activated a Google Action ‘voice invocation’ (more about this in the conclusion).
It is very notable that the Google Home Mini smart speaker doesn’t provide an answer 74% of the time. Combine that with the fact that the Google Assistant via the smartphone app doesn’t provide an answer only 7% of the time and only 26% of all the answers are the same. That makes the first conclusion obvious. For whatever reason, Google Assistant via the Google Home Mini smart speaker doesn’t seem to have access to the same information as via the smartphone app. Either that or the Google Assistant does have access to the same information but decides not to share it. This may be due to the information not converting well to a voice answer. This requires more research.
It is very notable that Google Assistant doesn’t answer simple questions, like what is or who is, better or worse than complex questions like how does X work.
Google Assistant understands local searches relatively well and the answer is pretty much always local. This will be a challenge for websites and shops that depend on local organic rankings. They don’t seem to be able to get a result via voice search today through smart speakers.
Via Google Actions, developers are able to implement implicit invocations. An implicit invocation is an indicator to Google Assistant than an Action can answer a specific question from search users. When a user asks a question via Google Assistant, it can use those “implicit invocations” to answer the question directly or initiate a session with that Google Action. This is the same idea as to how you create different webpages for different keywords. We found zero of these implicit invocations being used as sources or activating a Google Action session during our entire research. This could mean one of two things:
- Either there are no Google Actions that could offer a correct answer to the questions we asked. This means there is an infinite amount of room for companies to grow and fill in search query information gaps in Google Actions.
- Or it means that Google Assistant doesn’t have access or can’t process the implicit invocations implemented in Google Actions and using them has no benefit for search…yet. This also requires additional research.
Surprisingly enough less than 10% of all questions gave the user a direct answer. This means there is plenty of room for websites and brands to tailor specific answers to specific questions which the Google Assistant can present.
If there is a featured snippet present in a typical search, it is the voice answer in at least 70% of all searches. So if you want to get found via voice, conquering the featured snippet is crucial.
If there isn’t a featured snippet present, 91% of all searches return the organic #1 result as an answer. This is also the case when a local business is presented via the GMB profile. Over 90% of the time the GMB profile presented is the first GMB profile on Google maps. So, be number 1 on organic and maps search results if you want to be found via voice search on Google Assistant.
The entire research report, results and conclusions can be found (only in Dutch) here: Nederlands Google Assistent Voice Search SEO Onderzoek. Bart van der Meer is CEO of Klik Proces, an SEO, CRO, Voice & YouTube agency in the Netherlands.