Voice search technology is nothing new. Yet many of us are stumped when it comes to integration with our current marketing strategies. Does anyone really ask about software or legal advice by speaking to devices? Or is voice search only relevant when you need directions to the nearest coffeehouse?
If you’ve been wondering how to speak the language of voice search, no matter what type of business you’re marketing, then this post is certainly for you. Technology has advanced, even over the course of the past year, making voice-enabled search more approachable (and, therefore, more mainstream) than ever before.
Now, grab a coffee, and settle in. You’re about to tap into the rapidly changing nature of search.
Why Voice Search?
According to comScore, half of all search queries will be voice-based by 2020. By the same time, 30 percent of searches will be done without a screen.
Said another way, if you aren’t optimizing for voice search over the next year, then you can expect to lose out on a great deal of attention from curious consumers!
Two-way conversations between people and their devices will become the norm, rather than the exception. Voice search will be a key point on the customer journey.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Smartphones, tablets, wearables, digital assistants, desktops and laptops are all equipped with voice-assisted search technology. You may have even used voice search already, to get the hours of operation for a favorite store or queue up a new playlist in your car. The concept of using voice search in our personal lives is not really foreign; it’s how we apply it on the other end —to our own marketing—that hasn’t yet become second-nature for some.
That being said, there are a few ways to optimize for voice search right now, so you can take advantage of the increasing numbers of searches being done by the spoken word. It just takes some knowledge of how people search by voice, and how technology responds to these queries, to create the answers that search engines want to serve—and people expect to receive.
1. Think Conversational in Your Approach
It’s clear that consumers use voice search differently than regular, type-based search. Rather than typing out the phrase “best brunch in L.A.,” people who use voice often search using a question, such as, “Where is the best brunch place in L.A.?”
Voice searches are often longer than text-based counterparts: three-to-five keywords in length, usually starting with who, what, how, when or where. This is valuable intel; these “starters” also clue us in to the intent of the search: Is the consumer just researching the product, or are they ready to buy?
How does this help you understand the language of voice search in a better way? If you know the “typical” format of voice search, then you can optimize your content accordingly.
To make this work for your marketing, you must have a solid understanding of how your customers are asking about products or services in your industry. Take the time to listen to questions they’re asking online, to get an idea of what content you need to build out. Then, research long-tail keywords and build a keyword list specific to voice search. This way, when someone opts for search by speaking, your content is more likely to be served back to them on their chosen devices.
2. Keep “Near Me” in Mind
According to Google, the number of searches including the words “near me” is skyrocketing (22 percent of voice search queries include it). This is because location-based searches are on the rise, with many consumers looking for places they can buy or do something right now.
Given the volume of “near me” searches, it’s a smart idea to update your online business information, including addresses, phone numbers, hours and any other details people typically expect to find. A great place to start is with your Google My Business listing, since Google likely pulls information from there first. Then, make sure the same information is listed on your website.
When your business information is incorrect or missing, you could frustrate potential customers—or worse, not show up at all. But, when the details about your business are accurate, it makes it significantly easier for search engines to display your information whenever it matches a “near me” query.
3. Consider the Customer Journey
When learning the language of voice search, it’s important to understand its place in the customer journey. At this very moment, voice search is typically used to complete an action (calling a business or getting today’s weather forecast) rather than discovering a product or service for the first time. However, consumers who search by voice are looking for information on products and services. Recognizing the utility of voice search helps in creating content that can “be the answer” to your customers’ queries.
Taking it a step further, it is helpful to think about the entire flow that happens after the initial answer. For example, how can you successfully lead a potential customer from search engine results to your website to learn more? Is there a way to entice them to visit your location, once they’ve gotten the information they wanted? Understanding the entire customer journey stemming from a voice search is the key to marketing success.
While not a fledgling technology, voice search is still nascent in terms of frequency and application of use. By the end of this year, I expect to find us in a much different space. As digital assistants, machine learning and voice-assisted technology proliferate and evolve, marketers will need to have strategies in place. If you’re looking for training that goes beyond SEO, consider one that covers all digital marketing principles, like the our world-class Professional Certificate Program in Digital Marketing which includes SEO, email marketing, content marketing, web analytics and much more.