Voice search has been exploding in use and popularity. It’s already much bigger than you think, and it could become the main type of search within a decade. This is a major opportunity for digital marketers and business owners, as well as a major new challenge.
If you haven’t been paying attention to voice-based search, you must act urgently as you’re already lagging behind… while your competitors are laughing all the way to the nearest bank, aided by their virtual assistants!
You must urgently learn all you can about voice-based search, and start taking action to adapt your online marketing strategy to today market needs. Hopefully, this article will provide a useful overview of the process.
Why Should You Care about Voice? Let’s Look at The Numbers…
Did you know that at this point in history, about half of all search queries are made using a smartphone? And did you know that from all mobile searches, 20% are already spoken queries? Even more interestingly, do you realize that just a mere three years ago, in 2015, there were virtually no voice queries being made yet?
By carefully considering the numbers above, you should realize that voice-based queries are growing incredibly fast! The technology behind voice recognition is already very effective, and its error rate is lower than 8% and getting better every day, considering this kind of software literally evolves through the use and learns to pick up on language nuances and accents.
And since it already works quite well, many users are quickly integrating voice in their search habits – and this tendency should keep growing.
As voice-based search gets more effective and as more people get in the habit of speaking to their virtual assistants rather than typing queries into a search engine, it shouldn’t take another decade until voice queries will become the absolute norm! This means you now have an excellent new traffic source at your disposal as well as new ranking opportunities… although it’s worth keeping in mind that conquering them invariably calls for new SEO strategy.
But before discussing strategies, let’s pause to consider just why local business can potentially gain the most from the rise of virtual assistants and voice-based search.
Why Local Businesses Stand to Benefit the Most from This Shift
Improved SERP placement is the life and blood of any E-Commerce, that’s granted. But if you’re promoting a local business then you are in an especially good position to benefit from voice-based queries, since they’re often very location-focused and made by people with a strong buying intent. We’re talking essentially about consumers who are actually out on the street looking for a particular product or service they want right then and there!
So if you’re promoting a business that could benefit from the “near me” search mentality, you have much to gain from the rising voice-based search. One of the first and most obvious steps you must take is simply to claim your “Google My Business” account and encourage your happiest looking clients to add positive reviews. From there, work to get listed in as many business listing directories as possible, while making sure to be very consistent when writing your company name, address, and phone number. Make sure to also feature this information in your website footer as plain text, since many clients expect to find it there.
When adapting your SEO strategies to benefit from voice-based search, here’s a crucial realization: you’re often looking at an entirely different set of search phrases from those used in typed queries.
As you’re going to learn in the next section, optimizing your E-Commerce for voice-based search involves learning how and when people are turning to this feature. Users have literally been trained to approach voice-based search differently from conventional search, so digital marketers now have to adapt their efforts to this reality.
Let’s see how you can prepare for this quite significant evolution in online search habits, in order to reap the most SERP benefits.
How to Refine Your SEO Strategy to Benefit from the Voice Search Explosion
Since voice-based search is mostly something that people do on their mobile devices, it follows naturally that optimizing for these types of queries goes hand in hand with optimizing for mobile. As a first crucial step, you should make sure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly and take action to improve your engagement metrics! This involves structuring your content to make it easier for readers to skim through, as well as using schema markup code to help search engines clearly understand how your content is structured.
People doing voice-based queries are looking for quick short answers to a problem or question. So now more than ever, it’s important to deliver the goods above the fold whenever feasible… as opposed to hooking readers and forcing them to scroll around until they find what they want. By presenting your information clearly, directly and taking the effort to structure your code in a way that is serviceable to search engines, you might even get relevant highlights of your content featured in many SERPs… sometimes even above the first position!
To increase your odds of holding that precious featured snippet (which many refer to as the #0 spot), adapting your content and code to suit users who are doing a voice-based search is a good start. But you need to go further and adapt your content strategy, as well! The most effective way of doing so is to find relevant questions people are asking their virtual assistants about your industry, and aim to fill the gap by effectively answering those questions through your content.
There are some great tools available to help you do this work better and faster. Try using online resources like Answer the Public, tools like Question Samurai and StoryBase, as well as exploring Q&A websites like Quora. To get the most of your research, you must consider natural speech patterns as they relate to voice-based search.
Patterns of Natural Speech and How to Use Them to Improve Your SEO
In order to adapt your website to this search out loud kind of future, you should know that people tend to articulate their thoughts differently when typing or speaking. If you want to get your business in front of people who are specifically searching with their voice, you have to learn the new phrases and terms your potential clients are using and optimize your content accordingly.
Let’s imagine a tourist who happens to be roaming about the center of London, smartphone in hand, and decides to search online for a nearby ice-cream store. If that person uses conventional search they’ll likely type succinct search phrases, such as “best ice-cream shop central London”. However, if that same person decides to perform a search using their voice, they’ll be more likely to articulate a question such as “what is the best ice cream shop around here?”. Those are very different phrases which obviously call for specific website optimizations on your end!
Why such a drastic difference in phrasing, you may wonder? It all boils down to habit. When people make voice-based queries, it’s usually through a virtual assistant such as Siri or Cortana. These programs are meant to be interacted with in a conversational manner, whereas traditional search uses a different mindset: that of clarity and succinctness.
Spoken queries tend to conjure entirely different phrases compared to written queries, not only because users were originally trained to interact with both tools differently, but also because for most people, typing involves a little more physical effort than speaking.
This reasoning explains why Google recently reported that around two-thirds of all queries made through Google Assistant use natural speech patterns. This number should only increase as more people embrace this new way of using search engines, meaning you now have to optimize for an entirely different set of search phrases if you want to improve your chances of getting listed.
Survival of the Fittest: Will You Adapt to Profit or Will Your Digital Marketing Lag Behind?
Are you looking to capitalize on this markedly different type of search? This is your wake-up call. You must keep studying voice-based searches and adapt your content strategy readily. If you haven’t done so yet, you should also jump into the habit of using voice-based search, to better understand the mindset of its users and how they articulate their thoughts. The transition to voice is happening very fast, so you should proceed as though you are already running late to the party!