Consumers are increasingly speaking to their smart devices to seek out information and engage with brands. It’s estimated that 50% of all searches are now voice-based. As the accuracy of voice recognition technology improves, more and more people are realizing how voice commands can enhance their daily lives.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VOICE SEARCH?

According to research from Google, people choose to use voice-activated devices to search because:

  • It allows them to more easily multitask.
  • It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  • It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  • It makes their daily routine easier.

With the increasing household penetration of Google Home, Amazon Echo, and other voice-activated devices, companies have scrambled to develop voice-ready digital experiences. But how much of the buzz around voice search technology is hyperbole?

While the introduction of Siri on the iPhone was way back in 2011, it wasn’t until 2017 and the launch of Google Voice Assistant that the mainstream really embraced voice search.

HOW MANY PEOPLE OWN A VOICE ASSISTANT?

As of 2020, there are 4.08 billion digital voice assistants in use around the world – a figure that is predicted to reach 8 billion by 2023.

DOES YOUR COMPANY NEED TO PRIORITIZE VOICE SEARCH?

Voice search is rapidly being integrated into the lives of consumers, driving a pressing need for businesses to develop a voice search digital marketing strategy. Not only does voice search change how people conduct searches, but it also changes how people find products and interact with brands.

WHAT DOES VOICE SEARCH MEAN FOR BUSINESS?

As with all disruptive technologies, voice search creates an opportunity for brands, but also risks and problems. The majority of companies optimizing for voice searches are doing so as an add-on to their digital strategy. They make changes to existing content to optimize for voice search and stay relevant, rather than making voice search a key component of their digital strategy.

But a voice search strategy isn’t about just trying to remain relevant in an evolving digital landscape; it’s about identifying ways to utilize voice search to create digital experiences that increase customer loyalty and build brand awareness.

Voice search offers valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences, information that can be utilized for more personalized messaging and experiences. The opportunity exists to make the conversation between brand and consumer a seamless experience that encourages engagement and customer loyalty.

The more convenient and accessible companies can make their interactions with consumers, the more likely they are to engage with the brand. Whirlpool, the home electronics company, has partnered with Amazon to produce a range of voice-activated smart appliances that are capable of enriching the lives of consumers. The smart appliances can answer questions, provide cooking instructions, and even order supplies when you are running low.

HOW IS VOICE SEARCH CHANGING DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY?

Voice search is an important trend in SEO. At its base level, voice search is an extension of how search engine algorithms and SEO have evolved over the previous two decades. Google wants to show users the most relevant search results, and in the easiest and most natural way possible. To increase your brand visibility in voice search results, you need to optimize your content to be voice-friendly.

WHAT IS VOICE SEARCH OPTIMIZATION?

The way people conduct voice searches is different from how they type a query into a search box – they use more words and often ask questions. To leverage voice search to increase organic traffic from search results, it’s essential to expand your keywords to incorporate specific and more complex questions.

The BERT update was the latest improvement to Google’s natural language processing capabilities. Google is getting more and more adept at judging the context of voice queries. It’s crucial that your content answers the questions that your potential customers are asking about their goals, problems, and pain points.

Voice search optimization also presents an opportunity to better understand the intent and motivation behind a user’s search query, information that is vital for gaining insight into your target audience.

Location is an important factor in voice search SEO. Research from Bright Local shows that 76% of smart speaker owners perform a location voice search at least once per week. Consumers use their voice assistants to find out information about store locations, opening hours, and product availability. It’s essential to optimize your content for both broader question searches and local search results.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR COMPANY FOR VOICE SEARCH?

1. KEYWORD TARGETING FOR VOICE SEARCH SEO

The way people type is very different from the way people speak. For example, let’s say that someone is looking to purchase a new voice-activated microwave. If they type a query into Google, they will search for something like “voice-activated microwave.” But if they used a voice search, they would ask, “what’s the best voice-activated microwave?”

To optimize for voice search, you need to identify the questions people are asking that are related to your products and target keywords. Digital marketing tools like Answer the Public can help you identify the questions people are asking that are relevant to your keyword strategy.

2. MAPPING QUESTIONS TO THE BUYER’S JOURNEY

To leverage voice search to increase brand awareness, you need to create content that answers consumer questions at each stage of the buyer’s journey. You want to be visible every time your customer reaches out and utilizes a voice search to find answers to their questions and solutions to their pain points.

Let’s map out voice search queries to the buyer’s journey for a VR headset:

  • Awareness: “What can you do with a VR headset?”
  • Engagement: “What are the best VR headsets?”
  • Evaluation: “What’s the difference between Oculus Rift and HTC Vive?”
  • Purchase: “Where can I buy an Oculus Rift near me?”
  • Post Purchase: “I don’t hear any audio from my Oculus Rift headphones.”

By producing voice search optimized content throughout the buyer’s journey, you ensure your brand is competing in search results when your customers are actively seeking to engage and find out information about your products.

3. PREPARE FOR “VOICE-FIRST”

Ever since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone back in 2007, mobile-first has been a critical consideration of search marketing and web design. Google currently gives a ranking preference to mobile-friendly search results. But with the widespread growth of smart assistants and voice search, we will likely see a switch to a voice-friendly priority in search results over the coming years.

However, creating a voice-friendly and mobile-first digital experience doesn’t require two different strategies. Voice search SEO is an extension of your mobile-first strategy. The steps you take to optimize experiences for voice search will be beneficial for mobile optimization.

For example, page speed is considered a critical factor in mobile-first optimization. Searchers demand quick results when searching on mobile, and sites with fast page speeds are rewarded with a higher ranking in search results.

But page speed is also a key ranking factor when it comes to voice search. A study by Backlinko analyzed voice search results from Google. They discovered that on average, the results Google returned for voice searches had a 3.8x higher page speed than the average web page. Optimizing your page speed is essential for both mobile-first and voice search optimization.

4. ADOPT AN AGILE APPROACH TO FUTURE VOICE DEVELOPMENT

There are plenty of steps you can take to prepare your digital strategy for voice search, but we are only in the early stages of this revolution in search marketing. It is only in the last few years that voice assistants have broken into the mainstream. With Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google continually developing voice recognition technology capabilities, the growth of voice search is expected to rival the market penetration of the smartphone. By 2022, over 55% of U.S. households are predicted to own a smart speaker.

The most important thing you can do to prepare for voice search is to adopt an agile approach to identify voice search opportunities and capitalize before your competitors. As more and more consumers embrace voice assistants into their daily lives, you need to determine how your brand can fulfill consumer needs using the technology.

With Google planning to add voice search data to the Search Console, we can see that voice search is becoming an increasing factor in how consumers find and connect with brands online.

CONCLUSION

Voice search is one of the disruptive technologies that companies face in the digital revolution. The future of SEO and search marketing is in voice search. It would be foolish to neglect the impact it will have over the coming years.

From new voice-activated products to voice search optimized content marketing, natural language processing is changing the lives of consumers and how they interact with brands and purchase products. To stay ahead of the speed of change to consumer behavior, brands need to step into the shoes of their customers and determine how to capitalize on voice search opportunities. The fastest companies to react will be the first to have a direct conversation with consumers in their homes.

That’s a massive advantage in an increasingly competitive B2C landscape.