Voice search is no longer fiction – it’s here. Like social media ten years ago, voice search and a screenless internet of things feels like a far-fetched future. But it’s already part of our daily lives and these interactions will continue to grow exponentially with time. The importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for your company’s website and digital landscape is well known. Voice search optimization (VSO) is now just as essential. Through home devices, wearables and mobile devices, VSO creates a brand battleground in real time as your customers use their devices. Voice search is already happening, but is your company is prepared for it?
- Just 4% of businesses say they are “voice search ready”
- More than one billion voice searches happen monthly
- U.S. smart speaker owners rose 40% in 2018
What’s Voice Search Optimization?
VSO is the optimization of keywords and keyword phrases for voice searches. Voice assistance can be used with wearable, mobile or home assistant devices. Asking Alexa, Siri or Google to help you find a restaurant for date night or tell you what to wear for the weather is now normal for many Americans. The convenience of simply speaking instead of typing a question shifts the keywords and keyword phrases that are being used. Instead of typing “best Chinese restaurant in Chicago”, the speaker may say “What’s the best restaurant for Chinese food in Chicago?” These subtle differences are game changers for digital marketing and content strategies. But how can you make sure that your company is first in this fast-arriving future? Creating and implementing a VSO strategy includes the following ideas and tools.
Natural Voice Patterns
Voice searches use longer keyword phrases and a more natural tone of speech than typed internet searches. Instead of typing “weather in Dallas”, the speaker could possibly say “What’s should I wear for the weather today?” The speaker will also usually add question words. Nearly 20% of all voice search queries are triggered by a set of 25 keywords. The top words are question words such as “how” or “what” and adjectives including “best” or “easiest”. When writing your company’s digital content, being aware of and catering to this phrasing will help your company’s content meet its audience.
Home assistant devices are filling up with third party “skills” and “services”. It’s claimed that Alexa has 50,000 skills worldwide. While 50,000 sounds like an overwhelming number, this technology is still in its beginning stages. As the ultimate voice search resource for your target audience, developing and marketing a third-party app for home assistant devices can create your competitive advantage. For example, Domino’s app allows the user to order pizza without getting off the couch. The convenience of being able to keep watching the game while ordering pizza meets customers where they are. By creating a “skill” or “service” for your target audience, you can build their preference for your brand in the earliest boom of voice assistance.
Optimizing your website has benefits beyond the screen. As of July 2018, Google has begun prioritizing mobile search results based on page speed along with their ongoing desktop prioritization. Slow page speed now affects your VSO too. Thus, keeping your website optimized is part and parcel to VSO. There are no drawbacks to increasing your page speed as it boosts your search results across any and all devices.
Informative and authoritative content has always set websites and companies apart from competitors. With VSO, featured snippets become even more crucial. The featured snippet is chosen by Google to be the top search result on the page. It provides the best possible answer to the user’s question. When a user does a voice search, the voice assistant doesn’t offer them an entire page of answers. The voice assistant responds with one succinct summary. Now every company is vying to have their answer be the featured snippet in response their target audience’s most relevant questions. Content for featured snippets can be how-to lists, definitions and short answers to commonly asked questions from your audience. With the importance of featured snippets, new digital content needs to be intentionally crafted for this purpose.
Similar to mobile searches, voice search users commonly ask location-based questions. Users are usually searching for answers to immediate questions such as ‘Where can I get a haircut?’ or ‘What’s the best taco truck near me?’ Having these answers for your target audience is your company’s VSO solution. Correct and up-to-date online information is a simple, but crucial, part of VSO. The most common errors that will affect your results ranking include incorrect business hours, address, phone number and website. These local searches are often a result of what Google has dubbed “micro-moments”.
Coined by Google, micro-moments occur when a user reflexively turns to device for an answer to an immediate question. Some spontaneous moments include “I want-to-know”, “I want-to-go”, “I want-to-do”, and “I want-to-buy”. These intent-rich moments have the opportunity to create brand preferences. Every one of us can think of a time we reflexively grabbed our smart phone to find an immediate answer to the pressing question that captured our attention. Voice search makes these critical moments even more convenient for users. As our reliance on technology continues to grow, being able to position your company as the authoritative source for these micro-moments needs to be a top marketing priority.
While it seems sci-fi, instantaneous voice searches are a future that’s arrived. Your company needs to be proactively using voice search optimization to become an authoritative information source for your target audience. As an integral part of the digital marketing landscape, VSO gives your company an opportunity to reach your audience more personally than ever before.
At B&Y, we are riding the digital revolution with our hands up in the air. Want to learn more about voice search optimization? We’d love to chat!