Like a futuristic capability straight out of The Jetsons, voice-led technology is quickly dominating how we search the web. With big players like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, a big technological transformation is underway. According to a recent Google survey, 20% of all internet searches are voice led. With more than 100 billion searches performed every day, the number of voice searches is substantial.
This relatively newfound mode of search is a game-changer for companies in the arena of content creation and SEO keywords. For those that missed the last 20+ years, SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process of maximizing website traffic and sales conversions by ensuring you have a top ranking website in search engine results. If more than 20 billion voice led searches are performed each day, companies need to optimize their websites to ensure they are not missing out on potential customers and income. So how can businesses protect their brand presence in the rapidly growing world of voice search?
In the current landscape of voice search, first is the only rank that matters.
Remember Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky button? Before it was canned in 2012, the quirky feature allowed Googlers to type a query into the search box and then go directly to the first search result – bypassing Google’s search results page entirely. Less than one percent of visitors took a gamble and clicked the button, so marketers didn’t have to worry about being the top spot for a search. As long as your website appeared on the first page of results, your content was just as visible as your competitors. For the past decade, this tactic was a crucial part of most digital marketing strategies.
Voice search has changed that. These virtual voice assistants (more often than not) return information from only the top result. Being number one is more important than it’s ever been.
Companies have spent a lot of money over the years building new content and researching the most effective SEO keywords to use to drive conversions and increase website traffic. With voice-generated search capabilities increasing in usage, search marketing strategy now requires loftier website content that utilizes techniques to make sure that their content has those critical SEO keywords and semantic voice applicability if they want to reach their audiences.
Businesses that can’t keep up with voice search technology and fail to enhance their voice search content will likely see their search presence diminish.
Voice search is changing the way that we find information.
A voice search is more conversational than a traditional searches. A search in a browser requires concise phrasing to get fast results, but voice-directed capabilities change that. For instance, if you were in Orlando and looking for a snazzy bow tie for your dog, you would type: dog bow ties Orlando. If you were using a voice search, you would ask: Where can I buy dog bow ties?
Now we get to engage in the ask-and-find cycle using everyday language, which means search phrases will be lengthened so we can more easily find the things we want.
Which businesses are most at risk?
How do your customers find your business on the web? Businesses whose customer searches lend themselves to quick answers are most at risk. Using the example above, a search for Where can I buy dog bow ties? can direct your customers to another pet shop down the street or to a national e-commerce site if your pet store’s website isn’t optimized for voice search in search engines.
There are three types of businesses that will experience biggest impact from voice-led searches:
- Brick-and-mortar businesses whose customer acquisition is largely based on local searches (restaurants, vintage clothing stores, specialty pet shops selling dog bow ties, etc.)
- Content publishers (Orlando Weekly, Orlando Date Night Guide, Edible Orlando, etc.)
- Large e-commerce retailers (Everyone’s favorite French boutique: Targeé.)
People searching for Where can I buy dog bow ties? want a short answer. (As opposed to searches requiring a longer answer, like Why does my dog freak out every time I make him wear a bow tie?) Siri, Alexa and the gang will return a short answer. The answer will either be your business or it will be a competitor business. It’s important to optimize your site’s keyword usage and schema to account for these short-form voice answers.
What does voice search mean for digital marketing agencies?
Looking to optimize sites in 2017 and beyond, digital marketers are now looking at the web, mobile and voice search environments as separate channels to be approached and used in different ways to lead users to their intended results. Schema markup, sitemaps and intuitive on-page navigation can help direct users to the specific pages within a domain that has the correct information.
The way we optimize for mobile marketing falls somewhere between web and voice search. This is due to the fact that users are doing one of two things – searching as they would from their desktop, laptop or tablet or finding answers quickly via voice search through Siri, Google voice or an app. In order to optimize for mobile, businesses need to ensure their information is clear and consistent across the web, and their website is mobile friendly and viewed correctly from multiple devices.
Speech recognition in voice technology is currently 90% accurate, but voice capabilities are only improving from here. By 2018, the accuracy is set to grow to 95-99% accuracy, making voice technology a game-changer in the world of internet searches.
How can your website be optimized for the future of voice search?
Luckily, the same tools that help your website rank for SEO can also be applied for voice search.
- Have a responsive website.
- Make sure your website loads quickly.
- Ensure text is easily digestible for mobile scanning (headings, sub-headings, bullet points).
- Content should be written in a natural, non-technical language (back to that whole conversational voice search format).
While the ever-changing world of digital marketing can be hard to keep up with, we are eager to see how the evolving platform of voice search continues to thrive. With continued development, new features are sure to be added – creating beneficial tools for both marketers and users. There is no shortage of ideas for how to make yours heard.