Voice search is a modern marvel — technology straight from the set of Star Trek, now available in your car, living room or pocket.
Gartner predicted that 30 percent of web browsing would be screenless by 2020. Meanwhile, ComScore projected more than half of all queries would be voice searches this year. So, it’s no surprise that voice search tops every digital marketing trend list this year.
Every day, we talk to our computers and our computers talk back. Think about how often you use voice-enabled services. How often do you ask Siri for the weather forecast as you prepare for the day? Or settle a debate with a quick voice search, where everyone can hear the correct answer? We ask Alexa to play our favorite songs. We order everything from pizza to cat litter. And we do it all without lifting a finger.
One of the major reasons for the widespread popularity of voice search is its ease of use. There’s no need for a user manual. People of all ages, across all types of devices and locations can use it. More than that, it’s so much faster. Voice search can be up to three times faster than typing.
For many people, voice technology is reserved for task-oriented queries. They want to turn on the lights or schedule a reminder without interrupting the task at hand. But today’s consumers are also using voice search to make shopping seamless.
According to Google, 44 percent of people who use their voice-activated speaker at least weekly say they use the device to order products they need, like groceries and household items, at least once a week. Smart devices can save past history to make this process easier for repeat customers. Ordering essentials, such as your favorite bath products, can be as easy as saying, “Alexa, order body wash.”
More importantly, voice search can make it easier to personalize the process. Smart devices can provide recommendations and search results for individual users. For example, shoppers can share their desire for vegan or cruelty-free products. The system can then suggest items that fit those specific requirements.
Voice technology is fundamentally changing how we interact with the world. It’s also changing how we discover digital content. Here are three tips to help you update your digital strategy to include voice search:
Optimize your website for mobile. Ask anybody and they’ll tell you the first step to prepare for voice search is mobile optimization. It’s easy to understand why. Voice search is a natural option for on-the-go shoppers who need information quickly. Start by focusing on website loading speed. Voice searchers need immediate results. If you have a slow website, your content won’t be used to answer verbal queries.
Here are a few easy tips to help you optimize for mobile:
Focus on the local search. According to BrightLocal, about 75 percent of smart-speaker owners search for local businesses at least once a week. Of those customers, more than half make food/drink reservations. At least 35 percent book a beauty appointment. And 40 percent want to find out if a product is still available. Voice search offers a huge opportunity to reach local customers who want your products and services.
Ranking for voice search among local customers is about relevance and reputation. To make your website more relevant, you want optimized content and authoritative web pages. For a human resources firm, that might look like a lead generation page about recruitment services and extensive blog posts about HR management, compliance, and benefits.
For reputation, you need to ensure people are talking about your business in a positive way. Reputation management is more important than ever. And voice search can actually make the process of gathering positive reviews easier. Rather than having your customers log in to leave a review, the device can simply ask, “How did you like your manicure? How many stars would you give the experience?”
Answer specific questions. Finally, you need to optimize for voice search through Featured Snippets (also known as the answer boxes). These are the selected search results featured on top of Google’s organic results, below the ads in a box.
The goal is to answer users’ questions right away, within the search engine results page. In fact, Backlinko reports that 40.7 percent of all voice search answers came from a featured snippet. There’s no magic sauce to help you reach the coveted featured snippet spot, but the following tips work well:
Have questions about how voice search can help your business?