Does voice search feel a little bit strange to you? Unless you’re already deeply involved with big data and search, that’s to be expected. We’re living in an era where people tend to forego answering the phone and favor text messages instead. The idea of using voice feels like taking a step backward. But there’s more to this story, and it’s important that you understand the full picture.
Here’s the thing: technology changes how we communicate. It was the telegraph first, and then the telephone. Then, fax and the Internet, and finally, smartphones and mobile devices. Those evolutions directly influence our interpersonal communication styles over time. And for as much as it seems as if reverting to voice for search is two steps back, there are really compelling reasons to prove it’s actually a step forward instead.
Ultimately, people are always looking for faster and more efficient ways to find information. Text search (especially boolean search) made it instantly easy for people to find information deeply embedded in databases or large text documents even long before the Internet was commonplace in America. But typing takes time, and tiny mobile devices increase the risk for errors – fumble fingers are a real thing.
In this post, we’ll explain the voice search revolution and why it’s changing marketing. Then, we’ll highlight a few ways you can take advantage of it in the coming year.
What is Voice Search?
New technologies focus on speech recognition instead of text typing to allow people to conduct search engine queries and other searches. While this is incredibly popular on mobile devices where people are often looking for ways to remain hands-free, users with the right microphone setup can also use voice search on desktop, too.
As of January 2018, approximately 1 billion Google searches per month were conducted via voice technology, with 40 percent of adults conducting at least one voice search per day. This emerging technology isn’t limited to the internet and your standard cell phone or tablet, either. Alexa and Google Home devices are also voice enabled, with more and more speaker systems hitting the market every month. Comscore estimates that at a minimum of 50 percent of all searches will be conducted via voice by the year 2020.
How Voice Search Will Impact Your Business
So what exactly does this mean for your business? It means you need to keep your finger on the pulse of changing technology so that your marketing strategies continue to appeal to new search methods. Voice search is a completely separate animal, almost unrelated to traditional mobile and PC searches. It is being used completely differently, especially for local content (like business hours or directions).
Is it realistic to try to create some form of your website that can be consumed completely via voice search and audible answer? No, at least not yet. What you can do is make sure the sources Google is most likely to draw information from are completely up to date. This means regular interaction with your Google Business listing, keeping your hours, address information, and other details up to date at all times.
Again, take special note if you have a local business relying on foot traffic. People are using search most to find business hours or, in some cases, to do general searches about the businesses or things available to do in their vicinity. As of right now, the majority of voice searches are rather simplistic, requiring very simple answers. For example, “What is the current temperature?”
Voice Search Optimization
All of that said, it’s time to start thinking about how we can best optimize our websites and other media outlets to cater to those using voice search. You can’t make every single piece of content on your page available to be read by text technology, but you can make sure your pages are optimized with simplistic opening paragraphs and great meta descriptions.
Why these sections? Simple. If a piece of voice technology is using Google to conduct a search, it is likely to read the featured snippet as the answer. If your pages are optimized to show up in this particular section of the search engine results, you are more likely to find your pages are being used to answer voice questions.
Don’t forget, people can still engage in voice searches from their internet browsers, too. They aren’t only searching from third-party devices. This means they are also likely to do a voice search and then look at their screens to make a final choice. Use tools like People Also Ask or Answer the Public to figure out what sort of questions people are asking about your chosen niche.
Google Analytics also now shows which queries ended up on your website originated from a voice search. You’ll be able to use this type of data to determine which of your pages are performing well and which may need to be optimized a bit more to ensure they show up more frequently.
Voice Search Optimization Tips
How can you make sure your pages are optimized for voice? Keep the following in mind as you make changes and updates, especially in the coming months:
- Consider your keywords. Your text optimization may include shorter keywords but people are doing voice searches in more complete sentences. The questions are also more specific. Instead of asking for “sports equipment” on the computer, they may specifically ask “Where can I find soccer cleats for children?”
- Conversational writing. That said, your intro paragraphs and meta descriptions need to be as conversational in nature as the questions posed to the voice search tools. Use short, clear statements that a lay person can understand. Save the more complicated jargon for the formal body of your text.
- Explore the Google App. There are tools you can use to create “actions” that will make it easier for Alexa and the Google Assistant to communicate with your own business app or website. Don’t bother with this if you’re simply doing it because you’re worried about voice search, though. Do it because the actions will be valuable to your readers. The more they’re actually used, the better they’ll serve you.
- Update your website. From a technical standpoint, that is. Sites that take forever to load won’t be quick enough to provide results to voice technology. Check the speed of your pages and make sure things are moving as quickly as possible.
Confused about all of this voice search stuff? Take a deep breath and try to remember that this is a growing area of search. You don’t need to know everything right now; you just need to be willing to learn in the near future.
Ultimately, the big take here is really that your website should be optimized for mobile by now. If it isn’t, there’s no time like the present – and it’s easier to factor in voice search if you’re updating than later on down the road.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the voice search trend and will continue to update you as things evolve. In the meantime, take some time to study your site’s analytics, tweak the optimization on a few of your pages, and keep an eye on whether or not your site is showing up in local voice searches. You may be surprised at how much your site is used, even without a click-through.
Need a hand? You can always reach out to us here about consultations. We’d love to help you move into the future ahead of the game!