If you’re the owner of a business that needs to be seen and found online, it’s time to sit up and listen, literally. Because voice search is coming for you, and if you’re not ready, you’re falling on deaf ears…
Google recently announced that 20% of searches on its mobile app and Android services are now carried out by voice, and this number is only likely to increase in the coming years.
Microsoft Cortana has over 133 million active users, over 40 million people use Siri on their Apple devices every month, and Amazon has already sold over 20 million Echo devices. These figures are not only staggering, but also prove the growing consumer desire for voice search technology.
If you’re publishing a business site and choose to ignore this development, you do so at your peril
If you’re publishing a business site, want to be found, and choose to ignore this development, you do so at your peril. Conversely, if you take an active interest in making it work for your business then you can reap the rewards.
Voice search is not a new idea. If anyone has seen the film Alien from 1979 you will know that there was a computer called Mother which you could talk to. We have certainly been interested in the ability to use voice to search for a number of years, but it is not until recently that the artificial intelligence (AI) technology has developed enough to allow it to be a reliable solution for searching for information.
And the statistics about voice search today are just simply proof of just how important this method of search is becoming.
WHY IS VOICE SEARCH BOOMING NOW?
The reason for this growth has a lot to do with increased voice search accuracy. Early users of voice search will appreciate how you did not always get what you asked for. Trying to ask your device to ‘Call x’ would often lead to it starting a call with someone completely different and then ignoring your requests to cancel.
Luckily things have moved on. In 2013 the word accuracy rate of voice search devices was just 76%. But by the end of 2017 this had risen to an accuracy rate of 95%, which is incredible when you consider the difference in accents and word pronunciations. Further improvements are likely to be seen this year, and going forward.
The fact that when you use voice search now you generally receive relevant information demonstrates that more and more people are using voice search, as this has enabled the devices to learn search intent and provide accurate results. It’s learning as it goes along.
Voice search can be a much faster and more convenient way of searching the web. It’s much easier to speak than to type, demonstrated by the fact that on average we can type 40 words a minute, but can speak 150 words in the same amount of time. And now that the technology is in place to support searches made by voice it is important to adapt your businesses marketing strategy.
SO HOW CAN YOU ENSURE YOU’RE MAKING THE MOST OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT VOICE SEARCH PRESENTS?
So you know it’s an important thing, and you definitely want your product or service to be on the lips of all those speaking retrievers! But how do you get there? We have some tips for you…
You need to be first in search engine results!
Voice search will be impacted by search engine optimisation. One of the main changes voice search introduces is the fact that only the first result is read out. So optimising pages to be on the first page of Google is not good enough; even being second on Google’s list of results is not much good. This means it is even more important to be the first result. Never an easy task but something to aim for – and even more important to be unique as you have a better chance of standing out from the crowd.
Pay attention to what type of questions your customers are asking about your business
You need to answer the questions your audience is asking
Verbal search queries are often longer than typed and it is therefore a good idea to start optimising for longer search queries as phrases rather than just keywords. Start to pay attention to what type of questions your customers are asking about your business, and then create a page on your website that answers that question. If you want to find out what questions consumers are asking around the subject of the product or service you provide, then a good website to use is AnswerThePublic, which generates title ideas around the theme you input.
You must implement Schema.org
For a search engine to understand what your website page is showing it must be able to understand the page data. This data is delivered in a large part by structured data and this is defined by the schema.org standard. This is the system used to mark up content on a web page, which then enables search engines to understand the text in the code. By implementing schema.org you will help AI to identify information on your website pages, increasing your chances of ranking for voice search results.
Get listed for local and mobile searches
Voice search is becoming increasingly used in local searches, such as queries like ‘coffee shop near me’ or ‘where can I buy a newspaper?’ If your business relies on local customers, then it is important to be found when people are asking for the product or service you sell. Localised search results come from Google My Business and Bing Places for Business, so make sure your business has these listings set up, otherwise you could be missing out on local search traffic and customers.
Consider the issues of misspelling and mispronunciation
This is a challenge for AI. The word accuracy rate is now at 95%, but it is still not 100% and this means there is still a margin for error. There are certain brands that are almost impossible to find via voice search. Just try asking for Yves Saint Laurent handbags. If your brand name is difficult to say then changing it just to work better for voice search probably isn’t an option, but it is worth bearing in mind when you develop new products. Is the new product easy to pronounce? If it is then it will be easier to be found via voice search.
f you use Amazon Echo to order a pizza then it will order it from Domino’s because the pizza company has a deal with Amazon
The main reason voice search is growing is the convenience factor. People want results and they want them fast. This is where voice search is efficient as you only receive one result. But this also eliminates choice. For example, if you use Amazon Echo to order a pizza then it will order it from Domino’s because the pizza company has a deal with Amazon. Something to educate consumers about too.
It is worth investing time and money to optimise your business’ website for voice search as the growth of voice search shows no signs of slowing down. By 2020, it is estimated that 50% of searches will be voice searches. If your business is not prepared for the shift in the way people search online, then you could miss out on search traffic and ultimately lose sales to competitors who have optimised their sites effectively.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Butler is founder of Innovation Visual, a digital marketing consultancy specialising in digital effectiveness. Recognised by Google as one of the top 30 digital agencies in the UK, Innovation Visual uses the latest techniques in SEO, PPC and online content creation, and is an award-winning Google, Bing and Hubspot Partner. Innovation Visual works to increase website visibility, lead generation, customer acquisition and developing competitive advantage digitally.