Serendipity Online Marketing

Hey Google: Should Businesses Take Voice Search Seriously?

Voice search isn’t going away! In fact, it’s more prevalent than ever before and that’s not going to change. The latest stats show that by 2020, at least 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

Even more surprising is this nugget of information. Digital transformation leader Gartner anticipates that in the same time frame, 30% of all searches will be screenless, as well. Screenless searches are those that use voice activated digital assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Experts anticipate that the voice speaker market will exceed $30 billion by 2024.

Put these facts together and we can draw one, inevitable conclusion:

Companies that fail to optimize for voice search now will lose business to companies that fully embrace the trend.

Voice Search in action
Voice Search is set to rise dramatically by 2020

So… what do you need to know about voice search right now? How can you optimize your site to ensure that you’re grabbing your share of voice traffic? Here’s what you need to know.

What Are the Differences between Traditional Search and Voice Search?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that voice search is just traditional search with a new name. It’s not. There are some key differences in the way people seek out information when they’re speaking aloud, and you’ve got to understand them to capitalize on the voice search trend.

Here are the main differences:

  1. Voice search uses specific long-tail keyword phrases. People looking for a product before voice search, might simply type what they were looking for into Google and peruse a list of results. With voice search, they are likely to ask a very specific question about where you can find the product. Targeting short keywords (also known as head keywords) aren’t going to help you in voice search.
  2. Voice search answers questions. If someone’s looking for the best pizza place in Hereford, they’re not going to say “Gloucester pizza” to Siri. They’ll likely frame their query as a question: What’s the best pizza place near me? Your content must answer the questions that are most likely to lead people to your business and be associated with it.
  3. Voice search enables consumers to bypass intermediate steps. Traditional searches offer searchers a list of results which they can then filter. In voice search, the questions themselves act as filters and the user may well end up being able to buy that product then and there. This means you’d better be the site that gets the single Voice search position available..
  4. As per the item above, Voice search only provides just one answer. Traditional search queries return pages and pages of potential websites for you to choose from. By contrast, ask Cortana where to buy your favorite brand of shirts and she’ll give you one answer and one answer only.
  5. Voice search is intent-focused. That means that people tend to ask Siri or Cortana specific questions that have an intent – whether it’s to go out to eat, buy a product, or find a service.

What you should take from this is that voice search is intensely competitive and highly specific. It’s not enough to throw a few short keywords on a page and call it a day. Voice search optimization must be intentional and thoughtful.

Selecting Voice Search Keywords

Voice search optimization starts with keyword selection. You know you’ve got to focus on long-tail keywords, but which ones?

A good place to start is with Google’s  PAA “People Also Ask” feature. When you Google a keyword, you’ll see a box just below the top result or two with a list of similar questions that people ask. You can use those to help you optimize your page, these questions being the ones that Google knows are actually being asked.

Another way to choose your voice search questions is to look at the FAQ on your website and on your competitors’ sites. You can also use software that identifies the questions that people are asking  – we have this software and it’s great.  Answering these questions can bring a lot of traffic to your site.

Considering the intent of the questions you choose is essential, as well. Remember, voice searches are always asked with a specific intent. The user wants to find a product or business, or they’re seeking an experience, or they want help with a problem. If you keep their intent in mind, then you’re likely to do a good job attracting voice traffic.

Of course, your questions should still incorporate your local keywords. For example, say you own a pizza restaurant in Minneapolis. Here are some examples of voice queries you could use:

  • What’s the best pizza restaurant in Herefordshire?
  • What the best Hereford pizza place?
  • Where can I get vegan pizza in Hereford?

You get the idea. You want to incorporate your long-standing keywords into questions and use those as the inspiration for your content.

Tips for Optimizing for Voice Search 

Now you understand why voice search is so important – now it’s time to do something about it. After you’ve chosen some key questions to answer, here’s what to do.

  1. Build a conversational interface. Your new, voice-optimized content’s got to answer search queries as specifically as possible to bring people as deep into your sales funnel as possible. This process takes time and skill.
  2. Focus heavily on localization. Most local businesses rely on local customers and they’re likely to incorporate place names into their voice search queries. You should answer their queries as specifically as possible while making sure that your business information is properly indexed. That way, people who need to find you will be able to find you.
  3. Use Schema markup on your pages. Proper Schema markup will ensure that search engines such as Google will be able to properly index your page and return it as a result for voice searches.

Perhaps the most important reason to start optimizing for voice search now is to stay ahead of Google’s algorithm. If you were one of the companies whose ranking took a hit after Mobilegeddon, you know how devastating it can be to get caught lagging behind a search trend.

It’s only a matter of time before Google adds voice search to its algorithm. You don’t want to be scrambling when that happens – which is why you’ve got to act now.

Voice search is here to stay. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to jump aboard the bandwagon now, while there’s still time.  That way you’ll get a head of your competitors – and reap the rewards in the form of more business.

About the author

Graham Baylis was born in 1957 and has therefore seen the birth of the Internet and experienced at first hand, just how it has changed the World we live in. He has been involved with computers since 1983 and helped set up the first electronic mail system used by the Civil Service in 1986. He has gained several qualifications in Computing and Marketing and has written hundreds of blogs which you can find around the web, many being on customer’s websites. He has over 19 years of experience with Pay Per Click and SEO and has an answer for most Search Marketing questions, and, for those that he hasn’t is quick to find one. Continually coming up with solutions, Graham is one person it is worth having a chat with.



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