2021 is fast approaching. Your customers are more impatient and crunched for time than ever before. And they’re doing everything they can, including multi-tasking to simplify their excessively busy lives.
No wonder, voice search is replacing text-based or keyboard-search by the minute!
41% of adults and over 50% of teenagers use voice search each day.
So what does this mean for your small business? For starters, it’s time to re-examine your digital marketing strategy and include a well-planned voice search strategy to leverage your customer’s changing audio search behavior.
First things, first…
What is Voice Search?
Voice search or voice-enabled search is the technique of looking up information or searching a query on a website or app using voice commands rather than the ‘now old-school’ typed word.
With voice-activated devices like smartphones and laptops, virtual assistants and smart speakers like Google Home, Google Voice Search, Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon Echo) and Cortana (Microsoft), searchers get the most relevant and specific answer to their questions speedily.
It is a sort of dialog system or advanced computer system designed such that it can speak to a real person in real-time.
Not surprisingly, voice searches make up for over half of the total online searches done today with a majority of them being local or location-based. And the percentage of screen less searches is on the rise, too.
Safe to say, voice search is here to stay and if you haven’t already, you need to start thinking of its relevance for your business.
The World of “Hey Siri”, “Alexa” and “Hey Google” Voice Search
Siri is a smart virtual assistant by Apple that works across all of Apple’s devices and responds to the user’s voice queries and requests. There are a whole lot of things you can ask Siri to do – answer questions, find information, give recommendations and perform various tasks.
Google Voice Search
Google Voice Search lets you search for information via the Google Search using voice commands on your computer or your phone. Since you don’t have the type the words to search, you can find results quickly.
Alexa is a voice-controlled personal assistant you can connect to using your Amazon Echo devices as well as many other third-party Alexa built-in devices such as televisions and speakers. Alexa can help with numerous activities like making voice purchases, playing music, making a call or providing answers to questions.
Google Home is a smart speaker that’s powered by the Google Assistant. You can operate the various Google Home compatible devices like watches, speakers, lights, and phones using the Google Assistant to get things done more efficiently around the home.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Unlike text-only searches where you inadvertently spend time thinking about which keywords to use and then type those words into the search bar, searching using voice commands is faster, a lot easier and so much more convenient.
It’s akin to having a quick and helpful conversation with a reliable source, resulting in finding what you’re looking for within seconds.
Voice search users generally ask specific, somewhat longer questions that include words like How, What, Who, and Where.
And they usually get the one pertinent and concise answer via Echo or Google Home which is a shift from the typical web search where users type a few words and get a minimum of ten results which they then inspect one by one.
Spoken queries can be as basic as converting grams to ounces or as detailed as locating a pet store near you selling handmade leather collars on discount.
Leveraging the Power of Voice Search for Your Small Business
Your competitors are probably already catering to the growing user base of those of who’d rather speak than type to find what they’re searching.
If you do not have a voice search strategy, it is quite probable that each time your ideal customer is searching for your excellent products and services, they get connected to brands in direct competition to you!
Here’s the deal. For Google and other search platforms to direct these new customers to you, you need to look into having a successful digital voice search strategy for your brand.
Spoken questions return different search results than questions typed into the browser search field.
After all, it’s all about enhancing the customer experience, offering them more avenues to interact with you and providing what they need in the here and now.
Changing The Face Of Website Optimization And The Move Towards Voice Optimization
Considering that the modern consumer is swiftly adopting the ‘speak-aloud’ search style using the latest voice search devices, your focus can no longer only be limited to website optimization for browser queries.
Even if you’re a small business with limited resources, there are ways to incorporate voice-optimized SEO into your digital marketing strategy, so you don’t completely miss out on the benefits of voice technology.
So How Does Voice Optimization Work?
More often than not, voice-search users frame their spoken search queries like questions.
The way you would talk to someone who you know can help you find the best information or answers to your inquiries. And all search platforms intend to present the user with the most spot-on answer.
Since voice search via Google Home or Echo provides a single result, the driving force behind voice search optimization is to ideally appear on the top-most search position.
Not the second, third or fourth spot as they will not give you the same visibility or authority.
Are you wondering what you can do to ensure your website is the top choice for a voice search query? Here are some suggestions:
Voice-Search Friendly Content
As a small business, you might be investing your time and resources in planning, implementing and monitoring your digital marketing strategy.
You might even be making the necessary adjustments to make sure you are reaching out to your targeted users consistently.
However, with voice search changing the dynamics of SEO, you may be missing out on the single-most-important element of a successful digital marketing strategy – RELEVANCE.
For far too long, websites have fussed over securing top rankings for their targeted keywords on browser results.
Now, the focus must expand to voice searches to keep the ever-growing Alexa, Siri and Google Home users happy.
Meaning your website content should be –
Optimized for Voice Using Long-Tail Keywords
Voice search users generally use voice queries that are natural and conversational. And their questions are mostly wordy and detailed.
So when you’re working out your voice search keyword strategy, start by identifying the most relevant long-tail keywords and phrases that match the search intent of your target customers.
These can be as long as 4-5 words.
Now incorporate them in your website content in a natural way, like you’re speaking directly to the searcher.
There’s no point going overboard with keyword usage as that spoil the user experience and diminish your chances of getting selected as the best result.
‘Ask the Public’ is a handy tool if you want to get some content ideas and discover what kind of questions your customers are asking. More AI and SEO tools are coming out that can help you create content your customer needs, such as Market Muse and Surfer SEO
Be Straight-Forward and Concise
Remember what we said about your customers being impatient and wanting the best information quickly?
When optimizing your web pages for search, make sure the content is value-packed and relevant, is to-the-point and easy to digest.
An excellent way to accomplish this is to create a good FAQ section with well worded, short and focused answers.
Your goal should be to be identified as the most appropriate and best result for your targeted search query and grab the coveted top spot!
Aiming For The Featured Snippet
The Featured Snippet is the result that shows at position 0 on Google’s search results page. It is a snippet of the most relevant search result displayed to the user in return to their search query.
Appearing as a featured snippet is an enviable accomplishment as it showcases your authority on the subject.
When optimizing your content for voice search and aiming for the featured snippet position, keep in mind the importance of writing the content in a direct style, so it’s easy to understand when read out by the voice assistant.
A high-impact image or useful and informative video are other elements that can elevate the user experience and give you a fair shot at making it to the featured snippet section.
If you want to understand the different ways in which people are framing their question-style searches, enter your choice of question on Google and look at the People also ask section.
Optimize For Local Searches
Smartphones and smart devices have made it child’s play to search online for products, services or advice from almost anywhere with decent connectivity.
Customers are looking for things on-the-go using their mobile digital assistants, and this is where “_______ near me” searches gain prominence.
If your website is well-optimized for local searches, you can improve your chances of being found for voice searches by local customers who are physically close to your store right this moment.
Say you’re a business that sells baby products. A family vacationing in your town is out on a tour of the city. They are in the close vicinity of your shop and suddenly realize that they forget the baby’s diapers in their hotel room.
No worries. A quick voice search for “store selling baby diapers near me” is all that’s needed to find your store and handle the diaper crisis.
If you haven’t already, go to ‘Google My Business’ and register your business to maximize your local search potential.
Don’t forget to enter your correct contact details, including your phone number and complete address. And while you’re at it, you may also want to register your business on the best business directories and local search engines.
Nearly 50% of voice search users are performing searches locally. Customers are looking for you. Ask yourself – am I making it easy for them to find me?
Create A Website Your Customers Will Love
Mobile responsiveness is an important factor to consider when creating a successful website for today’s users.
Not only should your website offer an excellent browsing experience on all kinds of mobile phones, but it should also load quickly and minimize wait times.
After all, the whole idea of voice search is to provide information quickly and your website must fulfill this basic need.
Head over to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and see how your website fares on it.
Add Schema Markup
Another element that you may want to find out more about while prepping your digital strategy for voice search is the Speakable Structured Data.
The idea behind it is to pin-point those parts of your web content that are geared for voice-based search queries.
Say Hello to Bing Voice Search
Announced this September, the popular search engine Bing is the latest entrant to offer the convenience of voice search. Its users can now make voice queries using Bing.com as well as the Bing app.
All one needs to do is go to the search box, click on the microphone icon and speak aloud your query. The search results will be displayed, eliminating the need to type the search query.
Wrapping It Up
Considering how popular voice-enabled devices and smart virtual assistants are, there is no denying that voice search has firmly secured its place in the world of digital marketing.
If you are looking to promote your small or local business and get targeted leads from the growing treasure-trove of new-age consumers, you need to up your game.
Take into account your overall business goals and consider how and to what extent a voice strategy will help your business to grow.
Since your business is unique, and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all when it comes to marketing your business, you can consider consulting a professional digital marketing agency.
There’s no time like the present to prepare for the fast-growing voice-search revolution.