Written by Michael Del Gigante
If your goal is to stand out in mobile search results, it may be time to talk about voice search. Over the past two decades, online search was primarily text-based, with users typing questions and keywords. With advancing technology and increased smartphone use, that’s changing.
Today, consumers are looking to voice search as a dynamic, quick way to find information at home and on the go. Voice search is rapidly changing the way customers interact with their digital devices, and it’s also shaping the way they search for products and services. Information received via voice search is presented differently than data retrieved through text searches, making it necessary for marketers to adjust their SEO approaches.
So, why does voice search matter? Should your business consider voice search as a viable marketing tool? MDG Advertising’s new infographic, “Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers,” answers these questions and offers insight into the latest in voice search trends.
The Power of Voice Search
The rise of digital voice assistants has made voice search an important part of consumers’ everyday lives. Examples of voice assistants include Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, and Cortana.
These tech helpers are available on smartphones and home entertainment devices. Today, more than 77 percent of Americans use smartphones, most of which are equipped with a voice assistant. With a smartphone handy, consumers can use a voice assistant to search for business information at any time.
In addition, they’re a key part of the connected home hub, which includes Google Home and Amazon Echo. These smart speakers are growing in popularity with consumers—32 percent report using one in their home. Among consumers who are familiar with voice assistants, 72 percent of them have used one to search.
Young consumers are particularly drawn to voice assistants as an information option. They’re also appealing to families with young children and those with incomes under $100,000.
What Voice Assistants Mean for Online Search
We know that voice assistants are rising in popularity, but how do they directly impact search?
To find out, look to how customers use these tools. The vast majority—89 percent—of customers use voice assistants to search, and 88 percent use a question format when looking for information. Consumers also greatly prefer voice search to traditional text searches, with 71 percent saying they prefer to use voice.
These changing consumer tastes are impacting the way we search—Google reports that over 20 percent of its mobile searches are via voice. This percentage will rise as more voice assistants are added to devices. According to analyses, more than 30 percent of searches are expected to be conducted without using a screen by 2020.
Optimizing for Voice Search
Ready to optimize your content for voice search? These simple tips will allow your business to expand its reach in 2019:
- When optimizing for voice search, use a conversational approach. Most consumers use casual phrases and questions when searching with a voice assistant. You may even wish to use a wider variety of keywords within your content.
- Using question-based content is also helpful—include an updated FAQ page on your website, and ensure the body of your page addresses any questions customers may have about your business.
- Site performance is also key—Google penalizes sites with slow loading times or hard-to-use interfaces, and voice assistants are especially selective. Consider your website’s layout and mobile friendliness when optimizing for voice.
Is Voice Search Right for Your Business?
You may be wondering if a voice optimization strategy is a good fit for your business. “Yes” is the quick answer—all brands benefit from considering voice in their marketing strategies.
Consumers are continuing to choose voice search when finding business information. Today, voice searches generate $2 billion in purchases, a number that is expected to jump to $40 billion over the next few years.
Local businesses should be especially aware of the benefits of voice search. When searching for a local product or service, 22 percent of customers look to their voice assistants. Compared with text searches, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local based. Voice search also drives website traffic—32 percent of local searchers eventually arrive at a business’ website.
Wondering how your local business can reach nearby customers? Your Google My Business page is a great place to start when optimizing for voice. Keep your page updated with the latest hours information, photos, and other important details, and encourage customers to leave reviews. Voice search often favors businesses with several customer reviews.
Getting Started with Voice Search
As noted before, text and voice searches are not the same. When developing text-based search strategies, most marketers look to Google because of its dominance.
However, there is no one standard for voice search—brands should realize that each voice assistant functions differently. An example would be Google Assistant vs. Apple Siri: Google Assistant relies on Google’s own data when returning results, as opposed to Apple Siri, which tends to look to Yelp reviews and other crowdsourced information. That means optimization approaches must be different for these two platforms.
It’s recommended to familiarize yourself with each assistant’s capabilities and keyword preferences. Keeping track of the latest consumer voice search preferences and trends also is important.
Changing Technology Drives Voice Search
Voice assistants are popular and user-friendly, leading marketers to forget that it’s an advanced technology. Natural-language processing allows these tools to understand human speech, and machine-learning technology allows them to select the right phrases.
When it comes to seeing the full capabilities of voice assistants, we’re only at the beginning. As voice search capabilities become more advanced, they will be even more valuable to both consumers and businesses.
About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising
In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.