SEO is constantly changing and yet it is a crucial component of any successful digital marketing strategy. This means that you need to stay on top of emerging trends to remain relevant. You must be one of the first to identify and adopt new search technologies that might impact the industry. This and perhaps next year, the technology to watch is voice search.
Voice search seems to be growing at an unprecedented pace. According to an August 2017 article, approximately half of teens and 41% of adults are using voice search on a daily basis with most of the tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon now boasting their own special voice search devices and technologies.
In other words, you can no longer ignore voice search. Otherwise, you’d be priming yourself for untold losses. No matter the size of your business or the industry you’re in, you need to take voice search seriously and (if you’ve not done so already) make plans to integrate voice search optimization into your overall digital marketing plans.
This blog post will explore on how SMBs can leverage voice search for maximum profitability. We want to show you how to stay ahead with voice search by discussing the exact steps you can take to benefit from the technology. First, though, here are a few things you need to know about voice search.
The Rise And Rise Of Voice Search
Let’s begin with a definition and short history of the technology. “What is voice search?” you might ask.
In the simplest terms, voice search refers to a speech recognition technology that allows digital consumers to search the internet by saying aloud the terms they wish to search, rather than typing these terms into a search field. The very first voice recognition software was introduced by Google in May 2002, approximately 15 years ago.
Although a majority of search engine users still prioritized text search, many began to see the convenience of voice queries. On mobile devices, particularly, it becomes incredibly easy to search by voice. If you’re using a smartphone, you just need to speak to the phone and relevant results would be displayed on the screen.
By 2014, an even larger number of internet users were searching by voice as captured in the 2014 article by Android Central. The study shows that by mid-2014, about 55% of teens were using some sort of hands-free search solution on their smartphones every day, including Google’s search solution, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
What were most revealing about the findings though, is how people use the voice search function:
- 51% of consumers use voice search “just for fun”.
- 40% use the function to ask for directions.
- 39% use it to dictate text messages.
- 32% use it to make a phone call.
- 27% use it to check the weather.
In terms of where the function is used, a majority of people use it when watching TV or hanging out with friends. A good number also prefer voice search when working out in the gym or when cooking. Here is a snapshot of the figures;
- 59% of teens and 36% of adults use it when watching TV.
- 57% of teens and 24% of adults use it when in the company of friends.
- 22% of teens and 15% of adults use it while in the bathroom.
- 17% of teens and 15% of adults use it while exercising.
- 8% of teens and 23% of adults use it while cooking.
Finally, the study also sought to find out why people who use voice search are so excited by the technology. The responses weren’t surprising. In order of importance, both teen and adult users think that voice search;
- Is cool.
- Is the future.
- Is safer.
- Is good for multitasking.
- Makes them more efficient.
Fast Forward To 2017
The explosion in voice search will make you reconsider any reservations you previously had regarding the technology. Here are just a few statistics on the current status of voice search:
There’s a lot more. But, let’s now turn to the predictions. With voice search already blowing through the roof, what can we expect in the near future? According to the experts,
- There will be 33+ million smart speakers in the U.S. by end of 2017.
- By 2020, 50% of searches will be voice searches.
- By that time, approximate 30% searches will be done without a screen.
- Additionally, approximately 600 million people will be using voice search.
How These Searches Impact Digital Marketing
After looking at these statistics, you might want to understand how voice search might impact SEO as you plan to integrate the technology into your overall digital marketing plan. Here are the major impacts:
Mobile Just Became Even More Important
When search shifted from PC to mobile a few years ago, smartphones and tablets became critical to SEO. Marketers were forced to immediately optimize their content for mobile devices, or risk losing a large portion of their sales and customers.
The explosion of voice search makes mobile devices, especially the smartphone, even more important. To marketers, it makes mobile optimization a must. With more than half of voice queries coming from smartphones, failing to optimize your content for smartphones would be akin to shutting out half of your potential customers.
Long-Tail Keywords, The Way To Go
If you check closely, you’ll notice that voice searches contain more words compared to text searches. On average, a text query on Google comprises just three words. Voice searches, meanwhile, comprise five words on average.
The reason is that when given the chance to ask for something by speaking, people try to be as elaborate as possible, using natural-sounding phrases and questions instead of the odd query language. Instead of asking “SEO Company in Florida” like they would type when text-searching, a searcher will ask “Find the best SEO Company in Florida.” It’s a small difference but in SEO, that’s all it takes to convert or miss out on a sale.
Back To Conversational Content
With text searches, marketers needed to think in terms of what someone would type in the search box. This led to what Google calls exact-matching. If you used Google Adwords at some point, you must have come across this term.
Voice search makes “exact-matching” a thing of the past. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to replicate what someone would say in a voice search. What this means is that marketers need to go back to the drawing board and begin creating conversational content suited to natural-language queries.
Location Is Now More Important Than Ever
Finally, location already plays a central role in 80% of all searches. Whenever people search with the intention of finding information of making a purchase, they will typically include a location.
Voice search takes this to another level. With voice queries, rarely will a searcher go without specifying a location. Whether they are buying shoes or trying to find a taxi company, they will almost certainly include a location. But not just that, most voice search providers can quickly and accurately pinpoint a user’s location in real time and deliver results based on the identified location. It means that location takes center stage from here on.
Tips On How To Stay Ahead With Voice Search
As we round up, let’s look at what you can do reap maximum benefits from voice search. We’ll assume that you already have a clear SEO strategy in place. Now, all you need to do is adjust the strategy to cater to voice queries.
- Have a mobile-friendly site.
- Avoid flash.
- Optimize your page load times.
- Adjust for natural language in both content and SEO.
- Implement long tail keywords.
- Incorporate an FAQ strategy.
- Hire necessary talent.
Flash is not supported by most mobile devices. A number of new laptops and PC browsers also don’t support the technology. To make sure that Google and mobile visitors can access your site and easily crawl or view your content, it’s best to avoid using flash on your mobile pages.
If you didn’t know, 40% of mobile users won’t wait more than three seconds for a page to load. If some of your pages are still taking this long to load, you’ll lose a lot of customers. One of the simplest ways to improve your load times on mobile is to compress your images.
Your content should from now on be more conversational rather than robotic. Think in terms of what people are likely to say rather than type in search engines. Even when writing guides and product descriptions, think more about what someone would ask if they were standing in front of you, and provide relevant answers – again, imagining that you’re standing in front of them.
While it’s unlikely that short-tail keywords will disappear any soon, they become far less relevant when optimizing content for the natural phrases used in voice searches. No one will ask “SEO provider Florida” when on voice search. They’ll mostly be asking “Find an SEO provider in Florida.” Going forward, adjust your keywords to reflect this.
When voice searchers ask a question, they typically begin with “What”, “Who”, “Where”, “When”, and “How”. Also, they’ll mostly be looking for an answer that fulfills an immediate need. One of the best ways to answer these queries is through an FAQ page – beginning each question with the adverbs we just mentioned.
The truth is – voice search has caught most businesses unaware. A majority of marketers are struggling badly with the technology. You don’t have to go it alone. There is talent out there that can come in and help you get over the line. Of course, you’ll have to dip into your pocket again. But, you’ll profit a lot from that investment.
If you’ve not optimized for voice search, you’re missing out big time. Not just on traffic but on sales too, because consumers are increasingly searching for products by voice and even placing orders hands-free.
Do not get left behind. Let us know which industry you are in and how do you use voice search in your business. Let’s begin optimizing your site for voice queries today!