Voice Search is rapidly changing the way people access information on the internet and that’s great news for digital marketers. In 2017, more and more users are conducting their searches by voice without typing anything at all. Is your brand ready to help them find what they’re looking for?
What is Voice Search?
If you’ve ever asked Siri a question or used a home system like Amazon’s Echo then you’re already using voice search in your everyday life. As our lives get busier and faster, it’s no wonder that voice search is gaining popularity. The Gartner Predictions estimates that, “about 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.” That’s just three years away so voice needs to be part of your strategy today.
“60% of people using voice search have started in the last year” according to MindMeld.
Traditional search methods aren’t going to disappear, but for savvy marketers it’s time to create content and modify existing content to make it accessible to voice based searches.
The main difference between voice-based search and traditional typed searches is in how the query is phrased.Voice based search uses natural language and phrases the query as a complete question. Instead of typing “apply passport online” a voice searcher might ask, “Where can I apply for my passport online?” It may seem like a subtle shift, but as search results still rely heavily on matching specific aspects of the query to the top results, the details matter.
Voice Search is Good for Business
Voice search gives businesses one more way to connect with customers and potential customers. When users type a search into a search engine they get pages and pages of results. When they ask a question using voice search, they get just one answer. For businesses that are able to get to the top of SERPs and be that one answer, it’s a huge competitive advantage.
It’s not just large companies than go after those top results. Smaller businesses can benefit from voice search too by creating content that answers specific questions and keeps local searchers in mind. A location specific search like, “Where’s the closest pizza place to Big Ben?” could just as easily go to a small establishment with a well-crafted page.
Another reason that voice search is good news for businesses is that this type of search provides a lot more information about the intention of the searcher and that information is valuable because it allows companies to provide more relevant results. A recent article in Forbes explained it this way:
For instance, a user may type “Chicago vacation,” giving the search engine virtually nothing when it comes to intent. But if a user were to indicate a specific purpose for their search, such as, “where can I grab some great deep dish in Chicago next week?” his or her intent comes through clearly. For marketers, these natural language queries help them to serve those folks appropriately.
How can businesses create content for voice searchers?
The best way to get started is to find out what questions people in your industry are asking. There are several tools available online that can get this information for you from Moz’s Keyword Explorer to Quora and others. Find out not just what kinds of questions are being asked but how they are being asked, what words are used? Once you have this information you can use it to create new content or rework existing content to match the questions. Remember to use natural language and include the question itself in your content.
Look for opportunities to create content that could go in a Google Answer Box. You’ve probably seen the Google’s answer boxes appear at the top of the SERPs over the past year. Sitting just below the ads and above all other search results, these answer boxes are prime search real estate.
The answer box looks like this:
The answer boxes contain a featured snippet from the most relevant page on that topic. There are three types of featured snippets that Google is currently using: paragraphs, lists and tables. (Moz has an excellent explainer article that goes into the three types in great detail.) The specifics of exactly how Google selects the most relevant page remains a closely guarded secret, but the basic rules of good SEO still apply. A page that is specific, informative, closely matches the query language and has good domain authority stands a good chance of making it into the answer box. Remember the long tail of search — content that answers very specific questions will be easier to rank for than broader, more popular search queries.
“Voice is not just an add-on, but an entirely new way of interacting with the machines that add value to our lives. It is the next big era of computing.” Simon Penson