Youâ€™re new to town and you need a coffee. You donâ€™t want something from a chain, you want to do as the locals do and get a cup from the best shop in town. So, what do you do? For many, the first thought is to ask your phone/smart speaker â€ś(Okay Google, Hey Siri, Alexa): Where do I get the best iced coffee downtown?â€ť
Voice search has disrupted the way marketers approach their search and digital marketing. Our devices have become our personal assistants and local guides, and consumers are using their devices to help them find and buy things near them and online more and more.
This becomes even more interesting when you think about how these searches are physically being made â€” without the user looking screen. Gartner Research estimates that by 2020, 30 percent of searches will be done with no screen. Winning the customer at point of decision just became a lot more complicated!
So, what is the marketer to do?
As voice search grows in popularity, the systems that support it will grow too. But in the meantime, here are three simple steps that can make a big difference:
1. Create content that answers conversational questions.
When doing a voice search, users are not saying â€śIced Coffee. Downtown. Near me. Best.â€ť They arenâ€™t searching with keywords in mind. Users are having a conversation with their device and using natural language to get answers. Because of this, marketers need to focus on answering questions (and all forms of all questions) in order to be number one in voice searches.
Most experts suggest â€ślong tail keywordsâ€ť (i.e. optimize for a conversational kind of response and not a buzzword-filled result).
Use FAQs and build your content so that itâ€™s easy for a machine to read and relay to the searcher.
Local searches make up 46% of the voice search user questions on a daily basis according to BrightLocal showing how important it is to adapt now for this search type. Local search is an affordable, easy, and effective way to connect with eager customers! Making sure your business is visible in the top three through local search is a great way to guide into voice search optimization.
2. Understand where the â€śladies of voice searchâ€ť get their information
When a user asks Amazonâ€™s Alexa, Googleâ€™s Assistant, and Appleâ€™s Siri a question, they may not really know where this information is coming from â€” and they may not care as long as the question is answered. But as a marketer, you do. So, knowing the source and optimizing what it captures and conveys is very important.
Itâ€™s a safe guess to make that Google Assistant is using a Google search engine for questions and Google Maps for local results. But do you know where Siri is gathering her info? Up until last year, she was powered by a Bing search engine by default. Now Siri uses Google search and Apple Maps for local results. The wildcard: Amazon Alexa. She operates on her own database, with Bing search engine and Yelp for her business reviews.
Keep your business information updated on all these search engines, and keep updated on where the ladies of search are getting their information. Potential customers are coming from all over the place and if you want to get an impression, you have to make sure theyâ€™re see current data for your business on all search engines!
3. Monitor, test, refine Â
Monitor: Letâ€™s pause so you can go search your companyâ€™s results of each of these platforms. Because this is the key to success in this Voice Search world. Think of yourself asking the question, how would you phrase it. Then ask others to do the same. Figure out how customers are asking questions about products or services you provide.
Test: This is only the beginning and we are all figuring voice search trends together. Think about how the â€śladies of voice searchâ€ť pull content from your page: Does it sound enticing? Are your answers concise and complete? Is your information relevant and optimized? Now is the time to have fun with it and explore the new world of voice responses.
Refine: Keep working to improve your results. Your competitors will counter each success you have with efforts of their own, so think of how you can adapt to win each and every day.
By 2020, comScore estimates that 50 percent of search will be by voice and you donâ€™t want to be playing catch up. Thinking about these minor changes now can help your business ease into and gain a solid understanding on what voice search optimization really means for you. Now go grab that coffee you were searching for earlier and get to work on your voice search optimization!