What are the hottest gifts this holiday season? If you said technology, you’d be correct.
Amazon has Echo. Google has Home. You can talk to Siri or Alexa. And they all have one thing in common: we’re converting the way we get our information.
Once upon a time, we had to type in our questions. Now we ask:
Hey Siri, where’s the closest pizza place?
Okay Google, where can I get my oil changed?
And it’s changing the way we search rapidly.
Typing a question into Google made marketers think differently. It required us to think in terms of keywords and key phrases. But when you think about voice search, it requires another shift in the way we think about content. Now the world of search is built around questions. And when you’re speaking, those questions can become pretty exact.
How is voice search changing the scenery?
When you type into Google a key phrase, a page appears with ten different search results ranked in order.
When you use voice search, you get one. That means instead of fighting for one of ten places, marketers will now be racing for ways to become number one.
Voice searches performed in Google are up 35x since 2008. Forty percent of adults perform at least one voice search every day. What should jump out at you even more is the fact that over 60 percent of these adult users started using voice search in the past year.
And we know that the smaller the device, the more portable it is, the more voice search becomes an easier way of interaction.
Even the voice command “call home” is easier than swiping and tapping to get the same results.
And these smart assistants are confined to just smartphones. They are increasingly being integrated into things all over our homes and offices, from home hubs to game consoles, to the appliances we use every day. And the more we speak and interact, the more sophisticated they become. It builds through AI and understands the context of what your preferences are. Which means it stores data based on your personality, your lifestyle.
That also means through voice search, we’ll continue to redefine demographics, and how we use rankings and results to give a searcher precisely what they are looking for.
How Voice Queries Are Changing Search
We don’t search with voice the same way that we search when typing from a keyboard. When you use your computer, you have a specific set of habits and expectations for what you’ll find with your search queries. In most cases, we start generally and move specifically as we learn and grow. So a search for general query like “SEO” may quickly morph to more detailed searches like “SEO tips for restaurants” or “SEO tips for mobile devices.”
We learn. We change. And we keep typing until we get what we want.
If you’re looking for something specific – pink boots, for instance – we can type this in and find images and shopping sites that fit our needs and desires. We can then navigate to specific websites, browse through their selections, going wider and deeper depending on our desires. We can even start filtering based on styles, sizes, and designers.
And by doing this over time, we’ve picked up even more ways to further refine our results. How about typing “pink boots ladies size 7?”
But no matter how refined your search is, you have choices when you type. In this example, I can select results based on where I like to shop: Amazon, Zappos, or maybe Macy’s? I can select based on images: rain boots or work boots? I can even begin to limit my selections based on cost: who doesn’t like a 20 percent off sale?
Using voice search changes the search platform. When I’m talking to a device, chances are I won’t talk in phrases. The phrase “pink boots ladies size 7” would be meaningless if I’m in my car and ready to shop. But a phrase, a question like “Where is the nearest shoe store?” takes on entirely different meaning.
Mobile voice searches are more than three times as likely to be local rather than their text search counterparts.
Think optimizing your site for mobile is important now?
With the growth in voice search, we can expect to see more long-tail search keywords and natural language queries – useful data the searcher really wants. In the format that pleases them the most.
How Do You Capitalize On Voice Search?
With all of that in mind, how do you further optimize your online presence to be there when someone searches for what you do?
Start watching for natural language queries in your search analytics
If you’ve been taking note of what people type in when finding your site, you’ve probably noticed the phrases are becoming more sophisticated. As you play with your voice search results, you’ll likely see the phrases change that bring people in.
Talk out your searches instead of typing.
What are your keywords now? How would you ask someone about it instead? A search term of “best water heater” could easily be converted to “What’s the best water heater for a home with four people?” Typing is a short action activity. When we speak, we add in specifics because we think on the fly.
Make sure your results meet expectations.
Have you ever typed in a keyword, found a result, clicked and found the website doesn’t meet your expectations? Frustrating, right? With voice results, that frustration grows exponentially. While voice search is still in its infancy, it’s time to take another look at your website and see how detailed your pages are. Do you have detailed content that meets specific questions? Does your copy answer the most common questions? If not, it may be time to reconsider your content strategy.
Use voice search.
The more you use something, the more you understand it. Do you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home in your office or home? Do you use voice technology with your handheld devices or in your car? If not, start using them for your daily activities. It improves your natural language query capabilities and teaches you how to think from both aspects. It also helps you see how people search, and what will improve the odds of people coming to your site. Where do your frustrations lie? How can you change those in your own marketing results?
We’re in the infancy stages of voice search. Remember how Google changed over time, weeding out the results that were clearly set up for search results from the ones that provided high-quality content? Don’t forget that as you begin developing your content for this new phase of search. Google and your prospects and clients will thank you.