With the surge in popularity of devices like the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod, voice search is about to get big. VERY big.
Speech-recognition technology is now allowing users to search by voice far more quickly and efficiently than in the past and replacing the need to type a question into an online search engine.
Today, there are said to be over 50 million “voice-first” devices and hundreds of millions of voice-enabled devices globally. In fact, according to tech company Alpine.Ai, over one billion voice searches now occur per month.
This is a phenomenal figure, but it’s only going to get larger. Research company ComScore has gone further, predicting that “voice searches will account for 50% of all searches by 2020.” So, knowing that voice will make up nearly half of all web searches soon, should be enough of a wake-up call for even the most reticent techies in business!
The Growing Voice-Search Market
Put simply, voice search is helping people to multitask in an ever-more complex world. The reasons for this upsurge in popularity of voice-first devices are wide-ranging and vary a lot by demographic.
For adults, one of the most popular situations for voice search is when driving or doing other activities like cooking; for the youth market, it can be about searching for online media, film, or music, or even researching homework!
Techcrunch reported that the Echo Dot was the best-selling product on Amazon during the 2017 festive season; more and more people are gaining access to these devices and realising the speed and convenience that they offer.
Voice recognition can work up to 3x faster than people can type helping people at work and during leisure activities. The increased sophistication of voice-recognition systems is improving user experience too.
So how can businesses take advantage of this growing market? First and foremost, it’s about reviewing your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO):
Position zero on Google
On Google, this is the featured snippet above the normal 1st place result position. It is this information that is likely to be picked up on a voice search first, so striving for this place is going to become increasingly more competitive. Formatting web pages with SEO in mind can change how information is scooped up by Google, and lead to the coveted position zero which in turn becomes the key information lifted by voice search.
SEO is still about the basics, so remember to create great content. Useful, conversational words will have the most impact. Ensure your content is accessible to search engines, make your pages unique and relevant to the user, and make the content popular with readers.
Gone are the days of littering text with keywords for higher rankings (in fact this can be penalised), however getting the right keywords into web pages is still vital for getting picked up in searches. Remember longer-tail keywords too. These are longer and more specific keyword phrases that your audience are likely to use when seeking a particular product or service, and especially used in voice search, i.e. “Best Restaurants in Leeds.”
Other suggestions include ensuring good reciprocal links to and from your website, giving and getting reviews of your product or business, and even adding an FAQs page. Although it may seem a little “old-school”, creating a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page may also bring with it more traffic to your website. Believe it or not, this can top Google searches!
A new trend in SEO is to utilise schema mark up. In essence, this is code added to your website that helps search engines return the best results, i.e. adding <h2> header code as a way to draw attention to pertinent information in searches. There are lots of different schema types, such as those linked to reviews, organisations, local business, e-commerce, events, recipes, jobs, or even news sites.
Optimise for a local audience
Approximately 22% of all voice search is for local information so remember to capture the “near me” searches by creating Google business pages, using local extensions in AdWords, or even adding local links from your website and try to get some in return.
As more customers accomplish tasks using voice-based queries, now is the perfect time for businesses to think about their online and voice-search strategy, and spend time looking at ways to ready themselves for this search revolution!
You can see my full article on ‘How Voice Search Will Impact on Business in the Next 3 Years’ over on my blog.
Guest Blog by Jonny Ross, Digital Marketing Strategist at Fleek Marketing.