Listen to Your Customers: How Voice Search is Changing Marketing Strategies

14-Oct-2019 11:43 AM Digital Marketing

The increase in voice searches has risen and has changed SEO strategies. Though consumers are almost catching up, only 4% of the businesses are voice optimized. Digital marketers must focus on creating content that answers the needs of users in an ever-growing conversational search landscape.

Voice-recognition technology is not new. It was used with IBM’s ‘Shoebox’ machine, created in 1962 and was limited to understand only 16 words in English. In 2011, Microsoft’s voice-recognition feature in Windows Vista failed during a live demo. A reliable voice recognition software came with Apple iPhone 4S.

Within the decade, voice recognition has grown with Google’s Voice Search, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa being some of the most used voice-based services. Google claims to have an accuracy of 92% with its voice search. Now consumers are starting to use voice search and voice assistants regularly.

Consumers are smitten by voice search and with the rise of voice-based services, it is changing the way people find brands. The brands are also finding it a necessity to adopt voice strategies.

Growth of Voice Search is Changing SEO Strategies

Though the statistics are impressive with millennials being the most number of users, only 4% of businesses have implemented voice search in their content marketing strategy. One of the reasons why the number is so low is because for the past two decades, we have been programmed to use text-based search for our queries. Besides, we have been using text-based search in a non-conversational manner on Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves. Ignite Visibility's findings concur. Voice search by phone and computer is least popular options with only 6% and 4% of users preferring it, respectively while text base searches still rule.

However, with the increase in voice search, there is a fundamental increase in both voice-search and direct answers. This means that companies no longer need to create content to target search queries with high search volume. We must instead create content for conversational searches. Voice search will keep getting bigger and it will change the way SEO is done.

How Will it Improve Customer Experience?

When you give a unique experience that can improve the customer lifestyle, you will have long-term customers. Let’s see how voice search helps. Voice search will:

Provide valuable insights: Both Alexa and Google Assistant can differentiate between voices. They can provide valuable insights about its users that can lead to providing personalized messages and content, thus improving customer experience.

Build loyalty: Voice technology makes interaction natural, retaining customers and encouraging loyalty.

Provide faster interactions: We know by now that voice-based searches are faster than text-based ones which is a boon to busy customers who want interaction and results on the go.  

Foster relationships: Adopting voice will help you provide a unique and personalized customer experience that will foster relationships.

Increase revenue: It will increase revenue, either directly or indirectly. More consumers are looking for product recommendations using voice search. For businesses who want to find customers to sell their products to, it is a matter of bringing voice search optimization into their digital marketing strategy.

Whirlpool was one of the first companies to adopt voice to their product line, setting themselves apart from their competitors. They collaborated with Amazon to create intelligent voice-activated appliances that can converse with customers, answer questions, and even guide customers.

Strategies for Voice Search

We have established why to use voice search now. Here are some of the strategies to use to catch up with the trend.

Adapt your content to voice: Voice searches are different from text-based searches. While speaking, we tend to use longer sentences and ask ‘long-tail’ questions. Your search strategy must include adding full sentences as targeted keywords instead of well-placed keywords.

Voice searches are mostly conversational requests like asking “Do I need a heater for my house?” instead of typing “benefits of a heater” into the search bar. This is an important reason why marketers must reassess creating and optimizing content for voice queries, along with researching keywords.

Think local: People are more likely to ask Siri or Alexa about the list of restaurants in their area. This is the ‘screenless internet’ which will help in the rise of voice search. It is important for marketers to implement local SEO. Pretty soon, we will have ‘screenless apps’. People can ask their bank account information to their app on the phone, or where to drive to buy fresh vegetables.

These screenless apps will benefit local businesses with a physical location as voice searches will limit the results to the local ones. More than 55% of consumers use voice search to find local businesses. More than 75% of voice-enabled speaker users conduct voice searches on a weekly basis, to find anything from a restaurant to movie timings to finding a plumber.

Page 1 will not be sufficient: For the past two decades, we users are accustomed to first-page results. There are many websites which say that if you are not on page 1 of Google search results, you do not get clicked on. Voice search is changing all that for which you will still scroll and glance at search results like you used to do for the past two decades.

On devices like Alexa and Siri, the first result will get read, so being number 2 or 3 is not an option. This is unless you are using voice search on Google search bar. So we must consider crafting a copy which compels users to click on the search result, while leveraging on the appropriate keywords to match targeted search queries.

Adopt mobile-first: We have already talked about how mobile traffic is increasing, which is why there is an emphasis on adopting a mobile-first approach to internet marketing. Voice searches occur mostly on mobile devices and tablets. Companies may lose out on web traffic if mobile-first approach is not used.

Voice Search to Drive Traffic

Although we still have a lot to learn about voice-based search strategies, businesses who are already using voice strategies are already seeing the benefits. When a voice assistant provides an answer, it will also provide users with the ability to open the website from which the answer was pulled.

This is because voice search will focus on ‘featured snippets’. Voice assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri reads out the featured snippet for your search. With voice search on the rise, the focus of digital marketers to get their brands on the featured snippet will increase, growing the value of ‘featured snippet’ also.

However, getting to the featured snippet is not an overnight journey. They occupy ‘position zero’ on page 1 of the search result. You maximize your online visibility when you rank in position zero. There is a prediction that position zero will rise in prominence and competition to rank on it will increase.

If your business is successfully voice-optimized, this could increase traffic if your business appears as a top result or featured snippet that gets used for voice answers by assistants.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Voice Search

Another component of voice search is its ability to ‘learn’ your search habits, including the way you speak and what you search for. Digital assistants are already tracking search habits of consumers. This is why consumers see movie promotions, reward program information, and restaurant recommendations in their area, just like text-based searches.

Google’s goal is to make their technology seamless. All your mobile devices like phones, watches, and digital assistants will have a unified software solution. Digital marketers must keep up in such a competitive market by being on top of the latest technological advances and adopt SEO strategy in response to these developments.

Voice search is a rare opportunity for businesses to take advantage of. It is still in its nascent stage, but this is the right time to adopt it. We say there is time to catch up. Speak to Verbinden now to know how we can help you achieve continued growth with your digital strategy.