Hey Siri, How Can Marketers Make the Most of Voice Search?

Commanding objects with the power of speech would have been perceived by many to be reserved for futuristic sci-fi films just a decade ago, but today, voice search is part of our everyday lives. However, are marketers taking advantage of the meteoric rise of voice search and considering it in their marketing strategies? Simon Schnieders (pictured below), founder and CEO of SEO consultancy and agency, Blue Array Ltd, believes there are certain challenges for marketers to overcome. He provides advice for how marketers can be voice-search-ready and, while coming from an SEO perspective, it's food for thought for any digital marketer wanting to understand and prepare for the power of the voice in marketing strategies. 

With more people now using mobile personal assistants everyday, voice search has presented the search community with a significant shift in the ecosystem. What first began as Siri in 2010 has morphed into 2016’s ‘Google Home’ and ‘Amazon Echo’ with a range of devices able to accommodate voice search, including phones, cars, and smartwatches.

Voice search via Google, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa is now posing an apparent shift in behaviour from traditional typed queries. This has resulted in search professionals having to adapt and understand this new search as it becomes a more prominent fixture within the digital marketing environment. Those who fail to recognise the significance of voice search, or simply view it has a passing trend, could find themselves falling behind and negatively impacting their campaigns, as it steadily gains more popularity over typed searches.

Google have reported that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, with this expected to rise in the next few years. Although marketers currently have no way to track and measure the impact of what conversions are coming from voice search, Google have said that, in the future, they may start to provide data for this in Search Console.

In the meantime, Marketers need to embrace this trend and adapt their SEO techniques to coincide with new voice search terms. This will enable search engines to extract information from brand websites to meet their consumers’ needs.

Studies into voice searches have found that spoken searches tend to be much longer and question- or action-based, compared to their typed counterparts. These studies into voice search can provide insight into how consumer search habits differ between voice and written searches and if voice searches tend to be more action-based, it could be argued those users are more likely to convert.

Marketers need to start differentiating between voice and typed searches and how each can be used within their digital campaigns. This will allow them to tailor and adjust their existing content around the needs of their target consumers. Pages should be structured with content that provides ‘instant answers’ for consumer needs in order to optimise page positionings in search engine rankings.

voice search

Simon Schnieders, Founder & CEO, Blue Array Ltd

Voice search is still relatively new within the industry; and, in its current form, doesn’t have as much impact as traditional typed searches. However, the increase in voice searches suggests that marketers would benefit in optimising their SEO to suit this trend sooner rather than later. This will prepare them for the future and make them stand apart from slower adopting competitors.

Adapting to this emerging trend will, ultimately, allow marketers to follow and gain insights into how this shift can, and will, disrupt current search and digital marketing strategies as it grows in popularity. This will give marketers the chance to change strategies and to ensure they meet their users requirements as voice search progresses.

Voice search on mobile devices provides a different user experience from that of a traditional typed search. It has been previously reported that  50% of people are now using voice search to research products as it provides them with a more immediate and convenient connection to what they are looking for, which Google describes as ‘Micro-Moments’.  

If marketers begin monitoring and comparing their performance through SEO, they can begin to identify how and why certain customers are using voice search over type. This information can then be utilised to optimise content and information to predict user behaviour, which in turn will increase audience engagement and potential conversion rates.

Another challenge marketers are facing is that typed and spoken queries vastly differ in length. Whilst typed queries are often short and to the point, spoken queries are typically longer with a more conversational tone, reflecting an individual’s natural language.

For example, a user may ask “what is the best Indian restaurant near me?” when speaking to their personal mobile assistant. The typed equivalent may look like “local Indian restaurants”. The former is much more inline with a person’s natural way of talking, which many suggest is why younger audiences are quicker to adopt voice search.

If marketers want their products found through voice search, from now and into the future, they need to start working with SEO to research, tailor and produce content that contains keywords and phrases formed from a natural ‘who, what, where, when, and how’ discourse. This approach will allow them to understand and provide content with an action query spin, which Google sees 30-times more within voice searches compared to typed.

In addition, content will be optimised, providing an increase in engagement by focusing on discovering and answering target audience’s most frequent questions and needs. In short, marketers who invest in voice SEO now will gain a first-move advantage, in increasing their search engine visibility, over competitors. This will, ultimately, drive more conversions and relevant leads, through this relatively familiar, yet unexplored, search method.