t is estimated that by 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches. It’s no wonder then that there has been so much hype surrounding it, and about businesses needing to jump on the bandwagon early or risk being left behind. For some businesses, there is no doubt that they need to optimise for voice search, but that’s not the case for all.
In this article, we’ve put together a clear explanation of how voice search works and a method to determine whether it’s suitable for your business.
How Does Voice Search Work?
To determine whether voice search should be part of your marketing strategy, it’s essential to first understand what it is and how it works. Virtual Assistant (VA) tools like Siri and Alexa use the data available to them to respond to voice commands - including from search engines and applications on the device they’re being used from - and will tailor responses based on previous online behaviour and location. For example, if you ask a VA what the weather will be like tomorrow, it will determine your location, or the location your weather app is defaulted to, then search your weather application or a search engine to provide you with a response.
Optimising for Search Engines
It’s important to understand that these VAs use tools and data that a person can access – including search engines. This means that search engine optimisation is still a vital component of any good marketing strategy. The difference between optimising for web searches and voice searches is that voice searches are more specific and conversational. For example, the search term: “where is the closest hardware store to me”, will run a search on a maps application on your device in the same way that you would. What this means for businesses like hardware stores, is that they need to be optimised for local searches, including registering on Google My Business and other online directories.
While voice search data is tracked, that data isn’t currently available to marketers (at the time of writing anyway). This means that there isn’t currently a way to find out whether potential customers are using voice search to find businesses like yours. Instead, you need to determine whether voice searches are likely to be used to find your products or services. From a commercial perspective, voice searches are typically used to find local businesses such as service stations, consumer goods, home services, etc. They aren’t used by companies with long or complex sales cycles. For example, if someone was looking to buy accounting software for their business, they likely wouldn’t use voice search. Instead, they would spend time researching via desktop or mobile and accessing information via search engines and websites directly.
If it’s probable that your audience would use voice search to find businesses like yours, then you need to optimise your website for natural language queries that your audience is likely to be searching for. AnswerThePublic is a free tool that aggregates the most common phrases related to a keyword. For example, searching for “voice search” returned these 81 questions:
Once you know what your audience is commonly asking, you can optimise your website for those queries.
In summary, to determine whether voice search should be part of your marketing strategy, first ask yourself whether potential customers are likely to use voice search to find businesses like yours. If they are likely to, then focus on local search engine optimisation, long and conversational organic search terms, and great online reviews. After all, what good is being found but not getting a conversion because your competitor has better reviews?