Almost everyone has a smartphone today. Australia alone has an estimated 16.69 million smartphone users. Voice search is on the rise as more and more people rely on their smartphones and other voice-enabled devices to look up information, make purchases, and more. Smart speakers hit Australia in June 2017. Just 18 short months later in December 2018, 29.3% of the population had one. Today, around 57% of Australians report using voice search from these devices to pull up products or services on the internet.
What does this mean for your digital marketing strategy? How does it change traditional search phrases and methods? Most importantly, how can you stay on top of your competitors with the introduction of voice search capabilities? What is the future of Google voice? For answers to these burning questions, read on.
What Is Voice Search?
Voice search is a technology that allows users to speak into their devices instead of typing a query into search. Audio technology has speech recognition software built in. It helps your device understand what you’re saying, and it delivers the search results orally back to you. This is much different than traditional searches in both the delivery and search itself.
Voice dialling and speech-to-text on our phones are great examples that have been around for a while. The technology has been quickly evolving, however, leading to the more sophisticated devices and uses we have today. Smart speakers and hubs are two of the newer voice-enabled devices on the market. They allow you to perform searches by talking to them all over your home. You can also sync your phone and customise usage by putting restrictions on them.
The Future of Voice Search Means Smarter Queries
To look at how voice search is changing the game, keep in mind that most people don’t type how they would speak. You adopt a type of shorthand when you enter a search query like “weather Sydney.” When you use voice search, it’s usually a complete sentence. You’re more likely to ask, “How’s the weather in Sydney?” This is one of the biggest hurdles with integrating voice search into your site.
Programs like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant are slowly refining their programming. As they do, search engines will learn to understand more natural phrases. They’re incorporating idiosyncrasies and speech quirks, and they can now respond to:
- Spelling Corrections – Use a voice search and ask Google Assistant or Siri for a picture of Wales. They’ll show you the animal. But, when you spell it out, you’ll get a map of Wales.
- Previous Searches – If you ask, “Where is the Statue of Liberty” and follow up asking “who built it,” Google is able to interpret that. They know that the “it” in your second query refers to the Statue of Liberty.
- Context Relating to You – Ask Google, “What’s my work address?” will bring up your work. You don’t have to clarify who “my” is.
- On-Screen Context – Looking up a Wikipedia page for the band Disturbed? You can ask Google to “Show me pictures of David,” and you’ll get photos of David Draiman, Disturbed’s lead singer.
Moving Forward – Growing Voice Technology Trends
Voice technology continues to evolve to be more precise when it comes to search queries. This means that customers are employing more sophisticated search. You need to incorporate this into your site to get ready for future marketing trends. Predictive search using previous queries is one example of this greater precision.
By the end of 2020, voice shopping has projections to be a $40 billion industry. This is huge news for eCommerce platforms and stores. Echo users can shop on Amazon. Google Home has partnerships with large retailers like Walmart, Ulta, Target, and Walgreens that lets its customers shop there. It’s also likely that Google and Amazon will allow shopping at smaller retailers in the coming years as popularity continues to grow.
A rise in local search is also going to be a large future marketing trend to monitor. One study showed that around 52% of the population used voice search to find information on local businesses in the past year. These trends mean that it’s more important than ever to have your business listings correct and up to date.
How Voice Enabled Devices Impact Search Results
When you perform a voice search, your device pulls up the most relevant information and reads it back to you. A lot of the time, this could be from reading meta descriptions. Your entire website, including your meta description, should be written out in a conversational way.
You need to write in a way that is easy to speak into mobile devices. Also, it needs to be clear so the search engine picks it. You want to format things like you would if you were answering a question. If someone asked, “Where is the closest BBQ place in Australia?” You would say something to the effect of, “The closest BBQ place in Australia is Big Boy BBQ in Melbourne.”
You have to have these types of statements for the search results to share it with people. If you don’t, it’ll skip over you and move to another site.
Differences Between Voice Enabled Devices and Traditional Search
Old-style keywords aren’t going to cut it with voice. This is because people use different terms when they perform a voice search. The four big differences between text and voice search are:
- Typing in keywords or phrases usually means you get unclear queries. This is the shorthand we touched on earlier. If you wanted new cameras, you’d type in “new cameras 2018” to get results. Voice search brings out longer and more precise queries. When you’re voice shopping, more likely to say, “What are the newest cameras this year?
The Rise of Questions
- There will be a large increase in questions instead of statements. A lot of people use short questions that are three to five words with traditional searches. Voice users are the opposite. They usually ask longer questions up to 10 words.
- Who/What are the best boots for me?
- How often should I replace my boots?
- Where can I find Dickies work boots?
- When does x sporting goods store open?
- Once you optimise your site for key phrases, you’ll find yourself in a niche segment for your sector. The intent with voice is very strong. The reasoning behind this is because your customers reached your site due to very relevant searches.
- Voice search heavily focuses on local searches instead of broad searches. This is where it’s critical to have “near me” in your content. It’ll prompt Google to use the person’s location and optimise the search from that location.
Optimising for Voice Enabled Devices
Voice technology trends all point to an uptick in the general use of voice search. This is why it’s important to optimise your site today. There are several ways you can do this. They include:
1. Shift the Focus to Long-Tailed Keywords
It’s doubtful that short-tailed keywords will ever truly go away. However, natural voice is bringing about a greater importance on long-tailed keywords. They should be in the form of queries and conversational searches. Use natural phrases in your content just like you’d speak them out loud.
2. Add Frequently Asked Question Pages
We showed you that the majority of voices searches start with a question. Your potential customers want answers in response to an immediate need. You can make it easy on yourself and start a frequently asked question page. Simply answer the queries one by one. Again, make sure you answer them in a conversational tone.
3. Use Schema Markup for Context
Schema markup is an HTML add-on you can add to your website. The purpose of schema markup is to help the search engines understand your content’s context. This also helps your page rank higher when people perform normal searches. It also boosts your rankings in voice search. The search engines will pull your content in relation to specific questions.
4. Have Matching Data
You most likely have your website or business on multiple platforms. Maybe you have a brick and mortar location as well. If so, you want all of your relevant company data to match. This includes directions, names, hours and all of the other small details. If it’s not consistent and correct, you could find that you drop in Google’s rankings.
5. Mobile Friendly Optimisation
You also want to have a very responsive and mobile-friendly website. If it’s not, your customers can land and click right back out. Make sure to optimise it for Mac, Android and Windows devices. Also, don’t forget tablets, smartphones and PCs.
6. Optimise Your Snippets
A featured snippet (answer box) is a box of text that Google features right below their ads in organic search. It usually contains a clear answer to the questions a person put into the search box. This is where having natural voice and long-tailed keywords come in. Focus on answering how and what questions with your content.
Are You Ready for the Future of Google Voice?
Do you think that your site is ready for voice searches and voice technology trends? It’s already here, and you want to capitalise on it quickly. These tips and this information can help you stay ahead of the competition if you incorporate them correctly. Try it and see results.