How has voice search changed digital marketing and what can we learn from it?
A once mythical concept reserved for dystopian and Science Fiction films, set in the very distant future; and often accented by spaceships, aliens or downtrodden protagonists attempting to overthrow a malicious government, the real life advent of voice search and the oh-so-convenient personal (digital) assistant has seen the very landscape of the online world change dramatically over the last few years.
And whilst a lot of this change has affected Search Engine Optimisation and SERPs, we think there’s more to voice search, and its impact on digital marketing.
So, let’s go through it from the top, down...
Voice search, or ‘voice-enabled search’, is a way of using a voice command to search the internet or a mobile device.
First available with T Mobile's MyTouch 3G with Google in 2009, the implementation of voice search has spread like wildfire, and sees big players like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon adopting it - with 2017 coined as ‘the year of voice search’. Exciting!
You’re running late for a meeting with a potential new client; you’re meeting them at their office to present them with a proposal. You know roughly where their premises is, so you get in the car and start driving.
But, minutes from the location, you get a little lost. You don’t have a sat nav, but you do have your phone. You can’t type anything out because you’re driving, but you can talk; so you ask Siri or Alexa or Cortana or whichever one of the operating systems you use:
“Where is xxx business?”
And - BOOM! - 3 seconds later you’re being guided to the exact location as it’s listed online. Sorted. You’ve arrived with minutes to spare.
This is why voice search is so popular. Take the almost comical situation out of the above scenario and effectively you’re left with these key points:
Ease of use
Efficiency & speed
Voice search allows you to multitask, and to find things at arguably more speed than you would by opening up your browser and typing a sentence into the search bar, pressing send, and skimming through the results for something relevant.
What voice search allows us is that precious unit known as ‘time’, and the ability to save it.
So, now we’ve covered the basics we can move onto the burning question in hand: how has voice search changed digital marketing and web design?
Firstly, we have to touch on SEO, as voice search and SEO are intrinsically linked, and one has a huge impact on the other.
Long tail keywords
How we speak and how we type are two very different phenomenons. Take a moment to consider the following...
If you’re between meetings and you want to know where your nearest Costa Coffee is, for example, and you use traditional (written) search, you’re likely to phrase it as something like:
“Costa Coffee Andover”
Whereas, if you’re using a voice search, you’ll be using phrases similar to:
“Where is my nearest Costa Coffee?”
This second incarnation of this search-related, hypothetical situation is what’s known as a long tail keyword, and is a pivotal player in voice search.
Long tail keywords are predominantly questions that are asked by the user to access the information they need; they’re often more direct, and surprisingly specific.
SEO is evolving, and the emphasis on voice search and its relationship to long tail keywords increasing; gone are the days of scattering a specific word over your content and getting to the top of search engine search results within a matter of weeks. Now, you have to carefully place specific questions strategically within your content for SEO to be effective.
Frequently Asked Questions
The rise in long tail keywords has increased the importance of Frequently Asked Questions pages. FAQs are a great place to contain all those lovely, relevant long tail keywords on your website, with content, which will capture organic search traffic, and bring you up the search engine rankings.
Where voice searches are 3 times more likely to be locally-based than text search, the emphasis on local SEO has increased.
It may surprise you to know that 75% of the time, voice searches start with the word ‘where…?’, which means that users are more likely than ever before to want to know where their local amenities, restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops are; where they can find retailers in town, where their nearest B&B is if they’re travelling, or where they can find leisure activities close to their homes or workplaces.
Yes, voice search has allowed local Search Engine Optimisation to really shine - if you haven’t got a Google My Business account, you really need one!
We established earlier that voice search is changing more than simply SEO, and here’s why.
Long tail keywords not only help us to capture organic traffic but also help us understand user intent. And by that, we mean: the specific wording used within the question and what we can interpret from that.
Let’s go through another example...
If a user is searching for the term:
“Where can I find bespoke office furniture?”
We can deduce that the user has already decided to purchase bespoke office furniture.
However, if the user is searching for the term:
“Why do offices have bespoke furniture?”
We can quite clearly see that they’re not hoping to purchase, they’re simply looking to understand the value of having bespoke furniture.
This kind of information is like gold dust, and should be treated as such; it allows us to build different content for specific audiences - giving us a better shot at an increased conversion rate.
The rise of in-app marketing
Apps have always been convenient, and since their humble beginnings over 10 years ago, modern apps have become increasingly popular with individuals and businesses alike.
A great way to foster an engaged audience, and keep your service or product at the front of customers’ minds, whilst providing those same customers with something they need and can access immediately, apps are like digital heterotopias; places perfectly designed for their intended function.
And with the rising popularity of voice search - where our digital assistants will look to the data contained within apps before anything else - being associated with a popular mobile application has never been more important.
So, if you own a restaurant you’ll probably want to get yourself on Just-Eat or Hungry House, or if you run a hotel, you’ll want to look into listing on Booking.com or HolidayPirates or whatever holiday-related app is popular in your area.
The other half of SEO, Content Marketing has really found its second wind over the last few years - swept up and nurtured by the universal phenomenon that is digital marketing.
Content is king, and never more so than right now. But only the right type of content…
Optimising your content with long tail keywords only get you so far in the battle to appealing to the discerning voice searcher. Alongside this comes the need for a more conversational, humanised approach to your content; a way of making your content sound like a casual chat between friends, and showing your customers that humans operate on the other end of your website.
Never be afraid to give your content some personality; make a few jokes, embellish the imperfections, and just be… you!
The above leads us rather nicely into our next point: UX Design.
Now, we’re not strictly saying that voice search is responsible for the birth of UX Design in the digital world, but we do believe they go hand in hand.
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives, the importance of seamless, user-led, personalised, and speedy interactions becomes more apparent; users who are voice searching aren’t going to want to then read reams and reams of long-form content. The chances are, they’re using voice search because they’re multitasking or in the middle of doing something and need guidance, so they won’t have the time to pause for a storytelling session.
The user of the voice search will want micro-content and short-form content; brief, snappy, and engaging insights into the questions they’re asking, together with simplistic design and direct calls to action. UX Design.
Voice search has changed the landscape of SEO
Voice search has paved the way for more engaging, humanised content
FAQs pages are increasingly valuable thanks to voice search
Apps and in-app marketing have never been more important
UX Design and voice search compliment each other beautifully
Voice search gives us a deeper understanding of user intent
Optimising your content for voice search will improve your conversion rates
Essentially, if you’re not optimised for voice search, you’re not in the digital game, and we can almost guarantee that you’re missing out on huge amounts of traffic, potential sales, and many a happy customer!
Invest in your customers; increase traffic and improve conversions rates by optimising your content for voice search - contact us today.
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