Conquering the New World of Voice Search
By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you one of the millions of Americans who use digital voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Google’s Home, Apple’s Siri (or HomePod) or Microsoft’s Cortana? You’re not alone. Last year, according to the Voice Report, about 33 million voice search devices were in use. And ComScore projects by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice-based.
While digital assistants make consumers’ lives easier (I rely on Siri and Alexa several times a day), they also complicate our entrepreneurial lives. Think With Google has compiled some statistics, underscoring how much of a paradigm shift is taking place:
- 62% of consumers who own digital assistants are likely to use their devices to make a purchase
- 58% of those who regularly use digital assistants use them to manage or create shopping lists
- 44% of regular users order products using their digital assistants at least once a week
With such widespread usage, your search engine optimization (SEO) strategies need to go beyond computers, tablets and smartphones and incorporate digital assistants and voice search. Here’s how you can do that.
Voice search optimization tips
First, review your desktop SEO results. According to a recent study, websites that rank high for traditional Google search results generally also perform well in Google voice search results. To ensure your voice search tactics pay off, consider these tips:
1—Use conversational keywords
Consumers approach voice search differently than conventional search. When we search in a browser, we tend to keep things short. We might write, “Best ice cream shops near me.” But, when we use voice search, Google reports, we speak as if we’re talking to a real person. In fact, 70% of users of a Google Assistant ask questions in natural language, and most (53%) say talking to a digital assistant feels “natural.” So we might ask, “What’s the best ice cream shop in Long Beach?,” or if we want to narrow our search, we might say, “What’s the best ice cream shop in zip code 90712?”
Optimizing for voice search means using different keywords—ones that would answer conversational type questions.
Voice search users are frequently multitasking when they call upon a digital assistant. We could be driving, walking or taking a hike. Or we could be watching TV, reading a book or shopping at the mall. Other times it just may not be convenient to type something into a browser window.
So, it’s imperative your website is optimized for mobile usage (it should be anyway) and search. Currently, 40% of consumers prefer to complete their entire shopping journey on mobile devices. Despite that, mobile conversions are still lower than desktop because the mobile user experience is subpar. Slow load times, long-form fields, and poor user experience usually leave people frustrated—and headed to one of your competitors.
Yes, the “keep it simple” principle applies here. Your content must be easy to read. A recent study shows the average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade reading level. Review your website copy to make sure it meets the “3 C’s.” You content needs to be clear, concise and comprehensible. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
Many voice searchers are looking for information about a local business. If you want local consumers to find your store, office or restaurant, you need to claim your listings in the numerous local directories, including: Google My Business; Yelp; Bing; Yahoo; YP.com & local maps listings.
What do consumers want from your small business?
Owners of digital assistants expect their devices to deliver more information to them:
- 52% want to learn about deals, promotions and sales from businesses
- 48% want businesses to deliver personalized tips and information that help make their lives easier
- 42% want to learn about a company’s upcoming events and activities
- 39% use their devices to get more information about a business, such as hours of operation and location
This isn’t all that surprising considering deals are big drivers of consumer buying behaviors these days. Most shoppers say they would allow businesses to track them in-store (via mobile tracking) and send them push notifications if they received discounts and coupons in return. Here’s what else they want in exchange for allowing you to track and message them:
- 61%—Discounts, coupons
- 47%—Loyalty rewards
- 34%—Faster checkout
- 11%—New product notifications
- 11%—Personalized recommendations
Voice search is just one of many shifts taking place in the way small businesses market their goods and services. You also need to know how to find—and reach the right prospects—and how they can find you.
Join me on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 pm ET, for a webinar, sponsored by Verizon. You’ll learn about voice search and I’ll share my best tips, tricks and tactics for business owners, including social media best practices, creating killer content, secrets of email marketing and how to conquer the new world of voice search.