Marketing in the hands-free era is almost upon us. It may come as a shock, but 41% of adults and more than half of teenagers use voice commands on a daily basis. Big players such as Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa have all made significant breakthroughs in their algorithms to finally understand natural human language with 95% accuracy.
Smart home devices that leverage this technology, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo, have recently exploded in popularity and were both top selling Black Friday deals. (Apple is also reported to be developing its own smart hub with Siri built in). Demand for Echos were so popular that Amazon quickly sold out, and as of 12/28/16, will not be back in stock until late January 2017.
This fundamental change in how people interact with technology and use search in their everyday lives will have huge consequences for online marketing. In order to adapt and optimize your marketing for voice search, it’s important to distinguish the differences between voice and text-based searches. While both are tools for users to find information online, the context and the way in which they are used couldn’t be more different.
For example, people rarely type the way they speak. When someone types a query into a search engine, they’re trying to come up with two or three relevant keywords. In contrast, most voice searches involve complete phrases and questions that mirror natural conversation. We’re likely to ask Siri, “Who are the top home builders in Pennsylvania?”, but type “Top Home Builders PA” into a search engine. Thanks to shorter attention spans, voice search is the simpler and more time-effective solution for consumers on-the-go.
So what can you do to prepare for these differences?
- FAQ Keyword Strategy
With the advent of voice search making natural language queries more common, it’s important to shift away from traditional keyword targeting methods, and focus on more conversational language and long tailed keywords in your paid search campaigns. Ask yourself which questions might bring a user to your site, and how they will speak them aloud. Use a Frequently Asked Questions strategy: What are the “who, what, where, when, why and how” questions your target demographics are asking? Consider adding these high-value natural language queries as keywords in your Adwords campaigns.
- Optimize for Local & Mobile
Mobile search has now overtaken desktop search. In the mobile-first world, people are turning to their smartphones for directions, purchases, and answers to their questions. Because voice search enables users to easily find information on-the-go, it has great potential to affect local search results. Mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than text, so optimizing for local search and mobile will help you to outrank competitors who haven’t.
Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Find out with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
- Conversational Content
In addition to optimizing for local search and mobile, it’s important that your website has excellent content that’s written in a conversational tone, and is set up to answer user questions. Quality content not only helps your site outrank others on Google, it can also lower your cost in Paid Search. Ads linking to relevant and high quality landing pages are rewarded by Google with higher Quality Scores. Similar to how your credit score can affect whether or not you qualify for a loan and what your interest rate is, Quality Score affects how your ad performs and your cost per click. Your website & Paid Search campaigns are likely already seeing some traffic from voice search. Examine your Google Analytics for natural language queries. This will give you a feel for what users might be asking to find your site. And you can use this data to inform your content and PPC strategies.
The appeal of voice search is undeniable; it’s hands-free, fast, and futuristic. With massive improvements to Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, business owners would be wise to closely examine voice innovation in 2017.
Questions or need some help? Contact Group Two’s Digital Team.
By Bill Doughty –
Digital SEM Specialist