Is Your Marketing Strategy Prepared for Voice Search?
As Google Home and Alexa become more common in our homes, there is one question at the tip of many marketers tongues: how will we adapt? In the face of such new technology, how can marketing strategies develop to fit the oncoming voice revolution?
Unless you live in a pineapple under the sea, no doubt you will have witnessed the growing popularity of Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home (soon to be joined on the market by Apple’s HomePod). Which means that SEO and content marketers around the world have been discussing the hardships that will come with making voice searchable content. More specifically, making this content work and fit into their current marketing strategies.
And yet, very few are actually doing anything about it. It may seem like the voice revolution has occurred and has, thus far, not affected the marketing landscape at all. But this is only the early stages of a revolution. An obvious fact, seeing as such a major player like Apple is not even on the field yet.
Which means that we need to stop talking and start preparing for the real voice revolution now, not later.
Growing Search Numbers
Numbers don’t lie, so if you want to see the growth of voice search you simply need to check out the statistics. Even in 2016, before the boom of voice assistants last year in 2017, nearly 20% of Google searches were attributed to voice search. A fifth of searches is a hard number to ignore in your SEO strategy, especially as this is a number that is without argument only going to grow and grow.
Getting ahead of voice search, then, is the only solution for most brands and companies to ensure their SEO strategies are as effective as possible.
Voice SEO for Beginners
It may seem like a brave new world, and in many instances it is. However, there are still plenty of elements that remain exactly the same as current SEO practices; simply modified to better suit voice searching.
First of all, it’s important to know where the different models pull data from. Google Home obviously pulls information from Google, meaning traditional SEO works well for it. However, Siri and the future HomePod, likely, pulls data from a mix of Bing and Google, while Alexa gets information from your personalised shopping habits (but this can also be customised to not be the case).
So, straight away it is easy to see that success for one voice search platform does not guarantee success across the board. Adapting and changing your strategy for each platform will be a necessity in the future - unless, of course, you have conclusive data that your audience uses one particular device over the other.
The fact is that answering questions is a much easier way to approach voice search than it would be for traditional SEO, though it can also be useful there. Colloquial language, slang and leading questions are much likely to be used with voice search. Meaning that voice search, from beginning to end, needs to find its start in questions and answers.
As ever, keyword research will be a vital element in your SEO efforts. More specifically, when trying to capture a place in the Google Home answers. The featured snippet is where the Home draws most of its answers from. In simple terms, the featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user question, which is displayed in a box at the top of Google’s search results - along with a page title and URL the site that gives the best answer. A fact which means that discovering keywords which result in a featured snippet is vital to make your brand stand out to the Home.
Once you understand what keyword results in a featured snippet, it is a simple (and slightly complicated) case of making better content to sit in that box. Many featured snippets answer a question, so think along the routes of ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions to make the most of voice search SEO. If someone else already has a feature snippet for your keyword, there are a few ways you can try to nudge them from that spot:
- Is it is in paragraph, list, bullet or table form? Whatever the case, emulate this.
- What are the page markups? Are <ul><li> or <h2> tags affecting the snippet?
- Does the page have a high authority or trust flow that might push it into the snippet zone?
If you do manage to get your brand a feature snippet, it works well for both your traditional and voice SEO efforts. Making it an effort that fits two goals, and well worth it.
More User Focused
The days of hunting down specific keywords and nothing else will soon be behind us. The fact is that younger internet users, as a whole, are using much more natural search terms than their predecessors. Meaning that long tail keywords and naturally phrased questions are beginning to take over the search world.
For example, instead of simply typing in a single keyword such as “notebooks”, they might instead use a more complicated search such as “cute notebooks for university,” “best spiral notebooks” and even “unique notebooks cheap.” Sometimes it will a coherent sentence or question, while other times it will simply be the essential characteristics of what they are searching for.
This means that you will have to be more concerned and aware of user intent than ever before. As ranking for a keyword will be all well and good, but completely pointless if it’s not related to the intent of their search.
The voice revolution hasn’t hit its stride yet, so there is still plenty of time to prepare your marketing strategies accordingly. Keyword research, more focus on the audience and adding value to your content will be the hallmarks of marketing moving forward into the voice search revolution.
It is also important to note that although Google will likely lead the voice assistant race, you have to factor in that Alexa is better built for e-commerce capabilities and the HomePod still remains a mystery. Which may mean that marketing strategies surrounding voice search may have to develop and adapt, depending on how people start actively using the devices in everyday life.
Being ahead and prepared for change - with an agile marketing campaign - is the only way forward for successful voice search marketing.