Voice Search: Potential Customers Choosing Talk Over Type
Feb 21, 2023 9:00:00 AM
Potential customer: “Hey, Alexa, find commercial painters near me.”
If you happened to be the owner of a commercial painting company in the area where that customer is searching, hopefully, Alexa would have found your business. Unfortunately, just because your website is chock full of key search words and new, valuable content about your painting services doesn’t mean Alexa knows your name.
That’s because the way potential customers search for your business on the Internet differs from how they might find you using voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.
Yes, it’s true. And knowing that is part of understanding the science of marketing that’s concerned with consumer behavior. It’s the study of the how, where, and why your ideal customer is searching for, engaging with, and doing business with you.
In this three-part blog series, we’ve put customer action under the microscope by looking at several marketing trends that may make sense for your business’s overall marketing plan. In Part 1, we examined Over-the-Top advertising, and in Part 2, we focused on Chat Bots as a way for customers to engage with your business.
In Part 3, we’re turning our attention to how consumers shop and how that relates to their ability – and preferences – in how they find businesses that sell the products and services customers are looking for.
The Rise of Voice Search
With more and more consumers shopping using smart speakers like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, it’s becoming increasingly crucial for businesses to make sure their online presence is as optimized for voice
search as it is for other ways they can find you – website, social media, traditional media advertising, etc.
Voice search allows people to find queries using voice commands over the browser, smart speaker, or another device or application. Users speak a specific request into a device instead of typing keywords into a search engine.
Search by voice has become more common among businesses and those they’re hoping to attract. From audio recordings to content readings, this technology is being implemented as a marketing tactic, as a search rank builder, and to enhance their businesses’ online footprint.
Online shoppers use voice assistants more often in the pre-checkout stages of the buyer’s journey than for actual checking out – particularly in product research. Voice assistants also continue to be featured in the post-checkout stages, as about 30 percent of online shoppers use it to track packages, 20 percent leave reviews, and 17 percent use voice search to repurchase items.
Here are some other noteworthy statistics regarding the rise of voice search as part of the shopper’s buyer’s journey:
About 65% of 25-49-year-olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day. They are followed closely by 18-24-year-olds and 50+-year-olds, respectively.
In 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions were screenless. This created a shift in how consumers interact with brands online.
Nearly 20% of all voice search queries are triggered by a set of 25 keywords. These consist mainly of question words like “how” or “what” and adjectives like “best” or “easy.”
About 71% of consumers prefer voice-placed queries rather than typing them.
About 51% of those who shop via voice use it to research products. 22% of those consumers make purchases directly through voice, and 17% have used it to reorder items.
Given this shift toward voice search utilization, businesses must optimize their company’s online presence for voice searches as part of their overall marketing plan, or risk losing out to those that do. Let’s look at some considerations to be aware of when optimizing for voice search.
Keys about Keywords
When optimizing for voice search, identify the questions people are asking related to your products and target keywords. Wait. That sounds a lot like Search Engine Optimization. Well, yes, but no.
Here’s a key thing to remember when distinguishing between a voice search and a traditional browser search – people talk differently than they type. That means that the words they use are ever-so-slightly different. Enough of a difference to matter.
When optimizing for voice search, being conversational is critical. Users are directly asking their smart speaker to answer their questions. Your content must provide direct answers to these questions. So those answers – and perhaps even the questions – should be on your website phrased in the way they would sound out loud. That increases the chances of the smart speaker finding you.
Another way to make your online presence voice-friendly is to use only natural language. These are words people use in day-to-day conversations. Whether blogging, on-site content, or social posts, the content should follow a natural tone of voice. It should be like speaking to your audience directly, person to person.
As well as providing this answer-focused content, embedding the right keywords within it is critical. Think about the user intent by stepping into the shoes of your ideal customer. Once you think – and speak - how they do, you can identify the keywords they are most likely to voice search.
Voice searchers ask for products or services using questions. For example, the user will probably ask, “Hey, Alexa, which is the best Italian restaurant near me.” So, prioritize the “which,” “what,” “why,” “how,” and “where” of your product when deciding on your focus keywords.
If you want to optimize for voice searches, include an FAQ page on your website. Why? It empowers you with question keywords, along with conversational answers. Bingo!
Other Considerations That Matter
It’s not just the words that matter. Think about how your customer thinks. Consider where they live. Consider what information they may be looking for while voice searching.
Once you optimize your business’s presence for voice search, here are some other things we recommend.
1. Understand the customer
Not everyone uses voice search the same way for the same reason. Get to know your target audience, their demographic, and their search tendencies, so you can better understand how to reach them where they live.
Millennials will be online often and use voice search more frequently than their Gen X counterparts. Also, different groups of people will use voice search on other devices. One group may prefer mobile voice assistants, while another may use a smart speaker.
You also need to know what your audience wants. Voice search can usually be divided into a few categories:
Finding an address
Finding a business phone number
Finding business hours
Seeing how far away a business is from their current location
Local voice search queries like these can be grouped into three main categories:
Discovery queries — Users looking for a type of business (“Find a coffee shop near XYZ”)
Direct queries — Users want specific information or to take specific action related to a company (“Call Steve’s Coffee House”)
Knowledge queries — Users looking for the answer to a question (“How late is Steve’s Coffee House open tonight?”)
Like on-page text SEO, designing your site to answer common user questions is important to getting your site to the top of search results.
2. Build a detailed FAQ page
An FAQ page is an easy way to answer many relevant questions without keyword stuffing. It can answer common questions about your business, which provides value and gives your page more authority.
Common searches tend to include “who, what, when, where, and how,” so consider incorporating these terms into your answers. Write conversational answers to each question to optimize for longer keywords that are common in voice searches.
3. Optimize for local voice search
Many people use voice search to find a business near where they live, plan to visit, or where they are at the moment. Optimizing your page for mobile and local search helps direct these searchers to your business.
Factors that help a business show up in local voice searches include:
Close to the searcher
Positive reviews regularly
Frequent links to their website and content
Engagement with people on social media channels
Local, industry-specific directory listings
Claiming business profiles on multiple platforms can help you optimize for multiple voice assistants. For example, an updated Bing profile makes it more likely that Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant will find you.
4. Optimize for mobile
When consumers are out and about, which device do most carry? Yes, their smartphone. So, it stands to reason that it’s the device they will most likely use for a “near me” search.
Obviously, once you pop up in a voice search listing, you don’t want to lose them with a poorly optimized site. Make sure all your pages load quickly, contain relevant information, and allow users to find answers easily.
As more consumers choose to use voice search as their primary way to shop (almost 50 percent of all searches in 2022was done speaking) it becomes one of the most effective add-on digital tactics to your company’s digital marketing strategy.
If you’re unsure how voice search can help potential customers find your company, seek advice from a digital marketing agency that can help you find out.
Baldwin, C. (2022, August 8). How voice search will change the Digital Marketing Landscape. WSI. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.wsiworld.com/blog/how-voice-search-will-change-the-digital-marketing-landscape
Gupta, S. (2022, March 16). Voice Search Marketing: The future of digital marketing. Incrementors. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.incrementors.com/blog/voice-search-marketing/
commentator, E. (2020, February 21). Optimizing for Voice Search: Keyword generation and relevance development. Smart Insights. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/optimizing-for-voice-search/