The voice search stats are staggering: 50% of all searches will be through voice by 2020; smart speaker adoption is set to rise to 55% of households by 2022; the voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry by 2019; there are an estimated one billion voice searches per month, as of January 2018…it goes on and on.

We’re well past the point at which voice search turned from a novelty into an everyday part of life for millions of people. To give an even better idea of just how quickly voice search has risen, it took 13 years for television to be adopted by 50 million people – smart speakers reached that point in just 2 years.

It couldn’t be more obvious: marketers must pay attention to voice search. They can’t afford not to.

Voice, the natural way to search

People use voice search differently from text-based search. We’re all used to typing random keywords in to Google, with complete disregard for grammar.

But, when talking to Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, people are far more likely to speak naturally, asking actual questions that begin with who, what, where, why and how.

Will voice replace text-based searches?

It’s unlikely that text-based searches will completely disappear any time soon (or ever).

But now your optimization efforts need to incorporate voice search too. Content needs to be written in a more conversational voice, using plain language that more closely matches how people speak to one another in real life.

Is this the end of keywords?

No, you’ll still need to think carefully about keywords and SEO optimization, but marketers will need to move beyond just using one or two keywords to semantic, long-tail phrases based on the questions people are asking.

Answering the right questions

So, what questions are your audience asking? Understanding what customers might want to know about your business’s area of expertise, and about the kinds of services you provide, is key to giving them the answers they’re looking for.

Forget about your brand for a second. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – what do they really want or need to know? What challenges do they face? Once you know that you can start to provide the answers.

Structured data

You should ensure that structured data is integrated into the backend of your website. Structured data helps search engines understand what each element of your website means. It becomes more important with the rise of voice search because it helps search engines provide the answers users are asking.

An FAQ page is also a great help in this regard. It further makes it easier for search engines to analyze the information on your website.

Develop your own voice apps and skills

But you can go further than just making search engines’ jobs easier. Build your own voice apps and skills, and there’s potential for a much more engaging and informative customer experience.

I see it helping from top of the funnel to the bottom. Maybe, to begin with, a user wants to know more about, say, the ways in which cloud technology can help their business. Then, further along their journey, they want to know more about specific cloud services that will help a particular business area.

And then, even after you’ve made the sale, they could ask questions about the service, such as for troubleshooting or ways to increase integration or efficiency. The possibilities are endless.

Voice search is still new, so the knowledge of how people are using it still growing, but it’s clear that adoption rates will continue to soar. It will soon become a staple marketing channel that marketers can’t afford to leave out.

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