Voice Search & Digital Marketing: The Power of Voice Search
Are we experiencing a voice search revolution? What started as a fun tool for mobile devises has rippled across the world of digital and into our everyday lives.
With smart speakers and voice assistants now a firm part of our modern life, how can businesses and marketers embrace this new form of search?
- We take a look at what voice search is and how the power of speech can be utilised in our digital marketing strategies.
- 1 in 5 UK homes use a voice control system.
- Voice search is a dialogue system tuned into our computers to understand and respond to any dialogue with a human being.
- ComScore reported that in 2020, more than half of all smartphone users used voice search technology.
- Optimise your keyword targeting and content to include long-tail keyword questions and conversational language.
- Landing a feature snippet will improve your chances of appearing on voice search results.
- The average voice search answer is only 30-40 words in length, and Google focuses on providing succinct answers for voice search questions.
- Find out how to optimise your website for voice search below!
As a longstanding, full-service digital marketing agency, Absolute Digital Media have seen countless digital trends come and go. However, voice search is firmly here to stay. The power of the spoken word is now making its presence known in digital marketing and businesses and agencies need assess how they can use this tool for good and ensure they are not left behind when it comes to voice search strategies.
In this blog, we are going to cover the basics of voice search and assess what this new form of search means for businesses. Our guide to voice search for marketers will see how we can pivot our digital strategies to incorporate the nuance of language and voice search, and ensure our clients are remaining visible (or audible!) online.
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For more information on how to pivot your digital strategy or embrace new digital formats, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today on 0800 088 6000.
Table of Contents
- The Rise of Voice Search
- How Does Voice Search Work?
- What are the Benefits of Voice Search?
- How is Voice Search Different to Traditional Search?
- Keyword Research for Voice Search
- How To Optimise Your Content for Voice Search
- Final Thoughts
The Rise of Voice Search
The presence of voice search has slowly but surely started to integrate itself firmly into our modern world. In 2014, Amazon released their voice assistant and smart speaker Alexa into the world and this was soon followed by Google Assistant, Cortana and alike. Now in 2021, it is predicted that 1 in 5 UK homes use a voice control system.
Graph: Number of Digital Voice Assistants in Use Worldwide from 2019 to 2023.
As our reliance on voice controlled search grows, Statista predict that there will be 8 billion voice assistants in use across the globe.
So, it’s time to act, and ensure our voice controlled search is optimised for our client’s campaigns and online visibility.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Voice search is a dialogue system tuned into our computers to understand and respond to any dialogue with a human being. This can involve a range of different modes of communication inducing speech, text and body language.
It is a highly advanced technology focused on what makes our human communication innately human, and as dialogue systems progress, our machines will become more in tuned with the detail of how we communicate.
For now, our voice search assistants work by using a dialogue manager which analyses the semantics of each sentence. Automatic speech recognition (ASR), is used to feed these input signals into our voice search devices to answer our questions. Some of our favourite voice control systems also include text to speech (TTS) for reviewing and sharing results, or converting your voice search into a text answer. For example, TTS is used on mobile voice search, such as Siri, when the devise brings up the answer in text form.
As soon as voice search is activated, our devices will work to detect the language spoken and capture keywords and terms asked to answer our questions accurately. Then depending on the device, the answer will either be audibly delivered or displayed on a screen – or a combination of the two!
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What are the Benefits of Voice Search?
Voice search is incredibly convenient, and in our ever busy and complicated lives, being able to quickly and easily get an answer is high on our priority list.
Picture the scenario, you’re baking a cake and you’ve got your hands stuck into the mixture – but you’ve forgotten what to do next. Do you want to put your messy hands all over your smartphone to re-read the recipe? Of course not! This is a perfect example of where voice search can help you – and there are plenty more everyday situations where voice search can revolutionise how we gain information.
So, what are the key benefits to take away?
Fast & Easy Search Control
There’s no doubt that voice search is much faster than traditional methods – you can simply trigger your voice search tool and ask your question into the void and get a quick and direct answer back. Very nifty!
The speed and ease of voice control remains the popular reason for use for the general public, with Statista finding that 43% of voice control users enjoy the convenience of this tool.
“Hey Alexa, what’s the longest river in the world?”
Our lives are filled with everyday trivial questions, plus, with information retention at an all time low (we’re far too busy to remember silly facts, right?) – voice search is the perfect tool to quickly give us the answers to the standard how, what and why questions that fill our day to day lives.
With voice search, you can get a direct answer to a question as soon as you think about it and speak it out loud; however, with traditional search, you might not have even found your phone yet to start typing the question.
Ideal For Mobile
Smartphones remain at the forefront of the voice search revolution and are a firm favourite in public use. ComScore reported that in 2020, more than half of all smartphone users used voice search technology – that’s approximately 1.5 billion voice search mobile users.
With convenience, ease and speed ranking as the main reasons for voice search, it’s no wonder that smartphones are reaping the reward of this search trend as most modern smartphone users are never too far from their personal devices.
So, optimising our mobile search strategies for both traditional search and voice search should be at the forefront of your digital strategy if you want to capitalise on the surge in mobile voice search usage.
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How is Voice Search Different to Traditional Search?
In order to optimise your content for voice search, you first need to understand the core differences between voice search and traditional search. The main one being the conversational way in which we poise our questions.
Let’s go back out our cake example. If you were searching for a cake recipe via traditional search, you might type “Victoria sponge recipe” into the search bar. However, would you say that out loud to a voice control search? Probably not – it would likely sound more like, “Hey Google, how do I make a Victoria sponge?”
So, how we conduct our search queries change with voice search. We’re more conversational, we deliver full sentences and the keywords for optimisation are more long-tail focused.
In some ways, our voice searches may be more convoluted that our short, snappy text search. Research has shown that searches over 5 words long are more likely to be performed via voice search than through traditional text search.
So, our voice control search systems need to process the longer search queries and decode exactly what we’re asking but honing in on the keyword phrases.
This brings us to the second key difference between voice search and traditional search – the answer we’re given.
When conducting a voice search query, searchers want quick results, and our search engines and voice control devices understand this, meaning that Google relies heavily on rich feature snippets to answer voice queries.
Google uses content feature snippets to relay a direct answer to the questioner. This involves a direct answer to the question and, accurate and trusted information about the answer. For example, in the longest river example the feature snippet details the name, location and length of the river in one simple answer.
Keyword Research for Voice Search
With the key characteristics of voice search established, we can now focus on how digital marketers and website owners can optimise their content for voice control, and the main focus should be with your keywords. Understanding how to communicate with your searchers through their voice control search device is the first step to establishing your keyword targeting.
When conducting your keyword research, it is vital that you consider your key question terms – the how, what, when why, and where questions are the bread and butter of voice search control.
To craft a question keyword focus, use tools such as SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool and switch the emphasis from ‘all’ to ‘questions’ to see what questions are commonly asked within that key term area.
From here, you will be able to create a list of questions that are relevant to your brand and industry and ensure you are creating succinct and relevant content on your website to answer these questions. If executed well, you could see your content being used by Google as a feature snippet and, therefore, the primary answer for voice control search users.
When keyword mapping, you should be mindful to include ‘filler words’ in your content and questions which would naturally occur in the conversational question poised at voice search devices. For example, including the ‘I, the, of, for’ etc words that make up a conversational question. Remember, you are creating human focused content and spoken questions – so, if you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it!
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How To Optimise Your Content for Voice Search
When it comes to optimising your digital strategy for voice controlled search, there are a few key areas that you need to focus on. However, thankfully, most technical SEO optimisation remains the same and will benefit your ranking on Google and likelihood to benefit from voice search.
To optimise your content for voice search and gain further search visibility and results, here are areas you need to focus on:
Feature Snippets and Direct Answers
A voice search study by SEMrush found that 70% of all answers from voice search also occupied a SERP feature, 60% of these being a featured snippet result. Therefore, creating content that focuses on directly answering queries and providing a trusted, relevant and rich answer response is a fantastic way to tap into voice search results.
When crawling and ranking your site, Google will look for rich answer content to use and therefore, rank your page more highly. To achieve this, think about how you can optimise your content for feature snippet use and curate your answers with direct answers in mind.
The average voice search answer is only 30-40 words in length, and Google focuses on providing succinct answers for voice search questions. When planning your content, look to include a FAQ section to easily deliver precise pointers to questions and answers that voice search users might be looking for.
Conversational language is a primary characteristic of voice search and copywriters need to use natural language and keywords when delivering their content.
Understanding how users will use verbal queries in a natural way is the first step to delivering a fluid answer and including these conversational long-tail keywords in your content.
Ask yourself what types of questions will your target audience be using? What is their conversational style like? What questions would they be interested in? Channelling your target audience into your voice search optimised content will help you gain results from voice activated search queries.
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Optimise For Mobile
Mobile is the number one device when it comes to voice search, and voice searches on mobile will pull your website up as a result if it ranks well on Google. Ensuring your site is optimised for mobile users will improve your chances of appearing on voice search responses, plus it will give users who do land on your site a reason to stay and convert their interest into valuable traffic.
To start, ensure you have a mobile-responsive website by running your website through Google’s mobile-friendly test and action any necessary changes that are flagged up by employing a trusted UX design and development team.
Update Your Location and Google My Business Profile
Remember, “near me” searches are extremely popular for mobile users and in voice search – a double whammy! To ensure you don’t miss out on this valuable traffic, ensure your Google My Business profile is up to date and your location is included. Plus, you’ll be doing your local SEO ranking a favour, so don’t snooze on this tip!
With voice search on the rise and Alexa now a part of our everyday lives, it’s fair to say that optimising your website for voice search should be a part of every contemporary digital marketing strategy as we move forward.
Consumer behaviour is changing and businesses and marketers need to stay one step ahead of the market changes.
As voice search becomes more sophisticated, specialising in voice search SEO will become more of a priority – so get ahead of the curve!
For more information, or to integrate voice search into your digital strategy, speak to one of our experts today on 0800 088 6000.