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How to Tackle the Voice Giant?

I remember the days during my childhood, yearning for stories, fairy tales, princess, superheroes and no dearth for imagination. Some of those stories that I read as a kid always had some or the other magical responsive utilities like a talking mirror, a door or a carpet which will speak if spoken to or answer questions and show information if asked. Little did I know that I'll live to see those magical things come to life with the help of technology. Audrey, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Alexa are some of those to name a few.

These technologies are bringing in lots and lots of differences. The difference in the way we interact with other techs, the difference in the way we give away our information, and the most important difference is the way we consume information. Now, as a digital marketer, I spend sleepless nights whenever there's something new in the industry because it somehow resets everything that we have done in digital marketing and would require us to gear up and start a new strategy altogether.
So this is an attempt to decode this new technology ‘Voice Search’ and what a marketer should do to tackle this voice giant.

50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, as per comScore

What is Voice search?

I don't have to explain this, but for hermit's sake, Voice search is when we use voice to search in a search engine instead of the traditional methods like typing in the search query using a keyboard. Voice search utilizes speech recognition technology to understand a user's search query and then shows results that it thinks matches the search.

The problem?

Well, it does simplify the way we search the internet but has it simplified the way how the results are shown? The answer is No.
Traditionally we have all built our website with content focused on an element called keywords. Because users search the internet using keywords and key terms which they think relates to the information that they are looking for. And truly, keywords are the backbone of both SEO and SEM.

Now with the advent of voice search, results are no longer shown for a keyword but rather for a sentence. This is beyond the length of a long tail keyword. Users of voice search converse with the technology to get their search results. They talk to the machine and will have a real conversation.

How to optimize for voice search?

How do we optimize our digital strategy to suit the voice search? Firstly, the users tend to use Natural language to converse with Alexa or Siri, just like how they will strike up a conversation with a fellow human being. These machines are programmed to understand and process these conversations. As these are real conversations, the length of the search query is usually larger than what will be used in a non-voice environment.
Eg., "Ok Google, how far is the park from my home?

For instance, if we want to know where Mount Kilimanjaro is located, we would probably type the keyword "Kilimanjaro" or "Mount Kilimanjaro" in google or yahoo and then we will click on the first link to know about the mountain.
But when we are doing a voice search we don't just say the word "Kilimanjaro" instead we say the entire sentence, "Hey Siri / Ok Google where is Kilimanjaro" and it'll show as well as read out the answer for our query.

About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020- ComScore

Question your Intent!!
So these voice machines understand the meaning of the words and most importantly understand the Intent of the sentence to give you the accurate result. Now the focus is on the Intent and not just the keyword. The intent to buy or to know is very strong in these search queries. Unless we address the intent with our content, these voice search machines will not pick us in their results. You can read on my previous article to know all about intent and how it plays an important role in our digital strategy.

How to optimize content for Voice Search?

So now the first and most important thing to do to optimize our content to suit voice search results is to expand our content beyond set keywords and include answers to the intent a customer or the user wants us to address. When we want to find a plumber or electrician we type "Electrician near me" or "best electrician" but when we do the same, in voice search, we will probably say, "do you know any reliable plumber/electrician in Chennai?". The content that we add in our website should answer to this and many other questions that a probable customer might ask. Get the intent right and re-frame your content to address the queries rather than pointing them to keywords.

The voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry by 2019, as per Technavio

FAQ Page

One way of achieving this is by adding an FAQ page on your website. With an FAQ page, it becomes easy to add answers if you don't want to disturb the existing narrative provided by the current content. We should also focus on keywords that are long tail but highly conversational like, E.g., "Restaurants close to JP Nagar park" which answers the questions like

  1. Where can I find restaurants that are close to JP Nagar Park and
  2. Which hotels are closest to JP Nagar park

Use Schema's to highlight content.

Yes, Structured markup 's from which helps to highlight specific content from the website so that spiders can easily parse that content and understand its context. The schema is actually metadata, which explains and describes the data present on the website, making it easier for the spiders to understand the context of the content.

"Near Me" is your best friend!

With the increasing number of "near me" searches in voice search, we should make use of this type of keywords to get our brand on top. To do that we need to have our business listed in Google's local business listing. This is because when somebody searches for "pizza delivery near me" whether its voice or regular search, the results displayed on top will always be from the local listing.

Put to use Google Ads' location extension.

Now, this is the feature when enabled, lets you show your ads along with your business address, phone number and directions. This corresponds to the "Near me" searches and when you have it enabled, it makes your ad more relevant to the local user giving you an added advantage in the Bidding.

2 of 5 adults perform a voice search at least once a day.- Location World

Voice search is not just the latest trend; it is the future focused on making user's life simple. It is the next big thing and we should all use this opportunity to transform our content relevant to the users and build a voice serach optimization strategy. With all the above strategies put together, we can effectively transform our SEO and SEM strategy to suit the new voice search technology and stay on top of our competitors.