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BizReport : Search Marketing : January 16, 2018

How to get yourself heard as voice search surges

People today are discovering that voice technology fits perfectly into their lives. Now they can conduct complex searches without fat thumb typos, bark food orders in their lounge or request to be entertained by jokes - all without lifting a finger. Marketers who want their voice heard need to tune their search strategies accordingly.

by Helen Leggatt

Voice search has moved from novelty to a daily reality for many people. According to Google, voice search queries in 2016 were up 35x over 2008. According to statistics from MindMeld, 11% of people using voice search in 2016 started more than three years before, while 60% started in the twelve months preceding Q1 2016.

Jumping forward a couple of years and Amazon's Echo Dot was the best-selling product across all of Amazon during the 2017 holiday season. The etailer was not specific about just how many of the devices were sold but did say in a statement that "tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices" were purchased worldwide.

Furthermore, research has shown that those who use voice technology are very satisfied with the experience, a positive sign for ongoing adoption. In fact, two-thirds (65%) of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home said they can't imagine life without such a device, and 42% said voice activated devices have quickly become "essential" in their day to day lives.

According to Google, 20% of searches on an Android device are already voice searches and, with voice-enabled assistants now installed by default on all smartphones, comScore's forecast that 50% of all searches being voice by 2020 almost seems like a gross underestimate.

However, what the rise of voice search does mean is that marketers need to rethink their search strategies. If voice search is in the 'too hard' basket, or you just haven't even begun to consider its ramifications on SEO, here are just three things you need to be addressing right now to ensure your voice is being heard, even if at first it's just a whisper.

Get Your Local Listings Sorted

Almost a quarter (22%) of people are using voice search to discover local content and information, such as "where is the nearest cafe?" or "is there a gas station nearby?". Voice search can recognize phrases such as "nearby" or "near me" and, referring to the mobile device's physical location, present relevant results. As such, local businesses must ensure their Google My Business listing has been claimed and is up to date.

Think How People Speak

A query typed into Google Search will not be constructed in the same way as a spoken query. While a typed search query might contain core keywords such as "induction oven Houston" the oral query is more likely to be conversational such as "where is the best place to buy an induction oven in Houston?". It's like long tail, but it's less about variations of keywords and more about how people speak, but that's the way your keyword strategy must now head.

Mobile First

With pretty much all voice search conducted on a mobile device, a mobile-optimized site is even more important than ever. If people discover your website through voice search but are unhappy with its functionality, or it is too slow, your bounce rate will increase and damage PageRank.

Tags: ecommerce, search marketing, voice search, voice technology

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