As technology advances, we’re seeing more and more changes in areas such as social media, retargeted ads, VR and AR, and lots more. One of the biggest changes that I see, however, is the way voice search is transforming so many aspects of our lives. The world is rapidly shifting from a text-based to a voice-based model and I don’t think most of us yet fully realize what a profound change this really is. So I thought it would be a good idea to explore some of the latest developments in voice search.
“I don’t think most of us yet fully realize what a profound change this really is”
Everything is Connected
Voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have quickly gotten consumers accustomed to performing tasks and ordering services with verbal commands. We can now use these assistants to create to-do lists, order takeout meals, call for a taxi or Uber, turn on our TV, start coffee brewing, and hundreds of other tasks.
As someone in the digital marketing space, I’m naturally most interested in how people use voice assistants for search. However, what’s striking is how technology is connecting so many aspects of everyday life. For example, if I start the day by asking Alexa, Cortana, or Siri what the weather is going to be like today and how traffic is on the local roads. The answers may affect my plans. I might want to try a new restaurant and ask for suggestions. If I want to invite a friend to go out for lunch, I can instruct my assistant to make the call for me and even reservations.
The increasing capabilities of voice assistants make it easier and faster to devise plans, communicate with people, and search for what we need online. What this means is that online searches will increasingly be connected to other everyday activities. People shopping in a store can ask their voice assistant to look up prices for similar products on Amazon or elsewhere. Of course, people can do this without voice search but this technology makes it quite a bit more convenient. As it catches on, we can expect voice search to be integrated into every aspect of our lives.
“expect voice search to be integrated into every aspect of our lives. “
Voice Search will change Local Search Habits
One of the areas that voice search is having the biggest impact is with local search. This dovetails with the prevalence of voice-based GPS systems that so many drivers already take for granted. As drivers (including millions of Uber, Lyft, and other ride-share drivers) get accurate directions from their human-sounding GPS systems, they’re increasingly using voice search to find restaurants, stores, and other local businesses.
People speaking into their devices tend to speak naturally rather than using the kind of keywords that have driven SEO for so long. More specifically, when we do a voice search, we tend to ask questions that start with words such as “where,” “why,” or “when.” For example, if I’m searching for a pizza place using text search, I’d probably type in something like “Pizza, My City.” If I was doing a voice search, however, I’m more likely to simply ask, “Where is the nearest pizza place?”
Voice search will make it even easier for people to find local businesses, which also means accessing Google My Business pages and reviews. This will put more pressure on businesses to keep their information up to date and do everything they can to attract positive reviews.
Voice Search is Part of the Mobile Revolution
There’s quite a bit of overlap between the growth of voice search and the growth of mobile technology, as Google recently estimated that 20% of mobile queries are voice searches. As impressive as this number is, especially considering that just a few years ago hardly anyone used voice search, it’s sure to grow even bigger very soon. It’s now more important than ever for businesses to have mobile-centric websites.
Another factor to keep in mind is that people using voice search on their mobile phones often prefer to call businesses than send emails. Having a phone number in a prominent place is a good policy if you want to make it easy for people to reach you. It’s also a good idea to use call tracking software to find out which ads or channels are generating the most phone calls.
Voice Searches will prioritize Featured Snippets
Google’s featured snippets are very powerful for those businesses lucky (or skillful) enough to get their content featured. These snippets are displayed above organic search results, beneath paid ads. In theory, featured snippets are meant to answer searchers’ questions immediately so they may not even have to click through to a website. However, there’s ample evidence that featured snippets benefit businesses a great deal, leading to more clicks and customers.
It turns out that voice assistants tend to lead searchers directly to these featured snippets. When optimizing your website for featured snippets, it’s essential to anticipate and answer searchers’ most common questions. For this reason, one way to make it more likely that Google will choose your website for snippets is to create a strong FAQ page. This format is ideal for featured snippets and for the way people use voice search – asking questions such as “How can I make the perfect pot roast?” or “How do I install a WordPress plugin?”
Alexa Skills as a Branding Tool
Aside from making local search more efficient, voice search is starting to transform content marketing. One way that this is happening is that brands are looking to partner with companies such as Amazon to position themselves as authorities. This is already happening with Alexa Skills, an app that lets users learn new skills by making simple requests to Alexa. Several major brands, including Purina, Tide, and Johnnie Walker have already set themselves up as authorities on Alexa. Alexa users can, for example, consult Ask Purina for information about dog breeds. Alexa Skills is only one of the early ways that businesses are creating informative content especially for people who use voice search.
The Future of Voice Search
The next wave of voice assistants will have screens.
We have to remember that devices such as Echo, Google Home, and the soon-to-be-released HomePod by Apple are only the first wave of voice assistants. Already, rapid advances are on the horizon. For one thing, Amazon Echo’s latest model comes with a screen. This opens up a whole slew of possibilities, starting with streaming content on the Amazon Echo Show. Companies such as The Food Network are already creating content for this series. Considering how images and video have taken over social media, it won’t be surprising if visual content turns out to play a huge role in voice assistant devices. This means lots of new opportunities for businesses to create videos and other visual content that users can quickly access.
These are just some of the reasons that I’m so excited about the future of voice search. It’s impossible to predict the many ways that quickly advancing voice assistants and related technology will transform all of society, including the marketing world. It’s essential for businesses to stay current with the latest developments in this exciting field and find ways to benefit from them!
To find out how nvision can help to optimize your voice search and all aspects of digital marketing, contact us.