“Voice search will change digital marketing.” This is a claim you’ve probably heard multiple times! And no wonder - a 2018 study found that 57% of Australians have adopted voice search, and the number is only bound to have grown since. This means brands across the board must make sure they have all their bases covered. The question is, however, how exactly will voice search change digital marketing?
What type of searches are people making with voice search?
The growth of voice search comes thanks to the rapid rise in the number of households that have digital voice assistants. In 2018, 1.35 million Aussie households had a smart speaker, such as Apple’s Siri, Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa.
The most typical searches made over voice are question searches, and they’re also often local.
Besides, voice search queries are worded differently to typed searches. It all comes down to convenience – a computer search will be as short as possible to save physical effort. A voice search is more conversational and therefore longer. Voice search includes natural language patterns that digital marketers are not used to seeing in their data.
How voice search will change SEO
Voice search is changing the ways digital marketers optimise websites for search engines. As people change the way they search for information, search marketers will have to adapt to new ways of attracting organic traffic.
1. Competition for position 1 intensifies
When a user makes a search query on a computer, they see a whole page of ranking websites to choose from. Traditionally, the user will then evaluate the meta title and meta description to decide which one to click through to. With voice search, the digital assistant will pick the top result automatically. Therefore, the competition for who’s number one will only become more intense.
2. Featured snippets become more valuable
This will, of course, also intensify the competition for featured snippets. They’ll become more valuable, and hence harder to acquire. Featured snippets are not won overnight as it is, so the competition for them will be extremely tough in the future.
3. Content strategy will change
The part of SEO that is the most influenced by voice search is content. To be picked up by voice search, the content has to be formulated to answer the conversational questions made on voice search. As discussed before, a search that is typed is vastly different to a search that is spoken. Therefore, businesses will have to adapt their content to not only the wording used, but also the deep search context and intent of voice search.
Let's think of an example - a person wanting to sell their apartment. When typing, they might search for “sell apartment”. A person speaking, however, will most likely say: “how do I sell my apartment?”
4. Local search
The effects of voice commands will be especially important for local search. People tend to use voice search when they can’t access their phone, for example while driving, letting the digital assistant navigate them to a destination. This is called the “screenless internet”.
Impacts on Web Development & Design
Whether or not a business succeeds in optimising for voice search largely comes down to the website. That’s why web developers and designers will be at the forefront of the voice search movement in digital marketing.
1. Mobile-first even more crucial
We already know mobile comes first in web design, but did you know that 20% of mobile queries are, in fact, voice searches? Having a mobile-friendly website is even more crucial in the age of voice search.
2. Seamless user experiences “screen-free”
It goes further than that, though. Virtual assistants will, in the future, permit bookings and purchases using voice. Amazon Alexa already lets users order an Uber or a Domino’s pizza with a simple voice command.
Modern users love convenience above everything, so brands will have to work on offering a seamless experience. This includes everything from search results to choosing the right product and buying it. All through interactions with a voice assistant!
3. Personalised experiences
Our digital tools know remarkably much about us. Google Assistant and Alexa can both tell apart different voices, gathering insights on each user. This gives them the ability to offer users with personalised search results.
So, what does that mean for web design? When building out the design, keep in mind the different kinds of customer segments and personas that could be purchasing from you. To ensure you can rank for each of their needs, websites might need to be built out differently in the future.
It might sound like a lot of work, but don't worry! Voice search will also offer new ways of engaging users and building relationships with customers. Which, of course, leads to new revenue streams.
How Voice Search Will Change Digital Marketing for Your Business
There are no two ways about it: the future is voice-activated. But what is the current state of voice search? Briefly put, voice search is getting better, but it still needs to improve.
Google now claims that its voice recognition is 92% accurate but getting to 99% will be the real game-changer. Only once it’s more convenient than typing will voice search dominate the search marketing scene.
However, as the old saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. Companies that want to stay one step ahead are already starting to implement voice search strategies.
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Senior SEO Account Manager
Toby has been in the digital marketing industry for over seven years now,
working both in-house and agency side and focusing mainly on SEO.