Revisiting Voice Search

Revisiting Voice Search

Voice search has been around for more than a decade, ever since Google launched it as a feature of its search engine in 2002. Since then, it has quickly become a hot trend in marketing. Simple, informational queries can transform into commercial opportunities if your business has adapted itself to this new promotional field.

What is voice search?

Voice search is using your voice, and your words, to request assistance from a digital virtual assistant. Voice search had its humble beginnings in assistive technologies like speech-to-text, which was primarily used to help differently-abled individuals navigate the online landscape. Voice search has grown immensely since then—think Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon, and Google Assistant, which are now the three dominant voice search assistants. Even now, you can ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to find information or complete actions by using simple words or phrases. Statistics suggest that people increasingly prefer voice search over text search (i.e. typing words or questions into a search engine), and that by 2020 more than half of all searches will be voice searches (via ComScore).  And Gartner predicts that in the next few years as many as 30% of searches will be done without a screen (via Mediapost).

Why is voice search important to your creative business?  In the future, will people be able to find your website and your business services using voice search? How will people navigate using your own website or engaging with your services?

How do you prepare for voice search?

In the past, we have written articles about search engine optimization (SEO), and the importance of using keywords to improve search results and drive traffic to your creative businesses. Voice search adds another layer to that. Typically, voice search will consist of more than a keyword or two and will involve some sort of a question or command. These longer phrases, called long-tail keywords will help your customers find your business through voice search. For example, previously you may have used a keyword like “hand-dyed” to promote your creative business selling hand-dyed yarns.  A long-tail keyword voice search might include the phrase “Where can I buy hand-dyed yarn?” Voice search encourages asking questions in the 5 Ws format (who, what, when, where, and why). It’s more conversational than when you’re typing a query into Google. Whereas a typed query might have just been “hand-dyed yarn,” voice search encourages the same naturalistic tone you might take speaking to someone directly. As such, think about voice search as a conversation between you and your customer. What questions might your customer ask you that you can answer ahead of time? Think of preparing for voice search like creating a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) in advance. These FAQs should form the basis of the long-tail keywords you will use to strengthen your presence online. As always, ensure your website loads quickly and is well-formatted for mobile devices, where the majority of voice searches occur. All images should be optimized and files compressed to guarantee your website secures a high ranking on search engines like Google.

Speakable, which is still in Beta mode, enables identification of the sections of your website most suitable for voice output. It is currently in use for news articles, but if it catches on may find use across the broader sphere of voice search. Speakable is responsive to Google Assistant searches, so utilizing it on your website and for your business may afford you higher visibility in Google voice searches in the future.

What do your customers want?

In developing long-tail keywords, you have an opportunity to hone in on the needs you are fulfilling for your customers. Are you providing your customers with information like posting craft tutorials, technique demonstrations, creative ideas or exercises? Are you allowing your customers to more easily navigate by finding specific content or a product on your website? Are you allowing your customers to engage in a specific business transaction with you? The creative content, goods, or services that you provide should drive your development of long-tail keywords based on the kinds of questions you already receive from your customers. You can also incorporate feedback from current and new customers on how they find you.

What is the future of voice search? 

Research has shown that teenagers are the biggest users of voice search features, and individuals aged 18-36 form the majority of smart speaker owners (via CapTech). Smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, and Apple’s HomePod are clearly making their way into more and more homes, proving that the next generation is embracing voice search technologies. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2022, smart speakers will live in 55% of American households and voice search ad revenues could reach upwards of $19 billion (TechCrunch).

Amazon encourages customers to utilize Echo and Alexa as a virtual shopping assistant and empowers their sellers to craft precise, informative product titles and descriptions to boost their ranking in voice search results. Key feature bullet points, often seen below an Amazon product listing, also help a product secure a place in voice search results. Offering your services on Amazon and optimizing your visibility for their platform can increase the likelihood that your business will be featured as an option the next time a customer queries Alexa about a service or product you provide.

Amazon has also innovated a voice search support system called Alexa Skills. Alexa Skills is a universe of apps that expands Alexa’s abilities. Alexa Skills features apps that can control the temperature and lighting in your home and even your home security. Businesses have created Alexa Skills apps to address their consumer’s needs and sometimes provide transactional solutions. There is an app for Major League Baseball, which informs fans of game stats, an app for Bloomingdales, which allows users to search for local stores and buy products, and an app for Levi’s, which enables customers to ask questions about products and track recent orders. As voice search grows, it may be advantageous to consider creating a Skill app for your own business. If you offer informative services around crafting, an Alexa Skills app can act as a value proposition, delivering answers and suggesting your related products directly to the customer. The Alexa Skills Kit is free and available to any business that desires availability via the Alexa voice search system.

Given the statistics, voice search seems like a trend that is here to stay (via Branded3). How will you use it to make your business successful? Stitchcraft Marketing can help you determine which aspects of voice search technology best fit with your individual business needs. Contact us today to learn how we can bring your brand into the speech-enabled future.

Leanne Pressly
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