What is Voice Search & Why Does It Matter?
Voicing Your Needs
Voice Search is definitely one of the fastest growing trends in online marketing, so I wanted to take a few minutes today to tell you all about it and how it could impact you as a business or marketer. IPhone and Google voice search launched in 2008, but really started gaining momentum in 2013. A recent study found that voice search increased to 10% of total search volume over the past year and is showing no signs of slowing down. Google announced that 20% of all searches have Google voice search intent, and ComScore estimates that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020. With this kind of growth, it will be important to get ahead of this trend before the masses catch on.
So… What is Voice Search?
When we talk about “voice search” we are referring to a smartphone or desktop computer that has a digital personal assistant or an entry point that uses voice. Examples include Siri for iphone and Cortana for Microsoft. Furthermore, digital assistants are no longer restricted to smartphones and are increasingly being integrated into devices like smart-home hubs and game consoles. The more we speak to these assistants, the smarter and more helpful they become, but what does all this mean for marketers?
How Voice Queries Differ from Search?
The shift towards voice search could mean big changes in keyword usage for both Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. I believe the following elements will experience the greatest swing:
- Length of Query – Voice queries will almost always be longer than text, and this boils down to computer language versus natural language. Voice search queries are more conversational in nature, using natural language and expression, and this tends to be longer than conventional search language. Search Implication: While broad match modifiers may help in showing up for these longer keywords, it won’t necessarily capture this conversational tone, and thus may not actually cover the voice query. To combat this, you’ll have to think about potential long-tail questions, and add keywords and matches around those themes to ensure strong coverage.
- Question Words – Voice search answers the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ questions we often ask in natural discourse. When you type your search query, you use computer language – e.g. “cheap tickets to Mexico”. When you voice your search, you use your own language – e.g. “where to find cheap flights to Mexico?” Search Implication: To capitalize on this, try adding some question-esque long tail keywords to your account and measure the impact.
- Stronger Intent – This will be the biggest difference of all because the natural language will more clearly illustrate the searcher’s intent. If someone is searching for a laptop, we don’t know if they are looking for reviews, to buy a new one, to repair one, or if they are simply looking to see how their current one stacks up. As a search marketer we can add keywords around the same but we have no idea what is the actual intent of the customer. Search Implication: Voice search (and conversational queries) change this perspective completely. The type of question asked can reveal the intent of the customer and we can bid higher for the queries which have the highest likelihood of conversion. The differences will be obvious – e.g. Can I get my laptop fixed at Best Buy vs. Best Buy Store Near Me. This elevated understanding of intent will allow us marketers to become much more strategic with our bidding and will also allow you to tailor your ad copy and landing page to the question.
- Impact on Local – Mobile voice searches are more likely to be locally based than text searches, which makes sense as more than half of the smartphone searches are also local – e.g. “gas station near me”, “where is the nearest coffee shop?” etc.. This means that local business will have to adjust their strategy towards the users that search for them. Search Implication: If you have a physical location for your business, it is important you change your strategy and get smart with the keywords users are leveraging through voice search. The most common uses of voice search are to call someone, get directions and dictate, so again, add conversational keywords and you should be in good shape.
We anticipate that this trend will continue to grow not only in response to smartphone capability, but also as it is adopted across new alternative channels, such as smart home hubs, ‘Internet of Things’ – things, and ‘Over-The-Top’ content products like apple TV, etc. Are you ready for Voice Search? Voice your opinion below!