Finding its voice: the rise and rise of the new search
voice_search

Finding its voice: the rise and rise of the new search

“Alexa, turn off all lights please”. For a moment, nothing happens – until I remember that we changed the command from “all lights” to “the living room”. I let out a sigh – I feel like a complete idiot.

Especially since I’m standing next to the light switch. “ALEXA, turn off the living room!” I bite. Finally, everything goes dark.

For me, voice assistants are in their infancy, and I’ve yet to discover their use beyond a mere gimmick. My family and friends have a lot of fun asking “her” the weirdest questions and my boyfriend had the time of his life when he found out about Alexa’s “ask for a fart” skill, but I can’t get beyond asking her to set a timer, or what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow (I use an app for the lights now).

Still, the popularity of voice-operated devices is only increasing. And their search functionality specifically. It’s not a new marketing tool. Since the introduction of Siri in 2011, marketers have been experimenting with voice and we’ve witnessed some brands taking advantage of it for PR and marketing campaigns very effectively.

Other brands were less successful – people who have seen our ‘Social Disasters and what brands can learn from them’ presentation will remember Burger King’s blunder after they underestimated the resourcefulness of the internet:

Yet while voice can provide fresh and interesting PR and marketing opportunities, it also has huge potential to unlock brand growth – in fact, ComScore predicts that over 50% of searches will be voice activated by 2020. A brand’s website is quickly being overtaken as third-party information sources such as voice assistants become more and more intelligent – which is why brands need to look beyond traditional SEO.

Below I’ll outline the three key principles to help your brand to stay competitive in the world of voice search. Follow these, and it’ll help you rank more competitively for your keywords when potential customers use a voice tool, rather than more conventional search.

Understand the customer journey

It’s a much-repeated cliche, but everything starts with your audience. Contextual relevance is key – to be successful with voice search, brands must understand the different touchpoints in a user journey, so they can respond to those moments accordingly.

For example, the answer to “What’s the best pizza place in London?” might be completely different from the answer to ‘What’s the best pizza place near me?” Adding microdata such as location, phone number, pricing and menus is crucial in boosting SEO rankings, and especially so with the advent of voice.

voice_search

Understand the conversation

Your audience is human, and humans talk in a natural way. I can’t count the number of blog posts I’ve seen that were clearly written solely for SEO purposes and lacked a natural “flow” because of that. Although this might help your brand to end up higher on search (shame on you, though!), a voice assistant will only pick the top result rather than listing out the alternatives. Conversational search (i.e. a full sentence instead of a string of keywords) is much more common with voice assistants than it is for “traditional” SEO. By creating content that follows a theme similar to FAQs and answering these questions, brands will increase their search engine ranking.

Understand the internet

Although not the only priority, SEO semantics are still essential. By ensuring the words you use for search have meaning to your audience (and for your brand!), with true intent to help those searching, you will boost your brand’s ranking and ensure you are the favourable option for users. This is not a one-off job, though – once you’ve gathered all the important facts consumers want to know, publish them to all the services your audience is using. This is your own website, of course, but also other websites (i.e. Google Maps), voice search tools, apps and so on. And keep that information constantly updated – providing the most accurate, up-to-date information everywhere is essential to offering an excellent customer experience.

Although the above key principles are here to help you to improve your ranking for voice search, it will ultimately help you to future-proof your business beyond voice search, too. By constantly updating key information that your audience wants in the services they use, your business will be more ready for whatever interface your audience adopts next.

Because if you don’t do it, who will? After all, we’ve seen what happens to those who’ll leave managing the public facts about their brands and products to the people on the internet…

“Alexa, what’s the best content marketing agency in London?” – need help with future-proofing your brand, or just want to say hi? Get in touch: [email protected]

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