Commentary

Are You Ready For Voice Search?

“Siri, what can you tell me about voice search marketing?”

Voice search is the way of the future. Google’s Beshad Behzadi said as much in an address at SMX West last week. At the same time, Amazon doubled down (almost literally) on its voice-enabled devices with two new offerings using its Alexa platform and Soundhound launched its Hound voice-search app on iOS and Android platforms.

Consumers, meanwhile, are adopting voice search at an alarming pace. Already, 20% of mobile users are using voice search on their mobile devices, according to Global Web Index, and more than half of 13-to-18-year-olds reportedly use it every day. Soon enough, voice search will be the preferred method of finding news, information and products via the Internet.

But searching via one’s vocal chords is not like traditional “keyboard” search. While we’ve all become accustomed to a sort of shorthand when it comes to traditional search engines, voice search is more conversational, often beginning with a question word and ending with a location (not surprising considering how attached voice search is to mobile). On a keyboard, a search for “Thai food,” for instance, becomes “Is there a good Thai place near me?” in a voice-searched world.

Note all the qualifiers in that query: “Is” wonders whether a restaurant exists or is open; “good” suggests some level of user feedback; “Thai” is a specific food genre (and also a homonym; that can get confusing, though responses are getting surprisingly accurate), “place” is another word for “restaurant;” and “near me,” while self explanatory also has to take into account a relative acceptable distance — 10 miles may be “near me” in Iowa, but not so much in New York City.

That’s a lot going on. And consumers will expect results quickly and accurately. “It’s increasingly important that brands and marketers not only update their keywords list, but that they optimize content to common questions relevant to their company,” writes Emma Lyons on Marketing Magazine’sWeb site. “The messaging in any ad copy should be tailored to predict the user’s query and it is more important than ever to have different match types for each key word.”

There are many things that can be done to make your information, product or services more voice-search-friendly, like maximizing Schema code for more content, ensuring location-specific data is available and humanizing responses. But perhaps the most crucial is understanding that the rise of voice search means getting even deeper into consumers’ heads, understanding exactly what it is consumers want from brands and how they can provide it.

“The more that brands can think naturally, and consider content in context of natural speech and intent, the more nimbly they can adapt to this changing context,” writes Krystal Overmeyer on the Content Standard by Skyword blog.

Siri, what do you think?

“That sounds about right, Aaron.”

1 comment about "Are You Ready For Voice Search?".
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  1. Mike Taylor from BIA/Kelsey, March 9, 2016 at 9:58 a.m.

    In the “Is the Personal Assistant the Successor to Search” report, conducted by Thrive Analytics, found 56%  of adults have used personal voice assistants to find local information. With more local consumers "on the go," using personal voice assistants for email, search and texting is definitely on the rise. 

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