A Chinese proverb says that the flapping of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world. The rise of voice searches in 2017 and 2018 has led to major changes, not just in search engines.
This trend, which promises to consolidate in the coming years, is a problem and an opportunity for marketing specialists. And the SEO for voice searches will be the ‘battlefield’ for future e-commerces.
Do you think voice search is a fad? A GeoMarketing study will open your eyes: more than 6 out of 10 users (65%) who have a smart speaker do not want to search again in writing. This shows that voice searches have really improved the browsing experience for users.
As will be revealed in the following lines, the change in search habits is related to new generations.
The use that generation Z and millennials make of technology is very different from baby boomers. According to Omnicoreagency data, 55% of teenagers search by voice every day, compared to 44% of adults. But optimizing for voice searches makes a lot of sense for e-commerces for other compelling reasons.
For example, the interest of Microsoft, Amazon, and other brands in intelligent loudspeakers. According to Canalys, Alphabet (Google) would have sold more than 5 million Google Home devices in 2018.
Tell me where the money flows and I’ll tell you which industry will be dominant in the future. This applies to voice searches. Investments by Google and other technology giants in loudspeakers and virtual assistants are increasing year after year. And everything seems to indicate that it will continue to grow.
But before we take a look at the future of voice search, we will delve into this search modality. We will also address the reasons for its growing acceptance among users and how e-commerces can adapt their SEO campaigns to attract related traffic.
What are voice searches and why should they be optimized for SEO?
The origin of voice searches is connected to the most popular search engine on the market. In 2011 Google launched its Voice Search tool for the Google Labs suite, along with many other tools. However, its impact on users’ search habits would be incredible.
This search mode can be defined as follows: search by voice, without the intervention of physical or tactile keyboards. And it can’t just be done on Google, Bing and other search engines. Virtual assistants and intelligent loudspeakers can also receive and interpret users’ voice search commands.
However, this would not have been possible from the evolution of speech recognition technologies, Machine Learning and other innovations. It is a mistake to think that computers simply recognize words and phrases, and then copy them into the search box. That’s not how it works.
Voice search has changed the rules of the game
Voice search uses artificial intelligence technologies, which are needed to fill in the ‘gaps’ left by humans when asking for information. In other words, virtual assistants (Siri, Google Home, etc.) do not just listen to what we say, but what we do not say. In colloquial language, there are many omissions that are difficult for robots to perceive. The process is especially complicated when queries are made in the chain.
For example, which shoe store is closest to you, is it open at the moment, which means of transport is the quickest to get there (bus, train, etc.)? For any human being, this string of questions would be easy to understand. But not for an artificial intelligence system. This is where Big Data, Machine Learning, and other technologies come into play.
But what are voice searches for SEO? Similar to what happens with written searches, marketing teams struggle to optimize their websites to attract this type of traffic.
What works with conventional search doesn’t have to in this new search mode. Google voice search and SEO are related. Amazon, Spotify, Google and other companies developing this technology are connected to e-commerce.
Jeff Bezos, for example, launched Amazon Echo to encourage purchases in its marketplace through voice. This is just one of many examples that demonstrate this technology is e-commerce oriented.
For businesses, voice search traffic offers a golden opportunity. The algorithms are being updated to welcome this type of search. Marketing teams are already applying a number of SEO techniques and strategies for voice searches.
But before discovering them, it’s important to delve deeper into a fascinating question: why will voice search surpass written searches in the next decade?
Why voice searches have boomed
Investing in SEO for voice search requires a medium to long term approach.
To adopt it with determination, we must know the causes behind the boom of this type of search and why they are the future. Will you join us?
Improve the search experience
The first factor behind the growth of voice searches is the improved user experience.
Thanks to the use of intelligent loudspeakers and virtual assistants, queries are performed more comfortably, quickly, naturally and efficiently.
For example, if a user is preparing a recipe, she can ask what the pasta’s cooking point is, without having to interrupt her task.
A few years ago, you should have washed your hands, searched your smartphone, performed a search, reviewed the query and returned to what you were doing. It’s messy, isn’t it? This example, moreover, shows us another benefit of voice searches: they favor the performance of multiple tasks.
Provides user satisfaction
It follows from the previous point that voice searches contribute to improving user satisfaction.
In fact, 4 out of 10 users with voice search devices claim to feel as if they are talking to a friend or family member, according to Google.
Companies such as Amazon, Walmart or Zappos, famous for their customer orientation, will not miss this opportunity. If your customers enjoy searching for products by voice, the most logical thing is to satisfy them. In this way, they will give their consumers all the facilities to fill their shopping carts.
Adapts to new generations
The need for SEO for voice search on Google is partly explained by the new generations: millennials and post-millennials (Gen Z).
Their consumption habits are very different from baby boomers. According to an eMarketer study, the number of millennials using virtual assistants with voice recognition will grow by 39.3% by 2019.
For e-commerces, this factor is important. The buyer person of the consumer who seeks products and services with voice does not correspond with the traditional consumer.
It seems clear that young audiences will adapt more quickly to this type of search. For fashion, electronics, apps, video games, and other industries, optimizing their SEO campaigns is an urgent priority.
Find the echo of technology
As we have been warning, the success of voice searches is the result of demand and an offer that has grown almost at the same time. While the voice search industry is in its infancy, competition is already high.
Devices such as Amazon Echo, Sonos One, Samsung Smart Speaker, Google Home, Apple HomePod or Spotify Connect were born to meet that demand.
On the other hand, existing services are being adapted to this type of search (see the recent update of Google Chrome in Android to support voice searches).
How to do SEO for voice searches: 7 best practices
In view of the above, SEO for voice searches is not an option for brands: it is a necessity.
By optimizing their e-commerces for this type of search, companies can meet the needs of their customers.
This will provide them with web traffic in the first place, and a greater number of conversions in the second place.
But competition in voice search SERPs will be fierce for years to come! You still have time to position yourself better than your competitors.
If you want to learn how to SEO for voice search and gain a competitive advantage over your commercial rivals, don’t miss the following lines:
Prioritize long tail keywords
So-called long tail keywords have increased in popularity in recent years.
However, their moment of glory will come thanks to voice searches. Why? Because they adapt perfectly to these more conversational and natural style queries.
Below are some examples of written searches and voice searches. Their analysis will allow you to understand why long tail keywords cannot be missing from your strategy:
● ‘Cheap tomatoes in London’ (keyword) versus ‘where to buy cheap tomatoes near me’ (long tail keyword). There is no need to clarify which is the written search and which is the voice search.
● ‘family accommodation in New York’ (keyword) versus ‘long tail keyword’.
● ‘Madrid hoy’ (keyword) versus ‘quées son los premieres de cine hoy (en mi ciudad)’ (long tail keyword). Users would not even use ‘in my city’, as Google would understand that the geographical location is relevant to this search.
Focus on local searches
Another highly recommended SEO strategy for voice searches is to prioritize local searches.
As you may have deduced from the previous examples, geographical location is important for most of these types of searches.
Some studies suggest that 2 out of 10 voice queries (22%) search for results based on location. That’s why the phrase ‘near me’ or ‘near here’ is used so often.
Therefore, companies with an omnicanal presence (online and offline) must adapt their search engine positioning strategy to the search habits of these users.
But this benefits both ecommerces and traditional retailers. Even if an online store lacks physical branches, it will receive customers who visited physical businesses thanks to voice searches (showrooming).
Deploys Speakable and other structured data
Certain Rich Snippets are perfect for voice searches. These code snippets allow you to include additional information in the SERPs (search engine results page).
For example, videos, ratings, prices, etc. These attributes improve the click rates of the results, as they are more attractive to users. But Rich Snippets were also designed to help search engines.
This is precisely the goal of Speakable. This code available on schema.org was designed to indicate to Google Assistant, Siri, and other attendees that certain content is readable for their algorithms.
What are the implications of Speakable code? First of all, Google robots will be able to better track the content of your e-commerce. This will allow them to display your pages to respond to users’ queries. It is a positive Rich Snippet for the consumer and for e-commerce.
Use keywords with questions and answers
I’m sure this recommendation was obvious, wasn’t it? Most voice searches are in the form of questions.
The ‘what’, the ‘how’, the ‘when’ or the ‘why’ are very present in this type of query. For e-commerce, a perfect document to optimize SEO for voice searches is the FAQs. However, blogs and white papers are also adapted to this type of search.
All we have to do is identify the most frequent doubts about our products and services. For example, if we have an online shop of electric scooters, it is possible that the care of their batteries is an issue that interests consumers. Publishing ‘How is effective maintenance for electric scooter batteries?’ would be a great idea.
Bet on a conversational tone
Another key to SEO optimization for voice searches lies in the tone used in marketing campaigns.
In most cases, voice queries are more natural and colloquial than written searches. Users write ‘cheap florist Los Angeles’, but consult by voice ‘is there a cheap florist near here?’
Marketing specialists should keep this in mind. Their initiatives (blogs, FAQs, etc.) have to mimic the conversational style of voice questions.
In this way, your content will achieve better positioning on Google and get more web traffic.
Improve the loading speed of your e-commerce
This recommendation is valid for any organic search engine positioning strategy.
The algorithms of Google, Bing and other search engines give priority to e-commerce with higher load speed. The reason? Because they understand that delays worsen the navigability and user experience.
To this fact, we must add another essential factor: most voice searches are made through mobile phones.
If loading speed is important for the desktop user, it is even more so for those who connect from mobiles and tablets.
If your e-commerce takes more than 1 or 1.5 seconds to load, you must get to work.
Streamlining load times will also have a positive impact at all levels. For Google algorithms, this is a quality indicator.
Optimize your e-commerce for mobile users
It follows from the previous point that mobile traffic and voice searches are closely related.
What if the website of e-commerce was not mobile friendly, i.e. not optimized for these devices? It is obvious that the user’s experience would be nefarious.
Consequently, e-commerces must adapt their platforms to mobile traffic.
In order to achieve this, it is advisable to make a series of changes to the web design, which we will summarize below:
● Compress images and lines of code, which can slow down the first load of the site.
● Make sure that all the elements, buttons and CTAs remain visible and clickable.
● Adapt the paragraphs and H1, H2 and H3 to the dimensions of mobiles and tablets, so that no element is outside the available space.
● Eliminate pop-ups and limit the use of other elements that may hinder mobile usability.
● Adapt the size and font, in order to improve its legibility for mobile users. In general, between 15 and 20 pixels is a recommended size. Sans Serif fonts may be a better choice than Serif fonts.
Voice searches, a trend with a lot of future
Did you know that almost 6 out of 10 users (58%) have used voice search to find the location of local businesses and that up to 46% of them perform such searches on a daily basis? This BrightLocal data sends a clear message to e-commerces: SEO for voice search is not a trend of tomorrow but of today.
In addition, a Global Web Index survey suggests that voice searches are not for young people: 1 in 5 adults makes such queries at least once a month. Although this trend has been shown not to be incompatible with e-commerce, Edison Research offers a revealing fact: 2 out of 10 users with intelligent speakers have already made purchases through the device.
Several years ago, we could recommend brands to stay one step ahead of their commercial rivals. But that time is over. Today e-commerces are forced to embrace voice searches. The percentage of clients coming from this type of search is too high to underestimate.
But what does the future hold? Will voice searches reduce their importance or will they increase to the point of overthrowing conventional searches?
According to comScore estimates, half of all online searches will be conducted via voice by 2020. Thus, for this marketing research company, digital and tactile keyboards will continue to be relevant. But its demise would be very close.
The consultancy firm Gartner, for its part, is lowering comScore’s forecasts, with data lower than BritghLocal’s: in 2020, only 30% of all searches will be carried out using a virtual assistant, a smart speaker or another device without a screen or keyboard.
However, several studies suggest that this market will move billions in 2024. By this time, the voice search industry will be worth an estimated $30 billion, no less.
Microsoft, Samsung, Alphabet, and other commercial giants already spend a portion of their budgets on research and development of related technologies. Google’s Voice Search and SEO will be inseparable ‘friends’ in the future.
At present, only the leading e-commerces seem to understand their importance. But the rest have a lot of catching up to do.