Vox Pop: the voice search revolution and how to make your business stand out

Amazon, Gadgets, Google, Websites

Tim Butler, founder of Innovation Visual, talks about how improved accuracy and convenience are ensuring massive growth for voice search and how businesses need to adapt to compete

Voice Search is beginning to revolutionise search marketing. Google recently announced that 20% of searches on its mobile app and Android services are now carried out by voice, and this number is only likely to increase in the coming years.

Clearly, if you choose to ignore this development, you do so at your peril! Conversely, if you take an active interest in making it work for your business then you can reap the rewards.

The statistics about voice search today are proof of just how important this method of search is becoming. Microsoft Cortana has over 133 million active users, over 40 million people use Siri on their Apple devices every month and Amazon has already sold over 20 million Echo devices.

These figures are not only staggering, but also prove the growing consumer desire for voice search technology.

The reason for this growth has a lot to do with increased voice search accuracy. In 2013 the word accuracy rate of voice search devices was just 76%. By the end of 2017 this had risen to an accuracy rate of 95%, which is incredible when you consider the difference in accents and word pronunciation. Further improvements will be made this year.

The fact that when you use voice search now you generally receive relevant information demonstrates that more and more people are using voice search, as this has enabled the devices to learn search intent and provide accurate results.

Voice search can be a much faster and more convenient way of searching the web. It’s much easier to speak than to type, and now that the technology is in place to support searches made by voice it is important to adapt your businesses marketing strategy.

Here’s how:

Your company needs to be at the top of the search results
One of the main changes voice search introduces is the fact that only the first result is read out. Suddenly optimising pages to be on the first page of Google is not good enough. It is more important than ever to be the first result.

Answer the questions your is audience asking
Search queries from voice are often longer; therefore, optimise for longer search queries rather than keywords. Pay attention to what questions your customers are asking your business and then create a page on your website that answers that question. If you want to find out what questions consumers are asking around the subject of the product or service you provide, then a good website to use is AnswerThePublic, which generates title ideas around the theme you input.

For a search engine to understand what your website page is showing it must be able to understand the page data. This data is delivered in a large part by structured data and this is defined by the schema.org standard. This is the system used to mark-up content on a web page, which then enables search engines to understand the text in the code. By implementing schema.org you will help AI to identify information on your website pages, increasing your chances of ranking for voice search results.

Local Searches
Voice search is becoming increasingly used in local searches, such as queries like ‘coffee shop near me’ or ‘where can I buy a newspaper?’Localised search results come from Google My Business and Bing Places for Business, so make sure your business has these listings set up, otherwise you could be missing out on local search traffic and customers.

Mispronunciation and Misspelling
The word accuracy rate is now at 95%, but it is still not 100% and this means there is still a margin for error. There are certain brands that are almost impossible to find via voice search. If your brand name is difficult to say then changing it just to work better for voice search probably isn’t an option, but it is worth bearing in mind when you develop new products. Is the new product easy to pronounce? If it is then it will be easier to find via voice search.

The main reason voice search is growing is the convenience factor. People want results and they want them fast. This is where voice search is efficient as you only receive one result. However, this also eliminates choice. For example, if you use Amazon Echo to order a pizza then it will order it from Domino’s because the pizza company has a deal with Amazon.

By 2020, it is estimated that 50% of searches will be voice searches. If your business is not prepared for the shift in the way people search online, then you could miss out on search traffic and ultimately lose sales to competitors who have optimised their sites effectively.  


Tim Butler is founder of Innovation Visual, a digital marketing consultancy specialising in digital effectiveness. See: https://www.innovationvisual.com/



Chris Price
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