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Optimizing For Voice Search

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Not so long ago, the concept of natural voice interactions with computer systems seemed to be something of the distant future. Well, due to developments in artificial intelligence it seems like that future is here! Virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are powered by search and in the digital marketing ecosystem, the competition for being the virtual assistants preferred service is heating up. According to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020 and the Global Web Index states that 25% of 16-24s use voice search on mobile.

Here are some best practices to help marketers optimize for voice search:

1. Context: Individuals performing voice searches are most likely to be looking for answers to questions. The more websites create content that answers a particular user question the more relevant they will be to user queries. For example, in a text search, one would probably type, “Good hotels in LA” and in voice search it would be, “Which is the best hotel for a girls trip in LA?”

2. Mobile: Voice search queries are the most prevalent on mobile devices, and this behavior is driving the need for optimizing websites for mobile – now more than ever. It is important for companies to optimize for local search, minify code and have a dynamic serving site or a responsive website design.

3. Content: The new changes in SEO are forcing content writers to generate more relevant content that delivers on the user’s intent, whether directly stated or implied in their search query. It is important to understand your audience, what they are interested in and create content that connects with this.

4. Transactional layers: Users will expect that they can transact more quickly and companies who provide that value will be in a better position to increase their market share. A great example is that of Domino’s Pizza, who has enabled voice for taking orders on their app.

Search engines like Google don’t openly share much data as to which searches over-index on voice queries, which makes it hard to develop a voice-search-specific paid search strategy. Further, regardless of whether a search is text-based or if it is a voice command, the search-results page and the manner in which an advertiser can buy against those keywords in either type of query does not currently differ. The fact that you can only get one direct answer from a voice command makes it difficult to serve up a “voice advertisement” as it will not provide the best user experience to users that are used to having more unbiased options via a search engine results page. However, as usage of voice assistants grows, with companies like Google and Amazon leading the way, we can expect to see the monetization of voice search in the near future.

The use of voice search is growing exponentially, presenting marketers with new opportunities to connect with their audience in more meaningful ways. Brands that are focusing on creating a great online experience for their audience are definitely going to be the front-runners early on.

Fleur Massena
Director, Media Performance