By now everyone is talking about voice search. We all know brands need to think about this, but when do you need to really kick it into gear? I think the answer is right now: at this point, ComScore is reporting that by 2020, 50% of all search will be voice. While I think this number is wildly inflated, it is important nonetheless. What is certain is that people are already using voice search quite often. As of January 2018, there were an estimated one billion voice searches per month, per Alpine.AI. If you are a major brand and you don’t have a voice strategy, it is time to launch one ASAP.
So what does this mean and how do you bring one together? I think the key here is don’t panic. You are most likely already doing plenty of things that power a voice search strategy.
- Are you focusing on reviews from a quantity, quality, and diversification point of view? You should be, as online reviews will help for all search, not only voice.
- Are you managing your online listings properly? Are you optimised for GMB? Submitting to Apple? The answer is hopefully yes.
- Do you have a responsive website built with engaging content, store pages, and a locator that is optimised for conversion?
If you’re not doing these things, then you should focus on getting your local search strategy and execution plan figured out before you worry about voice search.
- Schema markup and structured data is one thing you should be focusing on. Voice search needs a database to pull answers from and structured data is going to be key in this.
- Work on a strong link-generating strategy, as traditional SEO is a factor in voice optimisation.
- Produce FAQ pages written with a voice search point of view. Imagine that each question is being asked to a digital assistant and they are going to read the answer from your FAQ page.
- Ensure your website loads quickly, is HTTPS, and has a high domain authority.
- Optimise for rich snippets, knowledge panels, and answer boxes.
- Make sure you seed the Google Q&A section, as it isn’t a leap to think Google might eventually source answers from this section for voice.
But what about skills and actions? I think these are going to be important as well, but you should get the rest of your voice search strategy ironed out before you dive head first into a robust skill or action. When it comes to building skill for Alexa or an action for Google, the goal here is to fully understand why somebody would be talking to your brand and to make the digital assistant feel like you are talking to an employee of the brand.
For example, if you launch the Best Buy skill on Alexa to discuss buying a refrigerator, Best Buy shouldn’t just list the units they have available for sale near you; the skill should act as if it were a sales rep and ask you about features you want, and the size, shape, and colour you are looking for. Skills and actions should be based on customer service, and brands that do this right will reap the benefits.
Another important piece to remember here is I don’t think voice search is going to have a major media component. I don’t think in the years to come brands will have to allocate a media budget to voice search like they do for paid search, display, or social. I don’t think you’ll be able to sponsor your content on voice, so it will be more important to organically rank. Voice search platforms will figure out how to monetise users, but I think this will manifest itself in terms of taking a piece of a transaction versus generating revenue through typical ads or sponsored content.
Voice search is going to be a very large portion of the future, so it makes sense for brands to have a good understanding of what they should be preparing for now. Don’t worry about ads or media; worry about location data management, reviews, and skills/actions. Brands that figure out what users are going to want to speak to Siri, Alexa, and Google Home about will be able to provide the customer experiences that will drive business.
Kyle Harris is the Product Director at DAC. For more insights on how to maximise your online visibility, please get in touch with DAC!