quick primer why voice search is here to stay
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A Quick Primer on Why Voice Search (and VSO) Is Here to Stay

Let it be said: Voice search is here to stay.

If you listen closely, the chatter over voice search and digital assistants is getting louder and louder thanks to Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and others. The power of the human voice and these digital repartees may be the future of search. And you don’t need many reasons to know why you should already plan to ride the wave of VSO.

It goes without mentioning that mobile devices have taken the lead when it comes to web searches. Many smartphone users don’t type their search queries: They ask Siri or Google or Alexa to look up information for them. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you won’t show up for search queries – typed or spoken.

$3.5 billion by 2021, people… $3.5 billion

Furthermore, Gartner reports that consumer demand for voice-enabled devices — think Amazon Echo and Google Home — may generate around $3.5 billion by 2021. In cases where the device only provides a vocal response, you have one shot to get your message heard — featured snippets. As Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge wrote, “The importance of featured snippets can’t be overstated. In a world where voice queries and voice responses become more common, what Pete Meyers coined as ‘Position Zero’ will become ‘Position Only.’ In other words, you will get only ONE result (initially, at least). Knowing how to become that result will be critical to thriving in a voice-centric world.”

quick primer why voice search is here to stay

Voice-enabled search is happening now and will continue to evolve and change how people search and how marketers develop content. Renowned SEO expert Danny Sullivan live-blogged at the 2016 Google I/O (Google’s annual developer’s conference) about Google’s announcement that 20% of mobile queries in the U.S. are voice searches. Google’s 2017 announcement that it has added 30 new languages to its voice-typing technology allows one to safely assume that voice search will continue to increase. You can even voice type emojis now. Whether that makes you want to say “happy face” or “poop emoji”… Only time will tell.

Given the mass adoption of voice-enabled technology, there are things every marketer should understand about how people speak to devices. Time to bone up right here. #contentmarketing #seo #alexa #voicesearch Click To Tweet

Expert advice on voice search

As a voice in the SEO and organic search community, Scott Litvack of Wpromote encourages marketers to strongly  consider the role of mobile design and the acquisition of featured snippets when it comes to voice search in 2018. Here’s his advice:

Pay attention to voice search and digital assistants. While it is still early, two studies from Gartner and comScore suggest that between 30% and 50% of searches will be done either without a screen or via voice search by 2020. Creating content that is more natural-language-based and that answers consumer questions is going to be critical.

While voice search queries were initially more focused on trivia (such as “What is the capital of Spain?”), I envision that soon searchers will be asking more product and service related queries like, “Does that shirt come in green in a size six?” Or find a plumber who is available on Saturday.

As voice search becomes more common, here are two additional considerations that go along with user behavior and intent:

  1. Voice search queries are more natural and conversational. Think about your conversations with customers and how they ask you questions during those conversations. Mine those discussions for long-tail keyword ideas and phrasing that may match a spoken search query. Also consider how to make your content more “robot-friendly.”
  2. In the case of mobile digital assistants, many user queries focus on local search intent. This is true whether the query is spoken or typed on a mobile device. As Search Engine Watch points out, a company’s Google My Business profile may be read to the searcher. Incorporating Google My Business and other local-intent queues into your SEO strategy is critical if you depend on local customers.

What to watch out for with voice search

In voice-enabled search, there will be few winners and lots of losers depending on how the searcher conducts his or her voice search. Those users who depend on mobile-phone digital assistants when speaking a search query will see a list of search results. These users will have multiple click-through options (at least for now). Users of Google Home and Amazon Echo, on the other hand, will likely hear just a single answer to their inquiries. So, if you’re in charge of guiding what that search result is, you’ll want to keep reading to make sure you get it right.

Another thing to consider is how voice-enabled devices will change commerce as a martech disruptor.

In fact, it’s already happening. An annual report from PR and B2B digital media agency Walker Sands speaks to the rise of the connected consumer behaviors and how shopper’s expectations have changed. “Nearly one in five consumers (19%) have made a voice purchase through an Amazon Echo or other voice-controlled device in the past year, and another 33% plan to do so in the next year.” With Amazon Echo, you can guess where most of those purchases are happening, right? Spoiler alert: It’s Amazon.

quick primer why voice search is here to stay

To benefit from these radical changes in the consumer mindset, it would behoove you to take note of three top takeaways for your voice-search strategy:

  1. Optimize your mobile site experience.
  2. Focus on winning featured snippets and using natural language and long-tail keywords in your content.
  3. Think about your overarching business strategy and how to incorporate voice-enabled devices that can impact your sales. For example, creating an Alexa skill to capitalize on voice sales or voice-enhanced lead generation.


Are you crafting your content to keep up with search behaviors?

Download our 59-page free ebook, SEO: What’s In, What’s Out for 2018 and Beyond, for smart tips, insights and sage advice from top experts in the field to help you boost traffic by way of a holistic and well-informed SEO approach.



About Stacy

Stacy Jackson is a digital marketing specialist with a passion for helping clients optimize their online presence to drive awareness & leads. She is a founder of Jackson Marketing Services, an editor and writer, and a regular contributor to the ClearVoice blog. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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