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Voice Search and Digital Marketing

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In the past couple of years, voice search has started to become more and more popular.

Google have reported that 20% of all search now comes from voice rather than manual text, whilst Microsoft have reported as many as 33% of their searches are voice.

With a variety of companies offering consumers the ability to use their voice to search the web on their products, there’s rapidly increasing need for businesses to implement a digital marketing strategy based around voice search.

Some companies have already started, in an attempt to get ahead of the competition. Burger King earnt both praise and criticism for their tv advertisement that targeted people with the Google home device. To activate Google Home, the user must first say ‘Ok Google’ followed by their query. On said advert a Burger King employee is featured saying “Ok Google, what is the whopper burger”, resulting in Google Home devices across the country telling households across the UK exactly what a Whopper burger is.

It was an innovative advertising campaign that won Burger King awards.

However, it did have a major flaw. The answer to the question ‘what is the whopper burger’ was sourced from Wikipedia, a site that can be edited by almost anyone. So, naturally once the advert started becoming popular, the public headed to the Whopper Burger Wiki page and changed the information to variations ranging from mildly funny to downright offensive.

voice mobile searchHowever, there is potentially a safer and more effective way to build a digital marketing campaign around voice search. First of all, you need to establish why people are starting to use voice search more frequently, what they are using it to search for and how they are asking the questions.

To answer the first question, the reason people are starting to use voice search more often is because it’s quicker. This has always been the case but at first there was perhaps a case of people being either a) embarrassed about talking into their phone, b) scared of using new technology or c) not trusting or believing that voice search could possibly be as effective as typing.

To answer the second question, according to Google the most popular online voice searches are about directions, the weather and cooking. More generally speaking, though, people are using voice search to quickly find answers to questions.

Then we come to the third question.

Which is the most important one to answer, how are people asking questions? The answer is simple – In a longer, more conversational (and often correct) way than they do when typing queries into Google, or whichever search engine they use.

For example, someone who wanted to find what the weather was like in Manchester from SEO would just type “weather Manchester” into Google. However, those who use voice search are more likely to ask, “what is the weather like in Manchester tomorrow?”

This change in how people are searching is important for digital marketing, as more words being searched means that there will be a greater volume of keywords for businesses to associate with in a bid to boost their position in search results. As voice search grows further, optimisation techniques will need to adapt along with the more conversational nature of search queries.

visitors trafficPeople who use voice search are also more likely to ask for very specific information in comparison to those who type to search. For example, “find the closest place to buy trainers to play tennis in.” Brands should be jumping all over this, and making sure that when these specific searches are made, relevant results such as trainer ads or tennis racket ads are being displayed.

People who use voice search are doing so because they want a quick and clear answer to what they are asking. They don’t want to ask a question to be greeted with links to loads of pages, they just want an answer in the quickest way possible. In short, they want answers – not results.

In relation to this, businesses should think about incorporating Q&A sections to their websites in order to answer the key questions people are asking through voice search.

If businesses do this effectively then voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana will start picking up these answers from their websites and communicating them to users who are asking the relevant questions, as well as bringing their website up near the top of SERPs.

With 50% of searches expected to be voice led by 2020, the time is now for businesses to start implementing digital marketing strategies orientated around voice search.