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The Ultimate Guide: Harnessing the Power of Voice Search for Business Success

Today, each time we want to know the simplest thing, no matter how insignificant and fleeting the thought, we reflexively search it online. This habit is growing.


Nothing is too minor to search anymore. We need not go anywhere to power on the computer and dial up the internet connection, like it’s 1999.



A smart device is always in hand, ready and listening. We expect immediate results, so that our conversation or the train of thought that sparked the search can continue seamlessly.

While millennials and older users may still be in the habit of typing searches, the youngest digital users regard voice engagement as second nature.


  • In 2016, 20% of the searches on the Google App in the US were by voice.

  • In 2017, more than 50% of smartphone users had engaged with voice technology on their devices, and specifically more than 27% of the online global population was habitually using voice search on mobile.


Smart Speakers in the Home


Many of us have at least one smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo and Google Nest. Some homes have multiple devices, one for every room or one in each room where residents often spend a lot of time. Other smart devices like thermostats, motion sensors and lights are integrated with voice assistants like Alexa.


In 2020, 52% of voice-activated speakers were placed in a common room like the living room or family room, 25% in the bedroom and 25% in the kitchen.

A growing number of households own voice-activated speakers. As more users come onboard and get into the habit of employing these personal assistants, not only do people find that speaking is faster than typing, but also we get comfortable with how easy and efficient it is to get things done at will.


We use voice search while we’re doing chores, watching TV, exercising, resting in bed, socialising or even in the bath!





Whether talking to Alexa or Siri, 41% of users address the smart device as though it is a human, or more specifically a friend. We extend courtesies such as saying “please”, “thank you” and “sorry.” This is indicative of how fondly users regard the devices and therefore we retain constant awareness of their presence and usefulness.

Leverage Voice Search For Business


By facilitating voice search, brands can satisfy some key demands.


Business websites and general online presence are meant to reach interested consumers. Products and services are meant to respond to various customer needs. Even when consumers are searching out of fleeting curiosity or needing a rapid response, there are opportunities are your business to respond.


Give the people what they want:


  • Deals, sales and promotions

  • Personalised tips

  • Upcoming events or activities

  • Options to find the business (locations & hours)

  • Access to customer service or support


What are some of the voice prompts to which a business can respond?


Simple.


When a user says to the voice-assistant

“book a physio appointment at Strong Body Medical Centre”

A healthcare provider could allow a patient to book a practitioner, while also suggesting home remedies for relief.


When a user asks,

“how do I fix my TV remote?”

A telecom provider could provide step by step by instructions on how to troubleshoot this common problem.


When the user asks,

“where can I find black jeans?”

A retailer could recommend the nearest location or store opening hours.


When a user asks,

“what should I take to Thanksgiving dinner?”

A grocer could announce special events or sales, like Autumn Fest with discounts on all pumpkin products.


Facilitating voice search also makes your business more inclusive. There are people with diverse cognitive and neuromuscular abilities, who want to be empowered consumers.

More voice-activated devices understand and respond to natural language, so it easier for more people.


Optimise for Voice Search & Response


How do we make sure that voice search is effective?


Featured snippets, extracted from webpage content, respond to search queries immediately on the search results pages, without a user having to navigate to the website. These are the types of content that respond well to voice-activated searches.


A voice response requires that the content creators produce useful featured snippets, so the search engine can identify the best and most suitable for responding to a query.



Any business wanting to leverage voice search should ensure that the following best practices are in effect.


1. Anticipate specific questions that users may pose.

Know that these questions will be asked in a conversational manner, so that query may be a full question starting with Who/What/When/Where/How/Why/Which and may contain fillers such as on/to/if/of/the/in.


Optimise content with long-tail keywords that align with the anticipated questions.

2. Deliver results that are localised, specific to the user’s location, so there is greater relevance.

3. Ensure that the salient information is brief, so that it can be shared in a quick read by the voice assistant.

4. Offer a frictionless mobile user experience.


Some voice assistants have gotten pretty intuitive through machine learning, so they are able to adapt.

Example:


A user may ask “what are the best sneakers under $200?” rather than typing “best sneakers under 200”.


After the first results are shared, the user may narrow the search by giving greater context to the query.


Perhaps, the person asks a follow-up question like “What about for tennis?”

or if the result was given for a US retailer, the user may clarify in natural speech “I meant in Canada.”


Modern voice assistants can update their responses based on the additional prompts.


 

Webpage Optimisation


For both SEO and SEM, for both voice and text searches, keywords are at the core of success.


1. To optimise the content of your webpages, start with keyword research.


2. Collect long-tail keywords for preparing content that responds to voice searches. 

3. Insert the selected keywords into the webpage’s body, URL, the page title and page description, as well as the file names and alternative text on images and videos.



If you want to learn how we can use SEM and SEO in partnership to bring your business greater success, then I'm happy to share my consulting expertise.


If you want to do it all on your own, then you should check out my SEM MasterClass: From "I Don't Know" to "I'm a Pro!"



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