Voice search is coming in fast and furious. Voice queries (both on websites and through virtual assistants) will soon dominate search behavior—globally. They're incredibly convenient. They're faster. They may even be safer—it beats typing as you drive.
How massive is the switch to voice search?
- 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according to comscore
- 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to Location World
(There are some more interesting statistics here.)
Voice search isn’t the future of online marketing; it’s the present. Any global business without a strategy for voice search will get left behind.
We offer eight considerations to get you started.
1. Find out how your global customers search.
What are the search behaviors of each of your target demographics—Chinese teenagers, American housewives in their 30’s, German grandpas? What search engines do they use? Different engines have different algorithms—some use Google’s, some Yahoo’s or Bing’s, and then there’s Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. Then, find out what mobile devices your markets use for search—the rules and results per locale might be slightly different.
Rely on in-country search experts to help dig all this up, and create your strategy with those targets in mind.
2. Develop your voice search phrases for each market.
Your current keywords won’t do. A person speaks quite differently than they type—in full, conversational sentences rather than shorter word clusters. Most often, spoken search terms are questions. For example, someone might type “square table,” whereas someone might speak “Where can I buy a large square oak table for under $1,000 near me?”
Get your in-country resources to brainstorm the many possible questions or statements that a customer could use to search for your product. Use largely the same process as you would for old-school keywords, e.g. create ‘buckets’ or major categories under which you want search queries to fall.
Also, you can look for natural language queries in your search traffic reports to get a feel for what users might be asking to find on your site.
3. Seed your on-page content with the longer queries.
Once you’ve identified the top voice-based search queries, seed your content with them.
Rob Kerry, in a presentation on the future of search at Ayima Insights, advised companies to create Q&A or FAQ-style online content so sites can rank higher for these longer, full-sentence voice searches.
Along with this, start developing your original content with a more conversational tone.
4. Tag and title using your new phrases.
This includes URLs, image alt tags, page titles (H1) and other headlines, and descriptions.
5. Use local references.
If you have brick-and-mortar stores, remember that voice searches are more likely to be local than shorter text searches. Use the names of your city and street in your keywords. Make sure your local listings are up to date so you show up in results for the long-tail search terms.
6. Test the effectiveness of your target-market voice search terms.
Have in-country users perform searches using your terms and report back on their experience. Are the search terms relevant? Do users get the results they want?
7. Take advantage of all the new data.
Long-tail search terms give increased amounts of contextual information, including useful data on searcher intent, habits, interests, and preferences—all of which can open up new avenues and strategies for marketing. For example, going back to our search for tables, a business could learn what type of table the consumer is looking for, the size, and desired material. The price given indicates a budget and an intent to buy.
8. Don’t abandon short-tail keywords.
Keep finding, testing, and optimizing for those too. Some people (like my mom) are always going to type their searches. Yes, it’s more complicated, because you are now managing more search terms and you have to optimize for both kinds of search queries. But it will be worth it.
Marketers, ignore voice search at your peril: you’re leaving money on the table. Brands who respond to the rise in voice search will see their traffic skyrocket—and sales along with it.
Have you already started to prepare your website for global voice searches? It’s time.
Intrigued? Moravia and Oban International recently did a webinar called Voice SEO for an International Audience. It has tactical tips and tricks for bringing your SEO up to speed.