Voice Marketing: Is This The Next Sales Channel To Watch Out For
You probably think that the internet marketing landscape is reasonably stable, right?
Wrong! It's actually one of the fastest-moving business environments around. If you were a "marketing guru" in the 1960s, there's a reasonably good chance what worked then would work for another couple of decades or so. That's simply not the case with internet marketing. What works one year (or month) quickly becomes outdated as new ideas hit the mainstream and old practices get overtaken (or become obsolete).
So what's next on the marketing landscape? Voice marketing. That's right---you've seen how much voice assistants like Alexa have taken the tech market by storm in recent years, haven't you? Well, these pieces of kit actually present a number of issues for traditional marketing streams. After all, as more people use voice to search the web, surely it's a good idea to target these voice searches with bespoke marketing efforts rather than just leave things to chance?
If you want to know more about voice marketing and why it could be the next big thing, then you're in the right place. In this article, we're going to look at some of the issues associated with it, as well as why it could help take your marketing efforts to the next level.
What is voice marketing?
You've probably worked this out already by now. If you haven't, here's a quick recap: voice marketing is marketing to target voice searches. You know those voice assistants people use on their phone so they can search for something without typing it in? That's a voice search (obviously). And voice marketing targets these voice searches.
With voice assistants becoming more and more popular, voice marketing is starting to become more important. People are searching more and more on their phones, but they're also buying actual standalone voice assistants for their living rooms and elsewhere in the house.
Voice marketing itself targets these voice searches to rank higher for voice searches and provide more relevant results to those who make them. While it's only a new idea, you could get a jump on the competition by taking it more seriously.
How do voice searches work?
When you ask your voice assistant a question, it'll follow a set of principles to find your answer---and then it'll read it out to you. There's a reason these voice assistants are becoming a much more convenient way to search. That means you can use them on the go, and without having to type in a question.
The voice assistant will generally follow a set of parameters when you ask it a question or give it a command. It'll know what to do with requests like calling someone you know or playing music. But if you give it a general question that doesn't fit into one of these parameters your voice assistant will generally search Google to give you an answer. While it has a few metrics, it'll often read out the first answer that matches your query. This has key implications that we need to look at for voice marketing.
Voice marketing implications
If your voice assistance is simply searching Google to give you an answer to a voice search, then it stands to reason that you just need to carry on doing the same search engine optimization you've always been doing for Google and other search engines, right? Not quite.
There are a couple of key differences that make a different approach necessary. The first one is much more obvious than you might think. When people search for something using their voice, they use different search terms than when they type something in.
The vast majority of SEO efforts these days are based around keywords. Keywords that people type. Makes sense, right? But when someone searches for something with their voice, they use different terms and phrases. People simply don't type how they talk. That means those optimizers and marketers (that's you) who start targeting search terms and keyword strings that are better optimized for the way people ask real questions vocally will start seeing more success (hopefully).
Think about it logically. When you want to know the five best local restaurants in your area and perform a normal text-based search, you might type something like "5 best restaurants in [city]". But when you ask your voice assistant, you might say something like "OK Google, what are the five best restaurants near me?" This is only a crude example, but you can clearly see the difference.
As voice marketing becomes more popular, there'll be more and more research into exactly what people are searching for on their voice assistants. This data will create a level playing field where more people will start knowing the right search strings for voice marketing and will start targeting them accordingly. But there's no reason why you can't try and give yourself a head start, right?
There's another important point to make with voice marketing. You need to be the first result. While it's always better to be at the top of Google---you can sometimes get away with being 9th or 10th. While each spot further down the search results gets far fewer clicks, you're generally doing alright if you're on the first page, right? Well, that's simply not the case with a voice search.
The voice assistant will normally only read out the very top answer from Search results. While it's a little different if you're using voice search on a desktop or laptop where you've got a screen to see more traditionally extensive results---many voice assistants will only answer your question with the first and most relevant result they can find. So it doesn't matter if you're fifth for this voice search, you'll basically be nowhere.
That makes this more of an all-or-nothing game and a much more competitive one. Being first is even more important as we move more towards voice search and virtual assistants. That means being the first to start optimizing for these voice searches is even more important, so you can get a head start on the rest of the market. That's why it's even more important that you're reading this article now rather than in three years' time.
How to optimize for voice search
Now you know why voice search and marketing is so important, you probably want to know how to do it, right? We already looked at starting to optimize for search-phrases that are more conversational, and that's a big one. But let's look at a few more strategies in a bit more detail:
Get your featured snippets in order
Featured snippets are those short bits of text that appear under a certain search result, especially for question-based searches. That'll normally be what your voice assistant reads out as an answer to a voice search query. So these are important, and you need to make sure yours are in order.
You can find out more about featured snippets here.
Target longer conversational questions
One characteristic of a voice search is that they're much longer than a normal web-based search. They're also more question-orientated and have a more conversational tone. Start listening to the way people talk and ask questions on their phone or virtual assistant. These are the sort of phrases and terms you want to start trying to rank for if you want to make the most of your voice marketing efforts.
Sort out your load speeds
If your web page doesn't load quickly, it won't show up in voice searches. People want results straight away when they ask their phone a question. Oftentimes, they'll be on the move and in a hurry. That means you need to be able to give them results, quickly. Switch hosts if you need to, and start having speed as one of your main priorities when building your site.
Use structured data
Structured data is code that's added to your HTML that helps search engines crawl your results and have a better idea of what it's looking at. Having more structured data in your optimization efforts makes it a lot easier for most of these voice searching assistants. You can find out a bit more about structured data and how to use it here.
If there's one thing a lot of different voice searches have in common is that they're looking for local results. In fact, research suggests that up to 58% of voice searches are made by people trying to find a local business. For example, it makes sense when you're looking for an SEO agency New York service in the New York area, right? Since people will be more likely to use their phones (and voice search) when on the move or in a new location. Somewhere they might not have access to a traditional computer.
A lot of voice searches contain the words "near me", so it stands to reason that these are the sorts of words you're going to start trying to target. Make sure your local business listings are on point as well, as many voice searches look for this sort of information.
Hopefully, these tips are enough to get you started on your route to voice marketing success. You've probably seen how voice marketing could be the next big thing in SEO and internet marketing. That means you need to start targeting voice searches now---before it's too late.