April 16, 2018
KNOW HOW

Adapt to the voice-search revolution

Kham Inthirath is the founder and president of InThink Agency, a marketing agency focused on helping local businesses find and connect with their target audiences.

Siri. Alexa. Cortana.

We live in a world of voice-assistance technology. And, aside from making our lives a bit more convenient (and, occasionally, more frustrating), these voice assistants are changing the way your customers and prospects search for products and answers.

Are you adapting to the change?

By as early as 2014, more than half of teens and around 41 percent of adults were already using voice technology daily. And those statistics were gathered before voice technology really took off. Amazon Echo was the best-selling product during the 2016 holiday season.

Voice technology isn't going anywhere, and consumers will become more comfortable relying on voice search, particularly on their mobile devices. This is key to understanding how your business can use voice search to your advantage.

Folks who use voice search are typically on the go, using their mobile devices, and looking for something within their immediate vicinity (think, "closest movie theater to me"). They use longer, and more complete thoughts for their search queries, when compared to a standard text-Google search.

While sitting at a desktop computer, a user might type, "Best Chinese restaurant near me" while on voice search that user might say, "What's the best Chinese restaurant closest to me?"

So, how can you prepare?

1. Focus on mobile

Voice searches are most likely conducted on mobile devices, meaning optimizing for mobile has never been more important than it is now. On the surface level, that means building a responsive website. A responsive website is a site adapting to any screen size.

But it goes beyond that. You want to improve page load speeds, abandon drop-down navigation menus, and format all videos to display in full-screen when a smartphone is held vertically. These improve mobile user experience.

2. Target long-tail keywords

Earlier I gave an example of how voice search includes longer, more complete queries than standard text searches. If you want to rank for these voice searches, you have to optimize around this more conversational language.

Use a tool like Google's Keyword Planner to find relevant long-tail keywords, and target them in your content to cater to natural language queries.

3. Target featured snippets

This is a little advanced, but not complicated. It's certainly a step we take with all of our clients. We're seeing featured snippets appear more often these days. These are the bits of information that, on occasion, Google features before any actual results. Folks in our industry are calling it position zero, and it's an incredible place to be. Voice search devices read those snippets aloud, giving your brand a huge boost if your page content is the snippet Google opts to feature.

Google uses an algorithm to decide what page will be featured in that position zero, but you can increase your chances by writing clear, concise and informational content. The days of stuffing your pages and posts with marketing jargon are over.

Seriously.

So, are you ready for the voice search revolution? The rise of personal assistant devices, coupled with the accuracy of voice-recognition technology, means more and more of your customers will adopt to voice search. It's time you joined the ride.

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