• The future of search is here: advanced visual and voice search capabilities have become increasingly prominent in helping consumers more easily find the products they love. People are searching more often while they’re on the go, as 50% of all search queries are from mobile devices. This means verbally describing or sharing a photo of the item may be more efficient than taking a moment to type out search terms. In this two-part series, we’ll explore how these advanced ways to search are changing the digital marketing game.

    Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are becoming household names, thanks to the rising popularity of voice search. Voice-based devices like Alexa and Siri are providing new avenues for product searches and subsequently, different ways for consumers to search for products (via verbal cues). Forrester predicts that smart speakers will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 50.9% to reach 166.2 million in 2022.

    Marketers are recognizing these new search habits with the growth of connected home devices as a new opportunity to drive brand interest. A study by Google found that 52% of voice-activated speaker owners want to receive information about sales, deals, and promotions from brands and 39% would like to receive options to find business information. Forrester found that four in ten Alexa users engage with the device at least once a day. As consumers seek more ways to make multitasking more effective, speech-to-text is becoming an ideal solution for busy people who want to easily and quickly tackle tasks like making reservations or locating the nearest auto shop by saying a sentence or two.

    With this new marketing channel comes a new obligatory “search path” for marketers to strategize around, monitor, and track. Let’s explore three ways voice search is changing the game for marketers, and how they can prepare for it.

    Rethinking Content

    As voice assistants become more affordable, it’s important for marketers to think of how they are going to reach consumers with and without a screen. That’s why marketers will have to work with developers to take syntax and natural speech into account as a result of voice searches. Screenless browsing is expected to account for 30% of browsing by 2020, so the days of mindlessly scrolling on phones may be limited.

    Because voice search can make reaching audiences more challenging, marketers must be prepared to make changes to how their content is conveyed. They should rethink their content to fit the natural language their consumers use and consider. When people are speaking, they tend to use more words and longer sentences than when typing, according to DBS Interactive. For example, Amazon advises its Prime members to ask, “Alexa, what are your deals.”

    Getting Smart on AI’s SEO Role

    Voice-activated searches return results by processing the user’s question or search terms, and then skimming search engines for the correct answer. Similar to searching a topic on Google, the most SEO-friendly (besides promoted content) answer will pop up first. Google Home and Google Assistant read featured snippets when they answer verbal queries, so companies are vying to be result one on page one.

    AI makes screenless communication more efficient as it learns more about the consumer. It’s important to understand AI and how it works with SEO to benefit from voice search. Consumers are using this feature when they’re on the go, so catering to this behavior will make them recognize that the brand is accommodating. If the consumer gets a helpful answer, they’re more likely to take the next step.  

    AI can be implemented to help with more complex searches, such as looking for a restaurant chain with several locations in the same city. With machine learning, this technology can pick up in user search behavior and process longer voice queries and question-phrased terms. AI platforms will try to answer questions in a conversational, human way. Also, AI will make location and navigation searches easier by integrating with tools like Google and Apple Maps.

    Site Rankings and Advertising

    Marketers and advertisers have spent a lot of time trying to improve site rankings, but users aren’t being presented with ten different options to consider anymore. With consumers searching by voice , it’s likely they will choose the first result they hear after saying “Hey, Siri” followed by a question. A recent Bright Local survey found that 58% of consumers surveyed have used voice search to find local business information during the last 12 months. If a brand isn’t the first result  appearing within the search engine results (SERPs) , it’s likely that the device isn’t going to recognize the brand as a result.

    Brands can stay ahead of their competitors by catering to user search intent. Keep it informational, navigational, and transactional. Prioritizing SEO can boost the company’s online presence, and put them front and center in voice search results.

    It takes more than a few keywords to optimize how audiences find your business via voice search. Getting to know consumers better and understanding how AI works with SEO can help brands be successful as they take on advanced voice search.

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