Voice Searches Need You to Step Up Your Game When It Comes To Content Marketing
In the month of May, at Google I/O 2018, CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated Google Assistant AI placing a realistic phone call and having a ‘real’ conversation with a human being for an appointment.
Earlier this year, Amazon was forced to explain how Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to an Echo user’s colleague without their knowledge.
These two separate incidents only demonstrate the power of voice search and our relationship with technology. And for marketers, voice search is going to be the biggest challenge as they try to reach their target audience.
The future is voice
Way back in her Internet Trends Report 2016, Mary Meeker had noted that voice searches had increased by more than 35X between 2008 and 2016. This year’s Internet Trends Report also pointed out that Google’s Machine Learning speech recognition accuracy had reached 95 percent, the same as the human threshold, and that there’s a lot of mainstream adoption of smart speakers and voice assistants. Amazon Echo’s install base sales rose from 10 million to 30 million in 2017, pushing developers to build more voice skills.
A 2016 Gartner study predicted that by 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen. The report claimed, “New audio-centric technologies, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo, are making access to dialogue-based information ubiquitous and spawning new platforms based on “voice-first” interactions. By eliminating the need to use ones’ hands and eyes for browsing, vocal interactions extend the utility of web sessions to contexts such as driving, cooking, walking, socializing, exercising and operating machinery. As a result, the share of waking hours devoid of instant access to online resources will approach zero.”
What’s voice search and how does it work?
A voice search is a command or set of commands presented to a device – either smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo, or a mobile phone assistant like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, or Microsoft’s Cortana.
For example, you want to buy some dress shoes for an upcoming wedding. A more traditional way would involve you browsing through an e-commerce app on your phone, or making a quick Google search for footwear stores nearby. A voice search, you’ll be asking for help from the AI to look for dress shoes.
And that’s where lies the challenge for brands; the focus and direct approach of the voice search eliminates possibilities and SEO rankings have little to do with the results. Each assistant/device uses a different approach to SEO. While Google Home uses your Google data, Siri looks through your Bing data, and Alexa uses both your Bing and your Amazon data for optimized search results. Also, factors such as your geographic information and browsing history become more important in generating an answer.
It’s time to speak up
When it comes to your brand’s content strategy, the approach to voice search requires you, as a marketer, to orient your content according to voice search queries. Merely relying on keyword search won’t help you top the search results.
Your content strategy must now be able to speak for itself (pun intended). It must be able to answer specific questions because assistants mine for direct answers to questions. Your content should now be able to appear in the Featured Snippets on Google, as Google Home will read that out when answering a voice search question. You could also make use of ‘long-tail keywords’ for better optimization of your content.
Remember content optimized for voice search does not focus on keywords, but on semantic search and building the context related to answering a question. So if your content is written in a conversational manner, it’ll show up in the search results that answer questions. Using structured data and schema mark-up can help the search engines pick up your content efficiently.
Voice search does not belong to the fictional world of The Jetsons. It’s real and it’s here! And consumers are quickly adopting it. So let’s make sure that we’re there, ready to help digital assistants deliver what consumers want.
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