With the growth of voice search and the media buzz surrounding it, it can be a challenge to separate the truth from the hype. All of the biggest brands have a hand in the market, and they all want you to use their voice search service, be it Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Bixby, or Google Assistant. And while optimizing for one means optimizing for all of them, the rise of voice search is still both a headache and an opportunity for retailers. In hopes to leverage the opportunity and minimize the headache, here are five thought starters to consider when approaching voice search as an avenue to increase revenue:
It’s Not a Fad, and Now is the Right Time to Capitalize
According to a study by Google, 41 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens use voice search more than once a day. At least half of the people who own a dedicated voice-assistant device (such as Google Home or Amazon Echo) have made a purchase through it. Voice shopping in the U.S. and U.K. generates around $2 billion in sales today, and is projected to grow as much as 20 times by 2022. Even the more skeptical pundits don't deny voice search is here to stay. Therefore, online retailers should start planning for it as soon as possible.
It’s Similar to the Rest of Your SEO, Just With More Intent and Conversational Keywords
It shouldn’t be too hard to incorporate voice into your existing search engine optimization efforts, especially if you're already optimizing for “snippets.” Remember to optimize for more precise questions and high-intent keywords (such as “what is voice search,” “how do I place an online order,” “how much does iPhone XS Max cost”); read the Google Speakable guidelines; keep your answers under 30 words; and use natural, conversational language. You’re already halfway there.
Voice Search is a ‘Winner Takes All’ Game
With traditional SEO strategy, grabbing “high but not first” positions for general, high-volume keywords is a desirable outcome. With voice search, only the first position matters. If you cannot grab the first position for a certain keyword, try concentrating on long-tail keywords that better describe what you're selling or the benefits of purchasing from your company. If you cannot be the world’s No. 1, start by being the first in your location or niche.
There's Deeper Monetization Yet to Come
Users’ personal voice search information is already taken into account to refine the ads they see, however, more monetization is likely on the horizon. Software corporations are looking for the acceptable equivalent of search advertising (think the ads that pop up before your search results in Google) for voice search. We can only guess what that will look (or sound) like and how it will change the game once it gets here, but having a voice search strategy in place now can help your brand have an early advantage when it does.
Voice Search Analytics is a Gold Mine for Understanding Your Customers
Analyzing voice search traffic and subsequent purchases is a strategic way to get a more refined understanding of what your users want. Voice searches are usually made with more active, natural language and are often better at describing users’ real intent than their typed counterparts (think “where can I buy a shovel” vs. “hardware store”). Unfortunately, there's no easy way to gather that data today. Google is promising (and unpromising) voice search options in Search Console and Analytics, but the closest solution today is manually going through high-intent, long-tail keywords in Search Console. Nonetheless, when the data can be mined, it's useful for marketing and advertising strategies, product development, and so much more.
Optimizing for voice search is profitable, yet frustrating. With so many unknowns, it can be scary and confusing in the short term, but it's promising and unavoidable in the long term. Digging through keywords to get better insight can feel daunting and monotonous, but really it's an exciting opportunity to build algorithms of the future. Love it or hate it, voice search is here to stay, and planning for it (or at least thinking about it) right now is crucial for longevity in retail.
Natasa Djukanovic is the chief marketing officer of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain ".ME."
Related story: 3 Steps Retailers Can Take to Optimize Voice Search Results
An economist by education, Natasa Djukanovic is the CMO of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” Natasa is an activist, startup mentor and one of the key people that impacted the development of the digital and startup community of Montenegro. She is the co-founder of Digitalizuj.Me, an NGO that examines the transformative power of technology through various projects and lectures, and Spark.me, one of the biggest tech/business conferences in Southeast Europe.