Marketing TechnologySearch ToolsVoice engine optimization: It’s easier than you realize

Voice engine optimization: It's easier than you realize

More customers are using voice search, and many brands aren't ready for them. Voice engine optimization can help you meet customers where they're searching.

Just yesterday, I asked my phone to set a timer, start a playlist, and find movie times, all from across the room. And I’m not alone in relying more frequently on my voice assistant. Statistically speaking, most of us are talking to Siri and Alexa more than ever before.

However, even as we embrace voice assistants as consumers, many brands and businesses forget that voice engine optimization (VEO) could soon be just as important as SEO. And preparing for the voice search revolution is easier than you think.

More customers are using voice search than ever

When Siri was first introduced, voice assistants were more of a novelty than anything else. (Remember 2013, when we all got engaged to Siri?) But these days, it seems like almost everyone is talking to their electronics.

By 2020, as many as 70 million U.S. households will own an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Sonos One. That’s probably because smart speakers and voice assistants save time and make life easier; at least that’s what smart speaker owners say. According to the IAB, 18% of American consumers already own smart devices, and 65% of those owners say they couldn’t imagine going back to life without them.

But brands aren’t keeping up

Studies show that more than half of consumers are using smart devices for convenience. It’s just much easier to ask Alexa how long to roast a chicken than it is to Google it yourself. And studies indicate that consumers would like to extend that use of voice search to finding local businesses and making purchases. In fact, 27% are already using voice search as their primary means of finding local businesses.

When it comes to voice search, getting to the top is more important than ever. On a desktop search for businesses, there are pages of options. On mobile, there are less, but being in the top four will probably get you noticed. Voice search, however, really only gives one or two options. Just ask Alexa for the best Thai food in your neighborhood; you’re probably not going to get a long, nuanced list.

VEO is about anticipating customer needs

Customers are much more likely to ask voice assistants specific questions that enter vague information. While a desktop search might read something like “Midtown Hardware Store” a voice search might sound more like “Hey Alexa, what’s the closest, open hardware store?” or even “Hey Alexa, where can I buy a hammer?”

According to a recent study by Chatmeter, 31% of consumers conducting a local voice search will ask for store hours, and 13% will ask for a specific product. Anticipate the fact that your customers aren’t going to ask for your business by name, but by product, location, and hours. VEO means making sure those answers are readily available and easy to find. An updated, accurate frequently asked questions page is more important than ever in the age of voice search.

Optimizing for VEO means serious results

Studies already show that earning a top position on mobile search results can have a major impact on your business. Of those who seek out a local business on mobile, 76% will visit a business within a day, and 20% will make a purchase. And while devices like Alexa are making major headway in the voice search arena, Mobile is leading the charge. According to the IAB study, there will be 5 billion voice assistants enabled on smartphones worldwide by 2020.

But even as consumers flock to voice search, many businesses are ignoring the fact that the search engine landscape is changing. Becoming an early adopter in the voice search revolution is about more than simply being on the cutting edge of an emerging trend. Optimizing your business for VEO means claiming the top (and only) spot in your customer’s voice search. Waiting around could mean not showing up at all.

For more information about VEO, read Chatmeter’s white paper, “Voice Engine Optimization: The Key to Driving Local Sales and Online Traffic.”

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