Emerging TechnologyVoiceYour customers are already using voice search. Is your business ready?

Your customers are already using voice search. Is your business ready?

Most marketers are still scrambling to build a voice search optimization strategy. Here is insider advice from our recent webinar for doing it best.

While most marketers have heard of voice search, many of us are still scrambling to build a voice search strategy. Recently ClickZ sat down with CEO and founder of Chatmeter, Collin Holmes, and associate director of media activation for Essence Global, Damian Rose, for insider advice on optimizing your business for voice search.

Here are a few of their best insights for earning those coveted top spots in voice search:

When it comes to voice search, consumers are way ahead of the game

According to Holmes, consumers, rather than marketers, are the ones leading the charge on voice adoption, leaving many businesses scrambling to keep up.

“Right now, there’s a lot of education going on,” Holmes says. “It seems like consumers are ahead of marketers in many cases. CMOs and directors are all looking to learn, and adoption is being driven very quickly because businesses are often playing catch up.”

According to a recent Think with Google study, half of all web traffic comes from mobile and tablets and a third of all searches come from local search, which means people are looking for local experiences. Of those local searchers, 76% of people who search on phone for nearby will visit a business within a day, and 20% will make a purchase. Furthermore, 46% of those customers are using voice search to find businesses each day, and one in six own a smart speaker.

The single-result problem

As mobile and voice search quickly replace desktop, businesses are increasingly faced with fewer and fewer opportunities to get those sought-after top search spots.

“In the olden days local search was done on desktop,” Holmes says, “Which meant a big screen, lot of results, and results dominated by Google. But now there’s been a paradigm shift really to mobile. Businesses are facing smaller screens and more competition for the top spot. And there are different apps that dominate. If I’m looking for a restaurant, I’m going to use Yelp. If I’m looking for a hotel I might use my Trip Advisor app. It’s very fragmented, which means you’ve got to have a presence in all of these places as well. But the next stage in this paradigm shift are these voice-powered devices, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, as well as Android and Siri, which are seeing rapid adoption. “

“There are also fewer and fewer search results. On desktop, you may be powering through 10 different search results,” Holmes says. “On mobile you’ve got the 3-pack coming up. With voice, there’s one result. This is an actual example. A person in our office asked Siri, “Where I can I get Thai food?” One possibly is Thai Time, which averages three stars and moderately priced. Interesting to see that it looks like this result is driven mostly by location because I couldn’t imagine three stars would be my first pick for a Thai restaurant, but I believe this was only 200 feet away from our office.”

The solution: VEO (Voice Engine Optimization)

Thanks to Chatmeter, we’ve got a new term to describe the ways we should be prepping for voice search: VEO. Optimizing for voice means honing in on exactly what your customers are looking for.

“Our recent consumer survey found that local listing was most important result in a voice search,” Holmes says. “Lots of voice search is focused on local business. For example, 21% of consumers say a voice search is to find a local restaurant or business. One of the main factors was distance. 63% of our respondents really wanted something nearby.”

Anticipating customer questions could be your quickest path to the top

According to Damian Rose, Google and Bing haven’t been quick to give advertisers the tools they need to shoot to the top of voice search. But the strongest weapon in the voice marketer’s arsenal is data around user intent.

“Typically see users asking a lot of questions using voice search,” Rose says. “Especially when searches are very localized. So businesses really need to focus on what, when, and why.”

FAQ is key

“The first key piece of voice marketing is the concept of Q&A,” Holmes says. “Use Google My Business to find what kind of questions your customers frequently ask. Those are the topics that are important to customers. Going back to my previous example, a customer might ask, “Who has the best pad thai shrimp downtown?”

“To answer that question, Google is going to be looking at people who understand voice search and have optimized that Q&A type of environment,” Holmes says. “So if you don’t have a voice search strategy today you will be quickly left behind.”

When it comes to voice search, marketers who move fast are going to be the ones who win top voice search spots. If you’re hoping to get a jump on VEO, listen to the rest of our webinar, “The Voice Revolution: Navigating the Next Generation of Search Marketing” for more tips from the experts.

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