Speaking a search request is not only less cumbersome and faster than typing a query, better voice search technology means better, more relevant answers to our spoken questions. That’s why half of smartphone users today use voice technology to conduct searches, and by 2020, more than 200 billion voice-activated searches will be conducted every month via digital assistants.
What does this mean for e-commerce merchants who want their websites to be found by the search engines? It means merchants need to understand how voice search is different from traditional search, so they can implement the changes that will help them succeed in both circumstances.
To help you optimize your website for voice shopping and ensure your e-commerce website will be the answer to your customers’ voice-initiated questions, we recommend you follow these five optimization tips.
1. Know How Your Company Displays in Branded Searches
Most of us have accidentally misspelled a voice-to-text message or received a “creatively” transcribed Google Voice message. Add in various user accents and mispronunciations, and it’s inevitable that Siri and Cortana may not get “Bobbi Brown makeup” or “Yves Saint Laurent” right.
Unfortunately, that’s when voice recognition technology is less helpful than what the user expects.
Because voice search results won’t get it right every time, merchants must put some time and effort into researching and fine-tuning their brand’s voice search results. That considering mispronunciations and even misspellings of brand names, product names, and key search terms in your keyword optimization strategies.
2. Account for Conversational Language
When typing a query, customers are often extremely direct, searching for specific terms such as “cable-knit sweaters.” But because voice searches let a customer speak naturally, they often search in complete sentences, such as “Where can I buy a blue cable-knit sweater?”
To generate more accurate, better-quality search results for both typed and spoken queries, Google launched the Hummingbird search algorithm in 2013. Hummingbird introduced an improved mechanism for deciphering the user’s intent — by better understanding the relationships between keywords, instead of simply matching individual search terms.
As a result, e-commerce merchants should expand their approach to optimizing their online content by focusing on long-tailed keywords (three- to five-word phrases used to refine search results). Although long-tailed keywords draw less traffic to a merchant’s site, the traffic they do generate is of a higher quality and is more likely to make a purchase.
Better yet, e-commerce merchants should focus on the long-tailed keywords that include words customers usually begin their voice shopping queries with, such as “who,” “where” and “best.”
3. Optimize for “Near Me” Searches
E-commerce merchants with brick-and-mortar locations in addition to their online stores should optimize content for local queries by claiming their Google My Business listing and adding phrases like “near me” to their content.
4. Consider What Customers Are Asking
Merchants should research the common questions people ask about their industry, their products and even their store, and then add that content. For e-commerce merchants with brick-and-mortar locations, these questions may be about locations or hours of operations; e-commerce merchants might have customers looking to quickly reorder a product they’ve purchased in the past.
5. Encourage Customer Reviews
The product and store reviews a business receives affect the results of a voice search: Online reviews make up 10% of how search engines rank search results. Smart merchants will incentivize customers to leave positive reviews — offering a discount toward a future purchase or a small gift with purchase. Merchants can also increase their likelihood of being found when they use the right review website for their industry and take the time to acknowledge and respond to positive and negative reviews.
Keeping Pace With Technological Advances
With Google Assistant currently on more than 400 million devices and the number of competitors and digital assistants growing, search engines will continue to evolve to provide the most relevant results to users’ conversational searches and voice shopping queries. So to stay competitive and attract the right customers, merchants must make sure their content is optimized for voice searches.
But voice searches aren’t the only technological evolution with which online retailers must keep pace. Download our free white paper, “The e-Commerce Technology Trends That Will Shape 2017” to learn about the continuing trends that help online merchants meet their customers’ needs for personalization and convenience. In the white paper, we explore strategies like artificial intelligence, voice search and multilayered fraud management and offer ideas on how you can implement them into your sales efforts.