Voice Search 101: What Marketers Are Talking About

When you think of online search, you probably imagine typing a few keywords into a box and receiving a list of results. While that was the norm for online search over the past two decades, now voice is transforming the way people interact with search engines. This evolution is changing how results are presented, as well as the optimizations that work best.

So, why are marketers beginning to talk about voice search? Which types of businesses should consider using this strategy? The search experts at MDG Advertising put together an informative infographic, Listen Up: Voice Search 101 for Marketers, which reveals the facts and techniques that are needed to engage customers in 2019.

Voice Search 101 What Marketers Are Talking About

Why Is Voice Search Important?

On-demand information is now available through digital voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung Bixby. These helpful assistants are readily available thanks to smartphones, which have become a mainstay in consumers’ lives. More than two-thirds of Americans—77 percent—now own a smartphone, and most of them feature at least one voice assistant.

Voice assistants also have a prominent spot in many U.S. households, with 32 percent of Americans using a smart speaker in their homes. These speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, serve as entertainment and information hubs. Users can search online for businesses, play music, and ask questions with just a few voice commands.

Searching for information via voice has proven popular with today’s on-the-go consumers. Seventy-two percent of consumers who have a voice assistant available have used it, and younger consumers are especially interested in these tools. Households with incomes less than $100,000, as well as busy families with children, also rely on voice search for quick information.

Attracting these consumers through voice search is possible with a few adjustments to a brand’s marketing strategy. However, they first must understand how these tools are shaping the way consumers search.

How Does a Voice Assistant Impact Search?

So, how exactly does voice assistant technology affect consumers’ search habits? These tools are having a significant impact on search, as people enjoy using the assistants to find information and answers to questions. Survey data has shown that 89 percent use their assistant to search, while 88 percent ask it questions. Plus, these consumers say that they prefer voice search to typing.

When it comes to mobile search, voice is gaining traction: more than 20 percent of Google mobile searches are conducted through voice. As voice assistants are further integrated into devices, this number is expected to increase. By 2020, over a third of online searches will be screen-free.

How Can Businesses Optimize for Voice Search?

With voice assistants becoming an essential part of consumers’ lives, marketers may be wondering how their brands can use these tools to their advantage. It’s important to note that searching via text and using a voice assistant isn’t the same thing. Consumers approach the two search methods differently, meaning that brands have to adopt unique strategies for each.

Following a few key steps will allow marketers to maximize voice search’s potential. First, they need to think about the conversation, not the question. Voice searches tend to be conversational, and they may be longer than a traditional text search. A wide range of keywords should be used, many of which can be more informal.

Consumers often use questions when interacting with voice assistants. Brands should optimize for these queries by keeping their FAQ pages updated and anticipating which questions consumers may ask about their products or services.

A user-friendly website is essential in today’s connected world, but it’s especially important when it comes to voice search. Voice assistants deliver results from sites they trust, so brands must consider their site structure, loading times, and mobile-friendliness.

Should Businesses Optimize for Voice Search?

Voice search is growing in popularity, but is it right for every brand? The answer is “yes”—these searches will eventually impact brands of all types. Purchases driven by voice search will reach $40 billion by 2022. Today, these purchases total $2 billion.

Local businesses can especially benefit from voice search optimization: 22 percent of consumers use a voice assistant to find local services. Local-based searches also are three times more likely to be conducted through voice.

The impact of voice on local business can be seen today: more than half of consumers currently use voice to search for businesses in their neighborhood. Forty-six percent of customers use their voice assistant regularly to find local businesses, and nearly a third of them reach local business websites via voice.

So, how can brands reach these customers? Voice search engines often favor highly rated and nearby results, so these are two important marketing tips: a brand should ensure that its Google My Business page is updated and invest in managing its online ratings and reviews.

What Else Should Businesses Know About Voice Search?

When businesses are ready to incorporate voice search into their marketing strategy, they need to remember that voice and text search are fundamentally different. Marketers should familiarize themselves with voice search and keep track of the latest trends as it evolves.

Specifically, they should keep in mind that voice assistants aren’t all the same—each platform uses different functionalities to deliver information. For example, Apple’s Siri scans ratings and reviews from Yelp while Google Assistant curates results from its own data. This means that each tool requires a different strategy.

How Will Technology Shape Voice Search?

Marketers should also realize that voice search is a sophisticated technology, which is easy to forget due to their availability. While they may seem simple to use, voice assistants feature robust operating systems and capabilities. Voice assistants are powered by complex natural-language processing programs, as well as machine-learning tools.

It’s just the beginning for voice search and voice assistants. As these tools evolve, they’ll become even more indispensable to consumers while becoming vital for brands’ success.

About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising

In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.