Preparing for Voice Search (Part 1 of 3)

Do you like talking to inanimate objects? I hope so, because voice search is on the rise. Voice-operated platforms like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as voice-activated apps in cars, on mobile phones and just about anywhere else you can imagine, are taking a growing share of all searches performed on a daily basis.

Here are just a few of the many data points that should have you thinking long and hard about the role voice search will play in your business:

  • Voice searches increased more than 35-fold between 2008 and 2016. (Source)
  • 30% of all web browsing sessions will be transacted without a screen by 2020. (Source)
  • 40 percent of search queries chase local information — local restaurants, businesses, services, and so on. (Source)

Even if you don’t plan to personally give in to the trend, it is likely that your customers and prospects will. So It’s time to start thinking about your voice search strategy.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search isn’t simply using existing search engines by dictating your search instead of typing it. It is new paradigm for search that, in many cases, is yielding very different results than those that appear on your favorite search engine’s SERPs for identical queries. The current leaders in voice search are familiar names: Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

Most people associate voice search with the products most readily available on the market, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. But the underlying voice search platforms are portable technologies that can be integrated with all sorts of products. The arms race is well underway between these tech titans to be the preferred option for your connected devices and appliances. Yes, Google, Apple and Amazon are actively battling to get into the circuitry of your refrigerators, cars, wearables and washing machines.

So how do you capitalize on the voice search tsunami? Similar to search engine optimization (SEO) in its traditional form, there is no silver bullet. There are many factors driving voice search result rankings. Some are easily discernible. Some are not. These factors are different from platform to platform. And the factors will definitely change over time. So successful voice search strategy will require a broad-based effort that addresses many different elements of your web presence.

One thing is for sure...you don’t want to be left behind: most voice searches only yield 3-5 results, making the stakes for top positions even more vital.

Local vs. Organic SEO for Voice

Voice search strategies for local, brick and mortar businesses will look very different than voice strategies for companies that don’t have a geographic footprint. In the next two parts of this series, we will explore the difference between localized and non-localized voice search, and how to prepare for both.

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