The rise of Voice Search

In a short space of time, voice search has grown to become a medium used daily by 40% of adults and as such it has become a key channel for brands to reach customers.

With little historic data to build out search campaigns, it becomes more important to test, learn and build out acquisition strategies.

Initially, marketers expected voice search to focus on locality and location-based demands but we have seen its usage widen to include more general information, personal assistance, fun & entertainment.

Optimising Content for Voice Search

There are now several players offering voice search with differing operating systems and search engines.

Siri, for example, uses Bing as its search engine and as a result, optimising with Bing in mind gives us an opportunity to appear for a Siri search results around target topics.

Having valuable content which answers user queries gives potential for brands to rank as a ‘featured snippet’ as well as appearing for voice search results.

There are a number of considerations we consider when creating voice search content:

  1. Be Conversational: Users speak faster than they type with an average query length of 4.2 words vs. 3.2 for text. This suits a long-tail approach that aims to provide answers and relevance.
  2. Ensure Content is Mobile-friendly: Voice search is used predominantly on mobile devices, and as a result ensuring the content works correctly on mobile is vital.
  3. Create content that satisfies the target search engine: Bing’s algorithms differ to Google’s. As such we must bear in mind each engines preference and optimise our content accordingly.

Optimising for Voice Search & Our Results:

Optimising for voice search requires a different approach than optimising for SERPs. As topics are far more conversational, we look at topical relevance, prepositions and questions related to a given subject or category.

While AdWords gives an indication of search demand, when looking for longer-tail variations we utilise several data sources such as ‘Answer the Public’. This tool allows us to break down searches into prepositions & questions which are typically much closer to conversational search.

To gain visibility, we consider the following when creating content:

  • Relevance: Is the content relevant to the client?
  • Demand: Search demand around topics is essential in order to gain traction
  • Content: Make sure the content is unique, well-research and answers the query
  • Visibility: Great content is the starting point, ensuring people interact with the content is the next step
  • Freshness: Ensuring the content is relevant and can be regularly updated is key to maintaining relevancy

Understanding conversation around the focus topics ultimately leads to better rankings and it’s important to consider colloquialism and locality. Google Correlate is a great resource for discovering potential variants and correlated terms.

For a Threepipe fashion client, we have been creating content around styling a trench coat. Through keyword research, content optimisation and testing we have boosted impressions by 65% and secured a first-place result on voice search for the target term ‘how to style a trench coat’.

 What’s next?

With the rise of home assistants becoming available, we can only assume that voice search will grow.

As algorithms differ across Google Home, Amazon Echo, Siri and so on – we must first start with understanding users’ intentions. AI technology and voice-based accuracy are still in their infancy and as such we must test, learn, and develop a set of best practices to optimise for voice search.

Voice search will offer clients a new channel in which to be found by potential new consumers and ensuring an optimised presence will be vital when voice search becomes the norm.

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