How Voice Assistants Are Changing Local Search
April 12, 2018 | Contributed by: Bob Nishiyama
Voice search continues to grow at an incredible rate. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, announced that 1 in every 5 US searches made with Google Android is a voice query and Bing recently announced that 25% of Windows 10 taskbar searches using Bing are now voice queries, according to MediaPost.
The rise in voice search correlates with the increased number of digital assistants, including Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. As the accuracy of voice to text translation has improved and the capabilities for these assistants expanded, the use of voice assistants has grown.
Not only that, smart phones and traditional operating systems are no longer the only way to engage voice assistants. Video game consoles, cars (e.g. with Apple CarPlay), and many other devices from refrigerators to alarm clocks to home thermostats are now integrated with voice assistants.
With this fundamental change occurring in how people search, the search queries themselves are changing. And this means digital marketers and local business owners must not just adapt their SEO campaign strategies, but also their paid search marketing strategies to connect to their audiences who are using voice search.
Digital Assistants Affect Query Makeup
There are two primary ways that voice search is changing the makeup of search queries, or keywords.
- The average length of each search query is growing.
- Long tail and natural language queries are becoming the norm.
Text-based searches, or those typed into a search bar, typically include 1-3 words, but voice search queries are about 6-10 words, on average. In addition, those 6-10 words tend to be natural phrases, sentences, or questions, not individual keywords, and many of those searches are completely new and unique. In fact, they have never been seen by Google before.
Up until now, search engine algorithms have been able to evolve to continue to meet the majority of consumer search needs. But as searches become more context-based and less linear, spoken and not typed, only relying on search publishers to optimize your ads for voice search isn’t enough for businesses to see success. Marketers need to proactively adapt their strategies to account for these changes in behavior and make their ads more relevant to their target consumers.
Adapting your SEM strategy for voice search may include:
- Comparison of current campaign keywords with recent search queries that resulted in website visits to identify new terms and phrases customers are using.
- Inclusion of natural, conversational terms in keyword groups and your landing page.
- Inclusion of local, location-based terms.
- Broader use of customer reviews.
- Further development of the local brand.
One overarching theme for successful voice search is the need for detailed, relevant content in your search keywords, ads, and landing pages. The more details a business can provide, the better, as this will lead to more accurate search results for customers.
Change is the New Norm
Just as we experienced a change from keyword-stuffed digital website content to the modern technique of placing keywords naturally, voice search is impacting more than just your website. Adapting your SEM to also focus on longer keywords, natural phrases, and a greater emphasis on local search will help your business take advantage of this shift.
As voice technology becomes more integrated into our lives, local businesses need to evolve their SEO and paid search marketing strategies accordingly. The key to success will be the ability to embrace these changes and implement strategies and techniques that support customer demands.