Amazon made a splash on Super Bowl Sunday with its event campaign “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” where celebrities filled in for the standard robot voice that Echo users traditionally hear.
It’s a clever ad that highlights the functional commands that allow users to engage with Alexa as well as reinforce the popularity of the device. Geekwire reports that as of December 2017, there were 31 million Amazon Echo bases installed in the U.S. alone, with Google Home following with just 14 million but growing fast in units sold.
It’s still early for voice interactive search and engagement and the facilitating technologies. But its development is quickly accelerating, leaving some brands and businesses to feel as thought they’re already behind the times.
And that’s largely because of SEO – it’s not just for typed text anymore. It’s for voice search, too.
Whether at home or on the go, consumers are now able to effortlessly seek information with either a button or by voice command. More importantly to brands, they can also make purchases just as easily, so optimizing SEO for mobile and voice should be a top priority for businesses moving forward.
Fortunately, many of the best practices for SEO carry over into voice search. The target for optimization, however, is to be the featured result that voice devices reply with to a user’s inquiry. Because some devices may only reply with a single result, this means achieving “ownership” of a top ranking like Google’s featured snippet, also known as an answer box. The reason this search result is now more valuable than ever is because it will require new thinking on keywords and mobile-first content strategies.
Forbes offers three key tips on how to be prepare for this new phase of Web search:
Consider speech patterns. When typing on a keyboard, even on a mobile device, users tend to stick with shorthand searches. For example, if I wanted to know the weather forecast for today in Atlanta, I would most likely type “weather Atlanta” or “Atlanta weather.” The results on most search engines or devices would likely give me the current temperature and weather conditions.
But if I want to know what the weather was going to like on Friday as I’m making a sandwich, I’d likely say aloud to my nearest Android device, “OK, Google. What’s the weather forecast in Atlanta on Friday?” And I would hear the information I wanted to know.
Long-tail keywords. Let’s say you play golf and you’re in the market for a new driver and you want to test it out at a nearby brick-and-mortar store today. You might initially search Google for “golf driver” and see a return SERP full of different brand names and prices for a various makes and models of drivers.
Perhaps you know which brand you want based on experience and now you just want to know where you can buy one, so you search for “Callaway golf driver stores in Atlanta.” Google replies with Edwin Watts Golf store in a featured snippet, with its website link, street address, operating hours and 24 reviews – plenty of information that countered the specificity of your search.
Agencies and brands should go the extra mile to test and incorporate as many keywords as they can that answer questions their target consumers may ask their smart device through a voice search.
Continued emphasis on mobile. A mobile-friendly website is going to keep a brand’s website higher on a SERP than one primarily formatted for a desktop computer. That shouldn’t be news to anyone working on the Web in the past few years, but with a shift toward voice search – especially among younger generations – there will be a growing war for the top results on the SEO battlefield unless agencies can help their clients stay ahead of the curve.
Like it or not, voice-activated search is on the horizon and headed our way. Unlike a typical web search, voice search usually comes up with just one or two choices. This could be a huge problem for brands like CPG in the future, especially with Amazon buying Whole Foods and their plethora of private-labeled 365 products. Brands that don’t pay to play will have to pinpoint their SEO to particpate in the voice-activated marketplace in the future. Ad agencies and advertisiers need to get up to speed and keep on top of the information if they want to stay relevant.