Voice recognition technology is one of the fastest-growing branches of tech today.
And since the introduction of Apple’s virtual assistant Siri in 2011, voice searches have become a part of everyday online life.
The market is now full of virtual assistants and voice search devices that serve this same purpose. Global smart speaker sales alone hit an all-time high in 2020, and the way in which consumers and marketers use these devices is evolving every day, along with mobile phones, tablets and wearable devices.
You’ve probably used voice search at some point. Voice searches sound like:
“Alexa, where is the nearest drive-thru?”
“Hey Siri, find a bakery near me.”
“OK Google, what time does the corner shop close?”
These searches are connecting customers with local businesses, providing them with what they need, when they need it. And for that reason, voice search is a major opportunity for your brand. But unfortunately, it’s one that very few businesses are taking advantage of, making it one of the biggest new challenges in SEO.
If you want to get ahead of the curve, discover five reasons your business needs to optimise for voice search.
1. Voice search is growing
The growth of voice search is creating new opportunities for your brand to find its audience.
A concept that was largely unheard of just a decade ago is now a powerful tool for SEO pros to expand the reach of SMEs further than ever before.
And though perhaps the term ‘voice search’ is not used so commonly outside of the digital marketing world, almost everyone with access to a voice recognition-enabled device has used the feature at some point.
In fact, it’s estimated that 40% of internet users – a third of the population overall – are using voice search. That’s a huge part of the population – and a huge number of customers – that your business could be missing out on by failing to optimise for their searches.
2. Connect with customers looking for local services
It’s a little-known fact, but a huge majority of voice searches are in fact looking for local results. These may be customers seeking the services of a local beautician or plumber, flowers with next day delivery, or a local hardware and DIY store.
In fact, the most common local voice search of this type tends to be for restaurants, but consumers use these ‘near me’ searches to find a range of businesses. Whatever they’re after, if they’re looking local, it’s important they find you rather than a nearby competitor.
In a 2020 blog, we talked about the importance of local SEO and how you can optimise for customers close to home – and voice search is one of the best ways to do just that.
3. Voice searches are high-intent
Driving traffic to your site – and your business – is one of the core aims of search engine optimisation.
But that traffic is worthless unless it comes from high-intent customers who are serious about your product.
That’s why voice search is such a valuable source of a traffic, as users looking for products and services this way tend to be looking to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
As a general rule, long-tail keywords (such as searches that contain phrases like ‘local’, ‘near me’ or ‘nearby’) tend to be more high-intent searches. By targeting voice searches containing these terms, you’re not only targeting for local searches, but for customers who are looking to buy sooner rather than later.
It’s also important to remember that although voice search customers may not make a purchase straight away, your presence in those search results is vital for brand awareness, a crucial part of the customer experience
4. Voice search sells
Voice search isn’t just bringing customers to your brand – it’s also driving sales.
In fact, studies have shown that more than a quarter of smart speaker owners have made a purchase via that device.
Moreover, around 11.5% of smart speaker owners – around one in nine – make a purchase via voice search at least once per month.
While brand awareness is one of the most valuable benefits of SEO and voice optimisation in particular, driving sales is naturally its end goal. When you optimise effectively for voice search, you’ll drive profits and create customer loyalty.
5. Voice search builds customer relationships
Customer loyalty is dependent on a number of factors, including how you cultivate relationships with your brand’s audience.
And voice search is a fantastic opportunity to do that, with a huge percentage of users open to receiving communications from brands based on their use of voice technology.
In fact, Google’s own consumer insights show that when engaging with brands located via voice search, 52% of consumers are open to receiving info about deals, sales and promotions, and up to 42% are open to info about upcoming events and activities from brands.
This means that a single interaction with a customer via voice search needn’t end there – in fact, this first contact is often an opportunity to initiate a long-standing relationship that keeps your user coming back time and time again. Connecting with customers this way is hugely important for the long-term success of your business.