The Amazon Echo and Google Home have become cultural touchstones, parodied by late night hosts and car commercials alike.
The voice-enabled smart speaker is going to be a hot item this Black Friday, and for good reason. The offerings from Amazon and Google allow you to do more in your home than ever, from playing music to buying groceries to searching for restaurants.
In 2016, Google revealed that 20% of all searches were voice searches. With more Echoes and Homes in, well, homes this holiday season, that number is sure to skyrocket.
Next year, similar products from big players like Apple, Samsung, and even (possibly) Facebook are set to enter the market. Welcome to the age of voice search.
Of course, we’ve recently discussed smart home speakers in this space. However, that mostly focused on the devices themselves. In this blog post, we’re going to do a deeper dive into the ways that voice search is set to change SEO, PPC, and digital marketing itself.
Voice search is intent-rich search
This is something we touched on the last time around. Voice search is often more intent-driven than mobile search, which is even more intent-driven than desktop search. When people ask their Echo or Home a question through voice search, they’re seeking a direct and succinct answer.
They’re not browsing. They’re not just looking around. When someone asks, verbally, “What’s the nearest Pizza Joe’s near me?” they’re seeking to know where they can go get pizza from this specific chain. Voice search needs to return short and effective answers to user queries.
Google has coined these searches as “micro-moments.” That’s because, in that moment, the potential customer is searching for something specific and immediate.
Voice search is ripe with these moments. It’s also a world where the lengthiest or most-detailed answer might not be the best one.
As this SearchEngineLand article argues, context matters. That Pizza Joe’s question requires a simple answer about cross streets or an address. In contrast, a question along the lines of, “What is chewing gum made of?” would have a more complicated answer, and would need to be pulled from a detailed, authoritative source.
Optimize for how people talk, not type
The way people search with a keyboard or with their thumbs is distinctly different from the way people search with their own voice.
Let’s say that you wanted to find the best hamburgers in Indianapolis. On a phone or on a desktop computer, your search might look something like this: “best hamburgers Indianapolis.”
Yet, if you’re doing a voice search, chances are you wouldn’t say the exact phrase, “Hey, Google. Best hamburgers Indianapolis.”
People don’t talk like that, and that’s not really phased as a question. A far more likely search query using your voice would be: “Hey, Google. What are the best hamburger places in Indianapolis?”
This transition to voice search opens up a whole new world for how content and sites are optimized. If nothing else, this signals the continuing, declining influence of an exclusively keyword-driven strategy—and the corresponding emphasis on facilitating user experience.