It’s still in the early stages, but voice search — that is, using your smartphone to ask Google, Siri or Cortana to look something up online, give you directions or show you the weather — is on the rise, and it’s only going to keep growing. (A recent Google study reports that 55 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 use voice search every day.) That will mean some big changes in the way you write copy for your business website, social media and other online marketing content.
Specifically, people who use voice search typically phrase their questions in a more natural, conversational style, as opposed to typing in keywords that way they would on a computer. For instance, if you live in Brooklyn and wanted pizza delivered, you might type in “Brooklyn pizza delivery.” However, if you were talking to Siri, you’d probably phrase the question more like, “Find a pizza place that delivers.” Siri already knows where you are, so you don’t need to state your location, although you might say something like “near me” or “nearby.”
Google has already adjusted how display search results on mobile devices to keep pace with the expansion of voice search. You’ll see bigger text at the top of the search results page, so it’s easier to see and act on quickly.
How will voice search affect your online marketing?
First, keywords will still matter, but not in exactly the same way. You’ll want to work your keywords into more natural-sounding sentences or questions that users might ask if they were talking to a voice search system.
The “5 Ws” — who, what, when, where and why — are familiar to journalists, but will become more important to online marketers this year. Search Engine Watch recently reported that there was a 61 percent growth in the use of these five words in search queries year-over-year.
As you create content for your website and other marketing outlets, think about questions that potential customers might ask about your products or services, or when they’re looking for your business. For example, Search Engine Watch notes that retail customers were most likely to ask “where” questions, while financial services customers were more likely to ask questions starting with “how” or “what.”
What does that mean in practical terms? Well, if you own an accounting firm, you could create more content that includes phrases like, “How long should I save financial records?” “How do I change my withholding to get more money in my paycheck?” or “What is the last day to file for a tax extension?” You could use these phrases as headings or subheads in blog posts and then use social media to post these questions with links to the content on your website. Focus on adjusting headings, title tags, alt tags, captions, first sentences and other primary text on your website or blog for best results.
As you refresh your content or create new content to better work with voice search, it’s also a good time to reevaluate the keywords that you use. Make sure the keywords you think are working for you are actually doing so. Which ones are actually driving website traffic, generating leads and engendering sales?
It’s still early days for voice search, and marketers are still learning how best to capture the growing audience of voice search users. Take steps now to enter this new world, and your business will see benefits well into the future.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.