Picture this. You're a plumber and a potential customer is ankle deep in water because a pipe burst in their kitchen. Their phone is in the other room, but their Google Home is sitting on the countertop.
"Hey Google – call a plumber!"
"Okay – there are three plumbers in your area. Which one would you like me to call?"
Is your business on the list? If so, you have a 33% of getting the job. If not, you are out of site out of mind.
With voice only searches growing rapidly and more homes being equipped with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, businesses and marketers alike need to adapt. But what does that look like?
How Voice and Smart Speakers Affect Search
There are two sides to voice search: voice searches done on mobile devices that feature results on a screen and voice only searches done through smart speakers where there is no screen involved.
Voice searches done on mobile phones are growing rapidly for a few reasons. Two of the most prominent being improved speed and accuracy (it's hard to make a typo when you talk) when compared to typing. Searchers use more natural-sounding phrases like "how do I cook meatloaf" rather than "meatloaf recipe" when they do a voice search, so the days of query-style Google searches are probably over.
For search engine marketers, this means creating rich content that answers users' questions rather than focusing on a few keyword phrases.
Voice-only search is the wild west of search marketing today. Smart speakers don't feature ads (yet), so it's the one space where organic search results are the only thing that matters.
Google Home primarily pulls from local listings and featured snippets to answer people's questions. So now more than ever, it's extremely important to ensure your business listings are accurate and your content is engaging.
A good place to start when optimizing for voice only search is to ask the Google Assistant or Alexa a question that's relevant to your business. If it is unable to answer, start optimizing your content for that question. Google's algorithms update daily and they use artificial intelligence (more on that next) to better understand content and search intent, so there's a good chance your content can win out for queries that do not yet have a response.
How Artificial Intelligence Impacts Search
We've all heard horror stories about how artificial intelligence will be the end of humanity. That's not exactly our wheelhouse so we'll leave that to the doomsday preppers. Search, on the other hand, is getting a lot better because of AI.
In the past, Google relied on humans telling it how to give users better results. This was effective for many years, but today – Google's algorithm relies on AI and deep learning to deliver search results. This shift gave Google a deeper understanding of both page content and search intent resulting in them "getting it right" almost every time and putting the kibosh on SEO tricks that worked in the past.
All of this to say, focus on the user and don't worry too much about Google.
Some Thoughts on the Future
You've probably read articles about voice search and AI that say they'll be the end to websites and apps as we know it. That could happen, but it probably won't. What's more likely is that marketers will have access to consumers in a deeply personal way. Technology will naturally integrate with every aspect of our lives giving businesses ample chances to connect to customers in more meaningful ways than ever.
Want to talk more about voice search and artificial intelligence? Contact us today to speak to an expert!