What does voice search mean for your business?
The same way that there are User Experience / User Interface (UX/UI) Designers, a new dimension has emerged called VUI: Voice User Interface. It’s more convenient than typing, and quickly gaining popularity beyond the early-adopters. Recently Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced one-fifth of the queries on Google are voice searches.
Who uses voice search and when?
59% watching TV
57% with friends
22% in the loo
36% watching TV
24% with friends
15% in the loo
So how do they work for search results?
Google created a product called Hummingbird, which is an algorithm update since 2013 that has started considering the user intent and contextual meaning of queries. It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to recognize voice differences, interests, and tendencies. With time, it “learns” your vocabulary, accent, and other tendencies. Some information remains difficult for a robot to interpret, but with time it will continue to improve.
Unique characteristics of voice searches
They contain more conversational language, and are longer. We’ve generally learned when typing a search, how to speak a computer’s language. “Best restaurants Melbourne” but when you do a voice search, you will commonly ask a question. “Where should I go for dinner?”
Which questions do people ask about you?
It’s important to think about which questions your audience will ask to find your business, products and services. You can get started with tools like Answer the Public. When you enter a keyword, it returns a visualization of natural language questions. You can also understand the user’s intent based on the type of question:
• “What” & “who” – Usually indicating they’re still in research phase
• “How” – A bit closer, but still learning
• “When” – Starting to make plans
• “Where” – A good sign they’re getting ready to buy
Which types of searches are more common on voice?
22% of voice searches are for local information, and 50% lead to a store visit the same day. Think about the keywords people use to describe the area of your location. Use “near me” in title tags, meta description, internal links and chor text. Landmarks nearby your business. Titles of local institutions relevant to your business.
Display of search results
When the search results come up, the user is not likely to click and enter the site. Instead, a list is shown of the contact information, hours, distance and ratings. If you don’t usually update your hours for holidays, it might be a good time to figure out how to use Google MyBusiness a little better (see our recent blog post). You can use schema markup to define what a page is about for better categorization by search engines. You can use microdata to ensure it’s correctly producing preview information for contact info, hours, etc. Submit a detailed sitemap to Google of your site. Try putting all the information in the footer. Make sure the phone number contains the area code so it will verify the location more easily.
Answer their questions
Think about using their questions as prompts for written content on your site. It could be a FAQ section, but you can also write blog posts answering those questions.
Dedicating effort to your website SEO is a must, and voice searches can add another dimension to how you tailor your website content.