Voice Search In 2018
For the last 18 months, the majority of search buzz has focused on mobile.
There was a record-breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday run (mobile accounted for a huge 33.1% of revenue for the first time ever on Cyber Monday according to Adobe figures) and Google confirmed that 2018 would be the year it switched to a mobile first default search index.
On the back of this, however, a new trend is emerging which looks set to be key in 2018 – voice search.
While voice search might seem to be the new kid on the block to the uninitiated, Google actually pegged this as one to watch way back in 2014, when it announced that the volume of voice searches had doubled in just 12 months.
Today, that number is bigger still and we predict voice search will be one of the mainstays of digital marketing and search engine optimisation this year.
So what do you need to know and how can you prepare?
The case for voice search
First of all, you should know that voice search is growing quickly – so if you don’t act now and make it part of your 2018 plans, you may risk losing ground to competitors.
The 2017 Mary Meeker State of the Internet report calculated that voice search accounted for 20% of all search queries – this will track up in 2018 as more users turn to voice search assistants such as Siri and Amazon Echo.
Amazon says it has now sold millions of Alexa devices (it was one of the bestselling Black Friday products for the retailer), meaning many more shoppers now have the capacity to conduct voice searches.
Retailers have also been quick to jump on the voice search trend; shopping giant Walmart has teamed up with Google to offer voice-based shopping via the Google Assistant – this means that the market is primed for more natural voice search growth through the year.
How to prepare
Making sure your site is optimised for voice search should be an ongoing activity through 2018.
As with any form of optimisation, you should plan to start with keyword research.
The way people use voice search differs substantially from mobile or desktop search – because spoken language varies from the way we type queries into Google.
Voice search focuses heavily on questions and ‘near me’ searches and you’ll need to put a strategy together that reflects these terms within your content.
Voice search tends to be more colloquial so your content creation process may be somewhat different when optimising for voice search versus traditional search.
How will it impact you?
The impact of voice search is likely to be felt across most businesses in the next 12 months.
The biggest challenge will be understanding the unique requirements of voice search and accessing the resources to optimise accordingly.
If you’re an in-house marketer, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with this new means of search – and that could mean investing time and money in a relevant course or seminar.
You’ll also need to allow extra time for keyword research due to the syntax differences between regular and voice search.
Content creation will be a huge requirement too, with the advent of this new style of search demanding a new type of content creation be created.
Your site too will need to be checked for voice search compatibility and you’ll need to conduct an audit of existing pages to check that your content is optimised for voice as much as traditional search.
Expect to spend more time assessing Google Analytics too – you’ll need to be on top of reports and user behaviour in order to understand the new landscape of voice search, how it relates to your business and how visitors using a voice assistant to land on your site are interacting with your brand.