Does your SME really need a voice search strategy?
With voice search dominating the realm of SEO and business news, Jimmy McCann, head of digital strategy at international digital marketing agency, Search Laboratory, discusses how voice search is becoming the default search method for consumers worldwide and why it shouldn’t be overlooked as part of an SMEs business strategy.
Does your SME really need a voice search strategy?
Voice search may seem like a future technology that’s not relevant for you business just yet, but with big players, including the NHS, jumping on voice search technology left, right and centre, it’s only a matter of time before consumer habits shift and voice search becomes the go to search tool.
Of course, as soon as something starts to impact consumer behaviour, it almost immediately starts to impact SMEs, regardless of their sector.
The reason voice search is something that is bound to impact your business at some point, is because the possibilities of it are simply just endless. The recent partnership between the NHS and Amazon’s Alexa only works to emphaises the technology is here to stay, with more and more consumers creating demand for home voice assisted devices, including Amazon’s Echo and Google Home.
In turn, a growing number of big businesses are turning to SEO specialists to improve their search engine results page (SERP) ranking due to the rising popularity of voice search amongst consumers. The popularity is bound to lead to an even greater influx in businesses looking to gain market share and a slice of the action, regardless of their size.
Of course, as with any strategy, voice search can’t just become a ‘me too’ exercise for businesses, regardless of their size. Rather, the approach must be considered and highly strategic. There are many reasons why it is becoming necessary for some businesses to adopt voice strategies, but rather than panic and invest in this new technology without thought, it is essential those SMEs looking to integrate voice search within their existing offering, do so in a way that ultimately works to benefit the customer and the broader business strategy.
The impact of voice search on SEO
That said voice search is a hugely popular emergent technology that will only keep getting bigger. As it does grow, the way SEO is conducted will be impacted, and this is where larger numbers of businesses that don’t necessarily see a need for voice search considerations as part of their digital presence may become impacted.
Voice technology isn’t new by any means. In fact, it was first designed in the 1950s but with the new home assistant device, it has taken a place in the forefront of consumer minds. The technology is improving at such a rapid pace that it is constantly interesting consumers. Just like social media and smartphones, voice technology is here to stay in the consumers everyday life.
Businesses who want to remain visible to customers in the coming years will have to find a way to incorporate voice technology, or at the least an SEO approach that considers the nuances presented by voice search, into their digital marketing strategies.
With voice searches, users do not see a full SERP and decide from there which link to click, but rather are presented with the top result or answer spoken back to them. As such, businesses will no longer be fighting for a place of page one, but rather for the top result every time, for every search term.
Using voice to enhance the customer experience
Voice does also offer other benefits for businesses. Building a voice search strategy isn’t just about remaining relevant – it is also about creating a unique customer experience that will build on relationships first made via computers and ultimately, build brand loyalty. The most sophisticated home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home can tell the difference between voices asking questions. This means that they can provide valuable insights about specific users that can lead to more personalised content for your customer.
Eventually it is predicted that voice technology will also allow brands to interact with consumers in a more natural and seamless way, with the aim of encouraging customer retention and loyalty. Finally, voice search interactions take far less time than text-based ones, which makes life more convenient for busy customers who expect a quality experience and instant gratification every time they interact with a business – regardless of whether that’s business to business or business to consumer communications. Ultimately, customers, consumers, stakeholders and clients alike want businesses to stay on the fringes of their life until needed, at which point they want immediate support and service.
As voice technology continues to grow and become more popular, it will become increasingly important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to include a voice search strategy into the overall business plan.
Along with already changing the way people approach SEO, voice search is also giving businesses an opportunity to create an enhanced customer experience, and brands that want to compete and stay relevant will have to get on board.
Beyond that, voice search could also prove to be a great tool for increasing web traffic and beating the competition, as long as businesses have a solid voice-optimised SEO strategy in place to get their brand to the top of the SERPs.