Top 5 ways brands need to evolve for voice search

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See how the adoption of voice-controlled devices and voice search will impact user behaviour.

In the last blog, we looked at the future of voice assistants and voice search. We discovered that users often get a good experience when using voice assistants for simple tasks such as setting timers and getting directions. But when it comes to finding answers or purchasing products, the experience lacks efficiency and accuracy. Plus there’s a trust issue around paying for items through this interface.

It’s because we as humans expect the interface to behave as if we were having a conversation with another human being. The reality is the artificial intelligence just isn’t there yet.

Why brands should be thinking about voice search

Simple. Speaking is a natural human behaviour that we’re all well practised at, just in the same way that asking questions to discover answers is as natural as eating and breathing.

The average human types 40 words per minute but can speak many more. A comfortable speaking pace is around 150 words per minute, so voice search is more appealing because (when it works) we can get the information we want faster. As users, we can engage on our terms. There’s no thinking about the right string of keywords to enter into the search, we simply verbalise what we want.

Imagine being able to simply ask Alexa to buy groceries on your list or to have a conversation with Siri about a topic you’re researching. In my opinion, we’re still some time away from that reality but it will get there, and probably more swiftly than anyone predicts. And it’s likely that a smooth voice search with voice assistants like Cortana, Siri or Alexa will change user behaviours when they engage online.

Here are the top 5 things we think will change about the way users interact with businesses and how brands need to evolve for voice search.

  1. Website design and branding will play less of a role

Shock and horror just crossed your face, didn’t they? Especially coming from a creative agency that specialises in branding. But hear me out.

If that crucial first interaction a potential customer or client has with your business occurs through voice, it’s probably a screen-less interaction. So, the only opportunity you have to convey brand is through the spoken word or sound activation. Which brings me to my next point.

  1. The question of ‘what does my brand sound like?’ will need to be answered

How many times have brand guidelines in the past included anything about what a brand sounds like? Infrequently at best, until recently that is. Questions such as ‘does my brand have an accent?’ and ‘should we use appropriate slang and colloquialisms?’ will need to be addressed.

Examples of brands that have previously employed sound activation to great effect are:

Intel (warning, this video infuriates after a while!)

 

T-Mobile (shorter – less infuriating!)

 

Nokia (also quite short!)

 

  1. Prioritising information for a user will be more important than ever

No longer will some brands and their websites have the luxury of presenting the user with too many messages in one go.

There is a 1 to 1 relationship in the information requested vs information delivered in voice search. This simply means a question will only have one answer. That’s why everyone working in digital strategy and search engine optimisation has been thinking about position zero queries for a while now.

Position zero relates to those results on a search engine results page (SERP) that do not have a ranking position (in the traditional sense that we think of them). For instance, the rich snippet is a position zero result, but sometimes so is the rich answer box, which features ‘people also ask…’ questions and answers.

rich snippet in search results - brands need to evolve for voice search - Digital marketing agency - AB London

 

  1. Copy should be tailored for reading aloud

Although we as humans are well practised at speaking, there is greater mental effort required when listening. So, lengthy sentences and complex language will not be a welcome responses for a user, nor will they help the user to engage further. We know that attention spans are decreasing, and users expect to get the information they want as fast as possible.

  1. Be fully optimised for the customer experience

Voice search queries such as ‘where’s the nearest place to buy jeans?’ or ‘find my nearest Italian fish restaurant’ are on the increase.

So optimisation for local voice search queries is really important. It’s estimated that around 88% of users seek driving directions after a local voice search query. So being found when someone locally has already decided they need the product or service is crucial to winning that moment.

Page load speed is also critical. According to a recent study by Backlinko, “PageSpeed appears to play a major role in voice search SEO. The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds (52% faster than the average page)”.

 

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Author:

Sarah is the Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy at AB... and enjoys helping organisations get the most from their marketing activities. With an affinity for a data-driven approach, she specialises in customer and user experience, SEO and PPC management. At the moment, she's really interested in voice search. Sarah is Google-certified in both Ads and Analytics and has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing. She also has an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and joined the AB... team in April 2017.

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