“Alexa, tell me how voice is set to change marketing?”
I recently embraced voice-activated commands for texting, listening to music, car navigation and ordering paper towels from Amazon Prime (among many other things!) In between my searches and commands, it got me thinking about how so much of what we do as consumers helps drive the future of business-to-business interactions and behaviors. More than 35 million Americans use a smart speaker at least once a month, and the global market for these devices is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2020, according to Gartner. While I am currently using voice-activation for my own consumer needs, it won’t be long until it’s an expected part of business processes.
It may be sooner than we think. Axios reported just a few weeks ago that Amazon is bringing its voice assistant Alexa into a range of business settings, big and small, including Concur and Salesforce, who are bringing elements of their programs to Alexa, while WeWork, CapitalOne and Wynn hotels are the early businesses testing the technology at their offices. Combine this news with the fact that in 2017, 20 percent of Google’s total – yes, total – mobile queries were conducted by voice, and some big changes are on the horizon.
While the sense of urgency is real, it’s challenging to know where to start. As more and more consumers, and businesses, use voice as part of their buying process, your marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy needs to be adjusted to capture the changing behavior. At the same time, I can’t help but think it wasn’t that long ago that I was urging clients to make their websites mobile-friendly (and got a lot of pushback that it wouldn’t happen BTW!), and here we are with another new development to consider.
Just how soon do you need to be ready for voice? While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do think these are some of the things you should be considering as voice continues to make its way into the mainstream:
- Adjust keywords and search terms:
- Why? Because people speak questions differently than they type them. They often use conversational language instead of one-word queries. For example, instead of typing “restaurants,” into a Google search bar on a device, users are more likely to ask out loud, “What restaurants are near me?” This means businesses will need to factor in long-tail content as part of their SEM and SEO strategy.
- Make relevant site structure updates:
- Not only do you want your keywords to be in line with voice queries, but you also will need to align the structure and content of a website to accommodate voice searches. Since voice searches tend to skew toward asking questions, this could be done “by adding new pages that are designed in a Q&A or FAQ format” – source, according to B2BMarketing.net. Doing so will help you rank higher when being searched by voice.
- Think of it as reprioritization of existing SEO efforts:
- Don’t panic: you won’t have to rewrite your SEO playbook from scratch to capture voice searches. According to “Voice Search and SEO: Why B2B marketers need to pay attention now,” from SearchEngineLand.com, “Voice search SEO isn’t really a separate initiative — it’s just an expansion or reprioritization of existing SEO best practices.” There will be some new tactics to implement, but it should be viewed as an add-on to an already successful SEO strategy. If you don’t have one yet, this is a great chance to get going so you make sure you don’t miss the opportunity.
Voice is another step forward as technology continues to evolve, and as consumer behaviors change to embrace it in droves, it’s exciting to see how businesses will get in on the game. While SEO and content searches seem like low-hanging fruit, the exact implications for B2B and when they’ll come into play are still TBD. Now’s the time to get in the know. We are certainly taking voice into consideration as we work with clients on their marketing strategies. What are you doing?