Voice search has been touted as the next big thing for many years now. It's frequently looked as though it was about to take off – but it's never quite happened. 2020 may just be the year to change all that. Here's why.
After a slow start, digital personal assistants have exploded in popularity over the last few years. It's amazing to think that just a decade ago, they barely existed. But names like Google Home, Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa are now everywhere. With customers becoming used to asking their digital assistants to help them find the products they want, marketing opportunities are opening up rapidly. What is more, these personal habits have started to change people’s expectations of technology in the workplace too – ‘Why can’t I ask Alexa about local couriers or recruitment agencies?”
A key aspect for voice search will be featured snippets – the clips you see at the top of results pages on Google. These get read out by digital assistants, so getting your content there is a tremendous plus. It's time to start optimising your content for voice as well as eyeballs – this is an area where using a business growth partner like JDR can help SMEs who don't have dedicated in-house teams.
According to an article in Forbes, half of all digital searches will be voice searches in 2020. We're not sure we'd go quite that far – especially in an office environment, where constant chatter isn't a great idea. But even if we cut that figure down a bit, it's still clear that a big chunk of searching will be voice-based this year.
The Personal Touch
The trend towards informality and personalisation in more and more business communications meshes perfectly with voice search's strengths. Talking is generally a less formal way to communicate than writing, and customers who feel like they're in a conversation are more likely to feel relaxed and positive about the products they're encountering. Natural language, including regional accent handling, is coming on in leaps and bounds.
Someone at a keyboard who wants to know where to buy widgets in London will probably enter just the two main words. With voice, all that goes out of the window. In keeping with voice's more natural feel, they're much more likely to ask questions in full sentences – so "Where can I buy widgets in London?" is more probable. That means you'll need to pay more attention to long-tail keywords and understanding how semantics will change between text and voice.
Optimising For Mobile
Voice search usage is heavily slanted towards people using mobile devices. Every modern smartphone has a digital assistant built-in – and none has a keyboard. That means 2020 is going to see more and more purchases made using voice. You've probably been mobile-friendly for a while already, but in some industries, you should think about going further – to mobile-first. Fast loading pages, clear site design, appropriately-sized CTAs and a strong local emphasis will all be important factors in selling this year.
After so many false dawns, 2020 could well be the year that voice search really revolutionises digital marketing. Customers are increasingly comfortable with ordering using digital personal assistants in a way many weren't even two or three years ago. The challenge for SMEs is real – but so are the potential rewards. To discuss the latest trends and how they could affect your marketing strategy this year, please call 01332 343281.
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