Luke Janich
May 23, 2017

The new normal: Voice search and the future of marketing

Though it complicates search marketing, adoption of voice search could be an excellent opportunity for brands, writes Luke Janich.

The new normal: Voice search and the future of marketing

If you’d told me a few years ago that talking to our tech would become the norm over traditional search, I’d have questioned you immediately. Now, however, the question is when—not if—voice search will overtake its predecessor.

I say this because we’re seeing two big developments in the world of tech. First, the AI behind voice search—and companions like Alexa, Siri and Cortana—are becoming increasingly efficient. And secondly, and more importantly, younger generations are increasingly happy to interact with their devices in this way. So much so that for the kids of today, talking to tech is not even questioned. It’s the natural thing to do.

What does this mean for marketers?

Since we first started using search engines, marketers have gotten better at refining our offerings into a few keywords, or key phrases. Whole search-marketing businesses—and entire brands—have been built through this pursuit.

But the way we interact with voice search couldn’t be more different from a typed query. We now simply need to ask a question to find what we need. And, what’s more, it no longer feels like we’re searching; we can now order food, play music or, even control household appliances through the medium of our own voice. 

This poses all kinds of problems for traditional search marketers, but could it be an opportunity in disguise?

After all, voice search opens up the possibilities of search. It allows for more detailed, more conversational requests. Plus, we can gain all kinds of useful information from a spoken search—like whether someone is questioning, buying or acting on something. This is a goldmine for marketers. And it’ll allow us to better engage and convert prospects online.

But that’s where the hard work comes in. To take advantage of the advances in voice search, we need to rethink our keyword strategy, when planning paid search and SEO, for the ‘Voice SEO’ age. 

In concrete terms, that means a more specific SEO strategy, and one that’s specifically designed for longer, more conversational queries. Search will still rely upon keywords, but rather than those two- or three-word statements we’re so used to, we’ll start to see more and more searches taking the form of lengthy questions. Here, broad match and long-tail searches will become increasingly important in catching prospective customers.

Converting these queries, however, is another challenge. As searches become more detailed and personalised, it makes sense to tailor our content in a similar way. This means taking note of a whole range of different scenarios. Searches will be packed with loads of additional information and good SEO plan will take full advantage of that. And so, when it comes to voice search, highly bespoke content will become essential.

So shouldn’t we be worried about voice search? 

Not yet. For marketers who put in the effort early, the future looks bright, and we should see this as an emerging opportunity. It’s not often brands get the chance to have such a detailed insight into what consumers are looking for. That’s the promise voice search offers—and it promises to be a benefit for talented search marketers everywhere.

Luke Janich is CEO of RED²

 

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