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Are businesses adapting to voice search technology?

Diane Hall


Woman using voice systems on her phone

Go back five years, and the most common way to conduct a search on the internet via such as Google or Bing was to enter a keyword or short phrase in the search box then wait for the results.

Technology has advanced a lot since then. With a huge number of us owning an Amazon Echo or Google Home (or alternative), we’ve become accustomed to verbalising our search requests.

Developers are continually working hard on the AI behind these machines, so that they understand dialect, colloquialisms, linguistic anomalies and so on. Language changes all the time and voice-controlled machines need to keep up, so that they serve us efficiently and effectively.

If you think about how you talk to your Alexa, etc., you don’t use standalone words. You would ask it a question in the same way you’d ask another human being.

This is key for businesses looking to be discovered via search engines in 2021.

Google on a phone

Google on a phone

This isn’t just relegated to the home, either. We all know how much our mobiles are embedded in our lives nowadays, and just how many things we control with it. Voice searches make up 27% of the requests we make via our smartphones. If you’re wondering how that affects retail and business, a recent study showed that 58% of people searched for a company online using their device’s voice capability.

Keywords and phrases may soon be redundant on Google. Instead, businesses need to think about the full sentences and detailed questions their customers may ask search engines, and adapt their content to suit.

Keyword-heavy content has never been exciting for prospects to read, but it served a purpose for businesses, to get wording such as ‘marketing agency Doncaster’ into search engines’ algorithms. The technical benefits of this, i.e. SEO, outweighed the desire to engage prospects with informative content that may have answered their questions and gained their trust. Maybe the move to include proper speech and intelligible articles/blogs/website information isn’t a bad one at all—it will certainly benefit the end user.

Blogs and articles seem to have gone out of fashion in the business world from their incarnation, in favour of more hi-tech methods to attract leads. However, if businesses want to capture the ever-growing number of people who just want straight answers to their spoken queries, or who want to feel they’re conversing with the companies they’re looking to buy from, rich content is the answer.

You wouldn’t have a verbal conversation with a prospect using only individual words and short phrases, so why would you do this in any other setting—even online?

If you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, what would you ask your device to understand more about the product/service your company provides? How would you phrase it? What secondary questions would you need answering? What would your concerns be? The responses to these prompts should be in your blog, article or web content somewhere if you want to continue ranking above your competitors. Wordy content is back.

Voice searches already account for more than $2 billion in sales. Questions beginning with ‘how’ or ‘what’ are most common when people are looking to the internet for answers. Descriptive words, such as ‘best’ or ‘easy’ are useful; after all, your potential customers want the quickest route to the results you dangle. More than 65% of 25-49 year-olds talk to their devices daily and more than half of all consumers use voice-activated technology to research products.

There could be plenty more business for you if you tailor your online content to meet voice search commands associated with your product or service.

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