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We live in a society where digitalisation is rife. We are constantly experiencing change, adaptation and technological innovations that affect cultural behaviours, norms, markets and industries – that’s a lot! So what does this mean for us marketers?
Digital disruption often means re-evaluating a few things. These things include current markets, products and practices. One of the most apparent modern disruptors is the digital voice assistant. You might be thinking that voice search has been around for a while, well it has, in fact it has been around for 9 years or so now. But it’s really upped its game recently. The rapid increase in smart speakers and voice assistants being used as part of consumers’ daily routines has undoubtedly piled on the significance of these intelligent little machines.
This has essentially forced marketers to re-evaluate the importance of voice search, recognise the impact that it’s having on marketing efforts and redesign marketing strategies in order to fit the bill. When we start to think about it in depth… it all gets a bit much. So let’s break it down. What exactly is a digital voice assistant? And how does it work?
Voice assistants (whether they’re being used on your phone, laptop, smart speaker or any other device) are designed to help with tasks or offer information. And they all have a “wake” phrase e.g. ‘Alexa’, ‘Siri’ or ‘Ok Google’. Once the wake phrase is spoken, the device then draws information from whichever search engine they’re linked to in order to fulfil the request of the user. Once we realise how useful and widespread voice assistants are, it’s then clear to see why marketing practices have to incorporate a strategy for SEO for voice.
However, with new ways of searching comes new techniques required for search engine optimisation, particularly for marketers. Search engine optimisation has evolved significantly over the past decade. Nowadays, it takes much more than just including a few links and keywords into your content if you want to get recognised. We must go beyond this; offer the viewer rich content, understand their intent and keep up with digital trends.
As marketers, we’re used to adapting and thriving in new environments, but it’s not always that easy to know what we’re adapting to or for. That’s why we’ve laid out three key areas to consider for any marketers who are stuck on voice search optimisation.
So what has semantics got to do with optimisation? In terms of SEO, put simply, semantic search is a data search technique that aims to improve search accuracy by understanding, or interpreting, natural language (kind of in the same way that a human would).
For a marketer, semantic search is becoming more and more important when it comes to optimising content. So how can you optimise content for semantic search, I hear you ask? Here’s a couple of handy tips:
Featured snippets are essentially the summary of an answer asked by an individual.
They appear at the top of your results page and, along with the summary, the snippet includes a link to the page, the page title and the URL. Voice search and featured snippets are firmly linked, and the featured position is often highly sought after by marketers and brands alike. So how do you get your website or content to reach that all-important featured spot? Well that’s tough, because you can’t manually place your own website or information as the featured snippet. You can, however, specifically optimise your content so that your chosen search engine basically has no choice but to feature you – because your content is the richest content and the most relevant to a user’s specific request or query.
If optimised correctly and efficiently, your content or website can be the first thing that users see or hear when asking a question or requesting information. All you need to do, really, is:
Personalisation means tailoring your content to suit the needs, wants, choices or interests of individuals.
We could probably all agree that it’s handy when search engines understand your preferences – such as things that you do and don’t like, for example. So how can we incorporate personalisation into our content if we want to optimise for voice search? Firstly, consider the relevant data that search engines already have, i.e. a user’s language, their location and their browsing history. Then look at your relevant data. Which devices do your viewers use more frequently? Which keywords or phrases are predominant? And target your content based on your findings.
Your data is also likely to differ depending on which voice assistant or smart home assistant is being used: Siri and Amazon’s Alexa draw information from Bing, whilst Google Home gathers Google data and so on. Different search engines are likely to yield different results which will affect your data and therefore the content that you create.
Smart assistants and speakers are now catching onto the need for consumers to have a variety of options. What I mean by this is… If the consumer is using a screen-less device, they will only typically receive one answer from their voice assistant. Now, given the growing desire for personalised and varied content, when given a request, your device will still respond to the request, but will also direct users to the relevant website, or app, which will offer them access to an even wider variety of information.
This clearly shows the rapid rate at which voice is becoming used more frequently and, if understood and applied correctly, optimising your content for voice search will undeniably boost brand awareness, advance your reach and increase your overall website traffic – what more could you need! That being said, it’s good to note that brands and marketers must understand where to draw the line between personalisation and invasion of privacy… ensure that your data gathering and analysis is always GDPR compliant.