Is Your Brand Ready for Voice Search?
As the market for speakers with personal assistants heats up, voice search intensifies as well.
Smart Speaker Market
Even before Google entered the smart speaker market, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the middle of 2016 that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches.
In late 2016, Google joined the smart speaker market with its smart speaker called “Google Home”. This market was initially dominated by another tech giant Amazon with its smart speaker called “Echo”. Google Home’s personal assistant is called “Google Assistant”; Amazon Echo’s personal assistant is called “Alexa”.
Almost every tech company that has personal assistant like Microsoft (Cortana), Apple (Siri), and Samsung (Bixby) is developing a smart speaker. Just recently, Chinese internet giant Baidu unveiled its smart speaker called "Raven H". According to Gartner, worldwide spending on virtual personal assistant (VPA)-enabled wireless speakers will reach $2.1 billion by 2020, up from $360 million in 2015.
"A significant number of households could therefore have more than one unit, or even one per room," said Werner Goertz, research director at Gartner. "With smaller form factors, price erosion over the years and potential subsidization models, we expect that 75 percent of households with VPAs will have one, 20 percent will have two, and five percent will have three or more devices by 2020."
According to MindMeld, 61% of users had adopted intelligent voice assistants in the 12 months prior to October 2015. MindMeld found that the popularity of voice assistants has grown due to the hands-free feature, enabling many to do other tasks, in addition to conducting hands-free online search and online shopping as well.
The total global sales of smart speakers in 2017 is expected to reach 4 million units, with an estimated 60% of all smart speakers sold this year will run on Amazon’s Alexa platform, while Google’s Assistant will account for 20% of the sales, according to Strategy Analytics.
How Will Smart Speakers Change Consumer Behaviors
The widespread adoption of personal assistant-enabled speakers could result in an increase of online shopping orders initiated from a smart speaker instead of a laptop or mobile device, Gartner projected.
With Google Home, for instance, you can shop everyday essentials – from food supplies to toiletries. Shopping via Google Home can be done from participating Google Express retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market.
To shop via Google Home, you only have to say, for instance, “Ok, Google, order paper towels.” Setting up the shopping feature of Google Home can be done by going to the Google Home app, navigating to “More settings” and then scrolling down to “Payments.” From there, default credit card and delivery address can be set-up.
Google markets its personal assistant-enabled speaker to “understand your context – location, device you’re using, etc.” It currently understands English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and Korean.
According to Google, if, for instance, you decide to visit Vancouver, you can ask Google Assistant these questions:
Check the weather: “Ok Google, what’s the weather in Vancouver?”
Check flight schedule: “Ok Google, show me flights to Vancouver on Saturday”
Choose an adventure: “Ok Google, what should I do in Vancouver?”
Places to eat: “Ok Google, what are the best restaurants in Vancouver.”
"Vendors that are able to create an intimate, familiar relationship with the user will be able to contextualize ordering to the extent that preferred products will be proposed, and processing details will already be captured,” Gartner said. “As a result, the user's propensity to purchase products and services using VPA systems should increase, transactional friction could be reduced and the overall user experience would be improved."
How to Prepare Your brand for Voice Search
Given that voice search is a growing trend, here are some tips to prepare your brand for this technological advancement:
1. “Sounds Like” Issue
Comedian John Oliver and his staff created parody websites of the three major credit reporting companies EquifacksDOTcom for Equifax, experianneDOTcom for Experian and tramsonionDOTcom for TransUnion.
“It would clearly be a horrible thing if these actual companies were mistaken for these fake companies. But don’t worry – 95 percent of the time, that won’t happen. And apparently that’s good enough, right?” Oliver said.
While the parody websites of the 3 major credit reporting companies tried to get the message across that millions of people have their reputation tarnished because of major errors on their credit reports as a result of mistaken identity, this parody also showed that variations in pronunciation can affect voice search.
In voice search, take into consideration the variations in pronunciation for your brand name or key search terms. Add these variations of pronunciation to your keyword optimization strategy.
2. Rise in Longer-Tail Searches
In the last 2 years, there has been a rise of longer-tail searches. When people search online by typing words on their computers or mobile phones, shorter keywords are words. But in voice search, people tend to use longer-tail searches. For instance, if one wants to visit Vancouver, one may type in the search words “things to do Vancouver”. In voice search, people tend to use natural language like “What should I do in Vancouver”.
To improve your brand’s visibility via search results, ensure that you offer the closest answer to the voice query.
3. Question-Based Search Phrases
In voice searches, the queries tend to be in the question formats. Questions that start with the word “what” are fairly common. While voice queries expressed in question format may not immediately convert into sales, content that answers these questions could improve brand’s engagement and goodwill.
Anticipate the questions of your consumers by researching the most commonly asked questions about your brand or product and try to optimize answers for the natural language query version.
Artificial intelligence is now a reality within our midst through personal assistants like Assistant (Google), Alexa and Siri. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple and Baidu are continually optimizing their virtual personal assistants to better understand the natural language of humans. Don’t allow your brand to be left behind this modern way of reaching out to your customers – via voice search.
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