How to prepare for voice-activated technology now

Three easy ways to prepare for voice-activated search

If you have a voice-activated assistant like Google Home, Apple Homepod or Amazon Alexa at home, you’ve probably found yourself increasingly making use of their voice-activated skills.

‘OK Google, tell me the ingredients in chocolate cake.’

‘Hey Siri, where is the nearest service station? Hey Siri, play The Beatles. ’

‘Alexa, tell me the forecast. Alexa, call me an Uber.’

If so, you’re not alone – in the USA, 40% of people use voice search on a daily basis. And now that voice-activated search is becoming so accurate, it’s hardly surprising – given that you can speak 150 words a minute, as opposed to typing 40 words per minute.

Here’s the thing: traditionally, search engine optimisation and strategy has focused around identifying the right keywords (and variations of keywords) and optimizing content, page titles and meta tags to accommodate them.

The rise of voice-activated technology adds a whole new layer to search engine optimization. It requires a highly targeted approach that involves answering customer questions directly, ensuring that you’re supplying searchers with the exact result they are looking for. This is because when it comes to voice-activated search, Google wants to show a single, accurate answer, where it can.

The scary thing about that is, only one answer = only one search result … not a page of results, as on a screen. Which means that soon, appearing in the top 3-5 search results will not be enough to get noticed online.

Who needs to act now?

Happily, it’s still early days for voice-activated search: for many businesses there is still plenty of time to adapt, and current SEO is still relevant. And let’s face it, many of us searching online like the choice that a screen search affords us – the ability to quickly modify the search as needed, and the visual credibility that comes with branding, logos, and packaging.

But there are definitely some businesses that can’t afford to sleep at the wheel on this one: specifically, those with a younger target audience or customer base, as millennials are the fastest adopters of voice-activated technology.

Also, if your business provides a service that is location specific, such as a retail business, you should be aware that mobile voice-activated searches including the words ‘near me’ are rising fast. This means that a lot of your customers find you using voice-activated search on their smartphones. (Read our article about site mobile-readiness here.)

Dominos Pizza is one of the early leaders in voice-activated technology (no surprises there, given its youthful and highly-mobile audience). It’s voice-activated assistant, Dom, can help you order and build a pizza, deliver updates on cooking and transit times, and even offer cheeky quips:

Customer: ‘I’m wasted’.

Dom: ‘You’re not driving then. How about delivery?’

1. Start with the basics. Make sure essential information like opening hours, contact details, service offerings and product specifications are easily accessible as text (not incorporated in images, which search engines can’t crawl). Also – ensure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date (and that you have one!).

2. Keep user intent in mind by thinking about what your audience is looking for and do what you can to provide it on your site. Remember that, at the moment, voice-activated search is quite specific – ‘Financial adviser.’  ‘Order a birthday cake.’ ‘I need to buy flowers.’ ‘What is Australia’s biggest export?’ ‘Where is Red Cloud Digital.’ ;-)

3. Get up to speed on long-tail keywords and start using them on your site. Seriously, this is a key way to drive highly relevant traffic to your site. It will also make it easier for search engines to reference you when answering voice activated search queries.

One really good way to incorporate long-tail keywords and to provide the material your audience needs is a Q&A page. This is allows you to incorporate long-tail keywords, is easily searchable, and highly targeted – all of which get big ticks for voice-activated search. Make sure your questions or sub headings incorporate the likely words people will use when searching for the service you are offering, for example: ‘Ordering a birthday cake with us’, or ‘Choosing a financial adviser’.

If you’d like more information on preparing for voice-activated search, call Red Cloud today.