Voice search is changing the ecommerce game, especially now with the rise of virtual voice assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Siri.

Voice searches are steadily replacing traditional searches. This means that if you are not optimizing your ecommerce website for voice search, you may be missing out on a lot of Google traffic.

Voice search is a function that allows users to search the web through spoken voice commands rather than typing. Users can essentially initiate a search by speaking into a device as opposed to typing their query or keywords. This major advancement in search engine optimization (SEO) has made it possible for consumers to easily browse the web without having to lift a finger (Google’s technology is now 95% accurate).

As voice search is transforming the way consumers are looking for products and services online, it’s important that ecommerce websites are optimized for it. And the goal is position zero.

Position Zero

What is better than being number one on Google? The answer is beating the number one entry. How do you achieve this? By becoming one of Google’s featured snippets—position zero. Position zero is the information Google offers at the very top of the search results.

Position zero is placed above the top-ranking search result and displayed differently. Being placed in this coveted spot means that Google rates your answer as the best meaning that it will read your answer out to voice searchers. Yours and nobody else’s.

For top-level awareness content in particular, focus on answering questions. Optimize your content for position zero with a short introduction of 40-50 words and use tables or bullet points where possible.

Some Compelling Statistics

·      50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

·      There will be an estimated 21.4 million smart speakers in the U.S. by 2020.

·      One in six Americans (16%) own a voice-activated smart speaker.

·      72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines.

·      41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person.

·      Google Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices.

·      One in five consumers (19%) have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant.

Eight Ways to Optimize for Voice Search

1. Optimize for speak-search, not type-search

The move toward voice-search optimization requires a philosophical shift when it comes to content creation and product categorization. We have to start treating search like a conversation; we are conversing with our devices as if they are human beings.

This means that rather than a searcher typing in the query, “pants, brown,” we will ask our digital assistant something like, “Siri, where can I find brown pants for men?”

How do you make allowances for this? You are answering a question that they are asking. Know too that there are certain linguistic patterns that will apply to the majority of queries. One such example is that voice search queries are longer than text queries. This is where you can use long-tail keywords.

Don’t be afraid to strike a conversational tone in blog content and in your product descriptions.

2. Answer questions clearly and concisely

When it comes to keyword research, a strategy that tends toward voice search has to be focused on questions.

Your job is to respond by focusing on trigger words as much as on relevant buzzwords. Ask how, what, when, and where? This is exactly what your users will be doing. Trigger words are key and focusing on keywords shouldn’t be the primary core to voice search optimization.

Structure your keyword research around questions and answers, rather than on single keywords or key phrases.

3. Choose semantic strategy over a keyword-based strategy

Simply put, semantics is the study of how language creates meaning. When it comes to the world of search, a semantic strategy is one that takes into account the context of a searcher’s query, rather than only relying on the exact words that are included in the search.

Search engines are attempting to make their responses to queries more human-like than ever before. They want to understand why someone is asking what they are asking and customize their responses as specifically as possible. The desired result is that an interaction with a search engine should feel like a conversation with another person. They do this through programming their algorithms to do things like concept match and take synonyms into account.

The most important implication is that you have no choice but to provide value when you create content. You have to answer the questions being asked rather than merely ensure you configure sentences with the right keywords.

Mix up terminology to provide a more varied set of keywords and phrases, covering all the relevant ways of asking a question.

4. Know your customer

In the world of voice search optimization, knowing your customer has never been so important. Remember the part about voice search being a conversation? You have to know who is on the other end of the dialogue in order to respond.

Detailed customer research is paramount. This means defining your target audience carefully and methodically and incorporating a customer journey map into your marketing strategy. Understand pain points, habits, problems they need to solve, and the methods they embrace to solve them.

5. Structure your website according to the emerging user journey

The journey of a user brought by voice search may be different to the patterns you’ve seen prior. Google is widely tipped to add voice search metrics to Analytics and although this process has been slow, it is very much demanded by webmasters. Monitor this as details are released.

Consider the behavior of voice searchers and take this into account when planning your ideal user journey. Ecommerce entrepreneurs are acutely aware of frictio, and abandoned carts are a constant battle. Voice searchers must enjoy a seamless journey much like mobile, tablet, and desktop users. Think about how to structure content in order to drive people from voice query interest to conversion and beyond.

Create Google Analytics goals and track the behavior of your website visitors. On a monthly basis, check whether there are any marked changes in customer interactions. When Google finally launches the voice search metrics, get involved as soon as possible!

6. Think local

According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally based in comparison to their text counterparts. This is a dream for ecommerce store owners, particularly if they also have a brick-and-mortar aspect to their businesses. This is your opportunity to craft content that caters to a local audience. Once you crack the local market, you’ll find it easier to scale your strategy across states and borders.

Bring a local focus to your content and consider expanding the catalogue to include locally sourced products. Back it up with local blog content and location landing pages.

7. Optimize your website for mobile

As voice-driven search and shopping continue to grow on mobile devices, you simply can’t afford to have an ecommerce website that does not perform well on mobile. This is even more so now that Google has started to implement mobile-first indexing.

Google’s mobile-first indexing simply means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of website content for indexing and ranking because it recognizes that the majority of users now access Google search using their mobile device.

8. Improve your website speed

Alongside the mobile responsiveness of your website, your page speed is extremely critical as well. Research shows that 47% of consumers expect a page to load within two seconds. Moreover, 40% of website visitors say they will leave a page after waiting for more than three seconds. It’s clear that not only Google but also website visitors favor a website that loads quickly.

Here are some of the many ways you can improve your site speed:

·      Enable file compression

·      Optimize website images

·      Utilize website caching

·      Reduce the number of redirects

·      Remove unused plugins/tools

Voice search isn’t just a trend. It’s rapidly becoming part of consumers’ daily lives, and it’s transforming how people use search engines and smart devices.

With voice commerce sales approaching $40 billion by 2022, voice search optimization for the world of ecommerce is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a luxury.

If you’re looking to keep up with consumers voicing their search queries, now is the time to do it.

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.