No marketing channel offers more potential to e-commerce marketers than organic search. But winning organic rankings doesn’t come easy. A constant effort must be made to stay abreast of the latest trends. These days, that trend is voice search.
This is nothing new, but current levels of accuracy and usage are very much so. As consumers increasingly use their smartphones to search hands-free and the likes of virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri enter more homes, voice search is set to explode.
With this in mind, here’s how e-commerce marketers can make their store more voice-search friendly.
Why Voice is the Future for E-Commerce Marketers
According to 2016 data from Google, 20 percent of all mobile queries were voice searches — a number that’s undoubtedly risen in the past year and change. According to ComScore, half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Per a Gartner report, 30 percent of all searchers will be done without a screen by then. Other info from Google states voice searches are 30 times more action-based than text-searches. This means voice optimized e-commerce stores stand to benefit from increased visibility and enhanced revenue.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Before getting into any specific voice-search optimization strategies, make sure your e-commerce store is hitting the mobile basics. Things like mobile responsiveness and fast page loading are prerequisites to being able to compete in voice search.
After you’ve ensured your site’s mobile version is up to snuff, it’s time to start optimizing for voice searches. To start, think about how you search in your personal life. How do your text-based queries differ from your voice-search queries? If you’re like most people, your voice searches are spoken in natural language (e.g. “Where can I find blue suede shoes near me?”) and your text-based queries are more abbreviated (e.g. “blue suede shoes”). Nearly 70 percent of Google Assistant searches are in natural language.
Optimizing for voice search also carries the hallmarks of text-based SEO. You want to know your user intent and you want to create content to satisfy user intent. However, with voice search, this becomes wider due to the more varying nature of voice queries. A good exercise to get started on user intent and query bucketing is to do an internal brainstorm of what your customers would want to know. Context—not specific keywords—should guide your strategy. Without nailing context, it’s unlikely a virtual assistant will select your result to satisfy a voice search. For example, if you’re trying to optimize for “free ecommerce store” queries, you need to create a page that specifically speaks to aspiring and new small-business owners that have tight budgets.
Also keep in mind voice searches usually include a trigger word, or a word that initiates a course of action. Popular trigger words are “how,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” “who,” “best,” “new,” etc. Use tools like Answer the Public, Storybase and Google Suggest to find more long-tail queries to add to your brainstormed list.
OK, so now you have the queries potential customers might be searching for, but how do you show up in voice-search results? It’s all about the structure of your content. Google pulls more featured snippets, aka “position zero” for voice searches because it offers a better experience to the searcher. Nobody wants to search for something on mobile and then sift through SERPs for the answer, especially when they searched by voice.
Take advantage of schema markups and structured data to tell Google what your page is about. As we know, the better understanding Google has, the better chance your page will rank well for a given query or queries. For e-commerce, structured data could be information like brand, product name, size, price, whether it’s in stock, number of reviews and the product’s star rating. If you do more business in a particular region and/or have some brick-and-mortar locations, you should also be optimizing your store locator pages to satisfy any “near me” queries.
Then, of course, there are SEO housekeeping details like title and header tags, keyword-friendly URLs, and enticing meta descriptions containing plenty of trigger words.
While voice-search data is still largely unknown, that doesn’t mean you should wait for your competitors to try tactics and play catch up. Focusing on mobile optimization basics, targeting long-tail natural language queries with trigger words and structuring your content—while still practicing SEO fundamentals—should net you some quality featured snippets, better credibility and hopefully, conversions.