New year, new client goals…and the voice search revolution is picking up its stride. Smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home assistant are seeing an increase in usage, while almost every smartphone is equipped with at least one voice assistant. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are improving, with algorithms evolving to recognize more specific questions and phrases each year. 

Studies show that by 2020 (this year!) 50% of all internet searches will be done by voice. So what does this mean for the digital marketing world? Are my accounts going to be completely turned upside down? More and more, voice search queries are popping up in my client accounts during my search query reports.

Voice Search vs. Search Query

It is very important to note the difference between a voice search and a search query – you don’t treat the two the same when writing ad copy and selecting keywords. The main difference between a search query and voice search is the context of the search itself. 

Search queries are typically shorter, using fewer words since a person has to manually type their query into a web browser. Voice searches are conversational – since the user doesn’t have to exert the effort to type out their query, the searches are typically longer and posed in a question. It is more natural because when speaking, you wouldn’t just ask a person “pizza near me” – you would ask them a full question. For example:

Search Query: pizza near me 

Voice Search: “Siri, where is the nearest pizza place?”

Localized Searches

If there is one type of business that has been benefiting the most from voice search, it’s local businesses. Searches for “Near Me” have increased dramatically over the past few years. This is an amazing opportunity to capitalize on the voice search boom – but only if you’re prepared. Reputation online and in-person is make or break with local businesses. There’s nothing worse than looking up a business and not seeing their hours, that their website is slow and out-of-date information, or there are no reviews listed. Make sure that your website, ads, and extensions all are up-to-date dates and current, relevant information, remove duplicate pages from your website, ensure that your website security is in order, and that old information, operating hours, and contact information is either removed or updated. Check these data sources to make sure that your business is optimized and correctly updated: Google My Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Bing. 

Things to Keep in Mind

Voice assistants, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are only going to get smarter. This is a user behavior that will continue to increase over the years. If you haven’t started considering the future of your digital marketing strategy, now is the perfect time to do so. 

So how does one optimize for the voice search revolution? Here are some things I’ve been doing in my accounts and keeping in mind. 

Run Consistent Search Query Reports 

Not only have I been using this helpful webinar tips and tricks to pull a search query report in under 10 minutes, I’ve also been skimming through my search query reports to see what keywords are triggering ads based on the voice search. That way, when I am writing ad copy, I have actual consumer questions in mind to write ad copy that answers those questions.  Another benefit of running consistent search query reports for voice search is to better equipped to gauge how many voice searches are matching keywords within your account. If you start to see voice searches triggering keywords for ad copy that is tailored to search queries, you can start segmenting those voice searches into their own campaigns for ad copy specifically written for voice search.

Optimize for Questions

When writing ad copy or coming up with long-tailed search terms to include, I like to think like the user: what questions do they have about this business? What are they expecting to see pop up in the search engine? How would they want it to look? That way, I can write ad copy tailored to personas I want to target but still answer their questions in a concise manner. Keywords should be thought of less and semantic search should be considered more – the keyword landscape will change, with longer-tailed keyword phrases becoming more prevalent search query reports. 

Website Performance 

Above all else, your website must be at peak performance. Voice assistants only show relevant pages from sites that they trust. Although website performance is important for PPC campaigns, voice assistants also take into consideration mobile-friendliness, site structure, security and speed of the website. If your website doesn’t load, or its speed is slow, or a pop-up indicates that your site may not be safe, voice assistants will recognize that and knock your ads into oblivion.  It’s always important to make sure you’re putting enough time and resources into optimizing your website to be at peak performance. 

The voice search revolution is well underway, you just have to go looking in your account to find it! Optimize early, plan ahead, and start thinking about your strategy – and you will be in great shape to capitalize on both types of search.