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What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit

Posted on Jun 24th, 2016
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    We may not already notice the change, but voice search is all around us. Voice search can help us complete tasks when we are occupied or busy multitasking. We unconsciously change the way we search on a computer or a text search compared to when we search with our voices. With the growing interest of voice search and digital personal assistants growing, we must ask ourselves as marketers how is voice search going to change the world for advertisers?

    In her presentation at MNSearch Summit, Purna Virji from Microsoft stated that by 2020, 50% of search will come from voice (comScore). She outlined the steps to get prepared for voice search for paid and organic search queries. Since the growth of voice search is growing, now is the time to get ready for voice search and to become an early adopter.

    Purna had the audience conduct an exercise that showed how people interact via devices compared to actually talking to the person next to them. When talking, people used a lot more words than when using a device (i.e. Twitter). The exercise showed that we are trained to do actions on different channels, like swiping (iPhone) or looking for reviews (Amazon). Below are some of the top takeaways marketers need to understand about voice search. 

    Who is Using Voice Search?

    The first thing to understand about voice search is who even is using it or personal digital assistants. People use voice search typically when they are:

    • Looking for quick answers
    • Otherwise occupied
    • Experiencing a typing challenge (i.e. when driving and cooking)

    Once you understand who is using voice search, the next step is to know why it voice search is important for those users. Another thing to be aware of is that voice search has the potential to take away from organic search results, and show ads on the search engine results. 

    What Can You Do Now?

    Purna outlined five areas that we as marketers can do to get prepared for voice search.

    #1 Rethink Keywords

    Currently, text searches are concentrated around one to three words while voice search has around three to four words during searches. The voice search queries relate to the year over year growth of question phrases. When creating a keyword strategy, add verbs to phrases and schema markup everywhere to provide more relevance.

    #2- Rethink Local Optimization

    Pruna shared that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text search. When optimizing your local strategy, utilize localized keywords your audience would typically use when speaking to someone. For example use keywords like “by the sculpture garden” or “close to the lake.” Also, optimize local citations and schema markup throughout the site. For paid campaigns, use mobile preferred ad formats and location extensions to gather more interest.

    #3 – Rethink Intent-Based Bids

    Voice search intent is different than text based search queries. Voice search tells you exactly what the consumer is looking for because it is more specific. Since the intent is different, set different bids based off of those keywords.

    #4 – Rethink Branding

    Brand names that are difficult to pronounce like Porsche, Nutella, should take into account any ways that the brand could be mispronounced or spelled incorrectly. Marketers should also use negative keywords and ad extensions to help customers find your brand.

    #5 – Rethink Creative

    Once again since the intent is different than text based searches, focus on updating the creative of the ads and content to make it more visual. Add descriptors in your title (i.e. brand name, silk, size, M, etc.) to add relevant, high quality keywords. Continue to use help extensions like reviews and easy call-to-action buttons. Also, work together with the SEO team to create top-of-funnel content that focuses on the intent. Test the content with paid campaigns to get a better understand of what your customers are looking for.

    After rethinking the five areas of focus, mainly start by selecting three or four questions that would be best for your audience and test bidding on those keywords. If we can test as marketers now and become early adopters, we can be ahead of the curve once voice search is being used by more people.

    What We Can Expect

    You may find yourself asking why to focus on voice search when there isn’t a huge market for it now. However, the number of voice searches is sure to climb and you need to be prepared to provide the user experience that your audience is looking for. There is also technology all around us that has the capability for voice search including:

    • Wearables
    • Onstar
    • Echo
    • Internet of Things (fridge)
    • Gaming Systems (xbox and playstation)
    • Phones (knows a lot of information about you)

    With all these technologies being used already by many people, we need to know that there is no rush to monetize voice search.

    Get Ready for Voice Search

    Purna set the stage on the importance of voice search for any company. We are all in a good opportunity to test and prepare for the voice search queries before it becomes the norm. Are your content and paid campaigns optimized for voice search?