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20% of searches in the Google App are now by voice.

– Google Data

The past couple of years have seen a huge increase in the number of searches completed using voice assistants. So much easier than typing out a query, voice search is the perfect fit for today’s busy lifestyle – allowing users to quickly ask questions at the same time as performing other tasks.

At the moment the majority of voice searches are being completed on a mobile, with most people in the UK owning a smartphone with a digital assistant pre-installed. However ownership of smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, has doubled in the past 6 months, with 1 in 10 UK households now owning one (YouGov).

Back in September 2014, Andrew Ng, Chief Scientist at Baidu, predicted that by 2020 half of all searches would either be completed with images or speech. Could Christmas 2019 see his prediction come true?

With such a rapid increase in home-assistant sales, and a high percentage of mobile searches already being performed with voice, what can retailers do to ensure their web content is optimised?

Ensure Your NAP Is Consistent Across Third Party Sites

 

As previously mentioned, at the moment the majority of voice searches are completed on a mobile. This means that lots of searches have local intent, e.g. searches for directions, local services, store details and opening hours.

 

46% of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis

– Bright Local

So that voice-assistants can easily find your company’s information, make sure that all of your locations are claimed across third-party websites such as Google Places and Yelp. Also, check that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is correct and consistent across the web.

Write Content In A Natural Way

 

Data shows that the majority of voice queries use natural language and are longer than text-based searches. Users speak to voice-assistants as they would to another person rather than a search engine. This means that your product descriptions, buying guides and customer service information should be written in a conversational way – as if you were talking to a customer.

Although assistants aim to provide short, concise answers, research shows that articles with a higher word count actually tend to perform better in voice-search results as they provide more context to match a snippet to the user’s query. For this reason, aim to provide long-form content on topics but include definition statements to answer common queries.

When returning results for queries, voice-assistants take into consideration the snippet’s grammar and ease of pronunciation. Make sure that all content is reviewed for grammar and typos ahead of publishing and use simple everyday words that are easy to read out loud.

Speak to your customer-service team and sales assistants to identify the most frequently asked questions about your key products and ranges. You can then use this knowledge to update product descriptions, create buying guides or add FAQ pages to your site. Answerthepublic.com is another good way of finding out what potential customers might be searching for.

Implement Structured Data MarkUp

 

Help search engines to better understand the context of your content by implementing structured data markup. This markup highlights important parts of your content so that it’s easier to find. It’s also used to display rich and featured snippets in the search results. These featured snippets are often used as the top source for voice answers.

For eCommerce sites, Google recommend implementing all relevant markup below:

Google are also currently trialling a new form of schema called Speakable – this allows you to mark up which parts of your articles or webpages are suitable for voice search results. This is currently only available in the US, but Google plans to roll it out to other countries soon.

So What Should Retailers Be Doing Now?

 

1. Claim and update all business profiles and locations on third-party websites including social accounts.

2. Prioritising best-selling ranges, optimise and create content to answer common customer queries. Ideally plan and create all the content you think your customers will need for the Christmas shopping period.

3. Implement all relevant structured data markup so that voice assistants can easily make sense of your information.

Stephanie Fenton
17th April 2019

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