By Welton Hong
Not that long ago, the world changed irrevocably when information became available at the click of fingers on keyboards or the tap of thumbs on screens.
But the homeowners of tomorrow are as likely to search for information with vocal commands as they are to type or tap. In fact, many SEO experts say voice search is likely to carry half of the global search market by sometime this year.
Understanding how to evolve your online marketing strategy and perform amid these optimization innovations is as critical to business success as keeping up with smart products and seasonal window fashion trends.
What Is Voice Search?
Voice search occurs when someone speaks to a device, expecting the command or question to result in an internet search and a returned answer. All this activity is powered by the artificial intelligence of a digital assistant such as Siri or Alexa.
Less than a decade ago, this might have seemed like science fiction—or at least a tech toy only available for the rich and famous. Today, around 5 billion people globally carry the technology for voice search in their pockets in the form of smartphones, and many household electronics—from speakers to refrigerators—have the ability to listen for and respond to spoken commands.
Users are increasingly asking digital assistants to find the best pizza in town or place the next order for paper towels or batteries. And while voice search isn’t yet an optimal partner for the long sales cycle inherent in less mundane purchases, it’s a growing tool for content marketing across all industries.
The Importance of Voice Search for Future Marketing
Voice search isn’t a passing tech fad. It’s convenient, prevalent and something that’s set to become even more common. It’s also an important hint for what the next generation of SEO will look like.
The statistics and trends below help illuminate the increasing marketing power this technology holds.
- Voice search devices, including smart speakers and hubs such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, have seen impressive sales growth the past few years. In Q1 of 2018 alone, this market grew by 187 percent.
- Smart speakers—and the voice control that comes with them—are positioned to play a big role in the homes of the future. In 2017, only about 13 percent of U.S. households included one of these devices. By the end of 2020, experts predict that about 55 percent of homes will include one or more smart speakers.
- While not everyone buys into the prediction that voice search will account for 50 percent of web traffic in 2020, established number crunchers such as Gartner still see an immediate future where screenless searches take up about a third of the pie.
- More than 70 percent of people who own voice-activated devices say they incorporate those technology tools into their daily routine. Just over 40 percent say talking to these devices feels like talking to a friend.
- Some experts predict that regular voice shopping will increase to half of all voice device users by 2022.
- More than half of smart speaker owners say they want to receive information about deals and promotions.
What Can Window Fashion Businesses Do Today?
Companies that want to start capturing this growing segment of searches and position themselves for the SEO of the future should act now. Here are three things you can start doing today that won’t diminish your traditional SEO performance.
Incorporate the right language in your content
Start slipping voice search keywords into your content, understanding that the way people type a query isn’t the same as the way they speak it. Someone looking for window blinds might type “window blinds near me” into the search engine. But they might ask their Echo, “Alexa, who sells window blinds near here?” or “What’s the best place for window blinds?”
Since people use such a wide range of words to ask questions when speaking, it’s also a good idea to include as many semantic keywords as possible. Semantic keywords are phrases that are related to your primary key phrase and topic, and they should naturally appear on your pages to clue search engines and users in on how relevant the content really is. SEMrush and other keyword research tools can generate a list of semantic phrases you may want to include in your content.
Use schema and structured data to instruct the search engines
Local SEO and voice search are increasingly common bedfellows, and around two-thirds of people with smart speakers use them once a week or more to find nearby businesses.
You can increase the likelihood that your pages show up in local voice searches by incorporating schema markup. Among other things, this coding ensures Google and other search engines know when content is a business name, phone number, address or directions to your location.
Combine SEO with paid marketing and other tactics to drive specific campaigns
Even in the future, no single online marketing strategy is going to stand alone. In fact, trends point toward tactics becoming increasingly linked, and companies must take a comprehensive approach to marketing and advertising if they want to see the best possible results.
Optimizing for voice search is only one part of building a solid marketing strategy for your window fashion business. Consider adding some of these other tactics to the mix if you aren’t already using them:
- Paid advertising, including pay-per-click campaigns where you bid on longtail and low-competition keywords to capture large portions of specific target audience segments
- Social media marketing, including building awareness via posts and engagement on Facebook or Instagram
- Google My Business marketing, which involves claiming a free online profile and putting it to work to potentially land valuable SERP real estate
However you go about it, it’s time to start preparing for the SEO of tomorrow—whether you take a DIY approach to online marketing or find an SEO firm that can handle it for you.
Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing and a leading expert in creating case generation from online to the phone line. He is the author of “Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Window Covering Companies.”