As we’ve noted already, we expect voice search to be one of the big themes in shaping e-commerce through 2021 and beyond. While this technology has been around for a while - Google in 2013 announced that they want to build the ultimate Star Trek - voice activated system - it is only now that it is beginning to be widely applied.
Voice search is now extremely important for Google, and other companies with massive crawlers and search engines like Amazon. For e-commerce businesses looking to address the maximum number of people possible then, adapting stores for voice search is essential.
So, how does voice search work, and how you can e-commerce stores adapt and become voice searches friendly?
The Numbers Behind Voice Search
Voice search means accessing a search engine via voice commands, usually with the help of devices like Alexa or Google Home. It’s estimated that voice searches have multiplied by 35 times since 2008. Moreover, a study performed by Search Engine Land shows that 20-25% of all mobile searches are voice searches.
Sure, text input still dominates most queries online, whether they’re Google questions, or searches on Amazon. However, the reality is that voice search continues to grow, because it has a slew of benefits for consumers - not least convenience, speed and being able to search the internet hands-free and on-the-go.
A Growing Trend
The use of AI powered personal assistants with voice search capabilities is on the rise. It’s expected that by 2024, the number of voice assistants in use worldwide will have reached a staggering 8.4 billion. It’s not therefore a question of will will voice searches become just as relevant as traditional queries, but rather a question of when.
E-commerce businesses with an eye on the future should prepare for this now. Voice searches have different queries than traditional searches. The sentences are formulated differently, which in turn affects your on-site SEO and SEM optimization.
Moreover, with voice-search it’s not a human choosing between options after Googling a product, so your site needs to be fit for a “robot’s” assessment of your site.
Let’s talk about how you do that.
How to Adapt Your Platform to Voice Search
Adapting an ecommerce platform to voice search, whether it’s an account on Amazon, or your own site, has two elements.
First, platforms need to focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) optimization. Product titles, descriptions, and tags need to match the queries that the products need to rank for, or the queries they are advertised on.
Once that’s done, the next step will be to optimise the backend of an e-commerce platform, in order to convince the algorithms that the platform is a good place to order products from.
SEO and SEM For Voice Search
The key difference between traditional searches and voice searches is sentence structure. While traditional searches were shorter, and more to the point, voice searches tend to follow grammar rules more closely, resulting in longer queries.
For example, someone doing a traditional google search for the best sneakers to buy might Google “best sneakers 2021”, while a voice search looking for the same thing might look like “what are the best sneakers to buy in 2021”.
There’s no need for e-commerce platforms to change primary keywords instantly to match voice searches, because traditional searches are still important, especially if there’s no clear buyer intent modifier to the keyword.
It’s something e-commerce platforms should keep in mind however, as part of a long-term strategy. As the volume of impressions gained from voice searches grows, it would be smart to begin adapting to the longer tail keywords used in voice searches.
The same principle applies to advertising campaigns. If an online book retailer for example found that PPC ads are performing well for “fantasy books”, there’s no need to urgently change the keywords you target to “where to buy fantasy books online”. However, there is a case for running test campaigns for these voice searches to see if they can provide better results.
Moreover, every single SEO improvement helps here, because it breeds trust in a site, making it easier for voice activated devices to recommend your products.
Having gained insight into the keywords an audience uses, e-commerce platforms can then begin to make sure algorithms favour their websites. Alexa users, for example, can simply say “Alexa, Order” followed by your desired product.
Sure, if the product requested can be easily found on Amazon, Alexa will most likely order from Amazon. But not everything is readily available on Amazon, especially if we’re talking about requests outside of the US, so authority is still crucial to e-commerce sites when it comes to facilitating sales through voice searches.
Some of ways in which e-commerce sites can improve their chances here include; optimising the loading time of a site with tools like GTMetrix; uploading a sitemap so algorithms can easily map your pages and find products; using schema metadata for even better indexation by algorithms and claiming and constantly updating Google Business listings.
Voice search is on the rise, and is a convenient way for users to research and buy products. This presents an opportunity to e-commerce businesses. Online retailers with an eye on the future should optimise SEO and SEM processes to incorporate the right keywords, and optimise sites to inspire trust to crawlers. Taking these steps will keep businesses ahead of the voice-search curve.