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Voice Search and SEO: Why B2B Marketers Need to Pay Attention Now

Voice search has become increasingly popular in recent years and has been embraced for a number of reasons. Voice search has also made an impact on B2B (Business to Business) decision-makers has also grown, so B2B marketers should start preparing now!

Voice search is most commonly examined in the context of local B2C  (Business to Consumer) SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), however, its uses are being utilised for more than just simply getting direction to your local grocery store or to hear the next step in a recipe when cooking in the kitchen. Voice search is being adopted for a wide range of functions, along with growing it influence on B2B decision makers.

By analysing who is utilising voice search, why they are opting to use and where they are using it, the impact that voice search will have on B2B SEO is clear and inevitable. As voice search technology is growing and becoming more accessible to more and more people every day, there is no better time than right now to begin optimising for voice searches.

Who is using voice technology?

Even as early as 2014, it had been reported that more than 55% of adolescents and 41% of adults had already begun to use voice technology in their day-to-day lives.

Adults have been utilising voice technology to dictate texts demonstrating their eagerness to avoid typing on small hand-held devices. Teens however were using the technology to get assistance with their homework and assignments exhibiting an early adoption of voice technology and search in organic search results.

It is important to note that these statistics were collected before the integration of voice-operated personal assistant devices. These virtual assistants are now included by default on smartphones and are even sold as their own hands-free speaker device, such as Amazon’s Echo. The Google Home and Amazon Echo devices have been expected to exceed 24 million dollars in sales in this year alone.

As the embracement of virtual assistant devices continues to grow, more and more individuals will become accustomed to operating technological devices using voice commands. This increase in the familiarity will unavoidably convert to organic searches, even in B2B marketers due to the common denominator for the reason as to why everyone is using voice technology: ease of use.

Why do people use voice search?

Although the familiarity with virtual assistant technology with gradually begin to enounce more people to try voice search, it is ultimately the convenience that will initiate the adoption. The top reasons that users use voice search are almost related to improving the user experience.

People use voice search simply because it is quicker, more simple and user-friendly. It makes searching easy for individuals who find it difficult to type on small handheld devices while also helping searches avoid navigating their way around complicated and confusing site menus. Voice search is also much faster than typing in a search by text that is lead by the major improvements in voice recognition accuracy in technology devices.

The Google voice recognition technology has grown to have an accuracy of 95% – this number has improved by 20% since 2013. Generally, people can speak up to 3 times as many words as they can write, per minute. If the voice recognition technology is just as accurate as typing, especially as many have become lazy with their typing due to features such as auto-correct, the speed improvements of voice search provide a compelling reason for adopting the technology.

Voice search offers its users a better an improved user experience, especially on mobile devices. As 90% of executives use their mobile devices conduct research before they make a purchase, it is not far-fetched to guess that these executives will make the transition to voice search, along with the new generation of B2B buyers who have been exposed to technology their whole lives and becomes second nature.

Where do people use voice search?

One of the most popular reasons that people opt to use voice search is due to occupied hands and vision. It then becomes easy to presume that people are using voice search when they are in their cars or are busy in the kitchen, however, there are also so many other reasons and places that people use voice search.

According to a recent survey that was conducted by Stone Temple Consulting, they had reported that almost 50% of all respondents use voice search when in the office. And while most people begin to feel uncomfortable when using voice search in public, it was reported that people who are in a part of the highest grossing income bracket are surprisingly the least likely to become embarrassed or become reserved about using voice search in front of others or in a public domain.

With all of these factors considered, the importance and relevance of voice search in B2B marketing is difficult to ignore.

How to prepare for B2B voice search:

It has been predicted that by the year 2020, almost 50% of all searches on search engines will be administered by a voice search. This doesn’t seem too improbable as Google has already reported that nearly 20% of the total mobile queries were already voice searches.

In order to prepare for the impact that voice search will have on B2B SEO, marketers should ensure that they are taking the right steps to optimise their websites and searches for voice queries. There are 3 main techniques to optimise website content for voice search:

  • Target mobiles: Voice searches are most likely to be operated on mobile devices which is why mobile optimisation is more important than ever before. It is important to note that optimising a website for voice searches goes beyond merely a responsive design of the site. Rather, businesses will need to improve their page load speeds, discard obtrusive interstitials, withdraw any drop-down navigational menus and ensure that all videos are formatted to display in full-screen mode when the device is held vertically, to improve the overall mobile user experience.
  • Focus on long-tail keywords: Voice search queries are typically more likely to be longer than text search queries, along with containing more conversational or colloquial language. It is important to find the relevant long-tail keywords and keyword groups and target them with the content within the site to cater to natural and conversational language queries.
  • Target featured snippets: When a featured snippet is populated for a particular query, the voice search device will read the snippet aloud, along with the source. This is a major boost for creating brand recognition, along with authority, as Google basically will declare this company or source as an expert. When voice search is concerned, ‘position zero’ is the new page one.

One of the most beneficial factors of ensuring that you take the time to best optimise voice search is that it will help to improve overall SEO simultaneously. Mobile optimization and the speed of a page load are already factors that have an effect of rankings. Long-tail keywords make up half of all searches and features snippets can all help to drive traffic to a website by attaining a ‘position-zero’ results.
It is important to note that voice search SEO is not its own separate initiative, rather, it is just an expansion and reprioritization of the existing SEO practises and techniques.

Voice search and B2B SEO:

With the rise of virtual assistant devices, combined with an improvement in the accuracy of voice recognition technology, there will continue to be a drive towards voice search adoption over the course of the end of the decade.

B2B brands and business are not absolved from the impact on the users’ behaviour when using voice search, and these companies should begin to focus their efforts on voice search optimisation.

Businesses should begin by ensuring that their existing content is optimised for featured snippets. Discover keywords that are already ranking on page one, then begin to analyse these search results for the intent of the user and update the content to provide an answer of value to the answer in place. This will not only boost your brand’s recognition but will also determine your brand as an authority when the virtual assistant reads your brand’s name as the source of the answer in response to a voice search query.

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Cameron Francis is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of ETRAFFIC, Melbourne’s 1 Creative Agency and Digital Marketing Company. He is passionate about helping businesses of all sizes improve their online visibility.

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