Voice search matters for the consumer on several levels.
- It’s fast. Generally, humans can speak four times faster than we can type. So on one level, voice search feeds our need to move fast.
- It’s about ease. Voice search is very natural. It can be much easier to ask for something out loud than it is to type.
- It’s about our inherent desire to do less and receive more.
Google sees the move into voice search as a natural extension within the current customer journey. A consumer might verbally ask a question to their Google Home. The Google Home captures that information and not only speaks the answer out loud, but also shares those results with the accompanying app on the consumer’s phone. Later, that consumer looks up something via Google Maps, seeking to understand where that product they researched earlier can be purchased near them.
Businesses must understand the customer’s journey to thrive in today’s voice search environment. The goal is simple — position your business at locations along the customer’s journey where you provide useful information, products, or services.
However, how well you align can impact how search engines rank your business. If your data proves to be more useful to an engine’s customers, then you rank well, and more frequently. If you provide a less than ideal solution to portions of the customer journey, the engine holds you back and tests others in higher positions. Therefore, it’s vital you understand where you fit in the context of what a searcher is trying to accomplish.
Voice search understands a lot of context these days, and the systems powering voice search are getting smarter. Ask a question about the Empire State Building such as, “What is the address of the Empire State Building?” and it’s pretty straight forward, obvious, and easily understood. But if your next question is, “How tall is it?” just a few years ago, our voice systems would have struggled to connect “it” with “the Empire State Building.” Humans do this easily, but it’s actually a very complex task for machines.
Today, the systems powering voice search understand context, and a wide variety of data points exist to feed these knowledge-based systems — your physical location, the time of day, your past questions, and what you’re doing on your mobile device at the moment.
As a business, your ability to understand these moments of context that exist for an individual, and to meaningfully map yourself to them, will determine your level of success with voice search. For almost a decade, search has been a race between businesses to try to claim top rankings on select keywords. That made sense at the time because people searched online, on desktop computers. Today, these trends are changing. It’s still important to focus on what people want, but the focus extends well beyond just keywords.
From basic keyword research to true digital agents, consumer behavior is changing — and to gain supremacy means being contextually valuable. The upside is that with this shift, the concept of context opens up so many new ways for a business to bring relevancy… way more than being simply keyword-relevant ever could. Essentially, it opens the playing field much wider, enabling big brands to expand into new niches, and for startups to claim a new space and cement a hold on their future.
In our latest eBook, How Voice Search Changes Everything, Yext VP of Industry Insights, Duane Forrester, breaks down the world of voice search. Download it now for even more insight into how it impacts your business and what you can do to reach more consumers through this technology.