How to Benefit From Voice-Activated Content

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

As smart speakers and voice assistants such as Echo and Google Home get more popular, there’s a rising demand for voice activated content. By now, just about everyone knows that this technology is quickly spreading. What’s not as widely understood is that voice search is transforming the nature of content marketing.

Why Voice Search is the Wave of the Future
A recent survey from NPR and Edison Research found that 21 percent of Americans or 53 million people now own some type of smart speaker. This exceeds the number of people who currently read daily newspapers. What’s more, this technology is still in the early stages. In a few more years, the percentage of users will most likely grow dramatically.

Only a few years ago, devices such as Amazon Echo were a novelty and it was easy to dismiss them as a gimmick or passing trend. However, consumers quickly realized just how useful and enjoyable it was to be able to perform searches and speak commands verbally rather than typing them. The fact is, speaking is more natural and intuitive for most people than typing.

People are getting accustomed to doing voice searches in their vehicles to find restaurants, services and all types of destinations. However, the demand for voice-activated content goes well beyond the realm of local SEO. While people are certainly using this technology to find the closest gas station or pizza place, they’re also using it for many other purposes as well.

At home, people are using voice assistants to perform Google searches, turn lights on and off, turn on the TV and operate appliances. We are quickly coming to depend on this technology and take it for granted. It’s very likely that the majority of all web content will eventually be found via voice search. What does all this mean for businesses, marketing agencies and other content creators? Brick and mortar businesses now understand that they need to optimize their listings for voice search. According to one estimate, 50 percent of searches will be done by voice by 2020.

A New Type of Content Marketing
In the past few years, it’s become essential to make all your website content mobile-friendly. The voice search revolution is making a similar impact. The two are related as many voice searches are performed on mobile devices. It’s necessary to understand that content that’s ideal for traditional searches may not be appropriate for voice search.

What this means is that voice-activated content is now a significant part of content marketing. In the next few years, it may even come to dominate content marketing. Let’s look at some of the distinctive features that you need to reach an audience that’s accessing content via voice. The very fact that Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is pushing this technology so hard. Amazon got involved in voice assistants for many reasons. However, we can’t ignore the fact that retail products are still at the core of Amazon’s business model. They understand that devices such as the Echo make it more convenient for customers to shop online and buy more products.

According to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants, voice shopping will rise from $2 billion to $40 billion by 2022. In other words, in less than three years, we can expect a 20x increase in sales involving voice technology. The implications of this data are clear. If you’re selling anything online, whether a product or service, you need to create content geared to voice search customers.

Keep in mind that some shoppers know exactly what they’re looking for while others are still in the research phase. You can cater to both types of customers with voice search. In addition to making it easy for shoppers to locate your products and services, it’s also important to provide them with educational content.

How to Optimize Content for Voice Search
What exactly is voice-activated content and how does it differ from traditional content? Strictly speaking, any content you publish can be accessed via voice search. The point, however, is to make your content appealing and easy to access for people doing these types of searches. There are some important distinctions to consider.

  • Think of how people naturally speak. Traditional keywords tend to be short and consist mainly of nouns as in “Dentist San Antonio.” When people speak, they’re more likely to say a complete sentence such as “Where can I find the nearest dentist?” This means when you create content for voice search, you should look at phrases and longtail keywords.
  • Include contact info. With traditional searches, the idea is to get people to visit your website or perhaps fill out an opt-in form. When it comes to voice search, many customers would prefer to call you or, if you’re a business with a physical location, simply show up at your store or office. This means it’s essential to provide a phone number or physical address.
  • Answer questions. The typical voice search query comes in the form of a question. That’s why one of the best strategies for voice-activated content is to have a FAQ section that covers as many points about your business as possible.
  • Limit the use of jargon and acronyms. While it’s common to use industry jargon and acronyms in social media and blog posts, keep in mind that this type of language is not always easy to understand when spoken out loud. Popular abbreviations and acronyms that might be appropriate for Twitter or texting, such as ICYMI or FWIW might be confusing to people listening rather than reading. Unless you know your customers are well-versed in your jargon, keep your language as simple as possible.

Get Used to Creating Voice Activated Content
We’re only at the beginning of the voice search and voice assistant revolution. People are quickly getting comfortable with the convenience of searching and speaking commands out loud. The possibilities for voice search technology extend to almost every area of life. This may very well be the default way to search online in the near future. You can get a headstart on this exploding trend by optimizing your content for voice as much as possible.