How to optimize your eCommerce content for Voice Search
July 9, 2019
As voice takes over from the keyboard & screen, what does it mean for brands’ e-commerce content plans?
Voice search is rapidly gaining popularity, though it is still unclear exactly what impact it is having on habitual e-commerce purchases. Smart speaker devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home are more and more common in homes and offices. According to a recent report from NPR and Edison Research, there are close to 120 million such devices in US homes, while in January Amazon said that 100 million Alexa-powered devices had been sold globally.
We believe that voice interface and voice search represent the next major disruption in the retail industry. My colleague Witold Sikora alluded to it in his blog ‘What Product Manufacturers Need to Know About e-Commerce Content Trends’.
e-Commerce and mobile devices have already changed shopping beyond recognition, and it is likely that voice will dominate online transactions in the not too distant future.
Already more than half of voice shopping transactions start on a smartphone.
Smart speakers might be driving most to the hype and interest around in voice-enabled commerce today. However, voice e-commerce will also gain traction in the mobile arena, where the convenience of voice really makes sense. Already more than half of voice shopping transactions start on a smartphone.
The speed with which shoppers are adopting voice command presents a number of challenges for brands, not least of which is adapting product content to optimize for voice search.
Voice-Ready Content Considerations
There are a number of key differences between voice search and ‘traditional’ text search. Our eStoreVoice team has been involved in a number of projects for brands as they develop voice-related skills. Here are four key learnings from that work which apply to how brands should think about, and plan for e-commerce content.
Optimize for longer phrases
We can speak much faster than we can type, so it’s natural to use longer, more syntactically complex, phrases for voice search. When optimizing content for text search we think of short keyword phrases usually up to three words. Voice search expressions are typically longer, involving more than seven words, and including long tail search terms.
Using long tail keywords is good practice for traditional SEO, as well as voice search optimization, so working to populate your content with these terms should help your search rank across the board.
Given that voice is a non-visual interface, discovering and choosing a preferred variants can be a challenge for consumers. This is especially true in consumer-packaged goods where shoppers often depend on visual cues - such colour, shape or physical size – to select their favourite option. A shopper selecting the green fabric condition may be completely unaware that she is choosing the variant called ‘meadow fresh’. As a result, brands need go beyond the obvious long tail keyword phrases to include expressions such as “the green one“, or the “square pack”, as appropriate.
Answer the question
Voice search usually sounds more like natural language than text search, and more often than not phrased as a question. Think “What’s the best shampoo for treating dandruff?” rather than “dandruff shampoo.” Planning and constructing your content should focus on answering shoppers common question, and use a conversational tone for phrasing the questions, to rank well for voice queries.
Because people’s language and speech patterns vary by country and region it means a one-size-fits-all e-content strategy is unlikely to deliver the best results in a voice-dominated e-commerce environment. For example, the issue of translation (or lack of translation) adds a deeper layer of complexity to variant selection, as we move beyond English-speaking markets.
As mentioned in my recent blog ‘Nine e-commerce perfect store content planning tips‘ brands need to consider how to create, manage, host, approve, change and distribute my e-channel content efficiently, as well as how to manage localization and translation for multiple markets. These points are even more important in a voice-enabled world and require more sophisticated content tools to manage.
There is no doubt that voice search has arrived and is here to stay, but there is still some way to go before voice-commerce really gets going. However, it is still worth considering in your content planning, especially given that optimizing for voice search will only help with general search optimization.