News & Insights

13/02/2019

Is your content ready for the voice search explosion?by Amanda Taylor



Whether you use Siri, Alexa or Google Voice Assistant, voice technology is becoming an integral part of our everyday lives.

According to PWC, 65% of 25-49 year olds currently speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day and Gartner predicts that the proportion of web searches done without a screen will rise from the current 20% to 30% by 2020.

As with any emerging technology, voice search still has obstacles to overcome and a recent survey by AnswerLab found financial services firms face the greatest challenges in terms of leveraging this new platform.

Of the smart speaker owners surveyed, less than 30% were interested in applying for a credit card, while less than 40% were interested in searching for financial advice through a smart speaker, with privacy and the risk of having their financial information hacked listed as the greatest concerns.

In Australia, a number of financial services businesses are getting on the front foot by launching their own solutions. ING, for example, launched voice-activated checking of bank balances in 2018, while Westpac became the first Australian bank to announce plans to use voice technology to enable customers to make payments.

How voice-activated technology will shape content

As the reliance on voice communications grows, financial brands must also adapt their online content to better interact with target audiences. For marketers, the challenge is in creating content that is adapted to a new way of searching. Rather than inputting key words or brand names, voice-activated searches generally consist of a longer form question, like ‘What’s the best mortgage rate in Australia?’ or ‘How does car financing work?’

In fact, according to Google, voice searches are 30 times more likely than text searches to be question queries, which require specific answers.

Optimising content for voice search

Though voice search may be years away from becoming fully mainstream, it has gained enough traction for marketers to be taking it seriously. To prepare your business’ content, here are a few tips:
  1. Optimise for ‘position zero’
With only one audio result available for each conversational query, you need to ensure your brand is the one selected.

Google Home and Google Assistant typically provide answers using position zero results, also known as ‘featured snippets’. This is the summary of an answer that often appears in a box at the top of page when you submit a Google query.

Featured snippets favour content that answers specific questions in natural language. So when creating content for your website, try to anticipate the questions your audience would ask about a particular topic. Aim to display answers in a user-friendly way – on a Frequently Asked Questions page, for example.

You then begin creating content that is conversational and specific enough to be cherry-picked from the organic listing of a search engine’s first-page results. Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ feature can also provide insights into the questions people are asking when they search.
  1. Create mobile-friendly content
There is a powerful link between search and mobile, and data from Statista shows online searches on mobile devices have exploded in the last eight years, reaching 52% today, up from just 3% in 2010.

Ensuring that all content has been prepared for mobile devices is therefore a crucial step towards optimising for voice. This includes mobile-friendly layouts and content and access to your company’s physical locations through listings on Google, Yelp, Bing and Apple Maps – particularly if your business is a local one.
  1. Stay up to date
Search algorithms change regularly, so it is important to keep up with any changes to the search rules (or engage an agency with the know-how to manage this for you). And don’t be afraid to experiment with your content until you get the results you are looking for. As a wise man once said, change is the only constant. 

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