Voice Search: How to Win with Your Business

The biggest change in the way people search is voice.

A decade ago, it was science fiction to control technology with your voice. It’s now a part of everyday life.

Siri, the voice-searching feature on the iPhone, launched in 2011. Siri, Alexa, and Cortana are all competing for our attention today. The booming smart speaker industry is a who’s-who of tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Nearly a third of marketing leaders consider voice search to be the “next biggest thing” in marketing. Voice search is a technology that your business cannot afford to ignore.

Digital knowledge management can help businesses prepare for the future

Consumers have adopted voice search, but the business world is less ready for its impact. When a user searched for “best pizza near me” on the Web, the results page included multiple links in blue.

When consumers ask voice-enabled search services like Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa the same question, they will usually get only one answer – the one that the search engine determines to be the best. If a business doesn’t appear as the first result, they risk not being found at all.

As third-party sources of information, like voice assistants, get more intelligent, the website, which was once a centerpiece for a brand, is being quickly overtaken. Brands need to look beyond SEO.

This shift also means that brands must make sure that facts about them are accurately managed and published and that they can be recognized by intelligent services – including voice assistants – that consumers depend on today. This eliminates the need and delay of crawling search engines and ensures that your customers receive timely, accurate information directly from your company.

Three steps that your business can take to remain competitive in the age of voice search, intelligent services, and AI

Take control of your digital information. A voice search strategy relies on organizing and centralizing public facts about products, people, and places. Maintain consistency and update easily with a single source of truth. This underlying need cannot be met by technology alone. Working together with great people and a great system is also essential.

Manage your business facts actively. Facts about businesses are dynamic. The constant flux of store relocations, seasonal adjustments, promotions, and weather-related closings is a result of the continuous changes. It’s important to remember that managing brand knowledge is not a one-time project. Instead, it’s something that should be done regularly.

Integrate your internal systems and publish all of the digital knowledge you have. After organizing the information that consumers need to know, make sure to post it to the services they use. This includes apps, websites, voice-search tools, and your website. To offer a great consumer experience, it is important to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information anywhere.

Use conversational language

If businesses want to appear as the most reliable source of information for a voice search, they must present the correct information logically and coherently.

Search engines are not miracle workers. When people search, they won’t find content that is difficult to find or hidden. The website of a brand, its videos, and other content are key in contextualizing public facts about an enterprise for intelligent services…but only if these competent services can understand and find them.

Businesses need to consider what else they can tell their prospective customers in order to make them buy.

Consumers will want to find out everything from the availability of rooms at a hotel to the average waiting time in a restaurant. If a company can provide all that information, they are more likely to answer the questions of consumers in voice search.

Understanding the Customer Journey

To thrive in the current environment, businesses must understand their customers’ journey. This goes beyond just ranking high in search results for certain keywords. Contextual relevance is crucial for voice search. Companies must be able to map meaningfully to the context of a person’s life in order to succeed with voice search.

If you ask, “What is the best sushi restaurant in New York?” a particular business might not be the top result. It might be the number one result when you ask, “What is the best sushi in SoHo, New York?” What’s the best late-opening sushi restaurant? Businesses that are able to provide specifics about their offerings (i.e., hours, menu items, or exact location) will appear in the results for more specific queries. If you search for more specific questions, it will appear in the results.

Voice search can now understand many contexts. This means that brands need to understand the reasons why consumers would choose one business over another. (Shorter wait times, lower prices, more convenient locations, etc.) They must also make this information available.

The success of voice search will ultimately be determined by a brand’s ability to map those context moments, understand them, and then effectively publish digital knowledge relevant to that moment.

Future proof your business

Businesses will be better equipped to handle new user interfaces, including those that go beyond voice search.

Amazon is a pioneer in the visual search market with its products, Echo Look, Spot, and Show. Google Lens allows you to scan the real world for location-specific data. If a visual query involves your business, just like with voice searches, you want to ensure that the consumer receives accurate information directly from you.

You can future-proof your business by managing, updating, and publishing key information that consumers desire for the intelligent services you use.

Voice search disrupts traditional search optimization but also creates a great opportunity for businesses that are ready to prepare themselves for the future.

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