For generations, humanity has imagined a future where giving voice commands to devices and machines and engaging in ‘conversations’ to search for information would become a reality. In Stanley Kubrick’s iconic movie from 1968, “2001: A Space Odyssey” the portrayal of voice-activated interaction with HAL was revolutionary for its time. This vision of seamless human-machine communication foreshadowed the very technology we now witness in our everyday lives.
In recent years, the rapid rise of voice-enabled devices, such as smart speakers and virtual assistants, has revolutionized the way people interact with technology. There are more than 4 billion voice assistants in use as of 2023 and this number is projected to double by 2024. In the US, half of the population uses voice search daily. Interacting with voice made information accessible for a broader audience, including people with disabilities.
Beyond Convenience: Impact on Accessibility and Inclusion
Voice search has a significant connection to web accessibility and inclusive web design. In fact, one of the key benefits of the technology is its potential to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, making it easier for them to access and interact with digital content.
And we are not just talking about the visually impaired. Voice commands can also simplify website navigation for people with motor disabilities who might encounter challenges with traditional keyboard or mouse inputs.
Another inclusive feature of this technology is its multilingual use of accessing information. Rather than typing in a foreign language, users can search for information using their own voice, which can be especially helpful when they might not be familiar with the correct spelling or phrasing in the target language.
Voice search often involves more natural language interactions, resembling the way people communicate in everyday conversations. This can be advantageous for individuals with cognitive disabilities or learning difficulties, as they can express their queries more naturally and receive relevant results.
Adventure of Untamed Terrain: Voice Commerce & SEO
Now, picture a world where shopping is as easy as saying a few magic words, and your virtual assistant whisks you away on a shopping spree without lifting a finger. The realm of voice search is transforming how consumers shop online and how retailers approach their SEO strategies. While it may seem like a digital adventure of untamed terrain, the journey of voice search optimization holds exciting promises for e-commerce development and SEO that are yet to be fully explored.
Despite its tremendous potential, voice search optimization remains relatively uncharted when compared to other SEO topics. Many businesses and content creators are still getting accustomed to its implications. Traditional SEO has historically focused on optimizing websites for text-based searches, and much of the existing SEO knowledge and content is centered around this aspect. As a result, voice search optimization has taken some time to gain the same level of attention. Not to mention that content creators have to keep up with the latest best practices in an evolving landscape, as search engines are continually refining their algorithms to better understand voice queries and provide more accurate results.
There might also be a lack of comprehensive data and case studies to analyze and draw insights from. This scarcity of concrete data makes it difficult for content creators to provide evidence-based guidance.
Grasping User Intent
Voice search queries tend to be more conversational and longer than their text-based counterparts. As a result, these searches are more apparent and natural, as users tend to express themselves in a conversational manner, making their needs clearer compared to traditional keyword-based text searches. That said, grasping the search intent correctly can still be challenging in certain cases. This challenge arises from various factors, such as:
- Natural language is rich in ambiguity. Sometimes, users may use vague or imprecise terms, leading to varied interpretations of their intent.
- Voice searches can be longer and more intricate than typical text-based searches, requiring content creators to address multiple aspects of a query in their content. In fact, exact keyword use in title and meta description does not play an important role in voice search as Google scans the entire page and displays the most relevant section.
- Lack of visual cues and standardized keywords: In traditional text-based searches, people often use specific, standardized keywords (best, cost, reviews etc) when typing their queries into search engines. These keywords have become well-established over time, and content creators and search engine algorithms have adapted to recognize and respond to them effectively. As a result, content optimization for text-based searches has been relatively more straightforward due to the prevalence of these common and standard keywords. When we search through speaking to our virtual assistant it’s like we were talking to another person, using more extended phrases and natural language.
Tracking Organic Voice Search Traffic
Google Analytics and Google Search Console do not provide specific data on traffic specifically generated from voice search queries. Voice search data is not differentiated from other types of search data in these tools.
Google Analytics tracks all organic search traffic, whether it comes from voice search, traditional text-based search, or other sources. Similarly, Google Search Console provides data on the overall performance of your website in Google’s search results, but it does not break down the traffic into voice search and text-based search categories.
Since voice search is essentially a different method of performing a search, there isn’t a specific flag or identifier that distinguishes voice search traffic from other types of search traffic in these tools.
However, you can get some insights into voice search usage indirectly through a few methods:
- Featured Snippets and Position Zero Data: Voice search often pulls answers from featured snippets, also known as position zero. In Google Analytics, you can check the traffic to pages that have featured snippets or position zero rankings to get an idea of the potential voice search traffic that they might be receiving.
- Natural Language or Conversational Queries: In Google Search Console, you can identify queries that seem more conversational or natural language-based. While this isn’t a direct indicator of voice search traffic, it might give you an idea of the types of queries that are more likely to be voice search queries.
- Mobile Traffic: Since voice search is often performed on mobile devices, you can monitor the mobile traffic data in Google Analytics. An increase in mobile traffic might suggest an increase in voice search activity since voice searches are commonly performed on smartphones and smart speakers.
The Impact of Voice Search on E-Commerce Organic Performance
By now it’s clear that a growing number of users are turning to voice search to find products and make purchases. The global value of voice-assistant e-commerce transactions in 2023 is expected to amount to almost USD$20 billion, growing fourfold the figure from 2021.
Voice search is highly prevalent on mobile devices, which is a significant driver of mobile commerce. Capturing the available pool of mobile shoppers requires voice search optimization. In this effort you will want to prioritize efforts for featured snippets, conversational tone and clarity.
Related: 7 Ecommerce Industry Trends (2023)
Strategies for Optimizing Product Pages for Voice Search
1. Natural Language
Focus on using conversational tone and long-tail keywords that match how people speak when asking questions or searching for products. Address the common questions users may have about your products.
2. Featured Snippets Optimization
Voice search often relies on position zero results to provide answers. Provide concise and helpful answers to common user queries related to your products.
3. Structured Data Markup
Implement structured data markup to provide search engines with structured information about your products. This can enhance the chances of your product details being pulled for voice search results.
Ensure that your product descriptions are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Voice search devices often read out product information directly to users, so it’s crucial to provide easily digestible details.
5. Voice Commerce Integrations
Consider integrating voice commerce capabilities into your e-commerce platform. This could include features like voice-based product search, voice-based checkout, and order tracking through voice commands.
6. Customer Reviews and Ratings
Positive customer reviews and high product ratings can increase the likelihood of your products being recommended in voice search results.
As the rapid rise of voice-enabled devices revolutionizes how people interact with technology, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new era where giving voice commands to devices and machines has become a tangible reality. The realm of voice search extends beyond mere convenience; it embraces inclusivity, making information accessible to a broader audience, including those with disabilities.
The synergy of voice search with e-commerce is particularly profound, offering a seamless shopping experience with just a few magic words. Businesses turning their focus to voice search optimization navigate uncharted waters where the tide of data and case studies remains relatively sparse. This leaves content creators to rely on intuition and experimentation.
As we delve deeper into the potential of voice-based interactions, the realm of SEO and user-centric content creation continues to evolve and the power of voice commands shapes the way we explore, interact, and experience the digital world.
If you are seeking professional help for voice shopping feature integrations or other high-end development and optimization solutions, reach out to our ecommerce and SEO experts.retailers