How Voice Search Will Impact B2B Marketing

It’s hard to ignore the statistics. Three years ago, only 11 percent of internet users conducted voice searches. Now, that number is well above 40 percent and climbing. In January 2018, users carried out more than 1 billion voice searches and soon enough, experts believe this will be the daily tally. The voice shopping industry, alone, is expected to climb 20-fold between 2018 and 2022.

Voice search, quite literally, has us teetering on the cusp of not only a search revolution but an eCommerce revolution as well. The emergence of voice control and intelligent assistants is empowering customers and prospects, armed with either a smartphone or digital assistant device, to transform the way they search and shop for products and services on the Internet.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search lets you speak your search terms into a smartphone or intelligent assistant device (like Google Home or Amazon Alexa). Your device then searches the Internet and returns information relevant to your query and geographic location. With the explosion of mobile phones in recent years, more people are using their devices to ask Cortana or Siri (Apple’s intelligent assistant) to perform their internet searches. This undoing of traditional search practices could change the way search engines return results.

How Will Voice Search Change SEO?

The way you search for information tends to be natural and conversational, forcing search engines to become more sophisticated in the way they interpret language and understand how people communicate with one another. “Semantic context” helps search engines understand each word in the spoken search and how it relates to the next one. According to Search Engine Land, use of question phrases (e.g., “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how”) grew over 60 percent from year-to-year.

Another change to voice search SEO is in the influence that local businesses will have over your SEO strategy. People search for businesses and events in the immediate surrounding area. In fact, Meditative Spotlight reports that more than 50 percent of mobile phone users search for local business on their smartphones every day.

How Will Voice Search Change B2B Marketing?

Search Engine Land reports:

  • Personal assistants are now a default feature on smartphones.
  • Amazon’s Echo was its best-selling product during the 2016 holiday season.
  • Google Home and Amazon Echo device sales will exceed 24 million by the end of this year.

If you think voice search applies only to B2C companies, your competitors may leave you behind. B2B marketing must prepare for the impact of voice search on SEO, and adoption of this new technology, coupled with the explosion of mobile device use, means that brands must optimize their content for voice search sooner rather than later.

How has voice search already changed those spaces?

According to industry experts, over half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. A shift in content marketing is underway to capture search rankings for content that is easily discoverable by voice and easily read back to users over their mobile devices. For example, think of your content in terms of questions and answers. Marketers are already shifting to the use of long-tail keywords to capture more elaborate search queries. In addition, marketers are inserting as much local data into their content and websites as possible to capture search engine preference for local businesses in search results.

What are some steps companies can take to rank for voice search?

To prepare for the impact of voice search, B2B marketing teams need to optimize their site content by:

  • Focusing on mobile. Since more people will search on mobile devices than desktops, mobile optimization is essential. Take optimization beyond mobile responsiveness, however, and consider how businesses will need to remove intrusive interstitials, eliminate drop-down menus for navigation, and format videos to play full-screen when flipped vertically. These steps will improve the mobile user experience.
  • Using conversational long-tail keywords. Voice search will use conversational language and longer keywords than in the past. Target your long-tail keywords in your content and make sure it reads naturally and conversationally.
  • Targeting “featured snippets.” A featured snippet is a piece of information read out loud, along with the source, when someone uses a voice search. Make your featured snippet SEO friendly and informative. Targets will recognize your brand as the expert when the search engine reads aloud your company name and featured snippet.

What is Google Voice Search?

Google voice search (sometimes called Voice Search Google) is Google’s product that lets users search the internet by speaking into a mobile phone, computer, or intelligent assistant device.  For example, you can ask Google “Ok, Google. Do I need an umbrella tomorrow?” and it will understand what you’re asking and respond with the next day’s forecast. B2B prospects and customers can use Google voice search to look for information about products or services whether they are out and about or sitting at their desk.

What’s Next In Voice Search?

Queries could become more complex as more people ask questions and expect intuitive answers. Consider how complex queries have already become as users are now required to put less effort into including specific keywords for their queries. Instead, if their question is decipherable by Google’s artificial intelligence, Google will send them several useful answers. B2B marketers will need to change from the more traditional ways of targeting keywords for analysis and optimization. Savvy marketers will favor long-tail keyword queries and target overall topics rather than zeroing in on specific terms.

It is safe to assume that voice recognition technology and smart devices or speakers will evolve as the technology advances. You can also expect that they will become even more popular, sparking a search revolution. The time is right to make sure your B2B marketing efforts are at the forefront of the voice search wave.

Wondering what next steps you should take to prepare your business for the voice search revolution? Talk to us to discover a B2B marketing plan that will reach help you drive more leads and sales.

Author: Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.