Listen Up, Retailers – It's Time To Optimize Content For Voice Search

Apr 18, 2018 11:07:53 AM

by Liz Landry

You’re likely aware that voice search technology is swiftly on the rise, as demonstrated by the following statistics:

And it’s quite clear that the popularity of voice search isn’t just a current fad – the number of voice search queries is only predicted to increase in coming years.

Voice search trend quote on desktop with laptop, cell phone and coffee cup

Perhaps what you haven’t yet considered is how the rise of voice search is impacting e-commerce.

Certainly, with the increasing use of virtual assistants, like Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa, some consumers are choosing to place online product orders via voice search and command – without ever looking at a screen. Just recently, Adweek reported that Google has offered its first voice-activated coupon, which gives $15 off Target orders placed on Google Express via Google Assistant – and some industry experts believe this type of strategy makes sense.

However, targeting voice search and voice command solely to carry out actual online sales isn’t the most effective way for online retailers to utilize the rising influence of this new search technology.

Instead, online retail sites should focus on how voice search can help them better target consumers who are in the first stages of the buyer’s journey – awareness and consideration, or product research – rather than the final purchasing decision stage. According to Ciaran Bollard, chief executive of Kooomo, “The potential for brands to influence the discovery stage of the customer buying cycle with voice search is massive, with SEO playing a vital role.”

So, which SEO strategies should online retailers implement in order to optimize content for voice search?

Primarily, using natural language, questions and long-tail keywords within your e-commerce site’s copy will help increase the likelihood of being found in voice search results. These SEO strategies are effective because people tend to carry out a voice search question or command by using their natural, conversational speech rather than the truncated phrases they use when required to type out a search query.

Here are some specific insights on how to optimize your e-commerce site’s content for voice search:

1.  Utilize category content and FAQ pages

Important copy that complements traditional product pages on a retail site, category content pages are short pieces of general product information at the category-level that help consumers navigate the site’s specific product offerings. An example of category content might be a separate page that discusses different types of lawn fertilizer, explaining which types are more suited for each season and location in a consumer’s yard. Along with FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages, category content pages are ideally suited for using questions throughout the copy, since the information given is in direct response to questions that browsing consumers might be asking.

In addition to questions, category content offers a great opportunity for using natural, conversational language with long-tail keywords similar to how consumers speak when they carry out voice searches. In fact, copy on category content pages should be generally simple and easy to read, since these pages are explaining ideas and concepts that are new to customers who might not have basic knowledge of the product type.

2. Include product benefit statements on product page listings

As we’ve mentioned previously, it’s important that your retail site takes advantage of product benefit statements that help consumers understand the value of product features. In terms of voice search, this content strategy is especially useful because consumers are more likely to ask a voice search question in everyday language rather than citing any specific or proprietary product technology your items offer.

For example, potential customers probably won’t use the term “Sensi-Touch Booster” in their voice search, but they might ask “Which tablet has the most responsive touchscreen technology?” In order to secure the best possible chance of turning up on the voice search results, it’s best to include both this proprietary feature and an explanatory benefit in your product copy.

3. Focus on products marketed toward younger consumers

According to a study cited by smartinsights.com, 40% of Millennials already make search queries through a voice assistant when researching products prior to making a purchase decision. If your retail site sells product categories aimed at a younger audience, it’s essential to utilize SEO content strategies that target voice search in order for your products to be found in the search results instead of a competitor’s.

Young people in cafe using cell phones

In order to get a better idea of how a younger audience uses conversational language when speaking about your products, check out how they speak to each other about products on social media sites. Chances are, it’s that same type of casual language they’re using when asking a virtual assistant for help to identify the next new product to buy.

It’s clear that voice search is a trend that’s here to stay, and e-commerce isn’t immune to its effects on product research at the beginning of the purchase path. With the above suggestions, you can take advantage of this new technology rather than lose critical ground to competitors who are better prepared.

If you’re concerned about your site’s ability to carry out these strategies using only internal resources, rest assured there are outsourcing options to help you achieve site copy that’s truly optimized for voice search. Virtucom Group has over 15 years of experience crafting effective and unique product copy, category content, buying guides and A+ pages for many retail sites. Contact us today to learn how we can help your retail site succeed in the face of new technology that’s transforming the way consumers shop online.

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