Voice Search Optimization: Is Your Business Ready?
Me : Alexa, buy toothpaste.
Alexa: Okay. What kind would you like? I’d recommend Colgate.
Ads from Alexa: crossing the line, or a natural next step?
At first Amazon said, "there are no plans to add ads on Alexa." Now the story is changing, and they are saying, "Alexa is the future, but we are going slow on voice ads." According to CNBC, Amazon is in talks with companies like Proctor & Gamble, Clorox and others to slowly roll out ads that will surface when users ask their Echo to buy various products. As Marketers, how should we feel about this? Should we view it as just another channel to reach consumers?
Think about this: 57% of smart speaker owners have bought something with their voice. Pretty impressive for a technology that just hit the mainstream within the last few years.
Ryan Deiss posed a great question in his recent post: Is your business ready for this? He went on to share how his young daughter is using voice search for research purposes. Even my own 8-year-old was just voice researching for a school project while also voice shopping for ballet shoes. Our kids are ready for this shift, but as Marketers, are we?
“My 8-year-old was just voice researching for a school project while also voice shopping for ballet shoes. Our kids are ready for this shift, but as Marketers, are we?” – Click to tweet
So how will this surface in consumer behaviors? A year or two from now, if I want to try a sensitivity toothpaste rather than my usual whitening, will I say, “Alexa, what toothpaste would you recommend for sensitive teeth?” Maybe she will list off some of the top reviewed products, or maybe, if ads begin to work their way into Alexa’s vernacular, she will jump right to the highest bidder. But this complicates things. If consumers today already show distrust for most ads, does Amazon risk setting the same principle with Alexa?
“If consumers today already show distrust for most ads, does Amazon risk setting the same principle with Alexa?” – Click to tweet
Amazon’s plan is to make Alexa “smarter” as time goes on, which means we as consumers will, ideally, over time build a trusting relationship with her. Anytime I have a question, rather than turning to my Google app, the idea is that I will call out to Alexa. If ads come into the picture, will that trust dissipate? My thought, in short – not if they’re done right. Alexa is not a traditional channel, so ads on Alexa should not be treated as traditional ads.
“Alexa is not a traditional channel, so ads on Alexa should not be treated as traditional ads.” – Click to tweet
But hold on a minute. Let’s get back to Ryan Deiss’ question: is your business ready for this? Let’s back it up to present day, and where Alexa and voice technology stand right now. How is your company addressing voice search optimization in its current state? This is important, because setting up your strategy for today’s technology will allow you to seamlessly grow and evolve as things continue to shift.
Here are some tips for voice search optimization that you can adopt starting today:
Claim your Google “My Business” listing. Claiming your business on Google does multiple things:
Associates your business with an address on Google Maps: when you have a business address associated to your brand, you will have a higher chance of popping up immediately for Google Map searches.
Strengthens your Google search ranking: claiming your business adds credibility to your brand within Google’s search algorithm, so you are more likely to show up towards the top of local, organic searches when you claim your business listing.
Think like people. Be sure to use conversational keywords when writing content. This gives users a better experience and helps voice assistants to give the impression that they are functioning as they are intended – as artificially intelligent beings (only a little less sophisticated for now, since they are zeroing in on keywords, but this is continuing to evolve.) Inserting conversational keywords or phrases that customers would say in natural conversation into your content will enable voice recognition to more accurately scan and find the content it needs to pull from when a user is engaging and asking questions.
Add an FAQ page on your site with detailed explanation to top 10 most frequent questions your customers are asking. As mentioned in tip #2, voice search currently acts on keywords or phrases, so adding keyword rich content to your site, such as an FAQ, will feed the virtual assistant the information consumers will most likely ask for when they use voice search.
Make sure your mobile website experience is top notch. “As of March 2017, 80% of top Alexa websites were mobile adaptive.” Mobile sites are much more accessible and friendly for devices such as the Echo to interact with. Therefore, making sure your mobile website experience is performing at its best will only help when it comes to your business’s voice search optimization.
One of the benefits of an AI tool such as Alexa is its machine learning capability. This means the technology is able to learn from every user utterance, making each experience more intelligent, conversational, and personal over time. For a virtual assistant such as the Echo, the key to rolling out ads is keeping personalization the main priority. This is one of the biggest benefits of machine learning.
“For a virtual assistant such as the Echo, the key to rolling out ads is keeping personalization the main priority.” – Click to tweet
For example, there can be tiers advertisers can tap into, where their product is recommended the first time a user asks to buy, say, toothpaste. But then if they reject the brand, and especially if they specifically request a different brand, companies should be able to use these insights for their own marketing strategies, such as audience segmentation or targeting, to better structure their advertising campaigns. Brands should bear in mind tactics such as being prepared to offer their differentiators if asked by the user, or warming prospective customers to their products. Doing this in a non-intrusive or pushy way could make ads on Echo, and other voice assistants, could be the key to future marketing.
How do you feel about ads on Alexa? Let us know in the comments.