“Alexa, find me an electrical component manufacturer in the U.S. that specializes in critical use applications for the medical field.”
While a far cry from finding out the day’s weather forecast or directions to a nearby restaurant, this type of voice assist command may not be out of the question for many B2B buyers in the near future.
Voice assist technology such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana and others, are commonly used in the context of offering local B2C results, like getting a Neapolitan style pizza with Brussels sprouts, bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes, balsamic and a side of marinara delivered to your door, for example — not that I would ever do that. And, of course, it’s always fun to hear its quirky responses to strange questions.
Yes, it’s considered a novelty to some, but B2B marketers should take note of how this rapidly growing technology will influence their inbound marketing approaches, especially since the rules for voice assist differ slightly from traditional Google searches and, as a result, so should SEO strategies.
Considering that more than half of all searches are projected to be done via voice search by 2020, and the voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry by 2019, B2B will inevitably need to adopt the technology. It’s time for brands to begin optimizing for voice search now to get ahead of the game. Here, we’ll help provide a better understanding of voice search technology along with some tips for leveraging its capabilities for B2B SEO.
What is Voice Assist and Why Should B2Bs Care?
In its simplest form, voice assist relies on the spoken word rather than the written word to retrieve search results. As such, we as humans speak much differently than we write and, through machine learning, search engine algorithms are adapting to this shift.
Google is the king of search, right? Not so in voice assist. Most are surprised to discover that Bing reigns supreme in the voice technology realm. Three out of four of the major technologies — Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana — rely on Bing to provide their search results.
The migration toward functionality that can benefit B2Bs is inevitable, and many suspect it could transform many industries and how they handle customer service. It also could expand their abilities to network with overseas partners as a result of translation capabilities, or allow them to serve those with visual impairments or other disabilities.
B2Bs should also consider that the audience segmentation is skewed toward younger audiences. These users will continue to become more dominant in the workforce and shift the way research happens. For B2Bs, voice technology could potentially serve as a personal assistant someday.
It’s hard to imagine now, simply because of the potential disruptive nature of voice search in the average office setting. I’m sure that listening to the guy in the cubicle next to you who’s using voice command to do his online research could get old really fast. But with many people doing research after hours and the increase in remote workers, it’s not totally out of the question.
How Can Forward-thinking B2Bs Leverage Voice Assist?
Voice assist technology developers are, no doubt, actively looking for ways to address the needs of the multi-billion dollar B2B markets that have been relatively ignored in this arena thus far. That’s why it’s imperative for B2Bs to start making adjustments now.
SEO strategies for voice versus text have many similarities, but there are differences to note when determining keywords, title tags and website technical requirements. Here are a few simple tips to get started.
- Since voice search draws results from a featured snippet, focus your efforts on including content and keywords that are more likely to be featured in a snippet. This is the box that shows up at the very top in search engine results even before paid search.
- Voice commands are generally more conversational, so include more long-tail keywords in your SEO campaign.
- If you’ve typically written highly technical content, consider introducing more natural language into your blogs and website. This doesn’t need to be a major shift, but slowly begin adopting more personality into your content.
- Many voice searches are in the form of questions, so get ahead of the curve by including questions and answers on your website, perhaps in the form of an FAQ page. Your site will be more likely to rank in the results when you can answer user questions. Try using the free online tool, Answer the Public, to help determine common questions surrounding your product or service — you might discover some new potential long-tail keywords.
- Focus on providing solid, helpful content that has true meaning and intent, and resist the urge to repeatedly integrate multiple keywords to achieve higher rankings. Search engine algorithms are catching on and will often filter out content that overzealously pushes keywords that could be considered “spammy.”
- Improve the mobile-friendliness of your site. Every smartphone being produced today has a voice assist feature, so it is naturally the most used device when it comes to voice assist.
Change is coming. While asking Siri to order my favorite pizza and have it delivered to my door is pretty neat, I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for B2B voice assist technology. Forward-thinking B2B organizations will realize that leveraging voice search will need to be part of their strategic approach to reach their desired audiences. It’s best to get ahead of the game by making small changes along the way and measuring the results.
If you want to strengthen your SEO approach, check out our free guide below. And, as always, reach out to us to help you take the next steps in your inbound marketing efforts.