[Q&A] Voice Search and eCommerce – How to Captivate Speakers

Voice eCommerce sales reached $1.8 billion last year and are predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022.

But how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of this technology to reach more of your potential customers?

We chatted with Quentin Aisbett, Director & Digital Strategist at OnQ Marketing, to find out more about how voice search works and his top tips on how you can quickly and easily increase your voice search ranking.

How does voice search work?

“[Google] is always looking to provide the searcher with the most appropriate, most valuable information, in the fastest time possible”, Quentin says.

As smartphones became increasingly popular, people started searching very differently on mobile compared to desktop – they started using shorter, more direct search queries.

Quentin compares voice search to the way you’d talk to your best friend.

“Where we might have previously typed into Google ‘buy women’s Asics’, we would now ask ‘hey google, where can I buy the cheapest Asics?’. It’s a different search query, and it’s being asked in much more natural language, rather than official search terms.”

What can businesses be doing to increase their voice search ranking?

The difference with voice search is that Google is looking to provide a single answer and it needs to be succinct.

“We need to think about the user’s intent and the context in which they are searching, much the same way that UX professionals design mobile experiences”, Quentin says.

Google are searching for voice search answers to be as concise as possible. Where longer content usually ranked higher on the search results page, the average voice search answer is 29 words.  

“To increase the likelihood of your content being picked up for voice search, you need to be able to provide bite size pieces of information that are easily accessible on product pages for Google to be able to source”, says Quentin.

“That sounds easy but this content is going to need to appear natural within product pages.”

How can businesses optimise their site for voice search?

Backlink conducted a study where they analysed 10,000 Google Home search results to find out how we can be optimising for voice search.

They found that 20% of all Google mobile queries are voice searches, and that 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet.

If you want to feature in this snippet list, you’ll need to start testing with different search terms and adapting your product pages.

“You need to analyse what Google is returning and then see how you can improve on that”, Quentin explains.

“If your competitor is ranking for a Featured Snippet, start analysing what it is on their page you don’t have that might be contributing to them scoring the Featured Snippet and not you.

That’s really what SEO is doing at this stage to try and win those golden Featured Snippets.”

How can businesses optimise their product pages for voice search?

Quentin’s tip is to focus on the FAQs on a product page (you can check out ours here!).

The FAQ section is a great place to tailor your questions and answers to the queries that your shoppers might actually be searching for.

“They [FAQs] provide terrific short snippets of information for voice search… because you can make it far more conversational than other sections of your site”, Quentin says.

“We’re not putting 600 word answers into an FAQ answer, we’re using tight 30 – 50 word answers which is perfect for a search query.”

How will voice search influence online shopping?

Quentin believes we are all spectators when it comes to how voice will influence consumer behavior because it’s still so new and is changing so rapidly.

“As with any new channel, merchants providing a seamless customer experience are at a terrific advantage.”

This means having an intimate understanding of the customer journey. Knowing when customers are going to be searching for your products using voice. And then being sure you have succinct information to cater for each of those queries throughout the journey.

“The vendor that invests in their customer and continues to test with new technologies and the adaptation of voice will certainly be better placed to win the hearts and minds of the online shopper.”

Any final tips?

“If I could recommend anything to anyone wanting to optimise for voice search, it’s to go and buy yourself a smart speaker, and start using the voice assist on your phone. Try and go through the experience yourself to get really intimate with the role it could play in the customer journey” Quentin says.

“If you’re just sitting back and watching what the industry does, then you’re already behind the 8-ball!”