“Hey Google, why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?” If speaking those words led you here, or maybe you asked Alexa or Cortana, then you’ve actually answered your own question, in a sense. Voice search optimisation of business-to-business content is why you’re reading this right now.
What do I mean by that? Why does voice search matter for your business’s marketing? And what steps can you take to make B2B content rank high in voice search results? I’ll tell you in this article.
But first, let’s focus on why voice search is a thing in the first place.
The rise of voice search
Today, more and more people are using spoken queries to find products and services. This has been fuelled largely by two factors:
- High levels of mobile device usage (smartphones)
- New ‘smart speaker’ devices and voice assistants
According to a study from PwC, 65% of consumers aged 25 to 49 years old talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. And another survey from Hubspot found that 74% of respondents had used voiced search within the last month. So, it’s clear that adoption of these individual technologies – smartphones, smart assistants and voice search – have contributed to the rise of them all.
But there are also some other reasons for the increase in voice search uses, which relate to material realities of life today.
More reasons people are going hands-free
The COVID-19 pandemic may also have spurred voice search’s uptake. Gartner’s report ‘Optimizing Voice Search and Features for Mobile Commerce’ found that 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination. No typing and swiping, no viral transmission – although we have to wonder if today’s speech recognition technologies have been tweaked to compensate for mask muffling. That’s certainly a catalyst for algorithmic improvement that nobody would have expected pre-2020.
Also Social Media Today revealed that 52% of people use voice search while driving – which could perhaps be a result of smartphones replacing dedicated sat-nav devices on vehicle dashboards. Enabling people to find what they need while still keeping their eyes safely on the road could be one of the most positive benefits of voice search’s rise.
Okay, but voice search in B2B marketing?
You may be thinking: “So people are using voice search to find the next motorway service station, or a pizza place open past midnight – that’s great. But it all sounds very business-to-consumer. My customers aren’t all saying ‘Alexa, what’s my nearest Microsoft CSP?’, are they?”
Maybe they aren’t – right now. But this is a trend that can only grow – and it’s likely to keep growing rapidly. Statista predicts that by 2024, 8.4 billion voice assistants will be in use worldwide. As voice search makes up more and more of the total number of all searches performed, more of those searches will be business-related.
To prepare for greater volumes of voice searches and capture as much of the current voice search traffic as possible, now’s the time to start making your B2B content rank high in voice search results. Let’s look at how.
Our voice search optimisation tips
I asked Fifty Five and Five Marketing Executive Charlotte Chan for her top three tips on voice search optimization. Here they are:
Charlotte’s top three
- Optimise for ‘rich answers’. Voice search results are likely to draw from Google’s Knowledge Graph, Knowledge Panel, Knowledge Box and Featured Snippets. Rich answers use these sources – Featured Snippets in particular – so make sure these elements are optimised.
- Answer questions concisely. Current best practice is that Google prefers the answers to voice search queries to be short and to the point. In fact the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. That’s even shorter than this paragraph.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Much of your potential voice traffic will be from mobile devices. Therefore, as well as succeeding with voice search, it also needs to meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness for it to rank as well as it possibly can.
I’ve also got some of my own advice for optimising voice search in B2B marketing, which I’ll share now.
Focus on conversational keywords. People query search engines in different ways with their voices than with text. That means conversational phrases (e.g., “How do I…”) and long-tail keywords.
Create pages that answer FAQs. People use voice search to ask questions, so creating content with frequently asked questions – and their answers – is the perfect way to capture their search traffic. I used a question keyword in the title of this blog!
Optimise for more search engines than Google. While Google results are used for voice searches via Google (obviously) and Apple’s Siri, other voice assistants may use different sources. Alexa and Cortana use Microsoft’s Bing – so optimise for that, too.
Time to make yourself heard
I hope this article has helped to illustrate the value of voice search for B2B marketing. It’s still a relatively new field, and it’s sure to evolve considerably as time goes by – so I look forward to exploring new developments in the future.
Meanwhile, if you’d like some assistance in making sure your organisation is being heard by potential customers using voice search, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Fifty Five and Five. We’ll be more than happy to help.