Convenience has brought humanity to the brink of many revolutionary breakthroughs. When it comes to obtaining information and purchasing products, it is no different. One of the most astounding advances happened in the field of voice search and natural language processing technology.
The earliest approach of typing and acquiring information found itself a rival in voice search. The new and improved way of communicating your thoughts to obtain answers or solutions peaked and established itself as an alternative source for acquiring information.
Voice search is a technology that allows you to perform a search on the internet through a digital device that supports voice input. Voice search is becoming a favored mode to extract information since it reduces time and exertion from users.
Voice commerce is when users don't have to search and buy products using their usual keyboard and mouse- that one normally uses to browse and purchase products online. All that the customer needs is a virtual voice assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa and of course, your voice.
Advantages of Voice Commerce
- Voice search is hands-free
- Possible to accomplish while occupied with other tasks
- Faster to achieve answers and results
Voice search queries are on the rise. Consumers are becoming more reliant on voice search and 22% of smart homeowners have made a purchase using their device. Currently, navigational queries, music requests, and food orders are the most common uses of voice search. However, we're likely to see increasingly sophisticated searches happening shortly.
Voice-empowered shopping is one of the most discussed technology trends in the last few years and will likely continue. So, let's delve deep into what makes voice search so unique, what lies in the horizon, and the merits of voice searches.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, or any other voice search will use the web through spoken voice commands. Siri obtains the information from Bing, whereas Google Assistant relies on Google. In some instances, users say a wake phrase (OK, Google) to activate the assistant. This can be achieved via a voice command or by touching the microphone icon.
Amazon customers can use Alexa to search for, order, and buy products from Amazon. The wake-up word "Alexa" activates the device. If a customer says, "Alexa, order a Nike bag," Alexa would check the user's buying history, and suggest products accordingly. Alexa may even recommend "Amazon Choice" products. Alexa would then announce the product price and ask if the shopper would like to place an order. If the answer is yes, Alexa places the order. Otherwise, Alexa will suggest other options.
Google lets customers buy products from Google Express (now part of Google Shopping). Walmart, Costco, and Target have also partnered with Google to allow customers to purchase products from their stores. Walmart customers can enable access to their purchase history by Google. The access would then allow customers to easily reorder products they've already bought in the past.
When ordering, if a shopper refuses a suggested item, Google Assistant will then suggest another option. On a mobile device, they are redirected to a search engine to view their results. On a screenless device, they'd get the results read out to them from the in-built speaker. Also, voice searches often show similar – if not virtually identical, results as typed searches. However, voice is much easier and more convenient than typing your query.
How to Optimize Your eCommerce Store for Voice Search?
1. Capturing Intent
Users speak to virtual assistants or smart speakers naturally, which means businesses need to adapt their website algorithm for voice search along those lines. When creating content, it's essential to account for the natural tone of customers. Customers are likely to speak in longer, fuller sentences. Thus, with voice search, user intent becomes a little hard to establish. To show relevant results, you'd need to know what the user is seeking.
Comprehend the words people use and then define how that will influence the search results. Companies need to make sure their site content will include words that match the way people communicate to show items they are interested in. Brands need to bring an interface or system that moves the conversation forward by capturing user intent, setting the variables of intent, and taking the next action according to those variables.
It becomes a struggle to infer what users want when conducting voice searches. The AI needs to learn the user's conversation flow, understand, and then process the same to extract the exact result. The UI in place should remove friction by defining a framework of the designed flow of conversation.
2. Rework Content
When it comes to voice searches, the commands used are more colloquial and conversational than the abbreviated keywords we use. The shift to semantic and colloquial English rather than shortened search terms will affect the keywords you use for your eCommerce website and on the product listings page.
Suppose to search for Nike footwear; someone might type "Nike Shoes" on Google. While speaking, the same would translate to "What are some good pairs of Nike shoes?" or "What are the best pair of Nike shoes?" The difference comes from how spoken language differs from typed communication.
Opt for long-tail keywords. Identify common conversational keywords to investigate how your consumers interface and chat with one another. What, Why, When, Where, and How questions variations are typical search queries around eCommerce. Employ a tool like AnswerthePublic or UberSuggest to review substantial questions from customers in your industry.
FAQ pages were quite popular back in the early days of eCommerce. But, suddenly, they went out of fashion. Not many eCommerce brands invested a lot in FAQ sections on various pages or dedicated a single FAQ page to address every concern. As you may know, FAQ is frequently asked questions, so these are popular queries that emerge when consumers start researching.
Knowing that, in Voice Search, all of the searches are conversational and question-based - it'd be foolish to overlook FAQ. Google extracts relevant and informative answers from this section. The answers are then placed in the featured snippet. The AI in your smart speakers will generally read the answers out from this section. Have FAQ's, that mirror accurately how people express themselves.
4. Restructure Your Website
Structured data allows you to suggest information about your eCommerce site to search engines for indexing. Integrating this strategy into your eCommerce SEO campaign will lead to better ranking on search engines. Since, Google uses structured data to draw content for voice-based search queries. Schema markup is another excellent way to communicate data to search engines.
Schema, also known as a markup language, allows site owners to provide search engines additional info about their site content. The metadata will enable you to comprehensively "describe" what the content on your website means. This, in turn, makes it easier for Google to "understand" your site content, which can boost visibility. By implementing schema markup to your site, you, in a way, put yourself ahead of the curve.
Schema can include Star ratings, score, price, videos, recipes, etc. and many more effective elements to give Google additional info about a page. Use a tool like Google's Structured Data Testing to test your schema. Such a tool will examine your pages to let you know if there are any errors. It helps you to review how Google views the structured data on your web page.
5. Featured Snippet
Also known as position zero - it is the prime source of obtaining information for any Voice-based search queries. Featured snippet is the section right at the top, where Google picks and highlights a clip from a website that best answers the question. However, getting your website content to appear in that featured snippet is not as simple as it seems.
For your website content to appear in that featured snippet, you'd have to revamp your content. The content would need all the relevant phrases which mirror questions that a consumer from your target audience might ask. Smart speakers and AI assistants make the best use of featured snippets. Siri, Bixby, and Alexa use the featured snippet content as a response to the question asked.
If someone wants to know about anything on your eCommerce store, and they happen to use an AI assistant to help them, being featured will increase the likelihood of your content getting selected to answer that query. So, focus on optimizing for voice search, and your brand can easily capture the top spot.
6. Google My Business
Very often, buyers voice search "Best restaurants near me" or "Best shoe stores near me." Hence, Local searches or "near me" voice searches are crucial to a company's visibility. Especially to those users that often use the phrase "near me" to locate establishments.
Thus, one thing that all company's can do is update their Google My Business listing at the earliest. The more up to date the information in your Google My Business page is, the more useful – and thus relevant – your site will be to potential customers.
Even information about parking availability is persuasive. So, make sure that your Google My Business listing is as complete and detailed as possible. The inclusion of imagery is another powerful technique to enhance your Google My Business listing. These images are displayed as part of Google Maps searches. High-quality photos of your establishment may persuade a reluctant customer to prefer your establishment over your rival's.
7. Focus on Performance
Since most voice searches take place on mobile, Google utilizes a mobile-first indexing system. As per this, sites that load faster on phones show up higher on search engine results. Speed is a critical factor in surfacing for voice searches. Sites that take forever to load are penalised by Google. This is because fast-loading pages are associated with a better user experience (UX).
If your site isn't optimized for higher speeds, forget about appearing higher in mobile SERPs for voice searches. Improve your hosting, minimize redirects, remove plugins that bloat your site, optimize internal links, compress huge images, etc. to improve your position on search engines for voice searches. Google rewards sites that serve its customers faster.
8. On-site Voice Search
Textless search continues to grow, so, if you are running an eCommerce store, sooner or later you'll need to invest in a voice search function. You'll need a smooth-running, AI-driven voice search algorithm to enhance the website’s user experience. The AI will successfully capture intent and help users navigate to their destination.
Even placing orders and other forms of engagement on the site will look profoundly different. Besides, being able to cultivate a reputation of having invested in the best possible on-site features. Such sites will also gather a treasure trove of keyword data from consumers, which they could integrate to improve their site content.
Why Does Voice Search Matter in eCommerce?
Overlooking voice search for eCommerce can mean losing out on a glorious opportunity to elevate customer experience and increase sales. Surprisingly, many eCommerce merchants haven't paid any attention to this growing trend. Voice search should be at the heart of your eCommerce customer experience strategy.
The above statistic further validates the need for voice search functionality in your eCommerce store. Voice search is bound to change the way users interact with an eCommerce website.
What Are the Benefits of Voice Search?
1. Time Efficiency
Time is, of the essence, nowadays. If there is a way to accomplish a task sooner, people are more likely to opt for that tool. Voice search means you can dish out more than you could ever hope to do via a simple "type search." An average person can type around 38 words per minute, but can speak around 150 words. This goes to show the time-saving possibilities in voice search.
2. Smart Shopping
Voice search can personalize consumer's shopping experiences with the use of recommendations based on their preferences. If a customer uses Alexa, the earlier history from any Amazon outlet is accounted to recommend the next product. The AI will review the order history to suggest suitable products.
If you happen to rely on Amazon Fresh and Alexa for your daily grocery needs, then the voice assistant can recommend and remind you about products. These products may have previously been part of your cart and are missing in the order list. This proves to be a significant advantage for brands, as it can increase their average order value.
3. Repeated Purchases
You may have found yourself ordering the same product again and again. Remember, there are sites that don't offer a subscription program to automate everything and forward a particular product to you periodically. The concerned site doesn't offer a subscription program. Thereby requiring you to access the website and re-order the same product manually. In such scenarios, having Voice search built-in on the site and a compatible smart speaker will help you re-order the product effortlessly.
4. Reduction of Effort
Nobody likes to be on a desk, typing away on a keyboard forever on a stretch. It's exhausting and is known to trigger various spinal complications. Most Voice search users conduct spoken searches due to difficulties in typing. A user wants to avoid posture-related risks in the future, or their current medical predicament forces them to switch to Voice search. The ability to command seamlessly via voice is deemed as the principal reason for the increasing reliance on voice searches. With voice - communicate fast and acquire results more swiftly.
5. Enhancing the Lifestyle
Internet of Things
Imagine a refrigerator that can detect low stock for a specific item and either order the same directly or communicate the depleted levels to you via audible commands. The ability to order comes from the fact that you had already voice communicated the same to it. The voice assistant on your TV remote works quite the same way. A voice module within the device can sense speech commands and take appropriate measures.
IoT makes it possible, as machines learn what you like, gain the voice technology to take commands, and decipher what you mean. The standard everyday devices work hard to make your life easier. You could interact with the devices around you via voice. A component failure in any of your appliances can be detected and conveyed to you via voice. The AI within the appliance allows you to have conversations to understand the nature of the problem. From there, take appropriate measures to rectify the problem.
Millennials have taken to voice like fish to water. They are putting their AI assistants to task for just about anything. Millennials are likely to convert to this entirely in the coming years - use voice search assistants to fulfill all their shopping needs. Outdated typing practices are shrinking.
The ability to narrow down and arrive at the product sooner is making them consider voice search. On top of that, the added advantage of not exerting yourself too much is why Voice Search is outclassing the traditional practices in place. So much so that they are even using voice search for non-eCommerce related activities. The convenience of Voice Search is hard to overlook.
The Elderly, with their diminished senses, find it easier to interact with a smart device. Old folks who found it hard to adapt to cutting-edge hand-held technology can easily accomplish their eCommerce needs using voice search. The interaction will mean, seniors would no longer have to type to realize their shopping desires. Just sit back and speak it - the Voice assistant will do the rest.
Disability affects your mobility, and hence it affects your ability to accomplish tasks seamlessly. Disabled people, especially those without arms, will struggle to use devices - keyboard, mouse, mobile, etc. In this case, Voice assistants can be of great value. Express your needs, and the AI will fetch the details for you. Handsfree Commerce has proved to be a boon for this sect.
What Are the Challenges Involved in Voice Search?
1. Language Processing
Many voice assistants and smart speakers find it hard to comprehend the speaker's intent. They struggle to understand accents and intonations. Since consumers communicate naturally, the in-built AI needs to be refined further to understand the flow of words and the context. Language processing must be improved to provide a better voice-based experience.
Consumers do not trust voice assistants to show them the best solutions for their problems. In eCommerce, some users have expressed concern over the product not meeting their expectations. These AI assistants are also known to favor brands. Hence, they may manipulate the search result to show particular products. Currently, voice assistants are used for purchasing inexpensive products.
When you give voice inputs, the surrounding noise may also get captured into the device. The intimate and personal conversations then collect as data with the service provider. In some cases, the device was found to have been recording, even without being activated. As such, people are worried that smart speakers are always listening. Another reason for not having one.
The magnificent growth of eCommerce business shows that reliance on online shopping is here to stay. But amidst this incredible growth, the browsing habits of consumers have changed drastically as well. The introduction of voice search has entirely redefined their shopping experience. The protocol of typing and exploring options has given way to voice-oriented browsing.
Voice search is bound to change the future of eCommerce and create more opportunities for online retailers. Voice search will undoubtedly prevail. Only that, it will become more intelligent, precise, and responsive in the coming days. Hence, eCommerce store owners must actively seek and invest in voice search optimization techniques to augment their target audience's digital experience.
Not only that, but Voice search is also likely to become more prominent in various industry verticals. Although there is some uncertainty around Voice search, don't forget the rewards are also equally high - provided you get it right. It is quite likely that your consumer base is eagerly waiting for Voice search functionality on your website.