It’s still ear­ly days in the world of voice search, and yet already this new type of device and search engine use is – accord­ing to com­Score – expect­ed to account for up to 50 per­cent of the glob­al search mar­ket next year. That’s a major shift in con­sumer behav­ior in only a few short years.

Dig­i­tal assis­tants are becom­ing increas­ing­ly promi­nent in our homes and on mobile devices, and their ubiq­ui­ty will only increase.

But where exact­ly is the brand play in voice search? How devel­oped is the oppor­tu­ni­ty, and what spe­cif­ic strate­gies do brands need to apply to ben­e­fit from this trend? Let’s take a look at the cur­rent state of affairs and, more impor­tant­ly, where things will go in the next few years.

The current focus on position zero

When you hear mar­keters talk about voice search today, you prob­a­bly hear a lot of talk about Posi­tion Zero, also known as the fea­tured snip­pet. This is the con­tent that Google offers in the top search results posi­tion in hopes of direct­ly answer­ing a search query. In the desk­top and mobile screen worlds, the top con­tent is fol­lowed by a host of oth­er search results. In the world of voice search, posi­tion zero is every­thing – the only infor­ma­tion that will be relayed to the user. As such, espe­cial­ly for busi­ness­es, get­ting to posi­tion zero has become the new imper­a­tive. Exact­ly how to do that, how­ev­er, is still an open ques­tion.

As with all things in the search space, best prac­tices for opti­miz­ing for posi­tion zero are going to evolve over time. But busi­ness­es look­ing to be a step ahead when screen­less search becomes the new norm are focus­ing on a few key areas:

  • Rel­e­vance through data: Being the most rel­e­vant for a giv­en voice search is all about giv­ing the search engine what it needs to tai­lor response for the user – a user whom the voice assis­tant knows inti­mate­ly. The more con­text offered, the high­er the like­li­hood that a dig­i­tal assis­tant will pair your busi­ness with a poten­tial cus­tomer. For exam­ple, if you’re a restau­rant, this means ensur­ing the engine can find accu­rate infor­ma­tion on dig­i­tal pro­files regard­ing not just loca­tion and hours, but also cus­tomer rat­ings and reviews as well as details like whether you’re pet-friend­ly, offer patio din­ing, fea­ture gluten-free options, and more.
  • Feed the fea­tured snip­pet: If you want to be the fea­tured snip­pet to a giv­en query, make sure your web­site and pro­files pro­vide com­plete, suc­cinct answers to the ques­tions most like­ly to lead peo­ple to your busi­ness. This could be with­in the first para­graph of a blog post, in an FAQ on your site, or in var­i­ous oth­er areas of con­tent.
  • Pri­or­i­tize schema: This is SEO 101, but it’s even more impor­tant for voice search. Make sure your site is fol­low­ing an agreed-upon struc­ture for how search engines read con­tent, as orga­nized via Schema.org.

While these basics can help busi­ness­es increase their rel­e­vance for voice search today, we’ve only seen the begin­ning of what voice search will mean for dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing efforts in the future. How will this trans­for­ma­tive shift play out over the next few years?

The current focus on position zero

The beginning of the curve

Despite the rise in voice search behav­ior, the busi­ness mod­els that will evolve around this oppor­tu­ni­ty are still emerg­ing. Right now, the biggest tech play­ers in the world – Google, Ama­zon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook—are invest­ing deeply in voice search for three rea­sons:

  • Voice search rep­re­sents a core tech­nol­o­gy that can extend across busi­ness lines.
  • It rep­re­sents a trans­for­ma­tive user expe­ri­ence that reduces fric­tion and moves peo­ple away from screens.
  • Voice search rep­re­sents a major new way of tap­ping into emerg­ing mar­kets like India and South­east Asia, where mobile devices and behav­iors are over­whelm­ing­ly dom­i­nant.

Big tech is invest­ing in voice search for the above rea­sons, but they’re not real­ly mon­e­tiz­ing it yet. That’s going to change in the next cou­ple of years, and when it does, an indus­try and ven­dor com­mu­ni­ty will spring up around their mon­e­ti­za­tion mod­els quick­ly, just as we saw with SEO and SEM in the past.

When the realm of voice search and voice adver­tis­ing takes shape, it will be the brands that are exper­i­ment­ing now that are poised to win. Now is the time to test and learn, regard­less of whether busi­ness­es are able to reli­ably demon­strate the ROI of their efforts today. Every minute invest­ed in bet­ter under­stand­ing emerg­ing voice search behav­iors and oppor­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to how a brand’s tar­get audi­ence is using voice search, will pay div­i­dends in the voice-dom­i­nat­ed future.

There’s no ques­tion that voice will rule the future of device inter­ac­tions. The only ques­tion is whether your busi­ness will emerge as an ear­ly leader in this space in the com­ing 24 months – or whether you will be for­ev­er play­ing catch up.

SOURCE: Search Engine Watch