For your digital marketing strategy to be effective, it’s vital that customers can search your site as quickly and easily as possible. With the number of voice and visual search technology users increasing dramatically, you can’t afford not to cater to this rising demographic.
Fortunately, preparing for the voice and visual search revolution isn’t as daunting as you may think. In this article, we’ll cover the ways these new search technologies can benefit your business. We’ll also discuss some techniques and tools you can use to ensure your marketing strategy accommodates voice and visual search for maximum effect. Let’s dive in!
Let’s start with some key definitions. As the name suggests, voice search involves giving a spoken command to a virtual assistant (such as Cortana, Google Assistant, etc.) and receiving relevant search results in return. You’ll usually receive results both audibly and visually.
Visual search entails uploading an image to receive relevant search results. For example, a user may take and upload an image of a particular item of clothing (for example, to a clothing store app), and find details on how to purchase the item.
User adoption for these search methods is rising dramatically. Gartner (the world’s leading IT research and advisory company) has estimated that by 2050, 30% of all online search interactions will be done via voice. In regards to visual search, projections are similarly optimistic, with Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann estimating “a lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.”
In addition, there are also cross-selling benefits in adopting voice and visual search. For instance, if a user snaps an item they’d like to purchase and uploads it to a search engine, your e-commerce site can be configured to show similar items (handy if the specific item is out of stock). Complementary or related items (a handbag to complement a dress, for example) can also be configured to display as a result of a visual search.
There are a number of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits to be had, particularly from voice search. Search engines such as Google are increasingly emphasizing user experience when it comes to ranking pages, because voice search presents the fastest means of delivering search queries. What’s more, due to the nature of the search, incorrect spelling is less of an impediment to your users.
Optimize your site for voice search
By optimizing your site for popular voice search platforms (such as Google Assistant), you can tap into a major demographic, increasing your exposure and conversion rates in the process.
To harness the power of voice search for your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to structure your content to accommodate. Fortunately, there are a variety of simple techniques you can employ.
First, you should ensure that the written content of your site is clear, straightforward, and informal. By incorporating conversational keywords into your content based on likely voice search terms, you can better ensure your site will come up in response to a specific query.
An excellent way to add conversational keywords to your site while avoiding the impression of “keyword stuffing” is to create a well-structured Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. A recent study by Backlinko determined that for all instances where Google provided a source for an answer to a voice enquiry, 2.6% came from FAQ pages. Though this may seem small, it’s impressive when you consider desktop search results only returned 1.4% of results from an FAQ source.
To further optimize your e-commerce site for voice search, you’ll need to place emphasis on localized SEO. You can do this by incorporating relevant locations into your keywords (for example, “homeware stores in Arlington, Virginia”). This can enhance the likelihood of voice searches yielding results for your business, provided this technique is pared with a robust SEO strategy. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help you develop a powerful SEO localization strategy.
Because voice search is largely performed via mobile devices, it’s crucial for your e-commerce site to look great and function well on any mobile device. An excellent open-source platform to help you achieve this is the AMP Project.
In a nutshell, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) lets you create high-performing mobile web pages with no coding required. Because voice searches are most likely conducted on the go, ensuring your site loads as quickly as possible is a must. Because pages created with AMP are consistently fast-loading, utilizing it will increase your chances of yielding more conversions as a result of voice searches.
Optimize your site for visual search
Major retailers like Target are beginning to realize the enormous potential of visual search. When developing your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to consider the most efficient way to bring customers through the phases of what’s known as your search funnel. In this regard, optimizing your site for visual search is a smart move. This is particularly the case if you cater to those who purchase impulsively based on visual elements.
The first thing you should do is formulate your SEO strategy with visual search in mind. This will involve assigning clear and concise textual elements to your images, such as captions, titles, and alternative text (or “alt-text”). Doing this will enable your images to be better indexed, and consequently returned in queries.
You should also consider submitting image sitemaps to Google. If you use an open-source Content Management System (CMS), there are a number of useful extensions at your disposal for generating image-specific sitemaps. Notable examples include Sitemap Generator for Joomla!, and Udinra All Image Sitemap for WordPress.
Aside from making changes directly to your site, you’ll also want to make sure your social media presence is conducive to visual search. Having a presence on Pinterest in particular is important here, due to the the Pinterest Lens function available on the dedicated app. By ensuring your brand is prominent on Pinterest, you’ll increase the likelihood of generating visual search conversions.
Finally, we should mention that if an e-commerce site has a dedicated app, you can still incorporate visual search functionality. A heavyweight option in this regard is the ViSenze API. It works by receiving and analyzing images sent by clients, and rapidly responding with conversion-generating search results. Visenze is already being utilized by major brands, including UNIQLO and Goodrich Global.
A key focus of your digital marketing strategy should be making it as easy as possible for clients to discover your wares, and purchase them online. As we have seen, optimizing your site for voice and visual search can help you achieve this goal. All it takes is some careful brainstorming, the optimization of your content, and the use of some handy external tools.
Do you have any questions about how a site can be optimized for visual and voice search results? Let us know in the comments section below!