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Voice assistants: Considerations for PSO marketers

by Vinu Krishnaswamy August 29, 2018
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Voice assistants are everywhere these days, from our phones to the tech in our homes. They are beginning to become an important technology marketers must consider in their digital strategy. That’s because voice is changing how users interact with an organization, opening up challenges and opportunities in the ways brands engage with their users.

Where can voice assistants be used?

Though browsing a website through a voice-only interface is not reality yet, voice interfaces are now being used for two key things: 1.) to search and 2.) to find answers to simple questions, like addresses and local businesses. According to research, 40 percent of users use voice to search for information. It is set to increase to 50 percent by 2020. Here are some key things that marketers can do to optimize for the voice experience.

 

Improve search experience for voice

Conversational keywords

The key advantage for a user in a voice search is that they don’t have to learn how to search on a specific site and what keywords to use to get good results. They can use conversational language instead. To cater to their audience, the keywords that marketers use to describe their content needs to change to be more conversational, with key phrases instead of just keywords.

Featured result snippets

When a search result is featured in the results as a snippet, voice assistants read the content out loud. This is referred to as Position Zero for a query. The content that PSOs produce are heavily targeted. So, optimizing to be at Position Zero for a general query like “Brexit” is not practical.

Research is needed to define which key phrases people are searching for on your website. Optimizing your SEO for these searches is the first step to show up as a featured result. Content should also be organized well and answer targeted questions conversationally. Consider using structured data for Google to parse and understand the page.

Answer questions and provide context

Most voice search users are trying to answer a question, so the content that you want accessed needs to answer key questions of when, how, why, where and what. Not all content can answer all of these questions, but it is recommended to answer some based on the context. For example, an event may have the location and date in the content, but it should also provide enough context, either through a questions/answers format or through structured data for search crawlers to understand the information on the page.

 

Find answers to simple questions

Leading voice assistants provide the capability of creating apps (called Skills for Alexa and Actions for Google) like the app store. Custom skills/actions can be developed based on client or internal needs. Skills/Actions should be targeted to help accomplish a specific goal for the user. Though it is possible to have a menu-based interface, it is not recommended. Voice interfaces should help a user accomplish something they already do but don’t feel the need to go to web for. Consider some examples below:

  • Get a daily dose of your thought leadership or news from your website through integration with Alexa Flash Briefing or Google’s “what’s in the news” commands.
  • Store and call their contacts at your firm
  • Get their preferred or nearby office’s contact information

 

Voice is an evolving technology. Though screens are here to stay, searches and simple tasks can be accomplished on the go through a plethora of voice assistants available to us now. But as more people enable voice, consider the ever-evolving ways your firm can use the technology to keep customers engaged and empowered.

Vinu Krishnaswamy

Vinu is the director of solutions architecture at One North, defining technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Experience Design team to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.

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