Business  |  February 13, 2018

5 Myths about Voice Search

Ryan MacInnis

Ryan MacInnis

Director of Marketing

While we’re still in the early days of 2018, we’re already seeing a massive paradigm shift in the way people view voice technology. At first it was a fad or trend, back when Amazon only sold 10 million devices to consumers. Now, with nearly 40 million devices in circulation and consumers shouting off their rooftops about how great voice is, brands are sprinting towards ways to gain an upper hand.

Over 28,000,000 searches on Google have been made around voice search, how to do it, and what will happen if you don’t invest in voice SEO. Today, we’re here to reveal the 5 myths about voice search, so you can sleep easy knowing your voice strategy is heading in the right direction.

Myth #1: If you aren’t investing in voice SEO, you’re going to lose

Voice SEO is something many brands are freaking out about. Consumer attention for voice surrounds smart speakers that have no screens, and whose product recommendations are very much the wild, wild, west. If I ask Google Home for a wine that pairs well with a steak, the assistant references a nice red wine with softer tannins like a Merlot, from Now, this precise exchange is why many brands are rushing to Google to understand what it would take to be #1 on voice SEO.

Here’s the truth: That answer was the top result on Google. Lesson learned? Your existing SEO strategy on Google is good enough to appear #1 when asked a question.

Myth #2: Amazon is the gatekeeper to your voice strategy

Jeff Bezos and the second coming of consumer attention have made many believe that it’s Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. From shipping to shopping, Amazon is now the #1 search engine for products, overtaking Google. When it comes to voice, you might think that in order to have an effective voice strategy, you must build an Alexa skill and further invest in speakers.

Here’s the truth: Amazon should not be where your voice strategy stops. For CPG brands and groceries, it makes perfect sense for reordering or pushing off-the-cuff every day offers. Voice however, is much bigger than Amazon. It should compliment your mobile and web strategies too, since shoppers are interacting most with your brand there. Treating voice as a new mode of interaction is crucial. It should be deployed on your websites and mobile apps, as well as via new channels that include the likes of Alexa and Google Home. If you limit your voice strategy to smart speakers, you’re missing the opportunity.

Myth #3: Your content needs to be tagged and written for smart speakers

This relates to point #1 but is enough of a myth where I felt the need to call it out as its own. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many priorities you can manage, and the fact of the matter is that we need to stop writing content and investing time in making sure your content is “discoverable on voice search engines”. Amazon hasn’t come out with an ads approach yet, and there is no such thing as a “good voice SEO strategy” because that has yet to be defined.

Here’s the truth: Rather than chasing what might happen, attack ways that voice can bring value to your customers. Whether that’s a skill to make reordering of your favorite coffee beans or integrating it into your mobile app with Voysis to make search and discovery that much more seamless — voice is bigger than just a PPC team strategy.

Myth #4: Customers will never shop for my brand with voice

The top three things people do with their voice assistant surrounds asking for music, the weather and reminders. This leads many to say, “why would they use a speaker to shop when they didn’t buy it for that?” Or my favorite from Jeff Bezos circa early 2017: “Alexa is primarily about identifying tasks in the household that would be improved by voice.”

He goes on to say that online shopping needs to be facilitated by something with a screen.

Here’s the truth: Amazon made it super easy for consumers to envision a world in which they use their voice to speak to a voice assistant. No one was bullish on mobile shopping, stating consumers wouldn’t want to shop via a handheld device. This too will follow the same historical path and it’s only a matter of time where voice commerce rises to the top of your priority list. After all, research shows that over 20% of consumers have made a purchase using voice.

Myth #5: Voice assistants will replace mobile phones and online shopping

This is my favorite one, the scenario that is retail-geddon, where shoppers stop using their phones and visiting stores and will sit on their couches using a voice-enabled smart speaker for everything. Heck, they may never need to go outside ever again.

Here’s the truth: We thought that the mobile phone would remove the need for personal computers and laptops. We even created a smaller, more portable laptop (or a larger smart phone depending on your point of view) but today, these are all channels to engage with consumers. If you’re in retail or ecommerce, you should double down on ways to improve the customer experience on mobile and web, and use voice as a new mode of interaction do just that: both native to your digital properties and via smart speakers.


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