Small businesses, here’s how Google wants you to speak to t…


“We’re predicting that voice search will be used to listen to our podcast, for example, or consume nuggets of educational content, so we want to make sure we’re ready and accessible.”

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Sydney-based Collabosaurus, which connects businesses for brand-to-brand collaborations in social media, events and products, overhauled its software earlier this year.

“We made sure to optimise our website content to allow for easy voice search as part of this rebuild.”

Ruhfus says the company reassessed its website content ahead of the relaunch in late March. “However, optimising for voice search is an ongoing process. Ensuring blog content, for example, is free of jargon and written with keywords and in a conversational style, is something that will assist us in being found through voice search technology.”

Collabosaurus turned over around $100,000 in the last financial year.

Ruhfus says since relaunching the software, the company has almost doubled its monthly, organic traffic, with voice search playing a part in this growth.

“It’s difficult to segment based on voice search alone,” she says.

From left, the Apple HomePod, Google Home and Amazon's Alexa

From left, the Apple HomePod, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa

Photo: Jason Henry

“However, Google Analytics shows that 32 per cent of our web traffic currently comes from Google or organic search. This figure is up from 22 per cent from before we optimised.”

Collabosaurus has briefly tested its product through Apple and Google Home devices.

‘Leads come in all shapes and sizes’

Telstra's Brendan Donohoe

Telstra’s Brendan Donohoe

Photo: Supplied

Brendan Donohoe, Telstra’s executive director of Small Business, says leads from people using smart speakers can come in all shapes and sizes, “but for most small businesses, the first step is to make sure your business can be found. This means being online and making sure your content is optimised for search engines.”

According to the Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report published earlier this year, 45 per cent of customers believe voice commerce will enhance experiences with businesses in the near future.

“The most valuable leads are those a business can easily convert into an engagement of commercial transaction. This is where integrating with the APIs of the smart speaker providers is required.

“From our research, we know 88 per cent of consumers will go elsewhere if a business is too hard to deal with, so there is great potential for voice commerce to open up a completely new frontier for delivering a great customer experience.”

Voice is ‘flavour of the month’

Paul Carroll, chief executive of Pure SEO, says voice search is certainly the flavour of the month in terms of online marketing, and the way people search online is changing.

“I often coach my clients, and suggest all SMEs understand the importance of including voice search in their strategy to make sure they stay relevant and recognise the way their target audience like to search and communicate,” he says.

“Without a strategy in place, you risk losing market share to your competitors who do have a plan in place.”

Carroll says there has been a “staggering increase in the number of voice-first devices on the market, in 2015 hardly anyone had heard of these devices with only 1.7 million units shipped across the US. That number increased to 6.5 million in 2016 and a huge 24.5 million in 2017, that’s a 312 per cent increase over just one year.”

He says the growing accuracy of voice search is a huge factor in its rise.

Carroll points out that at the recent Google I/O developer conference in May, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai talked about its Google Duplex technology that can actually make calls for you to schedule appointments, with tests making restaurant bookings and appointments for a haircut.

“It brings together all our investments over the years in natural language understanding, deep learning, text to speech,” said Pichai at the conference.

But Carroll says this is “not a one-horse race, with Amazon Alexa pushing hard in this space. Alexa comes with over 1900 skills out of the box and a reported 10,000 in total available through third party apps.”

Carroll says we have grown accustomed to the way search engines operate, “having learnt long ago to succinctly enter the keywords to find the information. But unlike the keywords typed into a search box, voice search is far more conversational. It usually occurs on a mobile (60 per cent of mobile searches are voice), is often based locally, (“where is the nearest sports shop”?), and is typically longer than their text search counterpart.”

Optimised SMEs ‘will have edge’

Dan Petrovic, owner of Brisbane-based content marketing agency Dejan Marketing, says voice search is an “incredible opportunity for SMEs right now and anyone optimised for it will have an edge over their competitors.

“The reason for this is that voice search in Australia now goes beyond checking weather and driving directions. Voice search is a subset of broader mobile search queries which are now transactional. This translates into not only enquiries, appointments, bookings and quote requests but also online transactions and purchases.”

Petrovic says success with voice search will depend on many factors, including if a website is mobile-friendly, whether its content is written for skimmers, if there is a localisation strategy, and if the website is taking advantage of structured data.

Pure SEO’s Paul Carroll’s tips for SMEs:

  • Claim your Google My Business listing: If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business listing – do it! This provides Google with more information about your business, like the industry you’re in, address, phone number and you can include photos. You can also build your Google reviews through your listing, which is great for SEO.
  • Conversational keywords: Keywords in voice search are more conversational (long-tail+) – the ‘plus’ refers to conversational phrases that you add when optimising your content. You need to mimic how real people talk and ask questions verbally. Think about what questions your business gets asked over the phone and use them to create content pages that focus on these longer, more conversational search terms.
  • Structured data mark-up: This gets a little technical, but it’s crucial you use structured data mark-up to give voice search devices accurate information about your site and content. Using www.schema.org to provide the data mark-up for your content makes it easier for search engines to understand your content and its context.
  • Mobile speed: As we grow more impatient in this instant gratification era, it’s vital to provide users a fast site load time, especially from a mobile. Why exactly? Because 52 per cent of users will leave your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Use the Test My Site tool to see how your site performs.
  • Secure your website: Google likes to keep its users and their data safe from external parties, and is adamant about providing a safer web with the upcoming July 2018 ‘Chrome 68 update’. Security appears to be even more important for voice search results, with 70.4 per cent of voice search result URLs adopting HTTPS – a stark contrast to ordinary desktop results that only have 50 per cent secure URLs.

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