How is voice search affecting content marketing?

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Should you be worrying about how voice search is impacting content marketing? Probably not.

In this episode Chris discusses some of the considerations for the impact voice search is having on content marketing and what you should be thinking about for the future.

Full transcription

Hey. Welcome to the Content Marketing Academy Podcast. It’s really great to be back today.

In this episode I really want to talk about voice search and how voice is impacting content marketing, and businesses in general, just from a marketing perspective.

Now, I’m not entirely sure how, what your experience is with voice search. I’d love to know. You know you can email me, You can Tweet me @chrismarr101, and tell me what your experience is with voice search.

I’m gonna just dig into a bit, the reality here and then just about how it impacts content market and what we should be thinking about going forward. I’m not sure how you’re using voice search assistance at the moment, like Alexa, and Siri, and all the other ones as well. I’ve got an Echo Dot here in my office. I’ve also got one in my bedroom. At the moment, Alexa will do things like, set an alarm, which is great. I don’t have to take my iPhone to bed with me. I can ask Alexa to read out my schedule for tomorrow, set reminders, play nursery rhymes for Spencer. You know, things like that, which is great for kind of like, hands off things.

I’ve had Alexa doing calculations and things like that. Never really any actual searches. In fact, I’ve tried buying things from Amazon, using voice search as well, and it’s quite difficult, if you don’t have preferred products and things like that. I don’t think … Long story short, I don’t think we’re actually close to voice search replacing traditional desktop Google searches, just quite yet. I just don’t think we’re anywhere remotely close to it.

Other than trying or testing, or trying new things with Alexa, just out of my own curiosity, which is kind of what I’m like. I’ve never used voice to actually search for something in the … What I mean by search is, the way that I would use Google search, to search for something using voice, not just on the fly. I mean obviously tried to test and trying different things, but never actually done it. I’m interested like I said, to hear about what you do with voice search at the moment.

Most people have a smart phone and therefore have some sort of voice assistant. It’s likely gonna be Google or Microsoft, or Apple that’s serving you. Again, I use Siri quite a lot. I will use it to set a timer for when I’m cooking, or tell me the weather, or add reminders, or something to my schedule. That’s about it. Right? I don’t use it to search for anything else, again, other than my own curiosity to see if it works well or not. I don’t think we’re quite ready to replace the keyboard, or any traditional ways that, even consumers search for information that helps them to buy something.

I think there are some things that we need to consider, from a business marketing perspective. If you’re a marketer, or a business owner, I think these are the things we should be thinking about, but I definitely don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I really don’t think you need to be worrying about how you’re gonna advertise on these platforms, or anything like that, just quite yet. Let’s have a, sort of talk through some of the considerations that are affecting content marketing, in terms of voice search.

The first thing though, really we need to talk about is, we have to consider how people search for something using voice and what they expect to find. Right? For example, if you use voice search to seek out anything other than a simple answer, the chances are, that the voice search assistant will return to you, either nothing. They can’t find an answer for that question, or an actual Google result.

For example, Apple devices will return an actual Google results page, like the top three answers on Google. I find these results and then displays them on a screen. And then you have to go immediately from voice back to pressing the screen to get to those answers, right? This is almost like one step removed from a simple keyboard, desktop search. It’s not revolutionary. It’s not changed the way that we search. It’s not helpful. Doesn’t speed things up. It’s not convenient. It’s not even remotely close to what I would imagine voice search to actually do for us, right? I don’t want voice to then, to just give me a Google search page on my screen, right? That’s not what we’re looking for.

If you take a simple example, right? However, if I ask Alexa, how many time have the San Francisco Giants won the world series? Alexa will read out the actual answer, the actual answer being, eight times. Okay. Eight times with 20 appearances and some other content around it, but the answer is really simple as eight. It’s a simple answer.

Now, if we take that example. How many times have the San Francisco Giants won the world series, right? Think about how you might search for that using desktop, right? This is a little nuance here, that’s almost like we automatically change our behaviour for voice search, without even thinking. When I search Google, I put in the box, times Giants won world series. The answer pops up, versus, for voice, how many times have the San Francisco Giants won the world series? If you notice that we’ve automatically changed that, without really thinking at all, that I’ve gone into a much more, longer structured question for voice versus what we put into the Google desktop box, right, so our keyboard search.

I think there’s one consideration, is thinking about how people structure questions for voice, versus how they they structure questions for search on Google, on a keyboard or a desktop. That’s one subtle difference I think … I think it’s possibly not even going to be that subtle. I think it will determine the keywords, search, phrases that you want to rank for, and lean much more towards longer tail keyword phrases.

When we think about content marketing, right, we have to go back to the basics here, of the core of content marketing is really about understanding consumer behaviour. How does someone search for information using Google, or any other search engine, to find the information they’re looking for to help them make an educated buying decision, right?

Our job as marketers, and as business people is to create content that helps our perspective customers to make that educated buying decision. We create content that answers questions and solves problems. A the very core of what we do, already as content marketers, we are answering questions. We’re publishing these articles on our website, our videos, our podcasts, whatever they are. We’re doing the right kind of work that leans into what voice search will eventually do.

The key for now though, and actually should be anyway, is to create the content that, as the single best answer on the internet for that question. Right? We should be really be doing that anyway. We’ve talked about that in previous podcasts as well, about creating the best article on the internet for that topic, or for that question. We should be doing that anyway. Right?

At the very core, we’re already doing a lot of the work that’s required, that leans right into what voice is really going to do. On desktop, right? What happens when someone searches for an answer to a question. Googles job is to return to you, the most accurate result based on what you pop into that box, right? What question you put in that box. In some cases this will be a bunch of results.

What you want obviously, is to appear on the first page of Google. That’s what we really want to do. We want to user, or our perspective customer to click through to our website. We get the analytics. We get the ability to put a cookie onto their browser and on their computer. And then we get the ability to then re-target them with advertising, et cetera, et cetera, right? Getting them onto our website is really important for marketing today and unfold, right, for other opportunities for marketing.

However, you may have noticed something interesting when you search on Google. You’ll notice that you … In some cases, you no longer have to click through to a website to get the answer you’re looking for. This is really, really important. For example, you’ll see two main boxes at the top of Google. You’ll see a featured snippet and a section called, people also ask. This information here, it means that you can get the answer to question without actually clicking through to a website.

Now, it’s no surprises where Google gets that information from. Googles pulling out that information based on popular searches, and pulling it from where the best answer is coming from. It’s displaying to the user, what google thinks that best answer is for that question. This means that people don’t have to click through to your website anymore. Just think about that.

When we were inbound in 2017, Rand Fishkin said something like, over 50% of web searches do not result in a click through to a website. What Googles doing is it’s really taking that information and putting it directly onto Google, so that the user, your perspective customer, is getting the information immediately, without having to go to your website, and they’re staying on Google. We’ll probably look back into that, but this is a really, really important point, because when we bring that back into how this impacts voice …

When Alexa, for example, reads out voice answer to you, it’s based around what’s in those featured snippet areas. Right? If you’ve this feature snippet on Google and it gives you a single answer to a single question, that’s what Alexa is going to read to you as the single answer. There is no click through to your website. There is no opportunity to cookie your perspective customers, and then obviously no opportunity to re-target them. There’s no opportunity for subscription, or ability to do anything with them, right? Your brand name will probably not even be mentioned.

To be the single answer that Alexa reads out, when someone searches for a question, actually has no single benefit from a marketing perspective at all. It’s great to be there from an ego play, like we’re on top of Google. We’re also the single answer for voice search, et cetera. That’s great, but right now, and maybe this will change in the future. Maybe advertising, or something will happen there, that allows you to have your brand name mentioned, but for now, that’s not happening. Therefore, there is no, sort of marketing benefit to being that single answer.

Even on Google there’s no real benefit either, because they’re not clicking through to your website. This is just something to consider, in terms of how important as voice search, how important should voice search be as part of our strategy to be fighting to get customers, et cetera. It seems that there is, at the moment, very little benefit. However, the content marketing practises that you’re doing just now.

The way that you’re implementing content marketing for your business and how you go to market, will lean directly into how voice will perform for consumers, generally speaking. You’re doing a lot of right work just now, anyway. You don’t really need to worry too much about what’s happening with voice, until it really starts to become a big part of our lives, and at the moment, it isn’t, in terms of how we search for things.

On a daily basis, I try simple voice searches, like the one I shared with you. How many times have the San Francisco Giants won the world series. And also, try some more complex searches, to see what comes up. From my own testing, we’re not anywhere close to really replacing that keyboard, or that desktop Google search that we do.

For example. I know that [inaudible 00:11:58] has the featured snippet for, can I put a stove in my shed. Right? If you ask Alexa, or Siri this, it doesn’t work. Okay? You’ll get either a bunch of search results back, just as much as you would if you were searching Google, or it’ll just say, “I can’t find an answer for that.”

Another one would be, how much does it cost to hire keynote speaker? There’s not answer for that, right, in voice. I think, if you just stick to the core principles of content marketing, answering questions, creating the best content on your website, and articles and videos and podcasts for your perspective customers. I think that’s eventually what Google will use in voice, or what voice search assistance will use to serve your audience when they’re searching, using one of these voice assistants. Just work towards becoming the Wikipedia of your industry and having all that information there.

When voice search improves and becomes one of our main methods of searching, the content you’re creating now, we’ll lean directly into what the future looks like. Just try different things. Try different searches, using the voice assistance. See what results you’re getting, and also look out for, when you see, featured snippets and the people also ask boxes on Google search. Just be aware of what’s happening there, right, that a lot of searches that are happening, in Google, do not result in a click through to a website, which I think is a really, really interesting point. In the meantime, think about your whole customer buying process.

If Google is trying to make it easier for people to find information, so that they no longer have to click through to your website, I think we have to make sure that when people do get to our website, they aren’t tempted to go back to Google to search for the next question. This means, instead of answering one question on your website, you should be thinking about what someone is going to ask next, and then next after that, and then next again, to keep them on your website by being as helpful as you can be. This means, instead of just looking at the answers to single questions, you should be looking at whole topics, right?

If someone was to ask, “Can I put a stove in my shed?” The next natural question might be, Well, how much does a stove cost? Where are the best places to get stoves from? Even though the shed manufacturing company might not sell stoves, it they’re to serve their audience in the best way, and become the Wikipedia of their industry, and get people to stay people to stay on their website and serve them in the best way that they possibly can, then we should be answering all of these questions. This means, instead of looking at, just single questions, or single keyword phrases, you’re looking at whole topics. That’s generally my take on voice at the moment.

Like I said, at start, this is probably gonna be part of a bigger conversation going as we go forward, and I’m sure cover again on the podcast in the future, as things unfold. I think, generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about it too much yet. You should be writing content that will have a good chance of being used by voice assistance in the future, and that means creating the single best answer on the internet, for the questions that you’re perspective customers are asking. Focus on what’s in front of you. Continue to serve your perspective customers and audience in the best way you can. Just continue to create the best content on the internet for your space. I think you will be set for what’s next.

I’d love your thoughts on this too. You can always email, You can Tweet me @chrismarr101. Always keen to hear your thoughts. I hope you’ve had a great day, and don’t forget to be awesome.