E-commerce, User Experience

6 Tips for Making Your Ecommerce Business Ready for Voice Search

by Hiral Atha
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Is your ecommerce business ready for voice search? It should be. Voice commerce sales amounted to an impressive $1.8 billion in 2017, and that is merely the beginning. You can expect this number to soar to $40 billion by 2022. In fact, 22% of people in the US who own a smart speaker have purchased something using their devices. Those numbers are undeniably promising, considering the fact that products like Amazon Echo and Google Home launched just a few years ago and really only became popular sometime in 2016.  

Today, voice search, be it on the mobile or a smart speaker, is an integral part of ecommerce. With two tech giants – Google and Amazon – busy launching newer, more affordable versions like Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, both of which cost under $50, smart speakers are quickly going from being a high-end technology to a household item. In fact, one of the most popular smart speakers – Alexa – is made by Amazon, the largest ecommerce company in the world right now. As you can guess, the market for voice ecommerce is going to be huge quite soon.

Because of this, ecommerce needs to gear up for the voice search revolution. Brands need to optimize their content in such a way that it appears at the top of voice searches and the smart speaker or phone should be able to read it back to the user.    

Though there are obvious challenges, like customers’ inherent need to at least see what they want to buy, voice search is the future of ecommerce and you need to prepare for it. Though there is some skepticism, and comparisons indicate that traditional text-based search still far outweighs voice search, customers will at least need an option to buy a product using their voice, and ecommerce apps must be designed keeping the need in mind.

So today, let’s talk about how to get your ecommerce business ready for voice search and some key aspects to keep in mind. Here are a few key things to get right, in order to make your app conducive to voice-based shopping.

1.  Optimize for Natural Language

Yes, for years SEO experts have been optimizing for keywords. But when using voice search, users are less likely to say ‘find dentist Buffalo, New York’. Typing is tedious, and so users tend to shorten queries. But when using voice, they will use natural language. According to Google, 41% of people who use smart speakers report that it feels like talking to a friend or another person.   

Design your app pages and product listings so that they can show up in results when users give a voice command like ‘show me some good running shoes’ or ‘what should I buy for mother’s day’.

2. Use Schema Markup

Schema.org is a type of structured data markup that helps make your page easier for search engines to find and understand. This way, not only does your content rank higher in the search results but also shows up as rich snippets that clearly display key features like ratings, price, discounts etc. this makes it easier for customers to understand everything they need to about the product, helping them buy. Using schema markup is a great way to boost your product’s visibility not only in voice searches but also regular mobile and desktop search.

3. Aim for Position Zero

Call it the ‘featured snippet’ or the ‘position zero’, but the coveted box that appears above the #1 organically ranked search result remains an elusive piece of SERP real estate. When it comes to voice search results, featuring here immediately shoots up your chances of being heard by the customers.

Google isn’t telling what brands can do to feature on the position zero, but experts recommend that directly and succinctly answering commonly asked questions can help boost your chances. So design your voice search responses around answering – in natural language – the most frequently asked questions in your niche and you might become the first thing customers hear back when they say – ‘Show me some good phones under $200’.

4. Write Product Descriptions That Can Be Read Out Aloud To the Listening Customer

If the customer is using voice search, they’re probably not looking at a screen at all, and wish to complete the transaction the same way they started. So be sure to do everything you can to optimize each step of the purchase journey through speech. Write product descriptions in a way that they can talk back to the user and provide a gist of the product. Try to answer all the important questions about the product within the description, helping the customer decide.

5. Remember That Users Will Still Need Text

Sure you are designing voice functionality but that hardly means you can do away with text altogether. Sometimes, the user might want to use text inputting too, so be sure to design your pages to support both. At times when the customer is in a noisy place, voice search is hard to use. In other places too, like meetings, boardrooms, and libraries, using voice isn’t options and users must be able to easily switch between voice and text. The transition should be smooth and seamless.

6. Work on Making Voice Payments

After an all voice shopping experience, if the user then has to pick up the phone to enter a card number, that can devalue the entire voice experience. That is why adopting voice payments becomes the most obvious response to the rise of voice commerce. Fortunately for us, the maturity of artificial intelligence can make this a reality. According to Business Insider Intelligence, 8% of adults in the United States have used some form of voice payment at least once, and four times more users will choose voice payments by 2022.

Conclusion

Sure the good old shopping apps and websites aren’t going away anytime soon. However, not adding a new voice dimension to your website will certainly make you lose out on a sizeable chunk of tech-savvy customers. And in due course, businesses that don’t adapt are made obsolete by those who do. So getting your ecommerce business ready for voice search is unmistakably the next logical step. Using the above best practices, you can make sure your ecommerce business remains voice-ready and on top in the rapidly changing tech environment.

 

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