Voice Search for eCommerce: Six Actionable Tips for Success

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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“Voice searches are replacing traditional searches, and if you’re not optimizing for them, you’re going to miss out on a lot of Google traffic.” Brian Dean, Backlinko

This quote from Brian Dean kind of says it all.

As far as preparing for voice search is concerned, it is wise for retailers to be laser-focused.

Given the advent of Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana and similar technologies, experts are predicting a rapid ascent of voice-driven digital interactions. Moreover, these forecasts are well-founded, considering that:

Additionally, there are currently over 118 million smart speakers in homes around the United States, up 78 percent from the previous year.

smart speaker on home table

Voice search signifies a watershed moment for the eCommerce industry.

As shoppers continue to embrace digital assistants and smart speakers wholeheartedly, retailers must learn how to optimize their pages to surface in the upcoming era of speech.

With that said, here are six actionable strategies sellers can employ to capitalize on voice search popularity.

Provide Clear and Concise Answers

Unlike the typical mode of text queries, voice searches tend to center on questions.

With a text search, a person might type in “football start date 2019.” However, when utilizing voice-activated technology, a searcher is more apt to ask, “When does football start this year?”.

The stark contrast between the two queries highlights that eCommerce merchants must alter their keyword research strategy and how they implement those phrases. Therefore, retailers ought to pay attention to the trigger words of “what,” “how,” “where,” “why” and “best” and ask themselves questions as they relate to a given keyword in this manner. This gives sellers the best shot at surfacing for a related voice search and potentially earning the coveted featured snippet spot.

When speaking to content and integration of targeted phrases, eCommerce websites should opt to structure various kinds of content (i.e., blogs, landing pages, FAQ pages, et cetera) to answer a consumer’s question succinctly.

In 2017, Google published its voice search guidelines, thereby providing some helpful recommendations to retailers. Outside of these ground rules, it is best for retailers to:

  • Target “who,” “what,” “where” and “why” queries: These are essential trigger words that often appear in voice searches. Sites like Answer the Public are useful for identifying such questions.
  • Employ natural language: Voice queries are usually more casual. Therefore, retailers should utilize natural speaking patterns (such as the inclusion of prepositions) to create content that more closely matches the way people usually speak.
  • Keep answers under 30 words: The featured snippet tends to be less than 30 words. Since these answers are typically embedded within a more substantial post, it is wise to separate these answers into their own paragraphs.

ecommerce retailer tips voice search graphic

Craft Product Descriptions that Sound Amazing

Given that voice search capabilities are drastically altering the way that users phrase their search queries, it is essential that eCommerce retailers write product descriptions that sound great when read aloud.

To effectively optimize product pages that aid voice search for eCommerce, it is important to write in a naturalistic way that aligns with typical speech patterns. Failing to do so is likely to result in a page not surfacing for a related query simply because the text was not reasonably lifelike.

Retailers can accomplish this by merely reading their product descriptions aloud to themselves and others to determine if the copy is casual. A great example of this principle at work comes from Everlane’s “The Day Heel,” in which the product description reads:

“A heel you can walk in. All. Damn. Day. The Day Heel’s ballet-inspired silhouette is designed with a rounded toe, a walkable 2-inch block heel, and an elasticized back for extra comfort.”

That’s about as casual as it gets.

Integrate Long-Tail Keywords

Most retailers are quite familiar with the tenants of a great keyword research strategy at this point. After all, the practice is part and parcel of running a successful online business.

However, the power and implementation practices of keywords have changed drastically over the years. This notion is particularly true when it comes to capitalizing on voice search.

With voice searches, long-tail keywords are the name of the game.

For instance, a keyword that a retailer is targeting might be “bookshelf.” This short-head term won’t do much in the voice category. However, if retailers were to target “best brown wooden bookshelf,” they would likely find more success with their target audiences.

shop results from search engine

By extending the contextual terms around the targeted keyword, voice searchers are more likely to surface a retailer’s page containing the desired product. However, the difficulty in this approach is in maintaining the aforementioned naturalistic prose of the copy.

If a retailer integrates too many long-tail keywords into their site’s pages and content, there is a considerable chance that they will find themselves with overly wordy, unnatural sounding phrases that could quickly breed distrust in consumers.

The trick here is to find the right balance of natural-sounding copy and utilization of long-tail keywords.

The fusion of these two delicate tactics is undoubtedly more of an art than a science.

Focus on Fast Load Times

The digital age has given rise to an era of instant gratification. In such an era, users have nearly no patience for slow websites. Therefore, since many voice searches take place on mobile devices and Google utilizes a mobile-first indexing system, speed is a critical factor in surfacing for voice searches.

Search giants like Google (and shoppers) favor destinations that load quickly. This is primarily because of the role fast-loading pages play in cultivating a fantastic user experience (UX). Quick eCommerce sites enable shoppers to browse various product pages without waiting too long. This dynamic makes for happy customers, and Google rewards sites that serve its users well.

Without a site that is optimized for speed, sellers can forget about surfacing in the mobile SERPs for voice searches.

Fortunately, Google supplies webmasters with a handful of tools for assessing their site’s performance. With PageSpeed Insights, retailers can obtain information on what is slowing their site down, along with recommendations on how to remedy the outlined issues.

tactics to improve website load time graphic

Some tactics merchants can employ to improve website load times include:

  • Moving to a premium hosting provider list HostGator or A2 Hosting
  • Compressing large images
  • Eliminating unused, outdated or resource-heavy plugins
  • Minimizing redirects
  • Optimizing the site’s internal linking strategy to enhance site architecture and navigation

Create an On-Site Voice Search Function

It is hard to contest voice search is the future of SEO. Therefore, voice search isn’t just for the major engines.

For eCommerce websites that feature a myriad of products, it is wise to invest in a have a smooth-running, AI-driven voice search function to enhance the site’s user experience. This element could potentially help users navigate the site, place orders or engage with the site in a multitude of other ways.

In fact, 69 percent of eCommerce brands see voice ordering as an opportunity to enhance their online experiences.

Implementing such a feature not only places a brand ahead of the curve, but it also shows customers that the company is genuinely invested in cultivating the best possible on-site experience.

Moreover, sites are likely to gather a treasure trove of keyword data from consumers that allows retailers to further optimize content, product pages, landing pages and other destinations to rank higher in the voice-activated SERPs.

While implementing voice search functionality could cost some merchants more than they would like, it is an investment that positions the brand in the fore as textless search continues to grow in prominence and popularity.

how can i help you phone voice search

Additionally, with the integration of on-site voice search features, retailers can utilize the newfound capacity to connect with customer service via voice-activated chatbots that can answer shopper questions and complaints.

Employ HTTPS

Retailers should already have this handled as moving eCommerce stores to HTTPS is a necessity.

However, for those that have yet to make the transition, it is imperative to do so as sites that fail to add this layer of protection are less likely to surface in the result pages as Google does consider HTTPS a ranking factor.

The bottom line here is that if retailers are not employing HTTPS protocol, all their voice search optimization could be undone from this simple failure.

Plus, who in the world wants to buy from an unsecured website?

As consumers continue to speak the future into existence, the convenience provided by voice search technology will only make the feature’s use more prevalent. Given that voice-activated eCommerce transactions are already a $1.8 billion retail segment that is predicted to explode to $40 billion by 2022, those that begin optimizing today will lead the pack tomorrow.

This fundamental shift in consumer behavior necessitates a dramatic transition in eCommerce optimization practices. Implement the above-outlined strategies before competitors beat your brand to the punch.

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