Voice Search: Everything you need to know!

Article by Hamid S

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In healthcare marketing, keeping up with the ever-evolving tech landscape is a crucial part of business. Want potential clients and patients to know about your practice, and choose it over competitor options? In recent times, that means nailing your website, prioritising SEO, mastering social media and continually enriching and adapting your online presence and content strategies to match demand. 

In addition to all of the above marketing strategies, in the past few years, a new avenue has been rapidly growing: voice search.

Put simply, voice search is software that means users can search online or activate smart features (whether that’s sending a message, playing a song, finding out the weather, or even turning on their washing machine at home while they’re miles away in the office), by speaking their query into their device, rather than typing it.

A real breakthrough came in 2013 with Google’s ‘hummingbird’ update to their AI search algorithms, which greatly enhanced the search engine’s understanding of human language and speech context – it now almost matches full human capacity at 95% accuracy.

A fast-growing trend?

There’s no doubt that this technology is impacting how we use our smartphones, and practically all of the big tech companies have now released voice assistants – there’s Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana – becoming an increasingly common site in people’s homes.

The number of voice searches is expected to grow massively over the next few years, as the software matures and gets integrated into more and more devices. In the UK, around 10% of households have a smart speaker with a built-in voice assistant, a number projected to grow to around 50% by 2022.

Google reported in 2016 that more than 20% of all mobile searches were conducted via voice, while ComScore predicts more than half of all searches will be conducted via voice by 2020. However, these figures often include voice commands to Alexa or Siri such as, “open my curtains”, or “turn the lights off”, so aren’t a true reflection of searches. The real number is predicted to be closer to 30%.

Voice search and marketing

What is clear, is that voice search is a growing trend – so what does this mean for your marketing strategy? 

Firstly, it might be helpful to bust some of the misconceptions around the trend. It’s easy to assume that this is just something only younger smartphone users are likely to be engaging with – however, 47% of voice search users are over 37 years old. 

People may be willing to use voice activation to pay for things too. UK voice transactions through smart speakers are currently worth £0.2bn, but this is expected to increase to £3.5bn by 2022.

Of course, predicting trends is never an exact science, and it’s tempting to hold back and see whether something really takes hold, before embracing it into your own business approach. But when it comes to marketing, getting a head start is always preferable than playing catch-up later on. Early adopters often end up dominating. 

So how does voice search fit with your strategy? 

Understanding the difference between traditional typed searches and voice searches is key. Here’s some of what we know so far: 

  • Average voice searches have a word count of 5-7 words vs 2-3 words for text searches. They’re more likely to include adjectives, connecting words and prepositions.
  • 1 out of every 5 searches are local. Voice searches are 3x more likely to be local. E.g. “good places to eat near me” or “pubs near me.”
  • Voice queries are more likely to be done ‘on the go’ and won’t require significant interaction from the user.
  • Voice searches only return 1 result, compared to the top 10s and adverts on a traditional search – unless it’s a comparative search.

So how can your health business cater for voice searches?

  • Optimise your site for local searches: Due to the hyperlocal nature of voice searches, SEO strategies will need to account for all localisation keywords, for example “near me” or “close to me”. Complete your Google My Business listing providing a comprehensive outline of your location, opening hours, consultants, full list of services, parking availability etc.
  • Use conversational keywords: Medical information can be notoriously difficult to understand for the general population. Text on your website needs to be as conversational and natural as possible, minimising technical jargon.
  • Create conversational content: Voice algorithms prefer 27-35 word answers that are conversational and natural in tone. Desktop search gives us more freedom and comfortability to read longer answers, while voice search (and the listener) appreciates content with short, clear and concise sentences and paragraphs.
  • Turn keywords into phrases and focus on long-tail keywords: Where an example text search might be “back pain doctor London”, a voice search could be: “where can I find a doctor for my back pain in London?” Your content needs to cater to these longer conversational queries. Consider how to structure your content so it hits a happy medium and addresses both of these types of query.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to compile a list of common questions your patients/clients ask and search for, and build FAQ libraries for them. This is central to One Vision Health’s AnswerPack platform, designed specifically to cater for healthcare and medical searches.

 

If you would like to explore further options to market your healthcare business online, One Vision Health is here to help you. We can work with you to maximise the growing opportunities within voice search, as well as video marketing, and much more. For more information about our services, feel free to get in touch with us today.

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