Voice Your Presence

Voice Your Presence
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Voice search is growing by the day, though it is relatively slow. But going by the trend, Apple Siri, Google Voice Search, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa, will give a different meaning to the way businesses strategize their search engine optimization, social media and content marketing. Milind Mody, a search engine marketing expert and founder of Mumbai-based eBrandz, shares how voice search can give a head start to start-ups’ websites.

How do you see voice search adoption growing?

Voice search usage is seeing huge growth, with personal assistant devices leading the way. Over the years, important players, like Google which has its own voice search, Apple has Siri and Microsoft has Cortana, have improved their speech recognition algorithms, which is driving user adoption.
Currently, Google estimates 50 billion voice search queries a month in the US. The figures, however, are not known in India.

How should start-ups plan their websites for voice search?

A bare minimum start-ups should do three things. First, it should get listed accurately on Google Maps, because most voice search queries will ask for direction to their office, which would be impossible without that. Accurate map listing, in terms of name, address and contact number, across multiple map databases will also help search engines to be more confident about your location, and it will form part of ranking algorithm.

Second, create a mobile-friendly website because voice search mostly comes from mobile devices, and mobile websites get preference over computer websites, as they provide great user experience. Third, get maximum number of positive reviews on websites. It forms critical part of ranking algorithm for voice

How should start-ups optimize keywords related to their business?

Keyword research should focus on conversational terms instead of adopting the traditional keyword based approach. For e.g., a travel start-up wanting to optimize for the keyword ‘Goa’ would typically be looking at “Flights to Goa”, “Goa Vacation packages”. For voice search these queries would become “What is the cost of flights to Goa?” or “How much would a vacation to Goa cost?” also “Find information on Goa tours and packages” etc. Start-ups should create a FAQ page for themselves and include such conversational terms. Doing all this will help a website rank well in computer, as well as mobile search results.

Any challenge you see in voice search adoption in the Indian context?

The biggest challenges are speech recognition of Indian accents and especially regional accent. However, over-the-top players, like WhatsApp, has started speech recognition of Indian and regional accents, which will ensure a good user experience and will encourage Indian users to use voice search. Also, the young and upcoming generation is very tech savvy, who don’t want to type when they could easily use voice commands and multi task.

Do you see any cost barrier for businesses in using voice search?

The above strategy for voice search optimization does require time and effort. However, the cost is not exorbitant compared to potential visibility gain and traffic via voice search. For e.g., for a B2B business it should cost around Rs 60k to create its 10-page mobile friendly website and optimize it for mobile and voice search.

(This article was first published in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine )

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