Voice-enabled search and shopping are just beginning to gain momentum, but they cannot be ignored as key parts of your holiday content and SEO strategies this year. Here’s the proof. Nearly 50% of people are already using voice search when researching products.

Voice-enabled shopping is catching on, as 20% of consumers have purchased a product using it and another 33% say they plan to next year. Last year, Amazon sold tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices during holiday 2017, making the Echo Dot not only the best-selling Amazon device, but also the best-selling voice-enabled product from any manufacturer on Amazon.com.

With skyrocketing sales of voice devices  like Echo, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana — retailers can look forward to expanding their omni-channel efforts into the home. Think about that. Thanks to voice-activated technology, we’ve been invited into our customers’ homes with open arms. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to enhance engagement, provide a new level of customer service, drive brand awareness, and increase retention.


Activate your voice strategy

Don’t worry if you’re just dipping your toes into voice search and voice shopping strategies — the holiday season is the perfect time to start. You already know the basic components for search, and now you just have to expand your strategy a bit.

Start by thinking about the context in which consumers might use voice for holiday shopping and the questions they might ask associates in-store. Your voice search and content strategy should be built around the fact that voice queries are conversational and mimic the way shoppers naturally speak. Keep in mind that voice search also tends to be locally focused, as consumers are often looking for quick answers via a mobile device.

Here are a few examples:

  • What are the store hours for the Godiva store at Rockefeller Center?
  • When is the last day for holiday shipping on Coach.com?
  • What are the best holiday gifts for a two-year-old girl?

Redefine your focus

As you can see from the examples, voice queries tend to be 6 -10 words, while text queries are generally around 1-3 words. Shift your focus from keywords to sentences, phrases, and topics. Answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. These types of questions will become more frequent as voice search usage continues to increase. Keep in mind that consumers will ask very specific questions via voice and that the type of question can signal where they are in the purchase funnel.


Ask away

Test some common questions relevant to your brand via Siri, Hey Google, Cortana, or Alexa to see what answers are returned, what your competition is doing (or not doing), and where you should concentrate your efforts first. You will most likely see the enormous opportunity available to early adopters of voice — and the lack of quality answers to common questions.


Keep answers simple

Think about how you’d naturally ask and answer a question if you were talking directly with someone. As an exercise, record everyday conversations you have with colleagues in the office and take notes as you play them back. You’ll find that short answers are best for the on-the-go consumer.Afterall, no one wants to listen to a rambling stranger while they are driving to the grocery store.


Think local

Revisit your Google and Apple map listings. Be sure you’ve claimed your business listings (the process of verifying and enhancing the details Google displays about your business) and have optimized each store location with accurate details, updated store hours, and photos. Don’t forget to update seasonal store hours if you have extended hours during the holiday season.


Optimize content

Add natural language to your site to give yourself a greater chance of showing up in voice search results. Be an early adopter here — not many brands have even optimized their content for voice yet. This is an enormous opportunity to generate rich SEO and get ahead of your competitors.


A few bonus tips:

  • Optimize content for “near me” searches by adding “near me” to title tags and text on your store locator pages.
  • Revisit your product descriptions to make sure they are relevant to how customers would ask questions about them via voice search.
  • Create Q&A content that uses common questions, words, and phrases spoken by your consumers.Seek input from your customer service department to determine frequently asked questions.
  • Keep customer intent and context in mind as you plan and prioritize new content.The reason for a search can vary based on the customer’s location and whether they are looking for ideas or tutorials, researching a product, shopping online, or planning to visit the physical store.
  • Add Schema.org markup to your site to improve search visibility with content-rich tags that help search engines better understand and display your content in more relevant ways.There is a Schema markup available for products, as well as several other categories.Once implemented, test your markup using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
  • Check out the free tool at AnswerThePublic.com.You can input any subject area or product type and it will generate common questions and content ideas for you.

What else can you do to prepare for holiday and crush your revenue goals? Start by visiting the
Holiday Insights hub, our go-to resource for everything related to holiday planning. While you’re there, be sure to register for our Holiday Predictions webinar in partnership with Retail Touchpoints and download our comprehensive Holiday Readiness Guide.