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NZ companies not ready for Google voice search in 2019

New Zealand companies not ready for Google voice search in 2019

While so many New Zealand companies are still getting to grips with accommodating mobile traffic to their websites in 2018, the next step in online marketing – voice search – is already on the horizon for 2019/2020, but only a tiny fraction of local firms are even giving it any thought.

CEO of Auckland search marketing agency Insight Online, Kim Voon, says the rise of voice activated assistants like Alexa, Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home – already in more than 20 per cent of American homes – should serve to alert Kiwis to what’s coming, particularly when factoring in the speed of technology uptake in today’s world.

“By 2020 we expect voice search will generate 35% to 50% of all Internet traffic. More than 30% of searches performed in the next year or two will be without a screen.

“The speed of technology and globalisation of markets mean that New Zealand companies can’t afford to lag behind countries like the United States for four or five years anymore – those days are gone, particularly with the likes of Amazon opening up on our doorstep. International competitors will not wait for us to catch up,” Voon says.

While digital marketing agencies are getting inquiries about voice search, these are mostly from only a handful of New Zealand’s bigger companies.

“Companies need to be thinking about voice search now. Already, in many New Zealand households, it’s not unusual to see children between the ages of 7 and 10 years using voice search because it gets around the problem of spelling for them.

“This a prime example of social behaviour driving technology; voice is easy and convenient,” Voon says.

He offers the following advice on how New Zealand marketers can begin preparing for the rise of voice search:

1. Prepare for more colloquial search phrases
“Voice searches are actually quite different from text search. Voice search queries are longer and more colloquial. For example, somebody might type ‘Pizza near me’, versus a voice search which might sound like, ‘Ok Google, what’s the closest pizza place to me?’” Voon says.

The key here is understanding how people are searching in your niche using voice and making sure you have the content to deliver the best answers.

2. Google My Business and location searches
Location is key in many voice searches. “Set up a Google My Business listing, which is a free online business profile listing service provided by Google. Ensure that your business name, address and phone number are consistent with the website.”

New Zealand companies are advised to ensure that their local search details – their actual physical location – is exactly the same wherever they are to be found online. On their Google My Business listing and in directories such as Yellow and Finda.

3. Answer the most common questions
Utilise tools like ‘AnswerThePublic’ to uncover the most common questions that are asked in your market niche.

“Building on the first point, writing blogs that answer common questions is a useful strategy for any kind of search, but particularly for voice search because of the conversational nature of a blog – your sentences and phrases are more likely to match how your customers will ask questions,” Voon says.

4. Structured Data Implementation
Ever notice how a search for movie times results in the movies times appearing right in your search results? This is a result of Structured Data.

“It’s a way to tell Google that these are elements that they can show right in the search results. There are many forms of Structured Data, not just for the movies. Marketing managers should check out the Structured Data Testing Tool to find out more,” Voon says.

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