How many times have you used your voice to communicate with technology this week? Maybe you asked Google for directions to a gas station or you told Alexa to turn down your Amazon Echo’s music from the couch. Voice assistance and voice search has crept into our lives and is taking over. It’s time to prepare a voice engine optimization strategy.

With over 1 billion voice searches conducted in January 2018 alone, your brand strategy for voice engine optimization should already be well underway. But just in case it isn’t, here are four things to know about VEO to get you and your team ready.

How is Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) different from SEO?

Search Engine Optimization focuses on concise phrases containing keywords to improve the chances of appearing in front of your customer online. SEO has been the standard for organically boosting a website’s position in search results across the web for decades, but forecasters predict that 50% of all searches will be voice activated by 2020.

Voice search is conversational in nature, leading to searches that are 3-5 keywords in length and tend to answer questions as opposed to SEO, where short phrases are customary. Voice search engines are being built to understand longer, nuanced searches, learn from previous interactions through AI, and anticipate what a customer’s next search will be. These search engines will also provide only one, very personalized result snippet.

This also brings a level of convenience that isn’t available through traditional, keyword focused SEO. Customers can ask their phone to find, for example, a lawnmower dealer on their drive home and voice search can help get them to your store based on previous searches. Since we know that 85% of customers research products before they buy, this is a huge opportunity to get your business in front of them.

Optimizing for NextGen Customers

Everybody loves to hate younger generations. They get blamed for traditional businesses going under. They get accused of prioritizing avocado toast over buying homes. They’re living with their heads in The Cloud! But the reality is that these are your future customers and they dictate what trends are set to become industry staples. Over 50% of millennials use voice commands once a month, while 40% already use voice search to research before they buy.

These users will continue to age into your demographics and they will bring the technologies they use daily with them. Prepare your brand and your dealer network to ensure that your corporate and local online presence is optimized appropriately. Focus on creating a strategy that involves optimizing for both question and solution based searches.

Prepping your Business for Local Voice Search

Over 1 billion voice assistance enabled devices will be available on the market by the end of the year and voice search is already 3x more likely to be used for local. According to Gartner, 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020 and 46% of voice search users look for local businesses using voice on a daily basis.

Businesses can take a few steps to prepare for VEO by ensuring their website’s backend data is ready for voice search. Review your site to make sure you’re on target with SEO best practices as these will still come into play.  A recent Google Beta release demonstrated that voice queries will utilize similar source code elements (Schema) when crawling the web for relevant results. You’ll want to have your backend data reviewed and updated to ensure coding structures are built to appear in voice-driven searches.

Additionally, it’s important to update all of your listings and create engaging content that answers your customer’s questions. You’ll also want to start using clear, concise long-tail keywords to target high-intent based searches. Most importantly, your website must be mobile optimized if it’s not already.

Examples:

What’s the best chainsaw for cutting down trees?
Where can I find a discount leaf blower?
I need a new generator that comes with installation.

Don’t Let Voice Search Fall on Deaf Ears

As mobile devices and digital assistants become more ingrained in our culture and evolve into must-haves, businesses must be ready to pivot digital marketing campaigns and embrace the voice revolution. 72% of voice-activated speaker owners use these devices daily.

Appearing first on Google is always the goal, but with voice, being first is synonymous with being the only result your customers hear. Therefore, it is even more critical that your business is there when these searches happen, lest you want your competitors to show up when they search for your products.

Start talking and planning with your team now, before there’s so much noise that no one hears about you and your products when they start asking.