B2B digital marketing is all about disruption. Every year, a new technology begins its rapid ascent up the growth curve of the product life cycle, disrupting the “status quo” of how B2B marketing goes to market. In 2019, that disruptor is voice search and voice search optimization (VSO).
How do we know that? Well, unlike many emerging digital marketing channels where the hype cycle precedes the life cycle by at least a year, voice search is exploding among American users.
According to a late 2018 study by BrightLocal:
- 58% of consumers have used voice search to find business information within the past year.
- 46% of voice search users look for a local business daily.
- 27% visit the website of a business after conducting a voice search.
- 76% of smart home speaker users conduct business searches at least once a week—with 53% performing daily searches.
While these are largely consumer metrics, it underscores the reality that consumers are quickly catching on to “doing business” through their voice devices. In fact, voice search is growing so rapidly that ComScore predicts that by 2020, over 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice search.
To take advantage of the disruption created by voice search, savvy B2B marketers need to understand one very important fact: When a user asks their voice assistant a question, they will be provided with the best answer—not a top-10 list. In other words, if you are not the top answer, you will not be presented at all. This top spot is referred to by Google as the "featured snippet." While achieving the top ranking is important in SEO, it matters even more for voice search where owning the featured snippet for a relevant search is a zero-sum game.
To rank for the featured snippet, you need to take a conversational approach to your content. Create informative content and simple answers that can be easily read by Google. Consider creating content that follows a simple question-and-answer approach, always targeting brief, informative answers of 100 words or fewer. A well-crafted FAQ section on your website that uses precise semantic tagging to clearly direct search spiders through your content is an excellent way to help your content appear in voice search. As you think about how to approach this, consider leveraging your SEO skills to find long-tail keyword phrases that are likely to assist searchers interested in your brand, products and services.
Here's the bottom line for B2B marketers: Utilizing VSO to rank as the featured snippet in voice searches will help you from a branding and a demand generation perspective.
From a branding standpoint, ranking for the featured snippet means that not only will the voice assistant speak your name, but users are also more likely to trust featured-snippet brands as experts in their industries. Whether or not users pursue your webpage further, being featured in the VSO ranking increases brand awareness and authority.
In this way, your demand generation efforts dovetail perfectly into the benefits holding the featured snippet provides your brand. Owning key “how to” searches related to your brand or industry will put your voice content in front of users who are seeking to solve challenges. Providing the solutions to those challenges—along with strategically included contact information—allows you to add yet another channel to your demand generation programs. But that’s a topic that deserves its own time in the spotlight!
Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of this article, where we’ll talk about how you can use specific Skills and Actions to drive demand funnel activity.